Consolation prize for injured Cat with second Esam Medal

THE saying goes two out of three ain’t bad and when it comes to Nick Johnstone it’s on the mark.

J. A. Esam Medal winner Nick Johnstone, of Allansford, prevailed in a tense count.   140818AS54 Picture: AARON SAWALL

J. A. Esam Medal winner Nick Johnstone, of Allansford, prevailed in a tense count. 140818AS54 Picture: AARON SAWALL

The Allansford gun last night won his second J. A. Esam Medal in just his third season with the Warrnambool and District league club.

Johnstone polled 22 votes from 15 matches played to hold on for a one-vote win from Panmure coach Simon O’Keefe, 21. Merrivale jet Alister Porter was third with 20 votes.

The win reflects Johnstone’s standing as one of the premier onballers in the league.

The 2012 medal winner — he tied with Kolora-Noorat’s Corey Rounds — polled all his votes in the first 12 rounds of the season.

But a stress fracture in a leg diminished his output thereafter and sidelined him for the last three matches and the elimination final.

His 22 votes came from eight matches. He was best on ground six times, while he kicked 25 goals, a similar return to 2012.

Johnstone said he felt he enjoyed a better campaign than two years ago, despite polling nine fewer votes.

He believed working with the Cats’ strength and conditioning coaches Joel Cornelissen and Paul Poduska during the pre-season had a major role in his performances.

“I thought I had a really good year and a lot comes from Podsy and Corny, the fitness blokes we had,” he said.

“The work we were doing before the year and in the first few rounds, we knew if we were thereabouts we could run out a lot of games. The confidence was there from the start.”

Johnstone said the Cats were “hurting” after losing to Old Collegians in the elimination final.

“We’ve had injuries but it’s not just all that, we’re just not up to it at the moment,” he said.

“We weren’t as good as Collegians yesterday, they were better than us, they were tougher than us and they won it when they needed to win it.

“But next year we’ll be back better than ever. ”

Johnstone and teammate Sam Holloway were the pacesetters during the count but, with both missing the last three matches, the chasing pack kept coming.

Warriors pair Nathan Forth and Eli Barker, Kolora-Noorat onballer Joe Kenna and O’Keefe all looked like overtaking Johnstone at various stages.

But only Porter polled in the last round, leaving Johnstone on his own at the top of the leaderboard. He becomes the seventh player in league history to win the medal twice.