TAYLOR Regan took out the inaugural Ray Baartz Medal as the Men of Football’s Jets player of the year last night and confidence was high at the function that the Dudley-Redhead junior will not be the last recipient.
Regan polled one more vote than New Zealand international striker Jeremy Brockie to claim the award in front of about 100 at the Exchange Hotel in Hamilton.
The awards night though was overshadowed by Hunter Sports Group’s attempt last Tuesday to hand back Newcastle’s A-League licence amid a bitter dispute with Football Federation Australia.
The decision has Regan and his home-town club’s future up in the air, but he said he was buoyed by the feeling among the former players of the Men in Football group last night.
‘‘It’s been quite a tough week, but you see a lot of old faces here and a lot of knowledgeable people on football in Newcastle here tonight,’’ Regan said. ‘‘There’s a lot of optimism around and these men think there will be a team next year, and I hope they’re right.’’
Regan said the players were sticking together in the hope their futures in Newcastle would be secured.
‘‘I’ve spoken to a few of the boys and obviously we’re all sitting tight and waiting to see what eventuates over the next week or so,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re a little bit hesitant to commit to anything with other clubs because we all still have contracts here and we’d like to fulfil them and stay with a club that we see moving forward. Hopefully the FFA sees that and we get saved in one way or another, whether that’s through Hunter Sports Group or under FFA.’’
The defender, who played in 20 of the Jets’ 27 A-League games, surged to the lead in voting through an impressive run of form in the middle of the season. The 23-year-old was in and out of the starting side through the final third of the campaign and was second in voting heading into the final-round game against Sydney FC.
A strong display in the 3-2 loss edged him past Brockie to take the award.
Ruben Zadkovich was second, Ryan Griffiths third and Nikolai Topor-Stanley fourth. Regan said he was surprised to get the gong.
‘‘But to get recognised by former players of the game is a big honour, and the award is obviously named after arguably one of the biggest names of all time in Australian football, and I feel privileged to have won it,’’ he said.
Men of Football treasurer Graham Hills said Regan’s passing ability and defensive awareness impressed voters through the year.
Hills agreed with Regan that confidence was high last night that the Jets would be on the field next season.
‘‘I think the football community just feels very strong and resilient and that we’re big enough to get over this one,’’ Hills said.