By Stuart Kavanagh
AFL Broken Hill held their big awards night at the Broken Hill Civic Centre on Monday night to kick off Grand Final week and it was certainly a major event on the sporting calendar with the Lionel Johnston, Jan Corey and Mail Medal award winners revealed, amongst a litany of others.
There was also a raffle that saw one lucky punter win $5000, with the competition raising a further $5000 for local hero Brendan Cullen who recently made the news after swimming the English Channel.
Cullen, clearly moved by the gesture, gave a very touching speech thanking the competition, friends, and family. He also said how overwhelmed he was by the support he received from everyone in Broken Hill.
“It seemed like everyone was behind me,” he said.
As individual awards were handed out for senior players, it was little surprise that top performers Nikki Phillips and Cody Schorn won the women’s and men’s awards for leading goalkicker for the season.
Phillips was almost never headed all season as she finished a whopping 23 goals ahead of her nearest challenger, finishing the season with 35 goals.
It was a similar story for Schorn, who bagged 74 this season. He too finished miles ahead of his nearest challenger.
The Mail Award, as provided by Adelaide’s Sunday Mail newspaper, was awarded for an incredible fifth time to superstar South player, Marc Purcell. Ultra-consistent this season, murmurings began about him pulling off a Mail Award/Lionel Johnston award double.
But first, we had the Jan Corey medal to determine. The Jan Corey is awarded to the best player in the women’s competition, and it turned into a shootout between Ashleigh Anderson and teammate Shelby Raven.
Anderson was heavily favoured for the medal and led her teammate by one vote after six rounds but Raven would out vote her in the back half of the season to win the award by three votes.
Shelby was very much a deserving, if not somewhat surprised winner. The medallist told the Barrier Truth, “I was very shocked. I thought she might have pipped me at the end.”
Ever the professional, Raven was quick to turn the focus on Central’s upcoming Grand Final clash with South.
When we asked her if it was the only way to cap off this week, she said, “yeah definitely, that’s the next one.”
The men’s award, the Lionel Johnston medal, closed out the night.
It was a tight run thing with the biggest talking point to come out of the opening few rounds being the fact that heavy favourite Mitch Henderson was not polling well. In fact, the
South player’s quality shone through in this medal count, sharing the votes around.
Their top vote getter come the end of the count was goal machine Cody Schorn. Schorn almost pulled off a massive upset and kept up with the eventual winner all the way to the final round.
The one who beat Schorn to the medal was Jayden Kelly.
The North Broken Hill footy club legend won the award for an astounding seventh time, beating Schorn by three votes in the end.
In a massive show of respect, Jaydn immediately paid tribute to Mail Award winner Marc Purcell when talking to the media. “I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for Marc.
He’s an absolute gem and he’s gonna win plenty more of these [Lionel Johnston medals] as well.”
Despite it being his seventh time winning the award, this was one of the more special ones, because it was so unexpected.
“I didn’t think I was a chance tonight, it’s probably a bit of a Steven Bradbury moment,” he laughed, before clarifying “Central and South both have such packed teams, so they all stole votes off of each other.”
There’s no rest, even for a legend of Broken Hill football, during the off season.
With no Grand Final to participate in, it’s straight to household chores.
“I’ve got some renos to do on the house – so that’ll be pretty flat out,” he said. Jayden is also looking forward to spending time with his family and friends during the AFL off season.
And he is not going anywhere, anytime soon – dismissing the notion of retirement as soon as we brought it up. “I still think I can contribute. I love the game and I’ll probably play until they tell me to rack off. “
Chances are that won’t happen any time soon.
The Barrier Truth would like to congratulate both Jayden Kelly and Shelby Raven on winning the Lionel Johnston and Jan Corey awards respectively, along with all the other award winners in both the senior, junior and Auskick levels.
The Grand Final takes place at Jubilee Oval this weekend with Central and South facing each other in both the men’s and women’s senior competitions, starting at 11.25 am.
Get your early bird tickets at the Credit Union to avoid paying extra at the gate this weekend.