Kel Evans was just a teenage landscaper from Tathra when he started coming to Queanbeyan to play cricket. Little did he know he would soon be regarded as the best footballer in Canberra.
The Queanbeyan Tigers midfielder was crowned the Mulrooney Medallist as AFL Canberra's best and fairest player at the league's awards night on Monday.
Evans snapped Belconnen's five-year stranglehold on the gong to become Queanbeyan's first medallist since Mitch Daniher in 2010.
It caps off a stellar season for the 19-year-old sensation, who has quickly emerged as one of the competition's most electrifying players since Tigers coach Dave Corcoran lured him to football two years ago.
"When I was younger I was right into my cricket and started coming up to play for Queanbeyan as a wicketkeeper and that's how I met Dave, through the cricket club," Evans said in June.
"During an off-season I decided to have a run with footy and just fell in love with it. [I] started going alright so I thought I'd come to Queanbeyan for that instead and it just so happened Dave turned out to be the first-grade coach and he got me on board."
The Tathra product was picked for the Canberra representative side that thrashed the best of the Black Diamond League in May.
If his meteoric rise continues, many wouldn't be surprised if he follows in the footsteps of another Tathra junior that used a stint in Canberra to launch his AFL career.
That player is AFL finals-bound Melbourne Demons forward Aaron vandenBerg.
"It'd be unreal if I was to follow him. I don't know if I'm as talented as him, but it'd be unreal if those opportunities came up, for sure," Evans said.
Gungahlin Jets star Britt Tully capped off another superb individual season to claim her third-straight Mary Ann Bainrot medal as the first grade women's best and fairest.
The Greater Western Sydney midfielder has reaffirmed her status as one of the league's premier players, while Riverina Lions star Eliza Oates claimed the women's second grade best and fairest gong.
Ainslie's Matthew Thompson won the J. McNamara Medal for best and fairest in the second grade competition as he turns his attention to producing another premiership at the Tricolours' flag factory.
Eastlake Demons prospect James McCormack has reaffirmed his status as a player to watch after clinching the T.A. Wharton Medal for the Rising Stars competition.
Molonglo Juggernauts veteran Simon McPherson claimed a third consecutive J.P O'Dea Medal to win third grade's best and fairest award, this time splitting the honours with Cootamundra's James Finucane.
Goulburn Swans star Simon Treloar claimed best and fairest honours in fourth grade.
Queanbeyan's Rising Stars mentor Chris Clifton won the coach of the year gong to cap off a stellar night for the Tigers after they claimed the club championship.
AFL CANBERRA BEST AND FAIREST AWARDS 2018
Mulrooney Medal (men's first grade) - Kel Evans, Queanbeyan Tigers
J. McNamara Medal (men's second grade) - Matthew Thompson, Ainslie Tricolours
T.A. Wharton Medal (men's Rising Stars) - James McCormack, Eastlake Demons
Mary Ann Bainrot Medal (women's first grade) - Britt Tully, Gungahlin Jets
Women's second grade best and fairest - Eliza Oates, Riverina Lions
J.P O'Dea Medal (men's third grade) - Simon McPherson, Molonglo Juggernauts/James Finucane, Cootamundra Blues
Men's fourth grade best and fairest - Simon Treloar, Goulburn Swans
Coach of the Year - Chris Clifton, Queanbeyan Tigers
Club Champion (community grades) - ANU Griffins
Club Champion (senior grades) - Queanbeyan Tigers
Volunteer of the Year - Jenny Church, ANU Griffins
Women’s Rising Star - Jacqueline Parry, ANU Griffins
Junior Women's player of the Year - Jayde Hamilton, Queanbeyan Tigers
AFL CANBERRA GRAND FINALS
First grade - Ainslie Tricolours v Eastlake Demons at Manuka Oval, 2.30pm.
Second grade - Queanbeyan Tigers v Ainslie Tricolours at Manuka Oval, 12pm.
Rising Stars - Queanbeyan Tigers v Ainslie Tricolours at Manuka Oval, 9.30am.
Women's first grade - Eastlake Demons v Queanbeyan Tigers at Manuka Oval, 6pm.
All games on Sunday.
Grand finals for men's third and fourth grade, as well as women's second grade, will be played at Phillip Oval on September 22.
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