AFL 4 years ago

Roo’s the One

  • Roo�s the One

The 2014 Trevor Barker Award promised to be a race in two between Nick Riewoldt and Lenny Hayes, and so it proved with the skipper pipping the retiring champion to win his sixth Best & Fairest award.

Riewoldt, who adds this year’s gong to his victories in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009, took out the award with 137 votes, ahead of Hayes (126), Sean Dempster (101), Leigh Montagna (87) and Luke Delaney (80).

The captain has now won two more best and fairest prizes than any other St Kilda player in the club’s history. According to The Age’s Daniel Cherny, he also becomes just the fourth player after Jack Dyer, Kevin Murray and Leigh Matthews to win his club’s Best & Fairest in his teens, 20s and 30s. Decent company, indeed.

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[quote]Take a look at that top four again. It is quite alarming to note that all are on the wrong side of 30. [/quote]

Riewoldt is undoubtedly a deserving winner. He played every game for the first time since 2006, hauled in a competition-high 191 marks and booted 49 goals. His form was particularly devastating early in 2014, as he wound back the clock to deliver some of his best performances in years.

Nick Riewoldt


Lenny Hayes


Sean Dempster


Leigh Montagna


Luke Delaney


Jack Newnes


David Armitage


Jack Steven


Mav Weller


James Gwilt


Farren Ray


Luke Dunstan



Take a look at that top four again. It is quite alarming to note that all are on the wrong side of 30, with Hayes retiring and the others edging closer to hanging up their own respective boots. Contrast that with the Western Bulldogs, another rebuilding side that admittedly is considerably more advanced than the Saints, where youngsters filled three of the top five spots (Liberatore – 1st, Macrae – 2nd and Dahlhaus – 4th). The Saints’ leaderboard is just another indicator of the magnitude of the rebuilding task facing Alan Richardson and Chris Pelchen.

Take another look at that top four again. Wait, is that, LEIGH MONTAGNA?! I was legitimately taken aback to see him crack the top five. To my mind, the veteran midfielder was strong early in the season before labouring through many games in the second half of the campaign. Overall, Montagna’s year was fair-to-middling by his standards, so it was surprising to see him finish ahead of the likes of Delaney and Jack Newnes.

On Delaney and Newnes, they can be well pleased with their respective performances. The key defender shone brightly in defence throughout much of his first season at Seaford, while Newnes deservedly ranked highest of the next generation after playing every game this season and delivering consistent performances.

Further down the list, it was an impressive effort for Mav Weller to break into the top 10 after starting the year on the rookie list. The tagger, who played 16 games, took a few big scalps after making the spot his own in Round 7, and he looms as a vital part of the Saints’ midfield of the future. Another player to have played 16 games was Luke Dunstan, who finished 12th. Had the first-year player finished the season in the seniors, a top ten result would have been a near fait accompli.

The delisted James Gwilt finished 10th in his final year with the Saints, one spot ahead of Farren Ray, who to my mind can count himself a little unlucky to be outside the top ten. Ray has never been flashy or played a starring role for long periods, but by-and-large he performs at solid level every week. Having him and Montagna seven places apart is nonsensical.

Other awards

Other award-winners on the night were:

Luke Dunstan, who won the Most Promising Player award. The first-year player was a certainty for this one, having showed the best and most consistent form of any of St Kilda’s rookies. Dunstan’s debut in Round 1 earned him a nomination for the Rising Star Award, a prize he might have won had a shoulder injury not curtailed his season. He will wear Lenny Hayes’ number seven jumper next year.

Luke Delaney, who was awarded the inaugural Players’ Trademark Award. You can read more about what the prize seeks to recognise here, but essentially it rewarded toughness, a team-first attitude and doing what’s right on and off the field. To win an award voted on by teammates in your first season at a new club is no mean feat, and there’s no doubt Delaney has been one of the Saints’ best mature-age additions in years. Well done.

Sam Gilbert, who won the Robert Harvey Best Clubman Award for his off-field work throughout the year. Having played just six senior games in 2014 due to a debilitating foot injury, Gilbert represented the club at a string of community events and other initiatives.

Nick Riewoldt, who won the Most Valuable Player Award as voted on by the fans. The skipper won in a landslide ahead of Hayes, Montagna, Dunstan and David Armitage.


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