The winner of the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award is Max Gawn of the Melbourne Football Club.
Gawn had a massive 2018 season, with his dominance in the ruck guiding Melbourne to their first finals appearance in 12 years, where they’ll meet Geelong in an elimination final at the MCG.
Gawn came home with a wet sail, coming from seven votes behind after round 21 to leapfrog his rivals. Carlton’s Patrick Cripps finished as runner-up, producing a brilliant season where he set a new AFL record for contested possessions in a season (388). Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell finished in third place, narrowly missing out on breaking his own record for disposals in a season, finishing on 786 – one short of the mark he set in 2017.
But it was all about the big Demon, who bounced back superbly from an injury ravaged 2017 season, and was simply unstoppable, averaging 45.5 hitouts, 16.3 disposals, and 4.6 marks per game – all career highs.
Gawn’s season was record-breaking, as he became the first AFL player to record 1000 hitouts – amassing exactly 1000 – and in the process the first ever ruckman to take out the Coaches Award.
In yet another piece of history, Gawn’s victory ensured that he and Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin – winner in 2006 with the Adelaide Crows – became the first ever coach and player combination to each win the prestigious award.
AFL Coaches Association CEO Mark Brayshaw was quick to congratulate Gawn after his stellar year, lauding the Melbourne ruckman as a worthy winner.
“We think the Coaches Award is the most prestigious of all the individual Awards in the AFL, because the 18 groups of coaches take such care in allocating their votes,” Brayshaw said.
“Also, coaches have a unique perspective on what succeeds in each of the 198 games in the AFL’s Home & Away season… Max should be very proud to win this Award.
“AFL ruckman often don’t get the plaudits that they deserve, but Max’s year has been off the charts. He’s rightly been rewarded for that. The Demons’ resurgence… to play finals for the first time in 12 years… is due, in no small part, to his efforts,” Brayshaw said.
Gawn is a first-time winner of the Shadforth Financial Group AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award, with his ability to dominate in the air, and at ground level, helping fuel Melbourne’s high octane offence – which finished the home and away season averaging a league-best 104.5 points per game – and elevating him to elite status within the AFL.
Gawn received 97 votes from the AFL coaches, finishing six votes ahead of Cripps (91 votes), with the top-three rounded out by Mitchell (88 votes).
The Shadforth Financial Group AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award is presented in recognition of the player who has been adjudged as the Champion Player of the Year based on their performance throughout the Season, as voted by the Coaches (5,4,3,2,1) on a weekly basis throughout the AFL Season.