David Kovacevic is adamant he did nothing differently this year, but the Western Region Football League thought differently, awarding him the division one best and fairest.
The St Albans ruckman helped carry his team to the brink of finals, and his efforts did not go unnoticed by league judges. He collected 21 votes at the WRFL awards night to finish four ahead of Altona’s Steven Kennedy and Spotswood’s David Iaccarino in the Barry Priest Medal count.
With St Albans holding its own awards night at the same time as the league it was a whirlwind night for the big man, who said he had no expectations of polling so well.
“I thought there were a lot of pretty good players that would pip me,” Kovacevic said.
“I felt like I had a pretty consistent year, but playing against some of those other guys I didn’t really expect to be beating them.
“I think it was my most consistent year. I don’t think I was a superstar by any stretch, but I think every week this year I was able to play to a similar standard.
“Maybe in previous years I’d play well for a couple, and then drop off for a bit, that didn’t happen this year.”
Kovacevic said experience played a big part in helping him reach these new heights, but he had done nothing different in pre-season or the way he played from previous years.
“I think just being a bit older and wiser helps, especially in the ruck,” he said.
“It was nothing out of the ordinary really, just being a bit smarter with it and doing my job each week.”
Playing in a winning side also helped, with St Albans jumping from just four wins in each of the past two seasons, to 10 wins in 2019.
The improvements across the board from the side had them in finals contention for much of the year, but three losses in the last four rounds saw them slip to sixth.
“It was a bit disappointing to end that way, especially with the way we were looking in the middle of the year,” Kovacevic said.
“We beat Deer Park and Altona in the mid-point of the year, so we were looking good, but I think we ran out of puff at the end of the season and it was probably fair where we finished.
“I think we found out where we’re at, and what it takes to beat those top teams. More consistency, and more fitness I think is our big goal now.”
With Deer Park claiming a record seventh straight division one flag this year, Kovacevic said the whole competition wanted to be the team to end the dynasty.
“Everyone wants to beat them and be the team to end their run, but they’re a step above at the moment,” he said.
“They’ve set a high standard and it’s up to everyone to catch up to them. We beat them once, but they gave us a touch-up at the end of the year, so it evens out.
“I think we’ve bridged the gap from two years ago, but we’ve still got plenty of work to do to catch them.”