COROWA-Rutherglen star Jake Ryan romped to victory in the Morris Medal last night, equalling the record number of votes in the Ovens and Murray Football League’s highest individual honour.
The Bali bombing survivor polled 31 votes to match Wangaratta Rovers’ legend Robbie Walker’s 1991 record and became the second Roo in five years to win the award, after Ryan MacKenzie won it in 2004.
The former Geelong rookie polled in a staggering 13 of the 18 rounds, including seven best-on-ground performances.
Ryan was the early frontrunner in last year’s Morris Medal count with five best-on-ground performances in the first six rounds before a shoulder injury finished his season in round 12.
“There has been a fair bit happen in the past few years especially with the injury last year,” a buoyant Ryan said.
“I just wanted to come back and play good footy.
“I’m just really stoked about winning it.
“I’ve probably had a more consistent year this year, I’ve been able to stay on the paddock which I haven’t been able to do before.
“It has been the difference and it has probably been career-best form because I have been able to consistently stay on the track and maintain my fitness.
“Like any bloke I would rather be playing this weekend but I am pretty excited about winning.”
Ryan revealed he had set himself a series of goals to achieve in his comeback season after his shoulder reconstruction.
“It was actually one of my goals to come back and play good footy — I wrote it down,” he said.
“I just really wanted to get through a full year and I was able to do that.
“And I guess I have sort of achieved it and achieving the goals has paid off.”
Ryan, 27, won by 10 votes from Wangaratta Rovers midfielder Jamie Allan, who polled in 10 rounds.
Allan finished with 21 votes, three clear of Wodonga’s pre-count favourite Matt Shir and Yarrawonga’s Xavier Leslie.
After eight rounds Ryan had polled 10 votes and was equal with Corowa-Rutherglen teammate Sam Carpenter and Wangaratta ruckman Paul Kirby.
Ryan then recorded two successive best-on-ground performances to take the outright lead from the pair.
From rounds 12 to 16 Ryan polled in every game and capped off his eye-catching season with another three-vote performance.
Allan’s second placing was his best finish in the Morris Medal after going into the 2006 count as one of the favourites.
The Hawks rover tied for the Leo Deane Medal for the thirds best and fairest with Lavington’s Trent Ball in 2002.
Ryan became just the third Corowa-Rutherglen player to win the Morris Medal after MacKenzie and John Kingston, who tied with Albury’s Tim Scott in 1994.
More reports, pictures, votes in today's Border Mail