Honour. The Greenham Tasmania Circular Head Giants’ Matt Elliott has earned the North West Football League’s highest prestige in the 2016 Baldock Medal.
Elliott claimed the Best and Fairest title with 19 votes during the league’s medal count and ambassador quest at the Burnie Arts and Function Centre on Sunday.
Joining fellow Smithton Football Club recipients Clint Riley, Tony Crennan, Darren Dennerman, Dean Tuson and Mark Thorp in the history books, Elliott said he was stoked by the feat.
“It’s an unreal feeling!” he said on Monday.
“I got off to a good start in the first five rounds and thought I might be a chance if I continued to poll.
“The further we got through, the more the nerves began to kick in.”
Elliott clinched the title just two votes ahead of Ulverstone Football Club’s Luke Dyson and was joined in the top 10 by fellow Giant, Tyson Armstrong who finished with 11 votes.
Debuting for the Smithton Football Club in 2010, Elliott played his first Seniors match the following year.
The 22-year-old then joined the Circular Head Football Association last year to coach Forest Stanley’s Seniors to a Grand Final victory, before re-joining the NWFL this year as assistant coach with coach Aaron Tuxworth.
“I really missed that competitive edge,” Elliott said of his decision to re-enter the north-west competition.
“I enjoyed my year playing and coaching country footy but I really wanted to get to that next level and compete with the best.”
Elliott said his season’s highlight was during round six when Circular Head defeated Penguin 10.15.75 to 12.5.77 away from home.
“They’re now in the Grand Final, so it showed we can really match it with the top teams,” he said.
“We can say proudly that we knocked them off this year.”
Following the club’s rebranding from the Smithton Saints to the Circular Head Giants late last year, Elliott said the recognition of a local player would boost morale.
“It’s been a massive first year as the Giants!
“It’s going to be one to remember, the year we changed over as well as the year I was lucky enough to win the Baldock.”
Club president Nic Bellinger congratulated Elliott on his success.
“It’s obviously a fantastic result – to come away with a win is excellent for Matt personally and from a club point of view,” he said.
“To come back [to the NWFL] and commit to that high level of footy. Matt would be the first to admit he had a big preseason . . . the work he has put in to get himself as fit as he is – he’s now reaping the rewards!”
Bellinger also praised the club’s ambassador, Lily Vardon, in her bid for the NWFL’s ambassador quest on Sunday.
“While she didn’t receive the top award, she presented herself very well and spoke very well on the day,” he said.
“She has been an excellent representative for the club throughout the year!”