Jacob Spackman was brought to Gunnedah through work and his lengthy association with the game of Australian Rules Football drew him to the Bulldogs.
The midfielder’s goals were simple – to meet friends, to teach the youngsters a thing or two – but he did a whole lot more than that.
Spackman – who hails from the Gold Coast and once held aspirations of being drafted into the AFL – is the 2017 winner of the Tony Gillies Medal for best and fairest player in the AFL North West competition.
I’ve played football for 15 years. I’ve played for money, I’ve played for the wrong reasons.Jacob Spackman
It’s not something he aimed to do or expected to happen.
And while the win is something he greatly appreciates – especially being able to receive the award alongside his pregnant partner – it was just something extra during a season that’s helped him as much as he’s helped his team.
“I learnt a lot as a person,” Spackman said of his season.
“I’ve played football for 15 years. I’ve played for money, I’ve played for the wrong reasons.
“I never got drafted, it was one of those things that never happened.
“When I joined up here it was all about meeting mates and giving the boys my knowledge of the game.”
One player Spackman’s taken under his wing this year is Ben Maher.
“I’ve been working a bit with Benny Maher, pushing him to be better as a footballer,” Spackman said.
“It hasn’t been about what I could do on the park, it was about teaching the boys about the game.”
Maher’s progress can be seen on the paddock and the young gun was another Bulldog recognised at the presentation night with the Rising Star Award.
Along with Spackman and Maher, Andrew George has had a big year and finished just behind Spackman in the medal count while Dogs full forward Mitchell Swain took out the Gerry Griffiths medal for the leading goal scorer of the competition where he’s plotted home 48 majors in the season to date.
George’s big year has been highlighted predominantly through his ability to play in the midfield but also cover any position on the ground from the forward line to the back line in equal capacity.
Swain has been used as the main target inside forward 50 for the Dogs, and his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly has been one of the contributing factors in the Bulldogs’ rise this season.
The players all make for a recipe for success but the job’s not done yet as the Bulldogs start their finals campaign this weekend.
Gunnedah will play New England Nomads in the major semi final at Wolseley Oval on Saturday and Spackman has one thing on his mind.
“It’s good to win the best and fairest but premierships make mates for life,” Spackman said.
“I think we’re all feeling pretty good confident with a couple of good wins on the paddock. If we train hard, which we’re all going to do, hopefully we’ll be there in the grand final.”
AFL NORTH WEST AWARDS
Best on ground for representative game
Men: Jake Spackman (Bulldogs)
Women: Jaimie Pay (Saints)
Best and Fairest (Tony Gillies Medal)
Men: Jake Spackman (Bulldogs)
Women: Eleanore Ford (Saints)
Men: Ben Maher (Bulldogs)
Women: Not awarded
Leading goal kicker (Gerry Griffith Medal)
Men: Mitchell Swain (Bulldogs)
Women: Shannon Campbell (Kangaroos)
Men: Tom Kelly (Swans)
Women: Eleanor Feeney (Saints)
Volunteer for 2017: Danielle Abbott (Kangaroos)
Volunteer (Merit for 10 years+): Gerry Taveira (Saints)