Nat Fyfe has won his second successive Doig Medal with a resounding victory in Fremantle’s club champion award at Crown Perth on Saturday night.
The midfield superstar enjoyed a superb individual season, winning the AFL Players’ Association Most Valuable Player award and being named in the Virgin Australia All Australian team.
Many thought he would be vulnerable in the Doig Medal because of the four matches he missed through suspension, but Fyfe left no doubt he was the club’s best player in 2014.
He polled 283 votes from his 20 appearances, 20 more than he did from two more games in 2013.
Nat Fyfe 2014 Highlights
Aaron Sandilands, the winner in 2009, finished runner-up, 32 votes behind Fyfe, while Stephen Hill was third on 238.
The 2010 Medallist David Mundy (219) edged out Hayden Ballantyne (209) to finish fourth.
At the conclusion of every game this season five members of the Fremantle coaching staff, including senior coach Ross Lyon, each gave every player up to five votes, with top votes awarded for what is regarded as an elite performance.
It was 2013 All Australian Michael Johnson who led with 89 votes after seven rounds, five ahead of Fyfe.
But Fyfe made his move between rounds eight and 16, polling 20 votes in round eight against Port Adelaide, round 14 against Brisbane and round 16 against Melbourne. He gained 19 votes in the second Carlton Draught Derby and 15 votes in rounds nine and 13 against Geelong and Richmond, respectively.
A highlight in this period of voting was Ballantyne’s 25 votes against the Tigers at the MCG for his six-goal effort. This was the only time in season 2014 that the coaches awarded maximum votes to a player.
Fyfe enjoyed a commanding 30-vote lead over Hill after 16 rounds, and he built on it with more strong showings in the ensuing weeks.
He polled 20 votes after a round 19 win against Carlton that included a final-quarter master class, and despite missing the final two games of the home and away season because of suspension, the horse had well and truly bolted.
Fyfe capped off a truly tremendous year by winning the prestigious 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.
In other presentations on the night, emerging key forward Matt Taberner was named the Beacon Award winner.
The Beacon Award, which is proudly sponsored by Programmed, contains similar criteria to the AFL’s NAB Rising Star award in that players are eligible to win it in their first or second year of AFL football provided they have played 10 games or less in their debut season.
Last year’s Beacon Award winner Cam Sutcliffe took out the Player of the Finals award in a tie with fellow defender Zac Dawson, and Alex Silvagni was named the Best Clubman for his great attitude around the club and his tireless community and charity work.
The club also inducted two more life members, with inaugural captain Ben Allan and defender Paul Duffield joining the esteemed group.
Duffield, who is the 14th player to be inducted, qualified when he played his 150th game for the club during the 2014 season.
Allan became the fifth administrator to earn the honour after former presidents Ross Kelly and Rick Hart, principal physiotherapist Dr Jeffrey Boyle and club doctor Ken Withers.
The former Hawthorn premiership player, best and fairest and dual All Australian played 47 games in three seasons with Fremantle, coached the club on an interim basis in 2001 and has been on the board since 2005.
Fremantle also awarded a Con Regan Medal to inaugural board member Peter ‘Bink’ Phillips.
Regan was Freo’s first football manager. After his passing in 2007 the club created the Con Regan Medal to recognise outstanding service and dedication to the Fremantle Football Club.
The three previous recipients were Regan’s wife Beryl and former senior coach Chris Connolly in 2007, and WA football great Tony Buhagiar in 2009.
‘Bink’ Phillips and wife Bronte were two of the club’s staunchest supporters.
Phillips was largely involved in commercial and sponsorship matters and was instrumental in attracting sponsors at all levels to the Fremantle Football Club.
The night belonged to a young man who is now undisputedly one of the best players in the game. Nat Fyfe’s story added another chapter on Saturday night, and there are plenty of pages yet to be written for the 23-year-old.
2014 Doig Medal Top 10 votes
1 Nat Fyfe 283
2 Aaron Sandilands 251
3 Stephen Hill 238
4 David Mundy 219
5 Hayden Ballantyne 209
6 Michael Barlow 205
7 Cam Sutcliffe 198
8 Lee Spurr 193
9 Danyle Pearce 190
10 Michael Johnson 179