Two stars share Picola medal

By Alex Mitchell

ONE of the most action-packed vote counts in years has resulted in the Picola District Football League’s Pearce Medal being shared between Waaia star Ash Thompson and Picola United ruckman Mark Ryan.

Remarkably, eight different players were a mathematical chance of taking out the prestigious medal with two rounds to be counted at the presentation night on Monday.

In the end, Thompson and Ryan each polled one vote in round 20 to finish the count with a medal around their necks.

It was brilliant recognition for two of the competition’s massive stories for the season — Waaia’s undefeated regular season where it blew away the competition, as well as Picola United’s third consecutive trip to the grand final.

Ryan’s 21 votes came in just 12 games, after missing his side’s first five outings of the season.

After 14 rounds of polling, he trailed leaders Thompson and Deniliquin Rover Des Morgan by eight votes, before polling 12 votes in five games to share the spoils.

Waaia’s Thompson produced a phenomenal season after coming to the Bombers from Mooroopna, with the midfielder dominant in his side’s journey to the preliminary final.

Other contenders late in the count included Rover Dylan Kerr, who polled 19 votes after racking up nine in the first four games of the season.

Reigning north-west medallist Jed Brain went close to going back-to-back, finishing fourth with 18 votes, despite missing time in Blighty’s quality season that took it to the preliminary final.

Berrigan’s Mark McQualter only polled the maximum three votes twice, but chipped away as a regular contributor to work his way to 17 votes, polling two votes in the Saints’ upset win against Blighty in round 20 to get a share of fifth place.

Roo Morgan had 17 votes after round 14, but did not poll in his side’s next five games, also finishing equal fifth.

Another player with a genuine chance of the medal late in the count was Jerilderie star Chris Marshall, with the Demon just one vote back from the lead after 14 rounds.

But he did not poll after that as his side’s 17-game losing streak caught up with him and he had to settle for seventh.

Katamatite recruit Tom Buzza showed his genuine class in the back half for the Tigers, polling 14 votes in the side’s 7-11 campaign.

Blighty was one of the sides best represented at the top of the leaderboard, with midfielder Matt Jackson and ruckman Tom Billings joining Brain in the count’s top 11.

Waaia had Thompson, Matt McCarty (16 votes) and Sam Richardson (12) all in the top 11.

The Blues also shared the votes well with Darby Walsh (11 votes), Ian Fry and Blake Jorgensen (both 10) among the leaders.

Grand finalist Rennie did not figure too highly in the count, with coach Craig Ednie leading the way with 12 votes from Jarryd Fountain with 11.

■ BERRIGAN’S Adam Fox blitzed the field to win the reserves count, beating second-placed Shane Cooper from Picola United by 11 votes.

Fox polled the maximum three votes a staggering 13 times in a Dustin Martin-like season, with Cooper also well clear of the field coming in seven votes clear of Ryan Brunker (Deniliquin Rovers), Brett Napier (Blighty) and Brendan Harris (Waaia).