SIMON BUCKLEY’S scintillating 2017 season was rewarded Monday night with his second consecutive Morrison Medal.
The gun Murray Bomber made history and cemented his legacy as one of the league’s great players, becoming the first player since 1980-81 to win consecutive awards when Shepparton’s David Code achieved the double.
Buckley shone in a difficult season for Echuca, defying the side’s 8-10 win-loss record to poll 20 votes, pipping Kyabram’s Jordan Williams by one vote.
Williams polled two votes in round 18 to tie the count up, before Buckley broke the deadlock with a one vote effort in Echuca’s 18-point win against Mansfield in round 18.
The humble star was pleased with the recognition but was quick to put the team first.
‘‘Obviously from a team point of view (the season was) again disappointing,’’ Buckley said.
‘‘At the start of the year we obviously wanted to make finals again and didn’t get there. We were really disappointed in how it all panned out.
‘‘Personally, it wasn’t a bad year, (I was) pretty consistent and managed to stay injury-free as opposed to last year where I missed four games. A lot of the guys around me also improved and I think that helped a lot.’’
In front of Kyabram’s Williams by the smallest of margins, Buckley was envious of the Bombers’ season.
‘‘Jordy Williams and a few guys had some awesome years and obviously as a club they were really successful, played a lot of finals and had a lot of wins,’’ he said.
‘‘Good luck to Ky and Shepp this weekend, I’m very jealous, it’s a great opportunity to play in a grand final.’’
Buckley recently signed a two-year deal with the Murray Bombers, the superstar looking to add team success to his individual accolades.
After 47 games in the AFL with Melbourne and Collingwood, he has delivered consistent brilliance for his new side since 2013 with three best and fairests, a red-hot favourite for a fourth award this season.
As Echuca welcomes 2018 co-coaches Andrew Walker and Simon Maddox, Buckley will be a pivotal force in leading the club up the Goulburn Valley League ladder.
‘‘I’m probably not the loudest bloke at the club and I don’t talk a lot when it comes to leadership,’’ he said.
‘‘I try and show my worth through my actions and through my preparation and recovery, it’s all the little things that were drilled into me when I was playing professionally.
‘‘I’m 30 years old now so when you get to this age you’ve got to make the most of every season because it can come to an end pretty quickly.
In his acceptance speech at the Shepparton RSL, Buckley paid tribute to outgoing coach and president Andrew Briggs and Brett Stevens.
‘‘(They’re) two guys that have been a big part of my career at Echuca so far, and they’re passing over the baton this year,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s exciting times ahead, and the position they’ve left the club in is amazing, and any success we have in the future they’re as much a part of that as anyone.’’
In other awards, club secretary Peter Young was recognised as the GVL administrator of the year, while Darcy Elliot was honoured for his leading goalkicking season in the under 18s.
Elliot kicked 47 goals for the season, edging out Shepparton’s Jak Trewin by one goal.
Meanwhile, Echuca A grade netballer Meg Rohde took home the Most Talented Netballer award, an acknowledgement of her strong potential going forward.
And Meg Eishold polled well in the 17 and under count, finishing as the runner-up with 25 votes, two votes behind winner Kelsey Rigg from Benalla.