By Ant Wingard
Yeppoon Swans spearhead Tom Cossens has capped off a remarkable 2018 season, winning the Bernie Gottke Medal for the best and fairest player in the AFL Capricornia senior men’s competition.
Cossens was awarded the league’s top individual honour in front of nearly 150 of his peers, staff, media and AFL Queensland officials at the Frenchville Sports Club on Saturday.
Despite playing just 11 of the Swans’ 15 games for the season, Cossens’ remarkable season saw him finish atop the Bernie Gottke Medal leaderboard with 16 votes – just one vote ahead of his older brother, Leigh, on 15 votes.
His stellar 2018 season is even more remarkable given the past 12 months for Cossens, who missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing a knee reconstruction to a torn ACL prior to the season.
After playing as a midfielder throughout most of his career with the Swans, Cossens was moved deep inside 50 by head coach Mark Wallin – a decision that proved wonders as Yeppoon went through the season undefeated.
Cossens booted a competition-high 106 goals from his 11 matches playing as the Swans’ key forward; also claiming the league’s top goal kicker award.
Often finding himself double-teamed as the Swans manufactured scoring opportunities, Cossens’ upper body strength and tremendous balance allowed him to take a number of contested marks.
Cossens was also blessed with a long kick and proved deadly in front of goal and never went goalless throughout the season.
On five occasions throughout the year, Cossens booted double-digit majors in a single game, including a 22-goal haul in Round 14 against Gladstone.
Former Brownlow Medallist and triple premiership player, Simon Black, was just one of the many people in attendance to see Cossens crowned the Bernie Gottke Medal.
Black partook in an informal Q&A at the event with MC Wayne Clifford, where he told stories about the Lions’ three consecutive premierships and the different personalities and players he interacted with along the journey.
It was Black’s first visit to the beef capital, where he was impressed with the quality of the region and the turnout of the event.
AFL Capricornia Competition and Club Development Manager, Brad Matheson, said the event was a resounding success.
“The event was a tremendous success for the region and is another step forward in developing the profile of our game, it was the biggest awards presentation that we have hosted,” Matheson told aflq.com.au.
“It was great to see all clubs and umpires represented at the Event along with our invited guests and we were fortunate to have someone of the calibre of Simon in our region.”
“The day was a great opportunity to reward some of the fantastic footballers that we have in our region.”
The medal is named after Bernie Gottke, who has done a lot for football in the region despite never playing a game. He is a life member of AFL Capricornia and operated in an administrators role for a long time in the early days of the competition.