By Tara Murray
A stunning first season with Westmeadows has seen Robbie Castello claim the Essendon District Football League division 1 best and fairest award, the Hutchison Medal.
Castello, who moved to the Tigers this year after stepping down from coaching Maribyrnong Park, polled three votes in the final match of the year to claim the medal.
He finished three clear from Roxburgh Park’s Harley Short and West Coburg’s Tom Baravi.
Castello said he was unsure how he would go in the medal count.
“I didn’t think I was going to win, I missed a lot of footy this year because of work and a couple of little injuries,” he said.
“I’m good mates with Tommy Baravi and it would have been nice to see him win it, he’s a really good footballer.
“Harley Short had a really good year too. I’ll take the individual acknowledgement.”
Castello moved to the Tigers after work commitments with the fire brigade made it too hard for him to continue coaching at Maribyrnong Park.
With several clubs chasing his signature, it was a connection with Mo Kaakour, who had been appointed to the Tigers coaching panel that got him across the line.
Kaakour, who has been appointed the senior coach this season, had a major role this year with Grant Smith travelling a lot for work.
“I obviously had to make the decision at the end of last year, with my work commitments,” he said.
“I didn’t want to play against them [Maribyrnong] in premier division and I didn’t think I could commit to that level.
“It made it a little bit easier when Mo got the coaching job, I knew him pretty well from Maribyrnong Park.
“We would speak on the phone every day. I’m glad I made the decision.“
Castello said he had loved his time at the Tigers and he has already re-signed for next season.
He said having been transferred from a fire station in Portland to Sunbury had taken some pressure off him as a well.
“It’s a great community club, it’s like a little village down there,” he said.
“We’ve got a really good support group all the boys made me feel really welcome and my family and it’s been sensational.
“Not coaching any more gave me the ability to enjoy my football.
“I’m really looking forward to next year and I can’t wait to get back into pre-season. I never thought I would say that, I’m 33 year-old.”
Castello, who said he would love the opportunity to coach again, said the future was bright at the Tigers.
The side finished fourth this year, with their under-19s winning the division 1 premiership.
He said hopefully they could work towards the one thing missing from his career.
“I would do anything for a premiership, I haven’t won one at senior level. I’m hanging for one of those.”