A review of the 2013 Best and Fairest results (so far): an insight into game plans, what the coaches look for and backmen winning awards (?!)

16 of the 18 clubs have held and awarded their variously named Best and Fairest awards for season 2013, with both WA clubs due to in late November.

I have always found club B&F results to be a fascinating insight into the attitude and game plans of the respective clubs, giving us look into what is valued and rewarded, acknowledged and highlighted within a club, that may not be seen by umpires (when compared to Brownlow results), media or even fans.

Clubs B&F also tend to be better at including all positions, not just midfielders, hence a few key position backmen winning awards this year, and also benefit from not being awarded immediately after a game finishes (as Brownlow votes are) and often coming from a wider panel of assessors within a club.

B&F results can also be a way of sending a message to a player about what he has to work on, as well as having financial rewards beyond the honour of recognition, with many player contracts having bonuses for top 10 finishes, as well as All Australian inclusion.

The link to the AFL page that lists the Top 10 results for the 16 clubs is attached.


My take on the results so far are:


  • Sloane’s is a great win, goes from 3rd in 2012 to 1st, with Dangerfield once again, surprisingly to many I’d suggest, missing out on the top award.
  • Scott Thompson at 7th seems low, and I wouldn’t have seen Otten and Brown ahead of him.
  • Talia jumps from 10th in his Rising Star year to 4th this year, which augurs well for the Crow’s future.
  • Douglas 2nd and you’d suggest underrated by those outside SA.


  • Patfull goes back to back, extremely impressive.
  • Rockliff’s strong Brownlow showing only gets him 4th here while Pearce Hanley’s story is an excellent one, his runner-up result justifying the long contract he signed.
  • Zorko continues to shine, no second year drop off after his 7th finish in 2012.
  • A changing of the guard with Simon Black outside the top 10. No Daniel Rich either.
  • Brent Maloney continues to show the Dees what he could have provided had he been retained, but despite Raines at 8th, he still makes me feel “looks like his dad, kicks like his mum.”


  • Loving Kade Simpson as the winner, substance over style for a change.
  • Murphy’s broken jaw cost him matches but seemed to damage his confidence in the second half of the year. Still, a surprise to see him outside the top 10.
  • Simpson, Curnow, Touhy and McLean in the top 10 I think reflects Malthouse’s blue collar expectations.
  • Walker showing a return on the draft investment made in him.


  • Although Maxwell missed some games and his leadership qualities have always outweighed his actual football ability, being outside the Top 10 places further pressure on calls for Pendelbury to lead the side in 2014.
  • Blair drops off after a good 2012, but Elliot and Williams at 10 and 7 a sign of the reasonably bright future for the Pies.
  • Pendlebury from Swan a fairly reasonable quinella
  • O’Brien at 5th spot is a great result considering off-field distractions


  • A surprise that Goddard’s win was his first career B&F, and a top effort at a new club under some pressure as the 2012 free-agent poster child. Maybe not being scarred with the events of 2011/12 made life easier for him.
  • Heppell with consecutive top 3 finishes is a bright future for the Dons.
  • I would have had Carlisle above Hibbert.
  • Stanton hopefully has completely put to bed the criticism he gets from Essendon fans. He’s not the new Hird, despite the number of his back, but had a good 2013.


  • 5 backmen in their top 10, shows it’s not all about all-out attack at Cat land.
  • No Stevie J?
  • Harry Taylor finishing 2nd, again a player repaying the faith showed in him by the significant contract he signed.
  • Bartel I think sacrificed his game this year for the good of the team by playing back so much, which is clearly noted and appreciated by the coaches.
  • Stokes at 4 is a great story of redemption.
  • Lonergan’s top 10 finish is also a wonderful good news story and comeback.

Gold Coast

  • Ablett no surprise, but not by the street we would expect.
  • Bennell drops off a bit after his good 2012 result.
  • If you do what bookies were doing when Black Caviar ran and looked at the field without Ablett, Prestia from O’Meara is a fair 1-2.


  • Ward aside, they are all kids, with the high Top 10 finishes in 2012 from some of their senior imports dropping out, so plenty of upside.
  • I still don’t think Scully at 3 is a fair indication of what he contributes to that team, too high for mine.
  • Toby Greene got the second year blues.
  • Ward again showing what a clever piece of recruiting that was, future potential and leadership over current hype.
  • Good first year from Whitfield, add Boyd to this forward line with Patton to return and there’s positive signs for the future here


  • Winning a B&F in a flag year is no small effort, and Gibson’s achievement is notable, albeit a slight surprise.
  • Like the Cats, 5 backmen in their top 10, with Stratton ahead of others again an indication of what Clarkson looks for in his side.
  • Mitchell changes his game and still finishes top 3, really good player still at his peak.
  • Burgoyne and Birchall in the top 10, Hawks the masters of that forward thrust and rebound from the half back line.
  • Really like Smith and Bruest in that top 10, and would like to see how Hale fared as he is very valuable to this team.


  • No real surprise as Jones goes back to back, but again adds fuel to the captaincy decision made by Neeld at the start of 2012.
  • Watts misses the top 10 for second year in a row, although his footy improved under Craig.
  • Terlich a rare good news story for the Dees in a horror year.
  • The captaincy clearly weighs heavily on Trengove’s shoulders

North Melbourne

  • A tie, with two very contrasting players in Wells and Thompson saluting.
  • A close result across the top 10 shows the consistency that is the North squad.
  • Goldstein at 3 a wonderful result for a guy that pretty much rucked solo all year.
  • A lot of youth and promise in the top ten, but if they don’t play finals in 2014, a wasted generation could await.

Port Adelaide

  • Wingard winning is a fabulous result for this talented kid.
  • Boak takes the captaincy, rejects the potential dollars from the Cats and finishes 2nd, great season.
  • Kane Cornes, washed up and on his way out under Primus, finishes third, what a comeback at his age.
  • Would have had Hartlett and Monfries higher.
  • Westhoff another comeback story and successive top 10 finishes for Jay Schultz since his exit from the Tigers.


  • Jackson’s win is an inspiration to many battlers and a reward for sheer effort, even if I still think he wastes his hard work by butchering the ball.
  • Martin above Cotchin is a real surprise, as I think Dusty isn’t making the most of his obvious abilities.
  • Chaplin, Morris, Houli and Grigg (last 2 with consecutive top ten placings) show Richmond have wisely adopted Hawks-like recruiting for specific role players.
  • Most of the top 10 are in that good 4 plus years/80-120 games you need if you are going to really challenge for a top 4 spot

St Kilda

  • I’d say 3 (and maybe more) of the Top 10 will not play in season 2015, which for all the Saints youth coming through is a concern.
  • Steven and Geary in the top 4 are positive signs for the transformation Watters has to manage in coming years.
  • I know I bang on about Nick Riewoldt and finishing second is an amazing effort, but I also see it as him having to do too much week in and week out for this side.
  • Steven a clear and deserved winner, in what was an overall disappointing year for the club.


  • Another emotional comeback story (of sorts) has a fantastic end, with Jarrad McVeigh I’d venture one of the more popular and respected captains in the AFL.
  • Bird and Smith continue their under-the-radar, low key careers with consecutive top 10 finishes. Some draft gossip that Smith is keen to return home, clubs should line up for him.
  • I would have had Malceski higher, maybe swapping his 10th finish with Parker’s 6th?
  • Kieran Jack’s rise and rise continues.

Western Bulldogs

  • Like St Kilda, a worrying over-emphasis on players at the tail end of their careers
  • Tom Liberatore cops his medicine from a lousy end to 2012 and returns the faith shown in him in spades
  • Griffen a deserved and worthy winner.
  • Minson was close to gone from this club not long ago, an impressive comeback year capped off with a 3rd place finish.
  • Cooney’s comeback and Murphy’s excellent twilight are positive stories for this club who finished the season very well.

I’d welcome the views of our WA correspondents, such as Peter B, Matty Q and Sean Gorman, on who may salute at the Eagles and Dockers respectively. Last year saw Sellwood take out the West Coast award, from Dean Cox. I’d venture Priddis, Kennedy and maybe Darling featuring this year. As for the Purple Haze, Crowley won in 2012, could go again, although Fyfe and Mundy should battle it out, with Mayne the smokey perhaps and Mzungu in the top 10.

About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Always interesting in B and Fs that the guy who battles is Quite often recognised
    I think as a crows supporter Dangerfield not winning is amazing as he had to play on ball and Full Forward for much of the year his performance till he hurt his shoulder was amazing and was clearly Adelaides best for 2013
    Jackson re Richmond seems to be a award for improvement and good try mentality
    Chaplin finishing 3rd and being rated so highly re 1 percenters raised the eyes and caused some mirth at Port Adelaide performances or lack of in big games is definitely not taken in to account at Tigerland
    Gibson over Roughhead or Mitchell from a outsider seems strange as well Winngard is quite rightly a kick in the guts for GWS recruiting team and Patfull is 1 I am rapt for as the ex Norwood Player would be regarded as a superstar if he was playing in Melbourne

  2. B&F results are surely a way of telling players about rewards beyond the honour of recognition

  3. Kath Presdee says

    Regarding the GWS ones – I was surprised that Ward didn’t go back to back; he was quite often one of the few consistent performers week to week and led the team without his co-captain for a significant part. Not surprised that Cameron won it though because he’s brilliant at what he does and had some absolutely stand out performances.

    Malcolm – with Wingard I was wondering why we didn’t pick him as well. However one of the strategies with the last two drafts were to avoid players that might want to go home very quickly or didn’t want to shift too far. We took a huge risk with Coniglio (apparently) but so far it is going OK. Many of the kids we’ve taken have also had a “mate” (team-mate, school connection) also taken in the draft so it isn’t all having to cope on your own with something new and bewildering. We haven’t picked up many (if any) SA kids so I don’t know if we’re deliberately avoiding recruiting them because of the likelihood of return or what. That said, I don’t know if I’d be saying we’d made a mistake in picking Patton or Coniglio. The jury is out on the rest.

    Interesting thing is that of our top 5 in the B&F, the kids are the ones pre-listed (Cameron, Treloar and Shiel) and not the ones that came through the draft.

  4. West Coast Eagles: Only 5 contenders, and you’d have beaten most of our blokes on a bicycle with flat tyres this season.
    Darren Glass gets my nod for B&F. Consistent. Rarely beaten.
    Matt Priddis. Plods away all day. In and under. Good evasively. Modest disposal.
    Scott Selwood. Probably wins the B&F. Tireless worker who knocks up getting the ball. Then slaughters it.
    Josh Kennedy. Brilliant most of the year. Got worn out being a one man forward line, and trailed off but never stopped trying.
    Eric Mackenzie. Biggest improver. Developed the offensive running side of his game. Wonky kick.
    On the shame list. Darling and Schofield disappeared without trace. Gaff is light and struggles against strong bodies. Shuey is flakey, light and injury prone. Kerr is past it. Rosa, Hurn and Waters had seasons ruined by injury. Coxy battled bravely but is on the slippery slope. NicNait flashed across the sky brilliantly and was our only game winner, but appears as often as Halleys Comet due to injury and fadeouts.

  5. Sean Gorman says

    Gee SC – the pressure is on. Les Everett is much better at this shit
    that me.

    Unlike PB’z very salient insights into WC the most obvious thing about Freo’s year is
    it was so even. Not just in terms of winning but the players individual performances.
    So here it goes.

    F&B: M Johnson. Was just great all year. Greatly deserved AA and just was the rock
    that the rest of the excellent back-line was built around.

    2nd: N Fyfe. SHowed in the GF he is just something special. The one and only love
    child of Robbie Flower, James Hird and Keith Greig. Incredibly lucky not to get
    an AA jumper. SUPERSTAR!

    3rd: R Crowley. The best stopper in the game who cops his whack (rightly or wrongly)
    each week in the media. Is also incredibly smart and good looking (ok i made that bit up)
    The player every Dockers fan loves and the player every other
    fan hates (alternates between him and you know who).

    4th: D Mundy. A player who goes under the radar because he is seemingly pedestrian.
    Astute reader of the game. Great kick. Nice guy.

    Best Player in Finals: D Mundy.

    Honourable mentions: T Muzungu, M Barlow, Lee Spurr, M Walters.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Great wrap Sean. I’d be very surprised if Pendlebury isn’t Collingwood captain in 2014. Ben Reid not making the Pies top ten was surprising. Williams and Elliot’s rankings were well deserved. As was Sidebottom’s 3rd place finish.

  7. Sean
    I was going to post a piece on the B&F winners to try and make the point that club awards perhaps demonstrate that players other than silky midfielders are actually still valued in the modern game. It’s a shame most of the B&F awards are buried in Grand Final hype or post -season malaise as I think the diversity of players they honour should get more prominence.

  8. Thanks Stainless, I agree that it would be good if the B and F results got more airplay, they are fascinating to see who is seen by their club as being what they need to succeed, what sorts of messages it sends, who is out of favour as well. The results aren’t given much airplay, as oppossed to within the clubs where I’d say aside from Premierships naturally, these awards, from within your own club, are very highly sought after and respected, as well as being humbling for the winners, expecially those that don’t play in the mid-field!!


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