Williamson wins

WFL - Jake Williamson has been crowned the Ararat Football Club's 2012 senior best and fairest after coming from behind to claim the top prize in the penultimate round of the season.

The 21-year-old joins his uncle Alistar as an Olver Memorial Medallist at the club. 

The opening round saw Williamson and Luke Todd each share in the best on ground votes in the 3,2,1 system, which sees three separate vote cards submitted after each match. 

After five rounds the midfield pair were equal second on 14 votes, while Aaron Searle held the lead on 18 courtesy of the maximum nine votes he received in round three against Horsham RSL Diggers following a six-goal haul. 

Searle injured his knee in the round five Stawell clash and didn't feature for the remainder of the season. 

By the halfway mark Todd had skipped away to a comfortable outright lead on 23 votes, after polling well in consecutive weeks against the Warriors and Dimboola, and Brett Dowie had snuck into second place with 21 votes. 

Dowie collected votes in seven of the Rats' first eight matches, while Nick Maddison had also entered the fray by round eight with 17 votes putting him third overall. 

Todd extended the gap further after Ararat's mid-season bye, polling eight votes against Minyip/Murtoa, however Williamson began to make his move in the final six rounds. 

The vice captain featured in every match and collected the maximum nine votes twice, which saw him pinch the lead in round 16 and go on to win with 48 votes - 11 clear of Todd on 37. 

With Dowie breaking his leg in round 11, Maddison overtook the utility with a consistent back half to the season, finishing a respectable third on 34 votes. 

Outgoing senior coach Scott Turner said he knew Williamson finished the year strongly and wasn't surprised with the come from behind victory. 

"Once we sort of put him in the backline with his skill and running he really started to shine," he said. 

"Like I said on Saturday night if he gets himself fully fit over summer he will only get better. 

His challenge now is to step up to the plate again." 

Turner said Williamson was a popular player around the club and had great leadership for a person his age. 

"He has come through the under-14s and proved he is capable of playing top footy," he said. 

"He may only be a little fella but he plays to his strengths and is really good on both sides."

Todd, in his first full year as a senior player slotted into the Rats' midfield with ease and was a good support to Williamson and captain Alan Batchelor.

"He has grown in stature, particularly after having a pre-season with the North Ballarat Rebels and he mixed it well with quality onballers," Turner said. 

"He has shown he is capable of playing with the Rebels next season if he gets fitter and I know he is doing running with (running coach) Marcus Cooper, so he can only improve from here on in. 

"Billy (Maddison) was a really good leader this season and if he is not getting a kick he is still instructing players on where to run and to man up, which was really valuable. 

"He might look old, but he is young at heart and will be a really great player to keep around the club for the coming years."

Turner awarded defender-turned-wingman Brad Harricks the most improved trophy for adding another dimension to his game, while young full forward Zach Louder received the leading goal kicker award. 

Jake Robinson picked up the most determined award after balancing eight games in the Ararat senior team with 10 for the North Ballarat Rebels.

The best first year player went to versatile tall Michael Wood, while Dan Vearing earned the coach's award for his role in the ruck during the season.

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