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Crowley wins 2012 Doig Medal

2012 Doig
Ryan Crowley’s outstanding season has been recognised tonight with the Freo midfielder taking out the 2012 Doig Medal.

It was reward for effort and persistence for the 28-year-old, who dropped eight kilos over the pre-season in an effort to be able to run with the AFL’s elite midfielders. And run with them he did, shutting down a list of stars throughout the season that between them had won numerous Brownlow Medals, All Australian jumpers and club champion awards.

Tonight, in the Grand Ballroom at Crown Perth, it was Crowley who was being hailed a club champion as he finished on 146 votes, four ahead of runner-up Chris Mayne (142), who enjoyed a breakout season.

"My career at Fremantle was almost definitely over," an emotional Crowley said on Saturday night.

"The club was looking for a trade and if not it was 50-50 at that point.
 
"Ross (Lyon) came in and we had a pretty frank and honest discussion about where I was at and he gave me great confidence.

"He told me if you do the work and get your body right, I know there's a place for you … I can't speak highly enough of Ross and everything he's done.

"It's an amazing feeling." 

Michael Johnson polled in more games than any of his teammates to finish third on 136 votes, with captain Matthew Pavlich rounding off the top four, also on 136. Despite being level on votes, Johnson placed higher than his captain because he polled in more games.

The hard-luck story was Luke McPharlin, who led by five votes at the conclusion of the home and away season, but missed both finals matches with a hamstring injury.

At the conclusion of every game this season four members of the Fremantle coaching staff, including senior coach Ross Lyon, gave every player votes on a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis. Top votes are awarded for what is regarded as an elite performance.

Entering the finals, Crowley was in second place on 130 votes, behind McPharlin. Crowley polled eight votes in each of Freo’s finals for his excellent shutdown roles on Geelong’s James Kelly and Adelaide’s Patrick Dangerfield.

Mayne came home strongly, polling 20 votes in the two finals to grab second.

Pavlich polled 12 votes for his six-goals in the Elimination Final, but he failed to register a vote in the Semi Final, allowing Johnson to leapfrog him into third after the defender polled eight votes against the Crows. It’s worth noting David Mundy’s barnstorming finish to the season - the star midfielder polled 64 votes in Freo’s final five games, including 16 in round 22 against North Melbourne and in the Semi Final.

In other awards, Lee Spurr’s strong debut season was rewarded with the Beacon Award as the club’s best first year player.

The 25-year-old had made only three appearances and was listed as an emergency before the round 16 match against Melbourne, but he came in as a last minute replacement for Antoni Grover, who had injured himself in the warm-up.

His efforts in that game and over the ensuing weeks helped cement his spot in the team for the rest of the season, which included two finals appearances.

Former St Kilda defender Zac Dawson was named the Programmed Recruit of the Year. Dawson complemented Luke McPharlin nicely in the heart of the backline, and was usually given the task of minding the opposition’s second tall forward. He also brought with him an intimate knowledge of Ross Lyon’s game plan from his time at St Kilda.

The Programmed Recruit of the Year is determined by votes based on the weekly playing performances of each of the 2012 new recruits, either senior or rookie, in both the AFL and WAFL ranks.

Tendai Mzungu ended Matt de Boer’s two-year reign as the Best Clubman, winning the award in just his second year as an AFL player. Mzungu was deemed the worthy recipient by his teammates for an award in which the criterion includes consistently putting the needs of the team first and a willingness to accept responsibility to improve the club environment.

Mayne was the winner of the Players’ Award, which is given to the player who was deemed to have best reflected the values set by the playing group at the start of the season. He kicked 39 goals and seven behinds for the year - an 84.8 per cent conversion rate.

Even more remarkable was his kicking from set-shots. Mayne booted 25.4 at a brilliant 86.2 per cent success rate. He backed up his offensive performance with his relentless pressure  in attack, recording 403 pressure acts at an average of 17.5 per game over the season, the most by a Freo forward.

The night began on the sparkling Red Carpet where players and partners mingled with the 1000 guests in attendance for the evening. Former Channel 9 sports director Michael Thomson hosted the evening’s proceedings, which also honoured the retiring Antoni Grover.

The club’s five debutants and eight milestones players in 2012 were also acknowledged.

These included McPharlin, who played his 200th AFL game in round 13, and Mundy, who was awarded life membership at the club after he played his 150th game in round 10.

Pavlich was given a rousing ovation for his record-breaking year which included AFL life membership for playing his 300th official game in round 16. He also passed former Eagles’ Glen Jakovich and Peter Sumich for the most games and goals, respectively, by a WA-based AFL player and he kicked his 500th career major in round 7.

Top 10

1st Ryan Crowley       146    

2nd Chris Mayne        142    

3rd Michael Johnson  136      (polled votes in more games)

4th Matthew Pavlich   136    

5th Luke McPharlin    135    

6th David Mundy        131    

7th Stephen Hill          130    

8th Matt de Boer         129    

9th Michael Barlow     128    

10th Clancee Pearce 126