MELBOURNE’S night of nights looked a little different in 2020.
The AFLW players, coaches and staff jumped on a Zoom call on Friday to celebrate the club’s most successful season to date.
While it wasn’t the ideal way to recognise the girls’ achievements, the laptops were out, the dress code was in place and a special evening was enjoyed, nonetheless.
In a historic event, Shelley Scott became the third Demon to be named the Best and Fairest player in an AFLW season, joining Daisy Pearce (2017 and 2018) and Karen Paxman (2019) in the Melbourne Football Club record books.
Paxman’s stellar season didn’t go unnoticed, while Kate Hore and Libby Birch were also recognised for their efforts throughout the year.
Take a look at all the winners and the final leaderboard below.
Trademark Player – Libby Birch
Libby Birch may not have been a Demon for long, but she is a Melbourne person through and through.
The former Bulldog settled seamlessly into her new home to claim the Trademark Player award in her debut season with the club.
At just 21 years of age, Birch is a true professional on and off the field, leading by example with her commitment to the game.
She earned a position in the All Australian team proving her value in the back half of the ground and was also a member of the AFLPA’s ‘22Under22’ side.
Birch is a courageous lockdown defender who plays on some of the biggest names in the competition and her ability to intercept this season was critical for her side.
It was no coincidence that her best footy was played in all five of Melbourne’s victories, with the coaches’ votes reflecting just that.
She instantly became one of the key figures in the Dees' set-up and her team-first behaviours make her a deserving winner of this award.
Third Place – Kate Hore
What a week it has been for Kate Hore.
Goal of the Year winner on Sunday night, an All Australian call-up on Monday and now a third-place finish in the club’s Best and Fairest to cap it off.
Playing predominantly across half-forward, Hore took her game to another level in 2020.
In just her third season of senior footy, the 25-year-old averaged 13 disposals per outing and booted five majors across the seven games.
She starred in Melbourne’s opener against the Kangas, was pivotal in the must-win clash with the Pies and had a big second half in that inaugural finals victory over the Giants.
Hore has developed into one of the Demons’ most reliable performers, and with her classy ball use inside 50, she’s now as damaging as any player in the competition.
Runner-Up – Karen Paxman
Karen Paxman’s on-going success should come as no surprise.
Six months out from Round 1, with her hand in a cast, she was on Gosch’s Paddock completing training drills with her teammates – one arm behind the back.
Day 1 of pre-season, she sprinted the 2km time trial in the most effortless fashion, and it was evident she was ready to dominate the league once again.
And she did just that.
The All Australian captain led the competition in clearances, averaged 21 disposals and was simply unstoppable out of the centre.
While last year’s Best and Fairest winner hasn’t gone back-to-back, her consistency across the four-year women’s competition has been unrivalled and her top-two finish in the award is richly deserved.
Winner – Shelley Scott
An unsung hero no longer.
She doesn’t always get the credit, but Shelley Scott is Melbourne’s Best and Fairest player for 2020.
The 170cm forward, who was co-captain last season, was able to settle in her role inside 50 this year and had a major impact for the Dees.
Scott averaged 11 disposals and four marks in each of the seven games, and while she also booted five goals, those stats don’t do her season justice.
It’s the leadership, the team-first actions and the one-percenters that make Scott so valuable to her side, as she helps bring others into the game.
The 32-year-old’s dominance against the Western Bulldogs in Round 2 stands out as the best individual performance this season, while she also starred under the Marvel Stadium roof against the Pies.
Each and every week the coaches knew what they would get from the physical key forward who showed dramatic improvement from the season prior.
Scott has missed just one game since the beginning of the AFLW competition and is a worthy winner of the club’s biggest honour.
Each player received a 0-10 vote from the coaching staff after every game of the season.