King of the Reserves
At 30 years of age, Tristan Batten has achieved plenty in his football career, but winning Monday night’s George King Medal for the Best and Fairest player in the BFL Reserves competition rates among his highlights.
Batten put his hand up for a playing/coaching role in the Reserves this season, inheriting a team that finished runner up in last year’s Grand Final but had lost a considerable amount of experience during the off season. “It was good, I loved the coaching part of it. I did a full pre-season which really helped me, and coaching forced me to push a bit harder to get wins when we didn’t have a full squad. The guys gave 100% for me too”, he noted. While the task was challenging at times, Batten’s team was able to win half their games this season and sneak into the finals.
Football Operations Manager Brad Jamison was pleased with what Batten did for the Club this year. “I couldn’t speak more highly of Tristan’s performances this year both as a player and a coach. It’s no secret we lost a lot of experience from our reserves side from last season and at times this year we relied on top ups and Under 18 kids playing a second game to get us through. He’s a very proud person and a natural competitor. He lifted his game to another level this year and rose to the challenge. It can’t be easy being a playing coach, but his performances week in, week out were very, very consistent”.
Batten started his playing career at Melton South in the Under 10s, staying there until the Under 14s before his mates dragged him across town to the Melton Bloods Juniors. He played finals for the first time at Under 15s - in a four team competition! His journey at the Senior club began in 2003 when he joined the Bloods Under 18s. He’s played 10 seasons of footy at the Senior Club since, with a three year stint at Ballan in the middle. He enjoyed the experience of playing at Ballan for what he describes as a “one team town” where the outside fence was surrounded by cars at the start of the Under 18s game and the players were known by everyone in town. But after three years he’d had enough of the wet grounds and travel in the Central Highlands competition and decided to return home to the Bloods.
To date Batten has one club Best & Fairest to his name – the Bloods 2007 Reserves award in what was his first season out of the Under 18s. He recalls weighing all of 55kg at the time. The following season was his most successful senior year for the Bloods when he played 15 Senior games. But as he nears the latter years of his football career a premiership still eludes him. The pain of losing last year’s Reserves Grand Final still lingers, and like most players he’d happily swap any personal award for the opportunity to celebrate a premiership with his teammates.
A short break from footy awaits before Batten tackles another pre-season, this time without the responsibility of coaching the Reserves and with the determination of pushing for a senior spot. After a season where he played on ball all game and his body held up, he is keen to challenge himself again in the twilight of his playing career. There won’t be much spare time for him between now and November though – he and his wife Marlee are expecting their third child in early October.
Nobody involved with the Club should be surprised with the season Batten had. He has all the traits needed to be a successful person in football. “I live and breathe footy. I hate losing. That’s my personality”.
Picture Courtesy Dylan Burns/Ballarat Courier