Co-Captain Paul Thomas finishes High in Best & Fairest count

By Ella Watson

Co-Captain Paul Thomas had a spectacular night at the Central District Football Club Best and Fairest Night on Saturday.
Thomas received a special milestone award for playing 250 career games; he reached 250 games in round three this season against Glenelg at Glenelg Oval.
Thomas also won Most Consistent Player of the Year which according to Senior Coach Roy Laird is a testament to Thomas’s hard work on and off the field and his dedication to the club.  
“Excellent effort considering Paul is heading into his early thirties, some players start to lose form or their priorities change, but he has still been an enormous player for us.”
“He sets a great example for all those players who are around him.”
Thomas’s third award for the night was Runner up from the Norm Russell Medal (Best and Fairest) for which he received 211 votes. Just a mere 5 votes shy of winner Travis Schillers tally of 216.
Over his career at Centrals Paul has won the Norm Russell Medal twice in 2004 and 2009, been runner up Three times and has placed in the top six a total of 9 times.
In his fifteen years at the club excluding the year he played for Essendon in 2005 Thomas has accumulated some very impressive statistics. 
He began his career here in the under 17’s back in 1998 and progressed to the under 19’s in 1999 where he finished third in the best and fairest.
Thomas made his league debut in 2001 and he won the league development award representing the state in under 20’s and was rookie listed by the Adelaide Crows.
2003 saw Thomas win the Bob Quinn medal for best on ground in the ANZAC Day clash it’s an award he would win three more times in 2004, 2008 and 2011.
2003 also saw Thomas win his first premiership which he would go on to win five more times in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2004 Thomas won the Margery Medal for the Fairest and most brilliant player in the SANFL competition.
In 2006 after leaving Essendon Thomas rejoined Centrals and was vice captain of the State team, he has represented the State in every game since and has played the as Captain since 2010. 
 Thomas became Centrals co-Captain in 2007, was a standalone Captain between 2010 and 2012 and is currently sharing the honour with fellow co-Captain Trent Goodrem.        
He was awarded player life membership by the club in 2011 and received SANFL life membership in 2012 playing his 200th game against Port Adelaide. 
“I don’t know anything else other than the Central District Football Club and I absolutely love it.”
“Roy has been my Coach for 240 of those 268 games I currently sit on, he’s challenged me as a leader, a player and as an individual to get the best out of myself as a tagger, a running half back, a midfield and a small forward at times.”
“My role has changed and I have learnt so much from Roy and the assistants as well so to them I’m indebted.”
At the awards ceremony Thomas showed true passion and pride for his club.
He spoke of the hard work and commitment it takes to be part of a successful club, but most importantly Thomas spoke of belief and how belief in the club and the team is what’s needed to succeed.
“A seven time premiership player sound a lot better than six and if you don’t believe we are going anywhere find some belief from somewhere, hold on to it, because if we are going somewhere in 2016 it’s going to be on the back of belief.”
Accepting his awards Thomas thanked his family for their continuous love and support, he also thanked his training partner Dylan Weaver for his support and encouragement.
“I can’t do that without Rachael, Austin and Archer they’re on the family hill with my dad every weekend.”
“Not many people want to get up at 5:45am to meet me at the footy club to do weights so my success over the last two years of footy has been on the back of him (Dylan) getting here in his Bat Mobile at that time, so thank you Dylan.”
Looking back over season 2015 Thomas is proud of the teams fight in the second half of the season and their finals effort.
“We had a really strong half a season, but to win a premiership you need a strong full season.”
“I think when we go to West Adelaide they had already accounted for us during the season so I think if you’re going to have a strong season it needs to be a bit more consistent than what we had this year, but we had a really strong finish and the belief grew, it’s exciting, but the reality is we need to be better than that next year. “  
Looking back over his career Thomas’s most memorable moments include his first premiership win in 2003 wining as co-Captain in 2007 and the nail bitting win against Norwood in 2010.
This year’s memorable moment was beating Norwood in the elimination final.
“It was a great feeling.”
“The guys who won awards are guys who work hard in November they set themselves up to play consistent footy.”

 Paul Thomas, in the First Semi Final v Port Adelaide
Paul Thomas wraps up a Redleg opponent in this year's Elimination Final
The evergreen Centrals Skipper and SA State Captain
Pictures by 'Michael Young Photography'

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