THE OUTCOME of Melbourne’s Best and Fairest may come as a surprise to some, but it shouldn’t.
Shelley Scott, who is the third player to win the club’s most prestigious award, was a standout performer for the Dees this season, kicking five goals and averaging 11 disposals per game.
But, as senior coach Mick Stinear explains, stats don’t always tell the whole story.
“It’s all the little things,” he told Melbourne Media.
“She might be setting up others ahead of the ball, instructing out on the field and she’s just prepared to do those little things that could potentially go unnoticed from outside, but certainly not within the team.
“That is her greatest strength, and that’s what she’s all about, being the best version of herself for the team.
“Her physicality as well, she’s put a lot of time in the gym – she’s a strong body and a competitor.
“The girls can rely on her to bring it every game.”
The 32-year-old reinvented herself over the off-season and was quick to settle into her new role come Round 1.
“I think it was a combination of improvement from Shell’s end this season, but then also us getting her in her best position and allowing her to master her role and play,” Stinear said.
“Last year, for example, she spent a fair bit of time in defence when we were under the pump at various stages throughout the season, but this year she just purely played across half-forward.
“The coaches just decided we’d settle her at half-forward and allow her to own that position and she did, and she was brilliant.”
This award is another major accomplishment for Scott who has missed just one game since the league’s conception in 2017.
And her growth as both a player and person in that time is something Stinear has been privileged to watch unfold.
“It’s another good chapter in her story,” he said.
“Every time she walked in the door this season she was smiling and brought joy to staff and her teammates alike.
“I think this year was just about having great balance in her life on and off the field, and then she took that onto the playing field.
“A Best and Fairest is the reward she gets for being able to do that, so it’s an awesome effort.”
While Friday night’s glory belongs with Scott, her runner up also deserves some recognition.
Karen Paxman, who was named captain of the AFLW All Australian team, had a brilliant season in the centre, and played a pivotal role in Melbourne’s on-field success.
“Obviously it was a really tight finish to the vote count, which is a good reflection of the team’s performance throughout the seven games,” Stinear said.
“For Paxy, just her leadership on and off the field, she’s someone who has just continued to grow across her four years at the club.
“Her work rate is unrivalled in the competition.
“To be able to lead the comp in clearances without a consistent ruck from our end, she’s obviously a versatile mid, but she just loves the team and is committed to achieving success at the club.”
Kate Hore, Daisy Pearce, Libby Birch and Tyla Hanks rounded out the top six in Friday night’s count, as Melbourne’s 2020 AFLW season was celebrated via a Zoom call with players, coaches and staff.