Caroline Springs gun Stephen Brewer thought he was too old to be winning league best and fairests.
At 37, Brewer had been taking his footy year by year for the last five years or so, aware his career is coming towards the end.
So when he was recently named the Western Region Football League’s Barry Priest Medalist for the best player in division 1, he was shocked.
“I’m in shock to win one at my age,” he said. “I had gone close before, but to win one at my age in a different format and not being there in person, it was a bit of a surprise.
“Not many people win one at my age. “I’m very grateful to win it.”
Brewer was at home with his partner when the online count started. With a number of messages, his feed of the awards started to lag.
Having hit the front in the second last round, Brewer knew he didn’t have the best game in the final round.
“I wasn’t confident of getting votes in the final round,” he said. “It wasn’t my best game.
“Anthony Eames [Spotswood coach] always makes it difficult for me. I did okay.
“I couldn’t remember the other results.”
The win is Brewer’s first league best and fairest win. He came fourth in 2019 in his first season with Caroline Springs, having finished second in 2014 when he was at Greenvale.
Brewer said this year was much better than 2019, which was derailed by an injury which left him unable to train much.
Brewer is the first person to admit that he didn’t think he would still be playing now.
“When I was finishing up in the VFL, the AFL doctor with the club said you won’t be playing on like Dustin Fletcher [who played AFL until he was 40].
“Your body is beat up. I’d had hip and knee injuries.
“Whenever you’re over 30, people are always quick to retire you. I’ve gone into most years, the last five or six years, thinking it could be the last.
“The end can come quickly. A bad injury and then you can fall off the cliff quickly.”
Brewer credits his fitness and knowing what his body can do, as key reasons why he has continued to play quality football.
Brewer said he had loved playing at Caroline Springs in recent years, but wasn’t 100 per cent sure what his playing future held.
“Caroline Springs has been so welcoming,” he said.
“Coming across as a 35-year-old who didn’t know anyone and was considering retirement at the time.
“I would love to keep coming back. I live and work in Bayside, so I have a big decision to make.”