Ben Baker has underlined his status as one of Howlong's most important players by claiming his first best and fairest at the club.
The midfielder, 23, beat Hamish Clark to the top award and said the accolade put a satisfying finish on a challenging season.
"I've been playing at Howlong my whole life and I've come third and fourth and second numerous times to 'Cookie' (Peter Hancock) and Steve Jolliffe over the years so it's good to actually get one," Baker said.
"Getting a full pre-season in last year was key for me.
"Fitness hasn't always been my strong point and being able to have a full pre-season under Dave (Miles), as a new coach, that was pretty helpful.
"Fitness has always been my issue but if I've been able to get fit, it usually leads to playing good footy.
"Doing a pre-season was something that my old man and the football club have pushed me to do for the last few years so that was a main driving factor."
The Spiders finished third-bottom in the Hume league, with a 3-13 record, but Baker insists there is cause for optimism heading into 2022.
"We're actually in pretty good shape, considering we only won a couple of games," he said.
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"We had everyone signed on for this year before the end of the season and we've picked up a couple more, we've got a lot of young blokes coming through and we've already started pre-season this year and they're right into it so it actually feels pretty good as a club.
"Our goal is definitely finals and even further if possible.
"We're already getting some good numbers on the track, especially our younger blokes like Baxter Macfarlane.
"He was running rings around everyone the other night so he's one to watch out for next year and there's a few other young blokes who are playing their third or fourth year of senior footy so they'll be massive ups for us."
Macfarlane was named Rising Star at Howlong's presentation and Manny Hughes took the coaches award. Ash Murray picked up the goal kicking award, Matt McDonald was most determined and David Goodwin most versatile.
Baker's form this year did catch the eye of other clubs but he was never going to walk away.
"You always want success at your home club and I've grown up in Howlong," Baker said. "There were a couple of clubs interested but it's pretty basic for me.
"The only thing I would do is go and have a crack at the Ovens and Murray but the workload's too much for me at the moment.
"I'm a sparkie, I work out in Howlong now and that keeps me pretty busy."
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