Taylors Lakes’ James Vistarini didn’t think he was much of a chance to poll well in the Essendon District Football League’s division 1 Hutchison Medal.
A couple of injuries meant that Vistarini spent more time off the ball and in the forward line than he had in the past.
Personally he thought that it hadn’t been his best year.
“I’d had better seasons previously,” he said.
“I was a bit more forward this year due to injuries. I went from cricket, straight into footy and then had a little accident at work.
“That held me back a bit and I wasn’t as explosive as I wanted to be.”
Despite that, Vistarini was named in the EDFL division one team of the year on the half forward flank.
Vistarini led the best and fairest count heading into the final round at the EDFL awards night last week.
He was one vote ahead of Tullamarine’s Anthony Prestia and two votes ahead of Airport West’s Luke Ryan and Lions teammate Jake Hobbs.
Vistarini knew that Prestia didn’t play in the final round of the season due to injury increasing his chances of taking out the award.
“We played them in the second last round and he went down sore,” he said.
“It was a different feeling [heading into the final round], my heart was racing a million miles an hour.”
Vistarini was the only one of the top four to poll in the final round to finish on 19 votes, three clear of Prestia.
Vistarini said winning the award meant a lot.
He’s the second family member to win the Hutchison Medal, with his grandfather winning it in 1952.
“It’s something different to win a medal at this level,” he said.
“I love playing football and it felt really good.
“It’s good to get recognised for my season. I put in a lot of hard work and it’s good to get rewarded, but getting a premiership would be the best reward.”
Vistarini has already signed on for next season, with the focus for the Lions to make finals.
The last two seasons they’ve finished fifth, missing out on finals by percentage.
He said the club was on the right track.
“It’s been tough missing out,” he said. “That’s what you play football for.
“We’ll look to keep pushing forward and hopefully pick up a couple of players.
“Sam [Tankard] is doing a lot to develop the younger guys, We need to bring in two or three experienced boys in key positions.”
Jake Hobbs was named the men’s rising star.
In the premier division award, Maribyrnong Park’s Will Martiniello won by two votes from Strathmore’s Luke Jarrad.
Keilor’s Kane Barbuto finished third.
In division 2, East Sunbury’s Kamen Ogilvie took home the award, while the Sunbury Kangaroos’ Bailee Said won the women’s award.