Shepparton’s Thorneycroft salutes in NCWL league vote count

By Aydin Payne

Despite an early exit from the Northern Country Women's League finals series last weekend, one of Shepparton's standout performers enjoyed a memorable evening on Tuesday. 

At the league vote count and presentation night, talented Bears footballer Ash Thorneycroft was crowned the league's best-and-fairest winner.

Meanwhile, teammate and sharpshooter Samantha Heron took out the leading goal-kicking award with tally of 53 majors.

Ending the count on 19 votes from 15 games, Thorneycroft edged out teammate Bree Davison (16), Benalla's Kylie Relf (15) and Mooroopna's Tamara Smith (14).

After being crowned the best player in the league, Thorneycroft revealed she went along not expecting the outcome.

"I didn't go in expecting to win, it was a bit of a shock," she said.

"I was really surprised when I started climbing the leaderboard during the season.

"Because I thought I started the season pretty slow.

"It wasn't until halfway through the season I started to hit my straps a bit."

Thorneycroft was awarded for her stellar season with the Bears, where she kicked 26 majors.

A regular in the midfield, Thorneycroft was shifted up forward at the start of the season, taking up the centre half-forward position.

"Playing up forward was definitely different to what I was used to," Thorneycroft said.

"As a midfielder you sort of go in and grab the ball.

"But at centre half-forward you are relying on the ball to be delivered to you."

Thorneycroft's success comes off the shock preliminary final loss to Mooroopna last weekend, as her side's back-to-back premiership hopes ended.

Although the disappointment of last weekend still lingered, the versatile player ranks the best-and-fairest as a highlight in her career.

"It's definitely a highlight for me," she said.

"I'm very grateful and I did not expect it at all.

"But individual awards fall behind the team awards."

And Thorneycroft made sure to thank her teammates and coach as well.

"I'd like to thank my teammates for all their support this season," she said.

"And my coaches for passing on their knowledge and helping me grow as a player."

The other awards on the night went to Nathalia's Sharnah Stevens as the league's rising star winner, while Nathalia's Simon Quarrell was named Coach of the Year and Shepparton's Arthur Hobson was named Administrator of the Year.

Award winners

League best-and-fairest: Ash Thorneycroft (Shepparton)

Leading goal-kicker: Samantha Heron (Shepparton)

Rising star: Sharnah Stevens (Nathalia)

Coach of the Year: Simon Quarrell (Nathalia)

Administrator of the Year: Arthur Hobson (Shepparton)