The AFL home-and-away season has come to an end for more than half of the league, and while eight teams will begin their finals series this week, those who’ve finished up are already beginning to host their best and fairest awards.
Gold Coast and Melbourne are kicking things off with their awards tonight. I wonder if they’ll have the qualifying final on a TV somewhere so the people who think that’s more interesting can watch?
At any rate, the time is nigh for me to engage in my yearly habit of going through the clubs and picking who I think will take home each club’s award.
The eight clubs going into finals could still see their results go up or down either way depending on the remaining games, but I think that – for most teams at least – a clear winner or at least a top few candidates have taken shape.
Adelaide – Malcolm Blight Medal
Did you know Patrick Dangerfield has never won a best and fairest award? Depsite being one of the elite midfielders of the competition for the last three years, he’s been beaten by Scott Thomspon, Rory Sloane and Daniel Talia in that time. Well, this is his year – he’s been far and away Adelaide’s best player in 2015, which will make it all the more of a sting if he does decide to defect via Free Agency in October.
Brisbane – Merrett-Murray Medal
The Lions haven’t had a good year and injury has played a part in that, with likely candidates Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams and Pearce Hanley all having their season derailed on occasion by injury worries. With them all likely out of the running, I’m tipping Dayne Zorko to win the Lions best and fairest this year, he’s played every game and had career-high disposal numbers in 2015. Fresh recruit Mitch Robinson could be a chance too.
Carlton – John Nicholls Medal
There’s two clear choices for Carlton’s best and fairest and it’s hard to separate them. Marc Murphy has quietly had his best year since taking on the captaincy at Carlton while Patrick Cripps has not-at-all-quietly turned himself into an elite AFL ballwinner. Either one would be a fitting winnner, but my tip is that young gun Cripps will pip the captain.
Collingwood – Copeland Trophy
Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury, who are both three-time winners of Collingwood’s best and fairest award, will likely be the top two in this year’s count. They’ve both had excellent seasons and while Collingwood have had their fair share of quality performers in 2015, these two go above and beyond what anyone else has done for the black and white this year. My tip is that Pendlebury will finish on top but it could go either way.
Essendon – Crichton Medal
Despite a poor season for Essendon on field there’s a number of possible conteders for the club best and fairest. Dyson Heppell and Brendon Goddard are both past winners who’ve performed well this year, while Cale Hooker has been one of the Bombers’ most valuable as a swingman between the back and forward lines. However, my tip is that Michael Hurley will get the nod this year – he’s had a great season and is a lock for the All Australian side.
Fremantle – Doig Medal
Nat Fyfe is the obvious player who comes to mind and yes, he’ll be my tip, but he might get a bit of a scare from David Mundy who has also had an excellent season and would be a likely winner at just about any other club in the country. Stephen Hill and Lachie Neale have both had excellent seasons and will poll well also, but Fyfe’s the man.
Geelong – Carji Greeves Medal
Joel Selwood has won this one for the last two years running – and a third time in 2010 – but I think he’s going to get pipped this year and by an unlikely source. I’m tipping Mark Blicavs to be named Geelong’s best and fairest this year. Selwood’s form has been a little down and many of Geelong’s best players have had injury-interrupted seasons, but Blicavs has consistenly been a valuable player for the Cats all year. I think that will get him the nod.
Gold Coast – Club Champion
The only best and fairest not yet named after anyone, Gold Coast’s best and fairest was the exclusive domain of Gary Ablett in the early years but with his last two seasons interrupted by injury, other challengers have arisen. Just about every player on the Gold Coast list has had injury trouble in 2015 making it difficult to pick who will win out. My tip is that Michael Rischitelli will win it but Tom J Lynch will likely also be in contention. A first year player like Adam Saad or Touk Miller could even be a chance.
Greater Western Sydney – Kevin Sheedy Medal
It’s been a strong year for the Giants despite ultimately falling short of making finals. Dylan Shiel would’ve been my tip to win had he played out the year but injury may have ended his chances. Callan Ward has had a good year as has Adam Treloar, and Jeremy Cameron finished second in the Coleman Medal. However, my tip goes to Heath Shaw, who has a had a great season and should also comfortably make the All Australian team.
Hawthorn – Peter Crimmins Medal
Another strong season for the Hawks means another strong field of contenders. Jordan Lewis won it last year and has had another consistent season, Luke Hodge is a two-time winner who’s also had a good year – suspensions notwithstanding – but I’d say Sam Mitchell has been Hawthorn’s best player in 2015 and should take the medal home for what would be the fifth time.
Melbourne – Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Medal
Three-time winner Nathan Jones had another strong season but the exciting thing for Melbourne this year has been the emergence of some more elite players to complement his consistent effort. Tom McDonald looked like a winner early in the season with some great form but faded as the year went on, young guns Jesse Hogan and Jack Viney have both played some great games and will be in contention. My tip however is that Bernie Vince will be the winner.
North Melbourne – Syd Barker Medal
Bet your house on it, after coming so close so many times Todd Goldstein will break through and win his first North Melbourne best and fairest in 2015. He’s had one of the most dominant season on record by a ruckman in history and has been far and way North’s best player. Expect Shaun Higgins to come in second, he’s had an impressive year at North after crossing from the Bulldogs at the end of 2014.
Port Adelaide – John Cahill Medal
Chad Wingard and Robbie Gray have been the last two winners of Port’s best and fairest and you’d expect they’re the two hottest prospects going into the medal count this year also. Wingard has kicked 53 goals this season while Gray continued to show his ability as one of the best midfielders in the competition. It could go either way but I expect Wingard to get over the line.
Richmond – Jack Dyer Medal
Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin have both had great seasons in 2015, and Shane Edwards was going well too but had his year derailed by a broken leg. Both Deledio and Martin would be deserving winners but I think Deledio’s had a better year – not by much – and is Richmond’s most important player. He should add a third win to his resume.
St Kilda – Trevor Barker Award
Nick Riewoldt was won the award a remarkable six times and had another great year in 2015, but excellent seasons from David Armitage and Jack Steven I think will see one of them win it this time around. Steven won in 2013 and has had a better season this year than he did then, but I get the feeling that Armitage will be at top spot of the podium this time.
Sydney – Bob Skilton Medal
There’s no doubt about it for me, Dan Hannebery will win the Swans’ best and fairest this year after what has been his best season yet. 2012 winner Josh P Kennedy will probably be up the near the top of the count again but I think Hannebery has far and away been the Swans’ best player in 2015, he’s a lock for the All Australian side and a serious Brownlow contender to boot.
West Coast – John Worsfold Medal
The Eagles’ medal is probably the toughest to predict this year with a number of players in contention. 2014 winner Eric Mackenzie missed the whole season with an ACL injury but the likes of Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff and Josh J Kennedy are all serious contenders. I’ll tip Kennedy to come away with the win but a strong finals series for any one of the three could be the deciding factor.
Western Bulldogs – Charles Sutton Medal
Another one that’s very hard to tip as so many players at the Bulldogs have had career-best seasons or close to. Bob Murphy? Mitch Wallis? Marcus Bontempelli? Luke Dahlhaus? Jake Stringer? Matthew Boyd? Liam Picken?
Any of them could win it this year and be very deserving. Who knows how this one will go in the end, but my tip will be for Easton Wood, who’s had a magnificent season and should find himself in the All Australian side.