MATT Seiter and Tyler Bonat became the first joint winners of the Morris Medal in 14 years on Monday night.
The Wodonga ruckman and Yarrawonga star polled 23 votes each to secure the league’s top individual honour in a thrilling count at the SS and A club.
Seiter and Bonat, both 29, surged past pre-count favourite Christian Burgess in the final six rounds to follow in the footsteps of Dustin Burns and Tim Hargreaves, who tied in 2002.
They are the second Bulldog-Pigeon combination to collect the Morris Medal after Brett Allen and John Brunner shared the best and fairest in 1989.
Seiter polled two votes in the Bulldogs’ stirring final-round win over Wangaratta to draw level with Bonat.
Described as the “heart and soul” of the Bulldogs by coach Dean Harding, Seiter polled in 10 matches, including five best-on-grounds.
The Bulldogs workhorse, who went overseas and missed two matches in the middle part of the year, said it was a huge thrill to share the award with Bonat. Seiter’s father David was Bonat’s principal at Wangaratta’s Galen College.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” he said.
“Everyone said I was a chance but I didn’t think I could win it.
“It’s great to win it with Tyler, who’s been a very, very good player for Yarrawonga for a long, long time.
“This wasn’t my best fitness season, but you know what, I had a crack.”
With Craig Ednie, Tim Cooper and Xavier Leslie missing large chunks of the year through injury, Bonat stepped up in the Pigeons’ midfield to be best-on-ground six of the nine times he polled votes.
Bonat, who drew praise from co-coach Chris Kennedy throughout the season for his leadership, said it was an honour to follow in Ednie and Leslie’s footsteps by winning a Morris Medal.
“It’s a massive shock and not something I expected tonight,” he said.
“I thought it was a more consistent year from myself but you never know.
“I’m very honoured, I’m still in a fair bit of shock … it’s a great surprise, I’m really humbled.”
Lavington’s Luke Garland finished third on 21 votes with Burgess a vote further back on 20. Burgess led the count after 12 rounds with 15 votes but, remarkably, didn’t poll a vote with his five-goal performance against Albury in round 13 as the Saints got within two goals of the premiership favourites at McNamara Reserve.
Garland turned in four best-on-ground performances in the final six weeks of the season to charge into the top three after sitting 12th two-thirds of the way through the count.
Myrtleford co-coach Brad Murray, who won the medal in 2005, finished fifth on 19 votes.