These weren't likely names at the start of the season.CHALPAT SONTI August 28, 2014 3:36am
Under-17 netball: Third placed Hannah Smidt, best-and-fairest Casey Drummond and runner-up Sarah Winter-Irving.
At the start of the season, the man who was to take out the Nagambie senior football side’s best-and-fairest was light years away from even playing for the club. And then he got the phone call from Paddy Rattray.
David Price jokingly says he was wondering whether he should answer the phone when he saw who was calling, but was glad he did. One thing led to another, the inside midfielder was at Lakerland by about round five, and just three months later polled 95 votes to beat previous winners, Michael Shiels (82) and Ben Hutton (71), to win the club’s premier award.
And Price is loving it. Apart from the on-field success he has been made to feel more than welcome. So why Nagambie, given he played last year in the Ovens and Murray league with Albury?
‘‘I played footy with Paddy up in Cairns (2008 and 2009),’’ Price said.
‘‘I did this pre-season with Heidelberg but work commitments stopped me training three nights a week so I thought it was best to concentrate on one thing and that wasn’t football.
‘‘Then I had the itch to play almost the exact same time Paddy called me, (club president Rob Auld) called me and there I was playing against Avenel.’’
Price was about to take on even more responsibility as the side’s main ball winner because in the next round Shiels had his jaw broken at Longwood. And he has been the success story in a season of them for Nagambie.
Not that he necessarily rates his own ability.
‘‘I don’t regard myself as a polished player,’’ he said.
‘‘But my role is inside and it fits perfectly for here. By all accounts this is one of the best midfields we’ve had for a few years and as an in-and-under player I’ve done my job if I can get it out to the better users.’’
The next test is about as hard as it gets in the KDL, a semi-final against Merrigum, who have beaten the Lakers twice this year.
‘‘I don’t think we got beaten as a midfield group when we played them,’’ Price said.
‘‘They have an excellent spread game and that’s something we have to nullify. Where they killed us was from the flanks more so than in the midfield itself.
‘‘From our point of view the (recent) Avenel game was where we started to hit our straps at the right time and in finals that’s what it comes down to.’’
In the other football vote counts Michael Sloan bolted in with the reserves title, polling 126 votes to head off Hayden Heathcote (65) and Michael Mensfeld (51). And despite playing just eight games after recovering from a back injury, Brayden Biggs (90) got up late to beat Max Lister (83) and Riley Bazeley (82) for the under-18 award.
She might not have as high a profile in the Kyabram District League as her husband, Lakers senior coach Linc, but Katie Sullivan brings every bit as good a CV to netball.
And that was borne out on Saturday night when the 35-year-old mother-of-two took out the Nagambie A-grade best-and-fairest award.
The midcourter scored 32 votes to beat Sarah Shiels (24) and player-coach Caitlyn McPhee (20). All three have had stellar seasons, being the experienced hands in a largely young side that surprised a few by making finals.
It is Sullivan’s first season at the Lakers, but she brought in a great deal of experience. She played a club-record 268 games at Bendigo league side Kangaroo Flat, where she is a life member.
‘‘I finished up in 2010, had two babies and three seasons off since,’’ she said.
Sullivan is well placed to comment on how Nagambie has developed this year and is quietly confident going into the big game against Avenel on Sunday.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of young talent and we were able to bring them up,’’ she said.
‘‘Early in the season we were lacking players but only losing by very small margins and it felt like our finals chances might be slipping away. But once we got a consistent side out there we were good enough.’’
In other netball grades Amy Wilde (25) headed off Kathryn Miller (14) and Grace Rutherford (11) to win B-grade; Emma Bamford (23) pipped player-coach Kate Nolan (20) and Danna Rutherford (16) in C-grade; Casey Drummond (36) was a runaway winner over Sarah Winter-Irving (13) and Hannah Smidt (11) in under-17s and must rate a chance at the league awards tonight; and Annie Winter-Irving (22) got home over Erin Scott (20) and Madeline Moore (19) in under-15s.
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