A trip through the winners of Bendigo Football Netball League Michelsen medal for the years ending in a 7.
1957: Rochester’s Frank Fitzpatrick made it two Michelsens in a row when 60 years ago he polled 23 votes to win. Those two fine seasons had led Geelong’s scouts to Rochy and they’d signed the 193 cm (6 ft. 4 in.) ruckman. Frank played for Geelong in the 1958 season when he was 26 and racked up nine VFL games.
1967: Derek Cowen of Castlemaine also made it back-to-back medals when he scored 22 votes to win in
’67. He’d come to the Maine via West Coburg and North Melbourne, where between 1960-62 he played 30 VFL games, including 17 of 18 matches in 1960, aged 21. Cowen stood 185 cm (6 ft. 1 inch).
1977: Graham Clark (Kyneton), another ruckman to snare the much coveted Michelsen. He polled 17 votes to win 40 seasons back.
After his Kyneton career was over Clark maintained his BFL footy connections, taking over as playing coach with Kennington-Strathdale for one season in 1983 and from 1984 served a long stint as club secretary.
1987: Brendan Hartney of Sandhurst won his first of two Michelsens 30 years ago (he won again in 1989) when he polled 22 votes
One of the BFNL’s all-time greats, Hartney captained the BFL to its 41-point win over the Geelong F.L. as the Blue and Golds assumed the VCFL’s No. 1 ranking in 1989. He’d played 32 games for Carlton between 1981-85.
1997: a tie between Chris Giri (Kang. Flat) and Robin Keck (South Bendigo) a rover and a half-back flanker, respectively, who finished on 19 votes apiece.
They were tied as the 18th and final round votes were called and neither got a mention. Just behind Keck and Giri was Maryborough’s Brendan Tranter and Kyneton’s David Nolte on 18 with Rick Andrews (Mrb) four back on 15.
2007: another dual Michelsen winner is Gisborne’s Matt Fitzgerald. He’d first won four years earlier in 2003 and then just a decade back he scored 25 votes to win by six from South’s Cameron Hall (19).
Fitzy’s Gisborne teammate Luke Saunders, the 2005 Medallist, finished third for the second year in a row with 17.
Fitzgerald became just the sixth BFL player to win the prized fairest and best award for a second time.
By Richard Jones