A PAIR of veteran midfielders and a promising teenager shared the 2016 Hampden league reserves best and fairest.
Terang Mortlake’s Nathan Jones, Portland’s Daniel Kinghorn and Camperdown’s Chester Gardner polled 19 votes to make it a three-way tie for the Lew Kelly Medal on Sunday.
The result came a year after five players claimed the award.
Jones, 35, and Kinghorn, 36, are experienced heads in their respective sides’ engine rooms.
Gardner, 19, is an emerging midfielder, having marked his return from a year off with a shoulder reconstruction with his first major league award.
Jones will chase a second piece of memorabilia – a premiership medal – when the Bloods play North Warrnambool Eagles in the reserves grand final.
“I am pretty excited about that. It will be pretty tough against North but we pushed them there a couple of weeks ago and probably learned a lot from that loss,” he said.
Jones, who won a Mininera and District league best and fairest during his time at Caramut, said he was honoured to add a Hampden title to his resume.
The Mortlake College teacher said his season improved as overcame a groin injury.
“You don’t play footy for this sort of stuff but it’s pretty humbling,” he said.
“I am just happy to get through each game at the moment – I’m not getting any younger.
“Fitness wasn’t great at the start of the year but I am happy with the way I finished off the year.”
Kinghorn said the win was his first at league level.
“I am really chuffed. I am 36 now, so I am not getting younger,” he said.
“Even though our team didn’t have a great year, personally it’s a good little bonus at the end of the season.”
Kinghorn, a fitter and turner at Keppel Prince, is closing in on a major milestone in the yellow and black.
“I am going to play for at least one more season,” he said.
“I have a few games to go and then I will have 300 at Portland, so I’ll aim to get that first and see how the body goes.”
Kinghorn said he relished the chance to play in the Hampden competition after playing the bulk of his career in the Western Border league.
“I guess it’s more closer to the AFL-style and I think it’s a lot more fun to play,” he said.
Gardner said he was happy with his return to football after a year on the sidelines recovering from a shoulder reconstruction. The Warrnambool-based apprentice builder joined the Magpies from Simpson three years ago.
“We had a pretty good senior side too, so it was hard to push into that,” he said.