K rock Football

Darke shines brightest again

JAMES Darke has capped an impressive return to football by becoming just the third man to win three or more Les Ash Medals as BFL best-and-fairest.

Darke, who was playing his first season since 2018 after spending the 2019 overseas and losing 2020 to COVID-19, polled 20 votes across nine games of the 12-match home-and-away season.

The 26-year-old finished three votes clear of Barwon Heads star Nathan Brown on 17, with Modewarre midfielder Jeremy Ollis on 16.

Drysdale excitement machine James Breust and league-leading goalkicker Lucas Anderson tied for fourth spot two votes further back.

Darke, who previously won the award in 2014 and 2017, joins Josh Finch (2010, 2012-13, 2016) and Paul Hudson (1993-94, 1996) in an exclusive club.

When voting went live with six rounds remaining, Brown had jumped to 11 votes, one ahead of Ollis, with Anglesea spearhead Jordan Erskine one vote further back.

Darke sat equal fourth on eight votes with Drysdale’s James Breust.

The Tiger polled three votes in his next round to join Brown on 11, with Breust and Ollis also posting that figure with four rounds to play.

Darke and Brown were the only two members of the leading quartet to poll in Round 12, with both receiving three votes.

They repeated the dose in Round 13 to move four clear of Breust.

Darke polled two votes in Round 14 in Torquay’s 47-point win over Anglesea, while Brown failed to attract the umpires’ attention in a narrow loss to Modewarre.

Brown also went voteless in the win over Newcomb in what proved to be the final round of the season, while Darke finished off with one vote in the hammering of Portarlington.

Meanwhile, Ocean Grove’s Mitch Taylor has claimed the BFL’s Rookie of the Year award.

A member of the Grubbers under-19 premiership team in 2019, Taylor has played every game this year, including the elimination final win over Anglesea.

Twitter: @tom_king79



Jordan Erskine 9
Dale Kerr 6
Blake Grant 4
Dale Carson 3
Ryan Williams 3
Luke Rounds 3
Jacob Nolan 2
Jack Rice 2
Dyson Bell-Warren 1
Lewis Beers 1



Nathan Brown 17
Matthew Dyer 6
Cameron O’Leary 5
Charlie Nairn 3
Brock Close 3
Braeden Eddy 3
Sebastian Kent 2
Mitchell Phelps 2
Charlie Hurst 1
Ned Aulsebrook 1
Logan Mitchell 1
Ryan Harvey 1
Mitchell Herbison 1



James Breust 13
Mathew Hebbard 8
Josh Eddy 6
Mitchell McGuire 4
Shane Murdoch 3
Tevan Nofi 2
Flinn Chisholm 2
Sam Edwards 1



Harry Kershaw 7
Bradley Surkitt 5
Daniel Lovick 3
Jarrod Young 3
Jordan Rossi 2
Sam Hosking 2
Riley Mattner 2
Samuel Bain 1
Bayden Fallon 1
David McNeel 1



Jeremy Ollis 16
Joshua Finch 11
Callan Farrell 6
Zac May 6
Thomas Hornsey 4
Adam Boshevski 3
Angus Hill 3
Jacob Clark 2
Brett Blair 2
Darby Schilder 1



Brenton Rees 10
Andrew Steele 6
Logan Wagener 4
Andrew Mead-Harding 3
Joel Geue 2
Kieren Bourke 2
Bailey Glascott-Dummett 1



Oliver Monteith 7
Kobe Annand 5
Mitchell Taylor 5
Will Brohm 4
James Paterson 4
Fletcher Keck 4
Sam Donegan 3
Nicholas Chapman 3
Connor Pickett 2
Jake Wilkie 2



Will Foott 2



Luke Di Lizio 5
Che Durran 3
Jhye Clark 3
Lachlan Kidd 3
Caleb Whitley 2
Jack Leonard 2
Justin Maher 2
Jake Hedley 1
Matthew Craig 1
Nick Maishman 1



James Darke 20
Lucas Anderson 13
Paul McMahon 9
Dominic Gleeson 4
Samuel Caruso 3
Benjamin McNamara 3
Baxter Mensch 3
Noah Gadsby 3
Sheldon Ham 2
Thomas Diamond 2
Ben Raidme 2
Kane Loftus 2
Tom Yensch 2