benflThe first of two in a row for Fitzpatrick, described as a ‘follower’ in the newspaper speak of the Fifties.

60 years ago: 1956
Frank Fitzpatrick (Rochester)

What we’d call a ‘ruckman’ in 21st century language.
Frank polled 18 votes in 1956, then went five better to poll 23 votes and win again in ’57.
After transferring to Kardinia Park he played eight VFL games in 1958 under legendary Geelong coach, Reg Hickey.

50 years ago: 1966
Derek Cowen (Castlemaine)

Playing coach who, like Fitzpatrick, also won two consecutive Michelsen Medals and similarly was a ruckman as well.
Cowen polled 23 votes in ’66 but one fewer when he again claimed the medal – this time with 22 --- 12 months later in 1967.
But the Magpies could manage just four wins in Cowen’s big year five decades back and finished in the cellar: eighth of eight clubs.

40 years ago: 1976
Bruce Reid (Sandhurst)

Another follower who could play CHB he notched 23 votes to edge out Eaglehawk champion Alan ‘Bruiser’ Williams.
It was a great night for the Maroons with Reserves skipper Roy Wood winning the Hammill medal and talented rover Peter Tyack winning the Symons award.
Sandhurst made it to the preliminary final in ’76, but despite the best efforts of blonde bombshell Reid exited in straight sets following a loss to Kyneton.
Reid went on to play 119 VFL games (86 with Footscray, 33 with Carlton) and booted 26 goals.

30 years ago: 1986
Craig Dowsett (Golden Square)

In the midst of Northern United’s barn-storming premiership run, centreman Dowsett upstaged everyone on Michelsen night to finish on 23 votes.
A tough, durable midfielder Dowsett came with a late rally to forge to the lead over Square teammate Robert Smith who wound up with 19. When asked a couple of days later why he wasn’t present at the actual count runner-up Smith said he “didn’t think I had a remote chance of winning.”

20 years ago: 1996
Jamie Bond (Maryborough)

The Magpie enforcer polled the highest number of Michelsen votes since Ray Willett in 1961 and Alan Williams in 1974.
Bond finished on 27 to win clearly. He was a true key position player, slotting in comfortably at centre half-back, centre half-forward or in the ruck with equal aplomb.
A great clubman Bond was still pulling on the boots for the Magpie Twos when aged in his early 40s and coached the seniors during a low ebb in Maryborough history: 2014-15.
Played one AFL game with Fitzroy in 1991.

10 years ago: 2006
Kain Robins (Eaglehawk)

One of the most talented ‘talls’ in recent BFNL history.
Like Bond could play in a key position -– especially good at CHB -– but because of his explosive pace off the mark was also able to take up a spot on a wing.
Coupled with his height, Kain’s speed proved a nightmare for rival coaches seeking a match-up. Especially when he was on the open spaces along the grandstand or scoreboard wings at Canterbury Park, and even more so on the QEO.
Polled 15 votes to win a decade back.

By Richard Jones