2016 Robert Hyde Medal Presentation Night Winners
Story by Tim Michell
MIDFIELDER Ben Ronke’s superb debut TAC Cup season was rewarded with Calder Cannons’ best-and-fairest award on Friday night.
Drafted into the Cannons’ squad for 2016 after playing in St Bernard’s Victorian Amateur Football Association premiership last year, Ronke enjoyed a strong 2016 campaign which was recognised with this year’s Robert Hyde Medal.
He pipped reliable defender Zach Guthrie to claim the top award, who led for much of the count before Ronke polled enough votes in Calder’s elimination final loss to Oakleigh to overhaul him.
Ronke finished with 131 votes, 14 clear of Guthrie, with bottom-age on-baller Brad Bernacki third on 62 votes.
Hayden Blythe (50 votes) and key forward Karl Brown (39) rounded out the top five in the best-and-fairest count.
Ronke impressed at last week’s AFL Draft state combine and has been listed as a potential category B rookie by Essendon due to his South African heritage.
His blistering pace and goalkicking ability were features of his game this year, particularly in the second half of the campaign.
Cannons talent manager Ian Kyte tipped Ronke would be snapped up in the national or rookie draft, which would cap a sharp rise over the past 12 months for the St Bernard’s junior.
Meanwhile, gutsy midfielder James Peters was awarded the Corporal Cameron Baird VC MG Award as Calder’s Most Courageous player after overcoming a wretched run with injury to feature in the club’s elimination final.
Peters has had a luckless run over the past two years, but his infectious personality has made him a favourite among his teammates at Rams Arena.
The Most Improved Award went to Guthrie, who shone in defence as he sought to emulate his older brother Cam by being drafted onto an AFL list.
In other player awards handed out at Calder’s presentation night: Tyson Lever won the Team Targets Award, Karl Brown was given the Leading Goalkicker trophy, Ryan Baker received the Coaches Award, Ronke won Best on Track and Campbell Moorfield was recognised with the Academic Achievement Award.
Aaron King and Brian Price’s dedication to the club was rewarded with Life Membership induction.
The Most Valuable Clubperson award was shared between Phil Ridi and Brett Pollard, while two Cannons (Brown and Blythe) were recognised for their selection in the under-18 Vic Metro squad.