Martyn Wins Murray B&F

Benalla’s Sam Martyn capped off a great individual season by claiming the Murray Bushrangers’ John Byrne Best and Fairest Award. 

Martyn, also named the Bushrangers captain for season 2012, battled throughout the count with Lavington’s Michael Gibbons, before clinching the award by one vote, polling 39 votes and placing himself in Bushrangers history. 

In his second year of TAC Cup football, Martyn played 11 games, backing up from his 14 games as a 17 year old player in 2011. From his 11 games he polled votes in 8 of these games, with his final two games seeing him poll 13 of his votes and clinching the award in these two games. 

Martyn was second on the list of total possessions this year for the Bushrangers, amassing 227 touches at an average of 21 disposals per game and was rewarded with selection in the Vic Country team for the NAB AFL Under 18 National Championships. 

Runner up Michael Gibbons also had a terrific season. As a first year player, Gibbons played 12 games with the Bushrangers, leading the stats with 248 possessions at an average of 21 per game, lead the Bushrangers tackle count with 67 and was the leader of clearances amassing 57 for the year. 

Gibbons, who also played NAB AFL Under 18 National Championships this year with the NSW ACT Rams, polled in 9 of his 12 games and finished the count with 38 votes. Following a terrific game in the Elimination Final against the Geelong Falcons, Gibbons was also named as the Murray Bushrangers Best Player in Finals. 

Finley’s Jordan Taylor rounded out the top three in the Best and Fairest, finishing in third place with a total of 24 votes. Like Martyn, Taylor played with the Bushrangers as a 17 year old in 2011, playing 12 games. Following an injury interrupted pre-season in 2012, Taylor polled in 5 of his 9 games in 2012, and captained the NSW ACT Rams at the NAB AFL Under 18 National Championships. Taylor averaged 22 disposals per game in the TAC Cup this year, and featured amongst the leading rebounding defenders with 29 for the year. Taylor also won the Coaches Award for 2012. 

The Ashley Cox Under 17 award, recognising a 17 year old player with promising potential, went to Shepparton’s Jarman Impey. Impey, a member of the AFL AIS Academy this year played 10 games with the Bushrangers, with a broken hand hampering his season mid year. 

The Most Improved Award went to Shepparton United’s Matthew Brett. Brett, a top age player playing his first year with the Bushrangers, arrived at the Presentation Night after spending the previous 4 days at the AFL National Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium. Brett played 16 games in 2012, playing both as a forward and defender, and was a member of the initial Vic Country Under 18 squad. 

Kaiden Antonowicz took out the 2012 Leading Goalkicker award, finishing the season with 29 goals from his 17 matches. Like Matthew Brett, Antonowicz played his first and only year with the Bushrangers this year as an 18 year old, and was the only player on the list to play in every Bushrangers match in 2012. Antonowicz, from the Shepparton Swans, averaged 13 disposals per game, and his best return this year was against the Gippsland Power where he bagged 6 goals.  

The 2012 Trainers Award went to Albury’s Ryan Speed. Speed, playing his first year with the Bushrangers, managed to play 7 games and won the award based on the trainers’ view of a player who displays a team first attitude, is positive, prepares and manages injury well and always happy to assist around the Club when required. 

Murray Bushrangers Coach Darren Ogier was full of praise for the three leaders in the John Byrne Best and Fairest. 

“Sam Martyn gets what he deserves! A super reliable, hard running mid who gave his all. He is a great person and an inspirational leader. Mick Gibbons, after coming in from the bush, has had a great season. He is an exceptionally smart player, creative and super around stoppages and Jordy Taylor is a committed, hard working half back. His run and drive from defence was extremely important to us. He was rarely ever beaten one out”.

Of the other award winners, Ogier added that “Matthew Brett continued to get better very quickly after never being in any of our programs before. He runs hard and his marking is a lethal weapon, and Kaiden Antonowicz, a newcomer to the program, he is very clean, a great kick for goal and you cannot give him an inch or he will hurt you on the scoreboard.” 

“Jordan Taylor also won the Coaches Award and to me is the epitome of an outstanding team player. He ticks every single box – twice! His leadership qualities are second to none. Ryan Speed is a very hard worker, who gives his all and is always keen to improve. He is very respectful of others and his opportunity, and Jarman really showed what he is capable of in the back end of the year. He has electrifying pace and terrific skills. Look forward to seeing how he progresses in 2013.” 

Several staff were also recognised during the night, being Leon Higgins and Matt Moylan for 5 years of service, Mark Knobel for 10 years of service and Shane Robertson and Paul O’Dwyer for 20 years of service. Mal Robinson won the 2012 Club Person of the Year Award, as voted by the staff of the Club.

A feature of the night was the interview of 2007 Bushrangers captain Ben McEvoy. McEvoy, who was drafted by the St Kilda Football Club in 2007, spoke of the great opportunity to play TAC Cup football and the importance of making the most of such an opportunity due to the time with the Bushrangers for players is so short. He made mention of the commitment and sacrifices made to play TAC Cup football, before sharing some his journey in his young career as an AFL footballer.


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