A refound love of football for Macedon’s Jason Cooke has helped him take out the Riddell District Football League’s top honour.
A talented junior with the Sunbury Lions, Cooke was part of the Calder Cannons before injuries took a toll.
He played one season at Pascoe Vale before giving up the sport. He even spent six months playing soccer.
A few mates and a persistent Macedon president Terry Kernan persuaded Cooke to play for the Cats at the start of the 2015 season.
As the Cats have built, they are in the grand final this year, Cooke’s game has also continued to go to new levels.
On Wednesday night he claimed the RDFL’s Bowen Medal for the league’s best and fairest.
It was a low scoring count that had the crowd captivated, with several players in the mix heading into the final rounds.
Cooke won the medal on 16 votes, one clear of Sunbury Kangaroos’ Tierone Cuffe.
It’s the second time Cuffe, who missed three games with injury and played the final rounds with a broken foot, has finished second.
The top 11 players were separated by six votes.
Cooke said winning the medal was quite overwhelming.
“Obviously I had a good year but didn’t expect to win the competition medal, I’m very humbled to win that.
“I was a bit nervous, there was a couple of games I didn’t think I played well but I polled, it was quite nervy.
“It does help when Matty Dick and Dan Markworth and those boys come back.
“I felt like I wasn’t doing too much up in the forward line, just kicking all the goals. It was a great team effort and I couldn’t do it without the boys.”
Cooke’s year corresponded with a move to the forward line. Cooke also claimed the leading goalkicker award after kicking 77 goals during the regular season.
He still spent about a quarter of game-time in the midfield.
Cats coach Jeff Andrews said if Cooke had played forward permanently he would have kicked 100 goals for the year.
Cooke said the decision to play with the Cats saved his football career. A premiership in a week’s time would be icing on the cake.
“It’s been an unbelievable three years and I’ve enjoyed every single minute and I’ve got a passion for footy again.
“It has been a long time between drinks for Macedon … I haven’t played in a grand final in six or seven years.
“It’s great to be in the grand final and we have confidence in how we are going. It’s very special and I can’t wait for two weeks time.”