MELBOURNE’S night of nights is just around the corner, as the club prepares to crown its standout performer with the Best and Fairest award for 2019.
Will Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver or Jack Viney become a two-time winner, or will we see a new face take home the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy next Monday night?
Check out the contenders below.
After a breakout season in 2018, Angus Brayshaw used this year to add to his game. While the stat sheet didn’t necessarily reflect his growth, he played a variety of roles through the midfield and became a valuable defensive player for the team. The 23-year-old played all 22 matches in 2019 and averaged 22 touches per game.
In just his second season, Bayley Fritsch proved his value to the red and blue, playing an important role in every game throughout the year. Since being recruited from the Casey Demons, Fritsch has become one of the Dee’s most versatile players and was utilised all over the field throughout 2019. Towards the backend of the season, the 22-year-old settled up forward and booted 16 goals in the last seven matches. He should poll consistently throughout the season and come home strong to be in the mix.
Sam Frost played all 22 games this season, for the first time in his eight-year career. The key defender took on some of the game’s best forwards and was a reliable option for the Dees down back. Since crossing over from GWS at the end of the 2014 season, the 26-year-old has continued to grow, with his raw pace and athletic ability exciting fans throughout the year.
For the third time in four years, Max Gawn earned an All Australian blazer in 2019, being recognised for another sensational season. The ruckman led the competition in hit-outs per game and averaged a league-high 12 hit-outs to advantage. His work around the ground was elite for a big man, earning him 17 Brownlow Medal votes on Monday night. Gawn won the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Trophy last season and will be a front runner to go back-to-back next week.
James Harmes polled third in last year’s award and could be near the top again in 2019. The Demon midfielder played every game for a second consecutive season, averaging 24 disposals and five tackles. His ability to shut down his direct opponent is one his biggest strengths, with his performance against Jaeger O’Meara in Round 7 a standout for the year. The 23-year-old has become one of the Dees’ most consistent players and will feature heavily in the vote count.
After initially making a name for himself as a dashing defender, Jayden Hunt was utilised at the other end of the field for the majority of 2019. He was a dangerous option up forward for his side, kicking 21 goals from his 21 games, including the match-winner against the Blues in Round 16. Hunt’s change of positions saw him add another element to his game, allowing the coach to play him wherever he was required.
In just his fourth season of footy, Clayton Oliver impressed yet again, averaging 30 disposals per game in 2019. The hard-at-it 22-year-old didn’t miss a match and had the most contested possessions in the competition during the home and away season. After winning his first ‘Bluey’ two years ago and coming runner up last season, he is sure to be one of the main contenders again on Monday night.
Christian Petracca played all 22 games in 2019, growing in confidence as the season wore on. The versatile forward booted a team-high 22 goals for the season and also showed an ability to win the ball in the centre later in the year. The 23-year-old racked up 25 disposals in Round 23 and showed some exciting signs for next season. After a strong campaign, he could be a chance for a top-five finish.
Christian Salem settled in his role at half-back this season and was a key distributor for his team. Averaging 24 disposals across his 20 games, the classy left footer was one of his side’s most consistent performers in 2019. The former pick No.9 has now played 90 AFL games and has become a senior player in the side. After arguably his best individual year to date, Salem is expected to poll well in the vote count.
Despite an interrupted pre-season, Jack Viney remained injury-free for the majority of 2019, managing 21 games for the season. The co-captain averaged 21 disposals and five tackles per game, leading from the front with his ferocious attack on the footy. Viney’s effort each week is hard to knock, and after winning the award in 2016, he will be a contender once again this season.
The best and fairest award is voted on by four members of the club’s match committee, with each player given a score from zero to 10 after every game.