By Tara Murray
Keilor’s Kane Barbuto capped off the perfect season with the ultimate award at the Essendon District Football League best and fairest night.
Having captained the Blues to an undefeated season that finished with a premiership last weekend, Barbuto was the runaway winner in the Reynolds Medal winning by 10 votes.
Barbuto led for most of the count and couldn’t be beaten with two rounds remaining.
For Barbuto, who also claimed the best on ground medal in the grand final, to win the Reynolds Medal was special.
“It’s more than I could have aimed for, “ he said.
“It’s a bonus. I got everything I was searching for [premiership], things that are coming now I didn’t expect.
“I’m more than happy to take them, that’s for sure. It’s good to see to hard work eventually pays off.”
Barbuto, who was the favourite heading into the night, said personally he thought he had a good year, but was unsure what the umpires had seen.
He said there were more than a few nerves throughout the count.
“Personally I thought I had a really good year, “ he said. “I always rank my year, how the team has gone, so you never know.
“When you win 18 games in a year, the votes generally seem to go towards your team.
“Mick [McGuane] asked me after the round 14 [leaderboard] snap, how is the heart rate is?
“It was about 200 at that stage. When I realised that I couldn’t be beaten, it went up even higher.
“I don’t know whether it was nerves as I had to go on stage or I was excited I had actually won it.”
The 27-year-old said he still thought he had his best football ahead of him.
It was a big night for the Blues.
Barbuto was named captain of the year for a second straight year. Blues coach Mick McGuane was alongside him for a second year, named coach of the year.
Barbuto said it was pretty special. He said McGuane had done a lot for him both on and off the field.
“I was fortune to win it last year, but when you get done in the grand final, that year before recognised as the captain, you don’t feel like you’ve earned it.
“This year to captain a premiership and received the award, it’s a good feeling.”
Barbuto’s Keilor teammate David Isbister finished equal second in the Reynolds Medal with Strathmore’s Nick O’Brien.
Dean Galea, who won the division’s leading goal kicker, finished fifth in the best and fairest count.
Barbuto said it was pleasing to see his teammates and coach get recognition as well.