Fairytale comeback capped off for Brendon Jones

Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 10:47 PM by Alex Paull

THIS time last year, Brendon Jones was being sent off into the sunset as a retiree, but he has capped of a remarkable comeback by winning his second Tuckey Medal as Peel Thunder’s best and fairest.

After coming out of retirement this year Jones, who has committed to playing next year, maintained an outstanding level of consistency over the year and was unlucky to miss out on a State debut.

It’s also the fifth consecutive season that Jones has finished in the top two since crossing from Perth at the end of 2009, where he won the best and fairest in 2008.

Jones joins the likes of Scott Simister, Darren Bolton, Derek Hall, Daniel Haines and Rory O’Brien as multiple Tuckey Medallists.

The prolific 28-year-old averaged 24 disposals across 20 games, while his 482 possessions ranked in the top 10 of the WAFL competition.

He was brought out of retirement at the request of coach Cam Shepherd, and his leadership of a young and inexperienced midfield was outstanding.

Hard-nosed Fremantle rookie Jacob Ballard was runner-up in a remarkable season for the 19-year-old, averaging 24 disposals in his first full senior year of WAFL.

A big-bodied midfielder who was pick 47 in the Rookie Draft, Ballard had a slow start to the season due to injury but still managed 19 games, only dropping below 20 possessions on three occasions.

His strength at the contest was evident with 64 tackles for the season, the most at the Thunder, while Fremantle teammate Matt Taberner booted 18 goals to be the side’s leading goal kicker.

Classy utility Eddie Dann’s impressive second half of the year saw him take out the Coach’s Award, and his versatility made him a valuable commodity for the Thunder.

Fremantle youngster Sam Menegola was recognised as the league side’s most consistent player and he showed his adaptability by tagging in the midfield, as well as curbing some of the league’s best forwards.

Elite tall prospect Dylan Winton capped off a busy year by being named the Arthur Marshall Young Player of the Year.

A WA representative at the Under 18s National Championships, Winton showed great promise as a roaming half-back, and was trusted with a number of key jobs when in the league side.

Winton and teammate Brad Walsh will also be testing at the State Draft Combine later this year

Diminutive forward Matt Brown was named the Players’ Player, while Fremantle star and local favourite Anthony Morabito was recognised as an inspiration to the club by winning the Tom Stone Medal for overcoming adversity.

Morabito came back from three knee reconstructions to force his way into a powerful Fremantle side in Darwin earlier this year, and his outstanding performances for the Thunder provided plenty of inspiration to the club.

Corey Morris won his second consecutive Ball Medal as Reserves best and fairest, with Kyle Westwood runner-up and Toby Gianatti receving the Coach’s Award.

Morris had another consistent season averaging 20 possessions, and was rewarded with two League appearances late in the year.

Despite a tough year for the Peel Colts, Luke Shepherd was a stand-out in defence, winning the BHP Billiton Medal from Sam Shackles and Kyle Shanahan as best and fairest.

The medium defender averaged 14 disposals, and his strong season was recognised earlier this week when he was named in the back pocket of the WAFL 200 Club Colts Team of the Year.

Tall prospect Travis Naughton received the Colts Encouragement Award.

Rod Hazel’s contribution to the Peel Thunder Football Club and as WAFL Combined Past Players and Officials Association president was recognised when he was named the best club person.