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Kelly joins a select few

Tuesday, 6th September, 2011

BACK TO BACK: North midfielder Jayden Kelly won the Lionel Johnston and Mail medals for the second consecutive year. BACK TO BACK: North midfielder Jayden Kelly won the Lionel Johnston and Mail medals for the second consecutive year.

By Balldock

Star North midfielder Jayden Kelly has made it back-to-back wins after last night securing his second straight Lionel Johnston Medal.

He becomes only the ninth player since 1933 to win local football’s highest individual award in successive seasons.

The tireless on-baller polled 22 votes, and is the 30th Bulldog to take out the coveted medal.

His nearest rival was South’s Marcus O’Brien who showed his versatility throughout the year by playing a number of on-field roles for the Roos.

O’Brien finished with 14 votes and is the 16th South player to finish runner up in the award.

Kelly capped off an excellent night by claiming the Mail Medal for the second time in two years, making him just the second player in the history of Broken Hill Football behind the great Vince Gauci (1963, 64) to win the Lionel Johnston Medal and Mail Medal back-to-back. 

While the achievement is rare, Kelly has proven that his ability to gather a mountain of possessions is a constant.

His willingness to run and create and finish off his good work with pinpoint disposal now puts him in the elite category of Broken Hill Football.

But despite having a consistent year, Kelly said the win had taken him by surprise, and would take a back seat to his club’s premiership aspirations.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all tonight actually, I didn’t think I had anywhere near as good a year as I did last year,” said Kelly.

“Hopefully we can back it up next week and win the cup... I’d trade in all my medals I’ve won over my whole career for it. That’s what we’re striving for.”

Kelly said North’s early exit from last year’s final series would provide spur for his club in this year’s grand final, and predicted the big match would be a war of attrition.

“All the boys realise we had a chance last year and we let it slip, and that’s really been shown on the track that there’s a real fighting edge.

“I think it’s sitting in everyone’s guts; last year’s loss. So everyone’s eager to win it this year.

“I think we’re a very fit side, we’ve been working on our fitness and that’s what it’s going to come down to in this grand final because we’re so well matched up against South - it will be who has got the legs in the end.”

Runner up in the Mail Medal was North Teammate Brett Johnson who again has had an excellent year. Following Johnson was Justin Heath, Chad Ryan and Marcus O’Brien.

The Frank Thomas Best Junior award for 2011 was a tie between South’s Jordan Holmes and West’s Heath Harris who both polled 17 votes, two ahead of South’s Ayden Pettitt.

It was an outstanding year for these juniors and we look forward to watching them over the years to come.

South’s Cody Schorn won the 2011 goalkicking award with 53 goals.

Not only is he an important player in the seniors, but he also played a pivotal role in South’s Under 18 premiership.

He too has a bright future, and Schorn’s win makes him the 14th South player to claim the goalkicking award.

North defender Matt Dempster won his fourth Smart Savers Best Backman award after having perhaps his best season in defence for the Bulldogs. The win makes it three in a row for Dempster, and four in five years.

Dempster’s season attracted high praise from Kelly, who said the rangey backman had been North’s stand out player for the year.

“I thought Matt Dempster would have won (the medal), he’s been an absolute gun for us this year,” said Kelly.

“I guess it kind of shows that being a backman is kind of stiff - you don’t get as noticed as us onballers.”

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