Liam Gledhill has broken the shackles.
After perennially finding himself the bridesmaid on Cricket Shepparton’s Lightfoot Medal night — with four second-placed finishes in the count during his career — Numurkah’s captain stormed to a maiden title last night.
It was yet another nervous count for the Blues leader though, only wrestling the ascendancy from Mooroopna star Will Hale in the penultimate round of the season.
‘‘Will has had a pretty good season, he started off really well,’’ Gledhill said.
‘‘I felt as though I didn’t have a real super season, I was just a little bit consistent with bat and ball which was able to get me over the line.’’
Gledhill’s 16 votes were enough for him to claim ‘‘Bert’’ by one vote over Hale and Shepparton United’s Rehan Bari, who polled three in the last round to jump into equal second spot.
Tatura coach Tim Kelly and Katandra captain Jedd Wright rounded out the top five with 13 votes, joining Bari as the most consistent performers of the year by polling in seven separate matches.
Hale was always going to be tough to beat, and after four consecutive three-vote games from round three to round six looked as if he would be unstoppable.
But after polling eight votes in the first nine rounds, Gledhill doubled his tally in the space of three clashes to hit the lead.
It proved enough to hold on as Hale, Kelly and Wright all failed to poll in the final game of the regular season.
As a result Gledhill was surprised to clinch the medal late in the count.
‘‘I didn’t expect to come here tonight to win, I came here to talk for being in the grand final on Sunday,’’ Gledhill said.
‘‘I’m just really thankful for being known now as a Lightfoot medallist which I’m really exited about.
‘‘This year with us having a successful side it’s probably settled me down a little bit and taken a little bit of pressure off me to have to perform each week, so it’s very pleasing.’’
While Gledhill’s overall statistics with the bat were impressive — 350 runs at 38.89 — it was his match-winning ability with the ball which drew the attention of the association’s umpiring fraternity.
Gledhill snared 24 wickets at 10.67 during his campaign, but hauls of 6-37 from 36 overs, 3-7 from five and 3-17 from six stood out as decisive in claiming the Lightfoot Medal — Numurkah’s second in six seasons after Mark Brown won in 2012-13.
The star hopes that breaking one hoodoo last night will lead to more success this weekend in Numurkah’s first A-grade decider since the 1999-2000 season.
‘‘It’s good, Browny is a fantastic cricketer, so hopefully he’ll be there on Saturday,’’ Gledhill said.
‘‘Hopefully we can take some confidence into the weekend and hopefully we can break a drought.’’
Hale was still rewarded for his outstanding season, snaring the A-grade batting average and most runs (482 at 43.82), the Cricketer of the Year and Under-23 Cricketer of the Year awards and the Kent Crosby Memorial Trophy for best performed Melbourne Country Week player (shared with Numurkah’s Michael Eckard).
Bari and Hale also found their way into the association’s Team of the Year, while Northerners quick Mark Nolan received the nod for most wickets and best bowling average (26 at 14.15).