Mr Magic rewarded
By GREG WHITE
ORARA Valley's champion centre Matt Donovan has described winning the Rex Hardaker Memorial Award for Carlton Mid Group 2 Player of the Year as something to be proud of.
"During the season I followed the progress points in the Coffs Coast Advocate until the cut off point and knew I'd give it a good run," he said.
"You get a feeling how you're playing as the season goes on and I think I played some good football, especially towards the back end of the year and I was very proud to come out on top."
In a landmark 2007 where he made it through to another grand final Donovan did have the look of somebody enjoying himself after handing the coaching reigns to Darryl Fisher at the end of 2006.
"Coaching with all its pressures is a hard business and I doubt I'll have aspirations to take the job on again at first grade level," he said.
"But I'm eager to coach in the juniors and hope to get more active there in the future."
While that's good news for a lot of young players, the best news is Donovan's brilliant career will continue with the Axemen.
"As long as the body allows me to stay active I doubt I've ever been as keen to play football I'll stay involved," he added.
"During the off-season I'll take it easier and then see how things are shaping up in January when the Orara Sevens arrive.
"But whatever injuries I've got are little niggling things and generally, I feel really good."
Donovan paid credit to the legends that played their last matches in Sunday's grand final.
Retirees Paul Davis, Reg Donovan and Brett Davis are part of an historically elite group to which Donovan belongs but from which he may end up as the 'last man standing.'
"Paul and I started at the same time and even as a little kid he had a pad and paper and was writing football teams down and making notes about things he could use," Donovan laughed.
"He's always been an amazing person and a great influence, a force for good.
"With Uncle Brett and Reggie, everybody knows they're special."
After finishing with 18 tries for the season, Donovan was surprised to find how close he came to leading try-scorer, Nathan Davies of Sawtell.
While it's a long way from the glories of 1997 when he crossed the line 59 times, a decade on the speed, agility and perfectly balanced running style still remain.
"Probably Dave Pickvance at Macksville is the only bloke around at the moment who could give that big total a shake," he said proudly.
"But watch for (club mate) Hayden Fisher to score a lot of tries for Orara next year, now that he's settled in.
"Making the grand final was great for the Axemen and we'll be back better next year.
"I'm very happy and can't wait to get back to become part of it again."