Not even in his wildest dreams did Mitch Haddrill believe he was a chance of winning the Clear Medal.
On a break from the farm to visit family in Canberra, he was almost asleep when news started to filter through on Wednesday night.
“I was lying in bed and the phone rang and it was my brother and he asked if I was watching (the live blog on Daily Advertiser website),” Haddrill said.
“I don’t even really know how to do that. But one of his mates had text him and said I was in front. I said, ‘Oh, he’s probably pulling your leg’. I didn’t trust that.
“It’s a massive surprise.
“I didn’t expect to be up there at all, to be honest. I thought Hully (East Wagga-Kooringal ruckman Nick Hull) might have taken out this year again.”
Late Wednesday night, Haddrill wasn’t even sure he’d manage a celebratory drink.
“I’ve been in bed. I don’t know if I should crack one or not,” he said.
“It’s never too late I guess.”
Without a vote before round seven, Haddrill finished strongly to win by three from The Rock-Yerong Creek big man Lachie Hunter, despite playing only 13 games.
The son of two-time Gammage Medal winner, Terry Haddrill, the Jets midfielder said he felt underdone all year after a knee injury in the opening round.
It ruled him out until the end of May. With Easter, a club bye and a representative bye, he missed only three games but said he certainly didn’t feel as though he was playing himself into a purple patch.
“I felt unfit and like I was lagging a bit behind,” he said.
Three Jets were in the top five, with Alex Rogers and Sam Fisher also enjoying superb seasons.
If anything, Haddrill thought Rogers was a “pretty red-hot chance” of claiming the medal.
Honoured to receive the award, he said the disappointment of the team finishing outside the five still hurts.
“Hopefully we can play finals next year,” he said. “I’d love to win a premiership out here, being the home town.”
Jets coach Mitch Robinson accepted the medal on Haddrill’s behalf. The midfielder said Robinson’s role was a big factor in his good season.
“I think Mitch is a great coach. He’s done an awesome job out there,” Haddrill said.
“The last few years, we’ve struggled getting numbers to training and this year we had 40 blokes there a few times which hasn’t really happened since Matt Hard was coaching back in 07, 08.”