STAR midfielder Bernie Vince has won his second AFL club best and fairest award – and his first for Melbourne – after he claimed the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy at Crown Palladium on Friday night.
Vince, who polled 328 votes, pipped tough-nut Jack Viney by just one vote to win his first AFL best and fairest since 2009, when he won the Malcolm Blight Medal with Adelaide.
The 29-year-old – he turns 30 on October 2 – had an outstanding year for Melbourne, his second season for the club, after playing 129 matches with Adelaide from 2006-13.
Viney’s ability to finish second with 327 votes was quite remarkable, given he missed six matches with a fracture fibula.
Key defender Tom McDonald, whose start to the season was exceptional, came third (300 votes) for the second time in his career, after he also rounded out the top three in 2012.
Young-gun Jesse Hogan, who won the NAB AFL Rising Star award on Wednesday, capped off a remarkable debut season, finishing fourth with 286 votes.
Skipper Nathan Jones, who entered the count as a chance to become the first Melbourne player to win four club best and fairest awards in a row – and join Allan La Fontaine and Jim Stynes as the only players to have won four for the club – rounded out the top five with 270 votes.
The now retired Daniel Cross (242 votes) finished sixth – a fine effort after 249 AFL matches from 2002-15.
Defender Colin Garland (218) came seventh, forward Jeff Garlett (216) finished eighth, high-flyer Jeremy Howe (151) was placed ninth and vice-captain Lynden Dunn (148) rounded out the top 10.
Angus Brayshaw, who finished fifth in the NAB AFL Rising Star, missed the top 10 by just two votes and came 11th.
2015 Melbourne best and fairest
First – Bernie Vince (Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy) – 328 votes
Vince’s 10th AFL season was one of his finest, as he became part of a select club of players to win a best and fairest at more than one VFL/AFL club. He is now just the 19th player to achieve this feat. Vince had an outstanding season, which included three matches where he won 38 touches in each game. He also won 30 possessions and kicked three goals against Collingwood in round 18.
Second – Jack Viney (Syd Anderson Memorial Trophy) – 327 votes
Effectively missed a third of the season, given he was injured from rounds three to eight and was substitute upon return against Port Adelaide in round nine. The fact that he played 16 of 22 matches and still managed to finish runner-up – and fall short of equaling Vince by the narrowest of margin was testament to his exceptional form in the games he played.
Third – Tom McDonald(Ron Barassi Senior Memorial Trophy) – 300 votes
Many football commentators had McDonald locked in for an All-Australian berth a third of the way into the season – such was his was brilliant form down back. Although he had some quieter games, he bounced back strongly towards the end of the year to cap off a fine season. McDonald also showed his versatility later in the year, when he pushed up forward and pinch-hit in the ruck.
Fourth – Jesse Hogan (Ivor Warne Smith Memorial Trophy) – 286 votes
Hogan was one of Melbourne’s great stories to emerge this year and stamped himself as one of the most exciting young players in the competition. He finished the season with 44 goals – an outstanding effort from a key forward in his debut year. Hogan also won the NAB AFL Rising Star earlier in the week with 49 votes – eight ahead of runner-up Patrick Cripps.
Fifth – Nathan Jones (Dick Taylor Memorial Trophy) – 270 votes
Jones entered the count as a genuine contender to win his fourth best and fairest in a row – and in the process become the first Melbourne player to achieve this feat – but he still managed a top five placing after another top class season. His effort to play every match in 2015 was a remarkable effort now that it has been revealed that he played the season with a debilitating neck injury.
6 – Daniel Cross (242 votes)
Cross’ final season was not surprisingly another ultra-reliable season. In his second last game, he notched up an equal career-best 39 disposals. Cross’ ability to finish in the top six means he has now finished in the top 10 of an AFL club best and fairest on 10 occasions. Eight of them have been top six finishes – an indication of his remarkable consistency.
7 – Colin Garland (218 votes)
Garland bounced back this year after an ankle injury interrupted his 2014 season. Although the defender missed three matches in 2015 – from rounds 11 to 13 with a hand injury – he was a strong performer this season. It was the fourth time in the past five seasons he has finished in the top seven of the best and fairest for Melbourne.
8 – Jeff Garlett (216 votes)
Garlett provided plenty of excitement up forward and proved to be a fine recruit from Carlton, kicking at least one goal in every match this season, finishing with 40 goals. He has now kicked 39 goals or more four times in an AFL season. Garlett’s best effort in a match this season was four goals in Melbourne’s stunning win over Geelong at Simonds Stadium in round 13.
9 – Jeremy Howe (151 votes)
Howe’s durability and versatility was again a feature of his play this year, when he played every game and spent time down back and up forward. Howe has now missed just one match since he made his AFL debut in round 11, 2011 and he hasn’t missed a game since the start of 2012. Howe also claimed a top 10 placing for the fourth year in a row.
10 – Lynden Dunn (148 votes)
After finishing fourth in the best and fairest in 2014, Dunn backed up his best AFL season with another fine year and top 10 placing. Playing predominantly down back, the first-year vice-captain was a reliable performer week in, week out. Dunn has now played the past 61 matches in a row, including every game in the past two seasons.
11 – Angus Brayshaw (146)
12 – Max Gawn (134)
13 – Dom Tyson (130)
14 – Aaron vandenBerg (128)
15 – Christian Salem (113)
16 – Heritier Lumumba (112)
17 – Neville Jetta (102)
18 – Jack Watts (99)
19 – Chris Dawes (67)
20 – Ben Newton (46)
Jack Grimes (46)
22 – Viv Michie (40)
23 – Cameron Pedersen (39)
24 – James Harmes (36)
25 – Billy Stretch (34)
Mark Jamar (34)
27 – Alex Neal-Bullen (31)
28 – Jimmy Toumpas (29)
29 – Jake Spencer (27)
Matt Jones (27)
31 – Jack Fitzpatrick (20)
32 – Oscar McDonald (19)
33 – Rohan Bail (16)
Mitch White (16)
35 – Jay Kennedy-Harris (12)
36 – Sam Frost (11)
37 – Dean Kent (9)
38 – Aidan Riley (6)
39 – Jordie McKenzie (0)
Note: Jayden Hunt, Max King, Christian Petracca, Dean Terlich and Jack Trengove did not play an AFL match for Melbourne this year
2015 other award winners
Norm Smith Memorial Trophy (Coaches Award): Jack Viney
Ron Barassi Jnr Trophy (Leadership Award):Jack Trengove and Daniel Cross
Harold Ball Memorial Trophy (Best Young Player):Jesse Hogan
Ian Ridley Memorial Trophy (Club Ambassador Award):Neville Jetta
James McDonald Trophy (Heart and Spirit Award):Jack Viney
Troy Broadbridge Memorial Trophy (Best Melbourne-listed player in the VFL):Aidan Riley
Best Female Player Award: Daisy Pearce