Returning Lower Plenty to the top-flight remains Tom Keys’ motivation after taking out the MC Labour Division 2 best and fairest.
The star utility claimed the award in a thrilling vote count, edging out ineligible Eltham captain and 2019 winner Brent Macaffer by a vote, while Banyule ruckman Tim Martin was one vote further back in third.
The best and fairest triumph added to Keys’ outstanding list of honours that includes a Division 2 premiership, club best and fairest and three Team of the Year selections.
Speaking to NFNL.org.au, Keys said he was “very honoured” to take out this year’s best and fairest award.
However, he found out he had won in a rather unique way.
“I got home after work and had my usual nap,” Keys said.
“I actually woke up at nine o’clock to about 10 messages from players and people from the footy club.”
While honoured to become just the third Lower Plenty player to win the Division 2 best and fairest, Keys said individual awards weren’t at the top of his priority list.
“I take these accolades as they come. The main one was to try and get the club back up to Division 1,”
Keys was a standout throughout the 2021 season, helping to steer Lower Plenty to second place with a 10-1 record before lockdown brought a premature end to the campaign.
As well as winning the best and fairest, he also finished third in the Coaches MVP voting and equal fifth on the goal kicking table – booting 25 goals in 12 games.
Keys believed it was one of his more consistent seasons despite what he conceded was a less than ideal preparation.
“I was probably as unfit as I’ve ever been at the start of the year,” Keys said.
“I put in a huge effort the year before when we got cancelled.
“Last year, I went from the back of the group to the front of it in all the runs, then this year I found myself back at the back,” he said.
Keys said he was impressed with the way his club had performed during the 2021 campaign in its bid for an immediate return to the top-flight.
“We were full of confidence that if we’d played that finals series we had a good body of work behind us to try and take that next step,” he said.
“Everyone was obviously pretty disappointed that the year couldn’t play out the way we hoped, but onwards and upwards. We move on to next year.”
Keys said he was excited at the prospect of being tutored by Phil Plunkett, with Lower Plenty appointing the former Heidelberg and Bundoora premiership mentor as coach for 2022.
“It’s good moving forward for the young kids and the footy club to have someone like ‘Plunks’ in charge,” Keys said.
“It gives them something to look forward to in 2022.”