Want-away Bulldog Dunkley narrowly wins Charles Sutton Medal

Want-away Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley has capped off an outstanding season by claiming his maiden Charles Sutton Medal.

Dunkley stormed home in the tight race on Wednesday night, polling 52 votes over the final three rounds and the elimination final loss to Fremantle to overcome fellow onballer Tom Liberatore – who was consistent through the rounds – and poll the maximum votes.

Josh Dunkley has requested a trade to the Brisbane Lions.Credit:AFL Photos

The 25-year-old was a consistent performer across the year, averaging 25 touches, six tackles and six marks a game, while finding the scoreboard regularly with 18 goals and not missing a game.

Dunkley’s accolade comes a week after the star onballer requested a trade to the Brisbane Lions, seeking a six-year deal worth more than $4 million, after spurning a five-year offer from the Dogs.

Dunkley (231 votes) narrowly beat Liberatore (211 votes), forward Aaron Naughton (180), captain and four-time winner Marcus Bontempelli (174 votes) and vice-captain Jack Macrae (170), who made up the top five.

Alongside Liberatore’s Doug Hawkins medal for second place, he also secured the John Van Groningen Domestique of the Year award, which is voted on by the players.

The 30-year-old was reliable in clearances, averaging more than seven clearances per game this season.

Naughton, Gary Dempsey medallist, reaffirmed his star development and position in the forward line with a career-high 51 goals this season, at an average of 2.4 goals per game. The 22-year-old booted three or more goals in 10 games this year.

Emerging swingman, 19-year-old Sam Darcy, won the Chris Grant best first year player award, after an impressive four games in the back half of the season, including the final against Fremantle.

Consistent half-back Ed Richards finished his breakout season by winning the Tony Liberatore most improved player award, playing 22 matches and averaging 19 touches and 362 metres gained.

Ryan Gardiner claimed the Brad Johnson best team player award, while small forward Cody Weightman took out the Scott West most courageous award. Notably, Weightman returned to the field just minutes after dislocating his elbow in round fourteen’s clash against Greater Western Sydney, where he kicked five goals.

Skipper Bontempelli was recognised for his role in his side’s loss to Fremantle in the elimination final with 30 disposals and two goals, named as the club’s best finals player.

Charles Sutton Medal – Top 10

1st place (Charles Sutton Medal): Josh Dunkley – 231 votes

2nd place (Doug Hawkins Medal): Tom Liberatore – 211 votes

3rd place (Gary Dempsey Medal): Aaron Naughton – 180 votes

4th: Marcus Bontempelli – 174 votes

5th: Jackson Macrae – 170 votes

6th: Caleb Daniel – 158 votes

7th: Ryan Gardiner – 151 votes

8th: Adam Treloar – 150 votes

9th: Bailey Dale – 146 votes

10th: Ed Richards – 144 votes

AFL Awards

  • Chris Grant Best First Year Player: Sam Darcy
  • Locker Group Coaches’ Award: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
  • Tony Liberatore Most Improved Player Award: Ed Richards
  • Brad Johnson Best Team Player Award: Ryan Gardiner
  • Scott West Most Courageous Award: Cody Weightman
  • Best Player in Finals: Marcus Bontempelli
  • John Van Groningen Domestique Award: Tom Liberatore

Club Awards

  • Bruce Wilkinson Winner (AFL Trainers’ Award) – Tom Liberatore
  • Ben Bradley Winner (VFL Trainers’ Award) – Roarke Smith
  • VFL Best and Fairest: Lachie Sullivan
  • John Schultz Community Award: Tom Liberatore
  • Ingrid McDonald Award: Sean PollardKeep up to date with all the AFL trade action this week with our daily newsletter. Sign up here.

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