Nick O’Sullivan missed a large chunk of the 2016 Central West AFL season but the impact he made when playing for the Dubbo Demons was so impressive he was named the competition’s best and fairest last Friday night.
After undergoing a knee reconstruction during the off-season, O’Sullivan missed the start of the season and took some time to get going while a trip overseas during the middle of the season meant he only played 13 of the 18 matches this season.
But all that wasn't enough to stop him from being named the best player of 2016.
“It certainly took me by surprise and I wasn’t expecting it,” he said.
“I’m extremely humbled because there are some really, really good footballers around but I think it speaks volumes about our team.
“There were a lot of guys around me who were a big part of why I played some good footy and this is an award we can all share.”
O’Sullivan played a huge roll in the Demons’ run to third place on the ladder in 2016 and alongside Jono Naden formed one of the most lethal combinations in the league.
The quality of that combination and the Demons resurgence as a whole was recognised at the awards night with Naden finishing equal third in the best and fairest award.
Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaw Bill Watterson was alongside Naden while fellow Outlaws gun Peter Grundy finished second behind O’Sullivan.
“It came as a surprise because there were so many standouts this season,” O’Sullivan said.
“I thought Jono Naden had a really, really strong year and there were a heap others.”
Meanwhile, the Orange Tigers had a good night, bringing in several awards.
Lyndell Bassett finished third in the women’s best and fairest poll, while Austin Pearce and Gaige Saunders came equal second in the under-14 rankings. Tom Bock was second in the under-12 best and fairest.
The Tigers also had Ian Barrett, Daniel Bock, Mark Byrne, Andrew McIntyre, Nathan Pearce and Nicole Pearce presented with merit awards for more than 10 years’ service to the game.
It was a good night all-round for the Dubbo club as well with leading female Demon Jane Winter finishing as runner-up behind Bathurst’s Keeghan Tucker in her best and fairest award while prodigiously talent youngster Bailly Challin was named joint winner of the under-14 prize.
“It was a fantastic result for the club and says a lot about how much we’ve improved and speaks volumes about the people at the club,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan kicked 13 goals for the season but the majority of his work was done getting his side out of trouble and setting up chances for others.
CWAFL’s board made a note of thanking long-time secretary Kathy Sloan. Sloan has been the backbone of the competition for many years, but has elected to step down this year.
FULL AWARDS LIST:
Best and fairest: Nick O’Sullivan (Dubbo Demons)
Runners-up: Pete Grundy (Bathurst Bushrangers), Jono Naden (Dubbo Demons), Bill Watterson (Bathurst Bushrangers)
Leading goal-kicker: 61: Nathan Worth (Cowra Blues)
Best and fairest: Keeghan Tucker (Bathurst Bushrangers)
Runners-up: Jane Winter (Dubbo Demons), Lyndell Bassett (Orange Tigers)
Leading goal-kicker: 36: Keeghan Tucker (Bathurst Bushrangers)
Best and fairest: Hamish Gledhill (Young Saints)
Runners-up: Ricky Webb, Michael Long (Bathurst Bushrangers)
Leading goal-kickers: 38: Ricky Webb (Bathurst Bushrangers), Connor Slattery (Bathurst Giants)
Best and fairest: Ben Cant (Bathurst Giants), Bailey Challen (Dubbo Demons)
Runners-up: Austin Pearce, Gaige Saunders (Orange Tigers).
Best and fairest: Cooper Brien (Bathurst Giants)
Runners-up: Tom Bock (Orange Tigers), Jake Roberts (Cowra Blues)
COACH OF THE YEAR: Marc Hyland (Cowra Blues under-12, Central West AFL under-12)
MERIT AWARDS (to those who have contributed more than 10 years’ service): Richard Leary (Cowra Blues), Ian Barrett, Daniel Bock, Mark Byrne, Andrew McIntyre, Nathan Pearce, Nicole Pearce (Orange Tigers).
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Darryl Macauley (Bathurst Giants)
UMPIRES OF THE YEAR:
Junior: Aiden Macauley
Senior: Michaela Perceval
AUSKICK COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR: David Martin (Mudgee Black Swans)