Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps has been rewarded for his herculean efforts this season with the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players’ Most Valuable Player in 2019.
Cripps is the first player since Gary Ablett in 2014 to claim the award from a side outside the top eight, receiving 832 votes, ahead of Geelong midfielder Tim Kelly (519 votes) and Brisbane’s Lachie Neale (481 votes).
Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy (355 votes) and two time AFLPA MVP Award winner Nat Fyfe (303 votes) completed the top five.
Cripps, with his parents Brad and Cath in the room, accepted the trophy from Leigh Matthews in front of more than 400 people at the 38th AFL Players’ MVP Awards in Melbourne, presented by Mountain Goat.
AFL Players’ Association President Patrick Dangerfield said Cripps, who led the league in clearances, is not only one of the competition’s best players but also one of the most respected.
“Patrick has had a super season and his ability in contested situations is as good as any player I’ve seen,” Dangerfield said.
“As a midfielder, he can do it all on the inside and outside and, with his huge frame, he’s like a key forward in the air.
“His ability to back it up week-after-week despite an up and down season for the Blues is a huge reason he’s been able to secure the MVP.”
Cripps’ teammate, wonder-kid Sam Walsh, was the runaway winner of the Best First Year Player Award (400 votes), presented by The Line, ahead of Port Adelaide forward Connor Rozee (112 votes). Not surprising, given the 19-year-old broke the disposals record for a first year player, and Walsh led the Blues for pressure acts and was also one of the club’s three MVP nominees.
Freshly minted All-Australian Dylan Grimes (146 votes) claimed the Robert Rose Most Courageous Player Award, presented by the Movember Foundation, ahead of Brisbane wrecking ball Mitch Robinson (105 votes), and Shannon Hurn (171 votes) was named the league’s Best Captain, presented by The Diamond Guys, after finishing runner-up for the award in 2018.
Earlier in the night, Brisbane proved it has one of the league’s most exciting young lists, with a competition-high four players selected in the final 2019 22Under22 fan-voted team. The Lions’ All-Australian full back, Harris Andrews, was named as the side’s captain, with Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley his deputy.
“To be named as captain alongside three Brisbane teammates and quality young players is a huge honour,” Andrews said.
“It’s wonderful to be recognised by the fans for my work this season and hopefully I can continue that into the finals series.”
The 40-man squad was narrowed to the best 22 players aged 22 and under as voted by footy fans. To be eligible for selection, players had to be aged 22 or younger for the entire AFL season, including finals.
Hawthorn midfielder Isaac Smith and North Melbourne AFLW player Kate Gillespie-Jones were each presented an Education and Training Excellence Award, presented by Victoria University, for their commitment to their studies away from the football field.
For his terrific feature piece on Essendon’s Adam Saad and his family, The Age’s Michael Gleeson took out the Grant Hattam Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism, presented by Macpherson and Kelley Lawyers.
WINNERS AND VOTES
Leigh Matthews Trophy for the Most Valuable Player
Patrick Cripps – 832
Tim Kelly – 519
Lachie Neale – 481
Brodie Grundy – 355
Nathan Fyfe – 303
Robert Rose Most Courageous Award, presented by the Movember Foundation
Dylan Grimes – 146
Mitch Robinson – 105
Jarryn Geary – 78
Nick Haynes – 66
Joel Selwood – 63
Best First Year Player Award, presented by The Line
Sam Walsh – 400
Connor Rozee – 112
Sydney Stack – 62
Jordan Clark – 16
Bailey Smith – 16
Best Captain, presented by The Diamond Guys
Shannon Hurn – 171
Patrick Cripps – 128
Scott Pendlebury – 82
Joel Selwood – 52
Trent Cotchin – 50
MVP Voting Process
MVP voting is a two-stage process, beginning with each player voting for the three teammates he considers 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.