A renewed focus on football has paid off for Romsey’s Jaidyn Caruana who won the Riddell District Football League’s top honour, the Bowen Medal.

There was no doubt at the end of the awards night on Wednesday, that Caruana had been the standout this season claiming both the best and fairest awards, one each voted by the coaches and umpires.

Caruana was in front each time the votes were shown early in the count in the Bowen Medal and he had already claimed the award when the counting started in round 15.

He was 14 votes clear with four rounds remaining.

He would poll three more votes to finish on 28 votes, 14 votes clear of Broadford’s Rhys Gardener.

Caruana was a bit stunned after the count.

“I’d had a few people come up to me saying you’re my tip for tonight,” he said.

“I didn’t believe that and I just came here to enjoy the night and see what happens.

“I had no expectations.

“It’s a bit overwhelming and it’s very humbling to be voted by the umpires as the best players.”

Caruana said had the count been closer, there would have been a few more nerves, knowing that he missed the final two rounds with injury.

He said this year, he had made football his focus and it had paid off with an improved performance.

“I lost a bit of passion for my footy last year, I had a girlfriend and put on a fair bit of weight,” he said.

“We got a new strength and conditioning coach Neil Stallbaum, he’s the guy I want to thank.

“I stripped down a lot of weight, I got fit and found my passion for footy.

“I went to Bali and got a few tattoos. I thought I would have to standout somehow, I guess it paid off.”

The Bowen Medal was the second big award of the night for Caruana, who claimed the player of the year award, voted by the coaches.

To win that award was just as big a shock for Caruana.

“That came out of nowhere,” he said.

“I didn’t even know that was an award to win that is a big honour, to have a lot of respect from the coaches.

“Obviously surprised by that and very humbled.”

Romsey

Romsey’s Jaidyn Caruana. Picture Shawn Smits.

Not surprisingly Caruana was named in the team of the year. He was named in the middle of the ground.

Caruana’s Redbacks team mates Nathan Blair and Ayden  Tessari were also named in the team.

Diggers Rest and Riddell both had five players named in the team of the year.

Riddell’s Gavin Urquhart, Haydn Ross, Ethan Foreman, Dylan Tarczon and Paul Sahlberg were selected along with Diggers Rest’s Andrew Tyquin, Taylor Hine, Corey Wright, Luke Delahey and Deven Costigan.

Rupertswood’s Brent Swallow and Kayne Murphy, Macedon’s Matthew Hutchesson, Jason Cooke and James Wright,  Broadford’s Rhys Gardener, Wallan’s Matt Perri and  Melton Centrals Dylan Weir were the others named in the team of the year.

Diggers Rest coach Jamie Lobb was named coach of the year.