THERE is only one person in the Melbourne Football Club’s history to be named All Australian on five occasions; her name is Karen Paxman.
Receiving recognition for her faultless 2021 campaign at Tuesday night’s W Awards, Paxman is one of just two players to have earned the honour in all five years of the AFLW competition (North Melbourne’s Emma Kearney, the other).
The Demons’ vice-captain, who was skipper in the finals series, was listed on the interchange of the team which recognises the league’s best performers throughout the nine-game home and away season.
While Paxman rocked up to pre-season fashioning a new-look mullet, her form on the field didn’t change.
She hasn’t missed a game for Melbourne since the competition’s inception in 2017 and averaged a career-high 23 disposals per match this season.
Despite being pipped by Eliza McNamara in the club’s 2km time trial, the 32-year-old is an elite endurance athlete who played over 82 percent game time in 10 of the Dees' 11 matches.
Paxman has always been the biggest star of this Demons outfit, and while she was a bull around the clearances and led her side in metres gained, she appeared to enjoy sharing the load in 2021.
With Maddi Gay, Tyla Hanks, Lily Mithen and Eden Zanker all taking on additional responsibility in the centre of the ground, Melbourne’s midfield functioned the best it has to date, playing a major role in its top-four finish on the ladder.
Paxman was the only Demon to receive the individual accolade in this year’s All Australian side, but no doubt benefited from playing alongside ruck Lauren Pearce and her young teammates.