Sunday was the Esperance Football League’s night of nights at the Esperance Bay Turf Club! The Hepburn medal was awarded and the local football community afforded the opportunity to celebrate the season that was and all the special performances that came from it.
The biggest winner on the night was undoubtedly Brendon White, who took out three separate awards, the Freddy Curnow Footballer of the Year (voted by the presidents at each of the clubs), the Patty Rule for the highest goal scored and the coveted Hepburn Medal.
He beat Gibson’s Patch Jannings who finished second for the second year running. Last year Jannings was pipped by a point for a fast finishing Richard Bourne who scored the maximum votes in the final round the Jannings’ no votes. This time the Gibson Captain was hindered by two missed games by lowly finishing Ports and Newtown, which could have seen him snatch the lead.
However, there were no questions about the White’s worthiness for the medal. The Bulldog’s forward has dominated several games this year with big bags of goals, and is renowned for his accuracy around goals (no matter what angle or set shot or from on the ground, White rarely misses).
BJ Whiting from Gibson lead the charge half way through the count, but it was not enough to hold off White. He finished third alongside Parsons, who had a strong year but was crippled with injury midway through.
The reserves best was awarded to Corey Bennier of Ports, his teammate Daryl Moddridge also polled strongly.
The colts vote count went to Ryhs Wood, who has also impressed at seniors level this year becoming a crucial cog in the Esperance Bulldogs machine. Matt Rogers notched the Subiaco Football Club Rookie of the Year Award which will give him an excellent opportunity in the WAFL system next year.
An awkward moment during the night, when one of the speeches touched on the WAFL’s Subiaco club and their lack of acknowledgement or support of their Esperance catchment, which has produced some excellent talent in recent years, including West Coast Eagle’s Brayden Ainsworth and League player Rhett Kerr. The AFL gifted Subiaco $10,000 for the recruitment of Ainsworth to their stocks, and the WAFL club only passed on $1,000 of that to Ports, where the young Eagle played all his junior, colts and senior footy. The question was asked, does that equate to the coaching and support Ainsworth had received during his development?
Toby Mesec won the Tom Quinlivan Fairest and Best Medal for the Great Southern Carnival, while Zac Murray won the Aussie Ainsworth Shield.
Ricky O’Neill was awarded Umpire of the Year.
Dennis Judd was given Esperance District Football Association life membership.