Laffan Named Penrith Rams' Best and Fairest
Young gun, Matthew Laffan, has taken out a thrilling Michael Walker Medal for Best & Fairest at the Penrith Rams Presentation Night held at Penrith Gaels Club on Saturday Night October 17.
A wonderfully enthusiastic crowd attended the gala event hosted by MC Jason Makin to celebrate a successful Rams season, with all five teams playing finals football for the first time in history.
It came down to the final match, a semifinal against Manly, before Matthew was declared the winner, defeating club legend Jay Edwards by two votes, with Sanders Medallist Ben Mayer, two votes astern in third spot.
Laffan added to last year's haul of runner up, best first year player and player's player in just his second year at the club after transferring from EDFL club, Craigieburn to attend UWS.
Former Narrandera and Giants Academy player, Jakob Vearing took out the prestigious Player's Player Award.
In Reserve Grade, Matt Payne survived a late scare from Matthew Purse to take out the Geoff Eldering Medal by two votes, both polling in the last match. Considered unlucky not to take out the Sydney AFL McFarlane Medal where he ran second, Payne, a former Hart Medallist is looking for a big 2016 season. Brayden Wilson was awarded the Player's Player.
In one of the most exciting counts of the night, Justine Vella, won her first Women's Medal in her third year at the club. Vella led throughout the home and away series, but James Medallist and last year's winner, state player Nikki Perrett took the lead after the first finals match and it was all square coming into the grand final.
Perrett was to gain two votes in the Grand Final, whilst Vella obtained the maximum three votes to take out the title by one vote, with first year player, Renee Tomkins just a vote away in third spot. Tomkins was to take out the Player's Player Award.
The Under 19's Alan Stewart Medal saw a "back-to-back" recipient, Jacob Field take the coveted award. Runner-Up, Oscar Glass was only two votes astern after polling three votes on the final round of the home and away series, but neither were able to secure points in the semi-final and it was Field winning by two votes. Jacob also secured the vote of his team-mates in winning the player's player award.
In the Third Grade Medal, the lead was to change throughout the night. Early leaders, Tayt Corless and Christian Triffitt went through a dry spell through the middle of the season, dropping back to 6th and 7th spot but polled well late in the year. Corless, third place getter in the Sydney AFL Apted Medal, was able to hang on in the final series to secure a one vote win from Triffitt. Ben Shoebridge was a popular winner of the Player's Player.
In a shock but thoroughly deserved major award for the evening, Ramettes Renee Tomkins took out the Penrith Rams Best First Year Player Award. Against a hot field of players, including a Western Australian State Under 18's player, along with another who trialled with the Melbourne Demons before a serious injury and two Under 19's stars, Tomkins had a sensational first year of AFL. Renee juggled commitments in Premier Division soccer, which also saw her play for the Sydney Wanderers, to play an important role in the Ramettes success, including a massive goal in the grand final from outside the 50.
Many fine volunteers were recognised in the Clubperson of the Year for their tireless efforts. In the end it was player Michael Brown awarded the prestigious award. As well as playing, Michael was magnificent in his fundraising efforts, mach day assistance and much more, whilst juggling his family commitments with partner, board member and former Clubperson of the Year, Jennifer and their first daughter, Matilda, coming onto the scene mid-season.
With the retirement of head coach, Barry Denton, after two years at the helm, Kevin Kirk was announced as the new head coach for 2016. Barry did a fantastic job under somewhat difficult conditions in his time at the club and will be a keen spectator in the coming years. Kirky has had a remarkable career in Sydney AFL, playing at the highest level with Wests, Pennant Hill and Parramatta, gaining numerous awards. He made a comeback to football in 2013 with the Rams, coaching the third grade side to their first ever finals series in the last two years. He assisted in coaching all grades this year and will be a wonderful acquisition the club, albeit with big shoes to fill, in his role as the Rams head coach.