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Marcus Bontempelli has been crowned the AFL Players’ Most Valuable Player, presented by Snaffle, becoming the first Bulldog to receive multiple Leigh Matthews Trophies.

Following an outstanding 2023 campaign, Bontempelli, who was already the second Bulldog to win an MVP alongside Luke Darcy in 2002, was voted by his peers ahead of Collingwood wunderkind, Nick Daicos, and hardworking Port Adelaide midfielder, Zak Butters, who finished second and third respectively.

Bontempelli, who turns 28 in November, finished the AFL home and away season ranked eighth for disposals, fourth for tackles, fourth for inside 50s, third for clearances, and led the competition for contested possessions. He now joins Greg Williams (1985 and 1994), Michael Voss (20023 and 2003), Chris Judd (2006 and 2011), Gary Ablett Jr. (2007-2009, 2012 and 2013) and Nathan Fyfe (2014 and 2015) as a multiple Leigh Matthews Trophy recipient.

The Western Bulldogs captain received the Leigh Matthews Trophy in front of friends and family at an industry wide event at Melbourne Olympic Park’s Centrepiece that incorporated the AFLPA MVP Awards, AFL Rising Star and All-Australian team, and AFL Coaches Association Awards.

Young Western Bulldogs teammate, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who Bontempelli has taken under his wing, paid tribute to his mentor.

“His ability to impact games and lead from the front is what separates him from others,” Ugle-Hagan said.

“He senses big moments and, at times, carries us on his shoulders. Bont’s had a massive impact on me. He’s been like a big brother across the journey and is helping me improve every game I play. I look up to him and the footballer and person he is.”

Marcus Bontempelli with the Leigh Matthews trophy for the AFLPA Most Valuable Player and the Best Captain award. Picture Courtesy Michael Klein/Herald Sun

In similar scenes to his 2021 MVP triumph, Bontempelli also received the Best Captain Award, presented by The Diamond Guys, edging out lauded leaders Toby Greene and Darcy Moore. He now joins Wayne Carey (1995, 1998 and 2000), Michael Voss (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004), Mark Ricciuto (2005 and 2006), Jonathan Brown (2007 and 2009) Taylor Walker (2016 and 2017) and Scott Pendlebury (2020 and 2022) as a multiple Best Captain recipient.

Along with his podium finish in the MVP award, Butters was also awarded the Robert Rose Most Courageous Player, presented by Tackle Your Feelings, ahead of Tom Liberatore and Jack Viney. And in a season where his teammates voted him as one of their three MVP nominees and breaking the all-time disposal record for a first-year player, North Melbourne youngster Harry Sheezel was crowned the Best First-Year player, presented by Local Expert, edging out Will Ashcroft.

Brisbane Lion, Darcy Fort, and Sydney Swan, Robbie Fox, were also presented the Education and Training Excellence Award, presented by Torrens University Australia, for their commitment to their studies away from the football field, while AFL Media’s Sarah Black took out the Grant Hattam Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism for her article on Renee Garing’s journey back to AFLW after giving birth.


Leigh Matthews Trophy for the Most Valuable Player, presented by Snaffle

1 – Marcus Bontempelli

2 – Nick Daicos

3 – Zak Butters

4 – Toby Greene

5 – Christian Petracca

Robert Rose Most Courageous Award, presented by Tackle Your Feelings

1 – Zak Butters

2 – Tom Liberatore

3 – Jack Viney

4 – Liam Baker

5 – Brayden Maynard

Best First Year Player Award, presented by Local Expert

1 – Harry Sheezel

2 – Will Ashcroft

3 – Oliver Hollands

4 – Max Michalanney

5 – Bailey Humphrey

Best Captain, presented by The Diamond Guys

1 – Marcus Bontempelli

2 – Toby Greene
3 – Darcy Moore

4 – Jordan Dawson

5 – Patrick Cripps

MVP Voting Process
MVP voting is a two-stage process, beginning with each player voting for the three teammates they consider to have been the most valuable this season. Each club’s votes are then tallied to form a nomination list comprising 54 players across the 18 teams.

In the second round of voting, all players vote for their MVP on a 3, 2, 1 basis from the nominees of the 17 other clubs. The votes are tallied and the player with the highest score wins the honour of MVP. Players cannot vote for their own teammates in stage two of the process.

A similar process is followed for Best First Year Player and Most Courageous, but every captain is automatically nominated for the Best Captain Award.