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by Andy Paolacci

SOUTH Belgrave’s Alex Benbow has won the Perc James Medal – the EFL’s Division 4 League Best & Fairest award – for season 2013.

After being awarded the Morrish Medal as the best player in the TAC Cup just two years ago, Benbow added to his trophy cabinet in blistering fashion, fighting off stiff competition from Ferntree Gully’s Paul Giannopoulos and Kilsyth’s Jay Sherlock.

In his debut season with the Saints, Benbow dominated from the outset, accumulating a whopping 17 votes from the first 10 rounds.

What seemed to be an unassailable lead for the star Saint actually turned on its head, with Benbow and Giannopoulos tied for the lead following the Eagles’ scintillating second-half season display.

However, four votes in the final two games for the gun recruit, including a best-on-ground performance in South Belgrave’s 176-point demolition of Coldstream, confirmed his status as the division’s best in 2013.

Benbow has enjoyed a much-hyped past couple of years, after excelling for the Dandenong Stingrays in season 2011, where he was named on the half-forward flank in the 2011 TAC Cup Team of the Year.

The nuggetty midfielder went on to play a season with VFL-affiliate Northern Blues last year, before joining the Saints amid wild fanfare in season 2013.

And what a season he had. In fact, to say Benbow dominated Division 4 would be an understatement!

The explosive centreman took his Saints to a new level, playing 17 games, kicking 20 goals from midfield and being named in the best eight times.

Benbow has the ability to kick on both sides, while his eye for goal and exceptional hands make him that perfect forward-of-centre midfielder that he has developed into today.

If it weren’t for Benbow’s offensive qualities that justified his standing as the division’s best, then perhaps the distinctive long red hair and beard caught the attention of the umpires in the vote count.

A deserved winner, Benbow finished on 23 votes, four clear of Paul Giannopoulos (19) and seven clear of third place: Kilsyth’s Jay Sherlock (16).

Benbow also has the privilege of being named in the SEN Division 4 Team of the Year (ruck-rover), along with teammates Todd Burley (full-back), Leigh Odermatt (centre half-forward), Alex Bakens (forward pocket) and Dustin Apps (ruck).

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