by Sam Gastin (Twitter: @samg186)
DANIEL Rajab was at the heart of the Bayswater resurgence that occurred midway through the 2013 season.
And on Friday night, Rajab was suitably honoured for his contributions by being awarded the Kenneth Wright Medal for the Best and Fairest player in Division 2.
‘It does come as a big honour and I’m very grateful,’ Rajab said.
Since arriving in the EFL from Northcote Park in the Northern Football League, Rajab has taken the league by storm with his flashy running game and reliable right-foot kick.
Playing 17 out of a possible 18 games, Rajab kicked 13 goals playing predominantly through the midfield and half-forward line.
However, it wasn’t always an easy transition for the 26-year-old.
‘They’ve made me feel very welcome and really welcomed me with open arms,’ Rajab said.
‘I’ve got to credit the leaders of the club – Ryan Handley and Joel Galvin as well as Neil Winterton. They’ve let me do my thing this year and I’m so happy to be here.’
As the Waters established their position as a team that could not be taken lightly, Rajab made his presence felt in his debut EFL season.
From Round 11 through to Round 17, Rajab’s diverse skillset earned him four best on ground performances, as Bayswater found its feet and consolidated on missed opportunities earlier in the year.
‘We sat down and took a good, hard look at ourselves and discussed what we need to do to improve,’ Rajab said.
‘I took it upon myself to take control of training a bit and lift the intensity up. And we finished strongly, which shows positive signs going into next year.’
The respect for Rajab’s season stems beyond the EFL umpires.
The midfielder also secured the admiration of rival Division 2 coaches and received a position in the SEN Team of the Year.
‘It’s a great effort for him to come from a different competition, play in the EFL and win the award,’ said Waverley Blues coach Brett Davidson.
‘We hadn’t heard much about him when he played against us and he really was a dominating force. He’s so hard to match up on.’
Teammates Neil Winterton, Wayne McInerney and Russell Comb joined Rajab in the Team of the Year, as Bayswater’s success on Senior Presentation Night continued.
Three of the past four Kenneth Wright medallists have called Bayswater Oval home; with Joel Galvin receiving the award in 2012 in addition to Bernie Dinneen in 2010.
Rajab attributes this success to a strong culture on and off the field.
‘It’s a great culture down there. They love their functions probably more than any other club I’ve seen and it’s great,’ he said.
And Rajab was adamant that his role at the club would expand in 2014.
‘I want to step up into a leadership role next year and help out around training and in the pre-season. Any knowledge that I can bring in from my experience and give to the boys I will,’ he said.
‘I can see us definitely making the finals next year.’