By Peter Blucher
Labrador Ryan Davey, Southport’s Fraser Pope and Redland’s Tom Salter have tied for the 2012 Grogan Medal in the fourth triple dead heat in the long and proud history of the game’s highest individual honor in Queensland.
In one of the lowest winning counts on record, Davey hung on to share the award with the fast-finishing Pope and Salter on 14 votes as the top 12 vote-getters were separated by just three votes, as decided by the 3-2-1 votes of NEAFL umpires.
Davey, who missed the last six games of the season with a foot injury, polled his last votes in Round 12 and had an agonising wait through a further nine rounds of the home-and-away season before finishing at the top of the leaderboard.
This capped a sensational year for the 26-year-old midfielder, who was in his second year with the Tigers after moving north from Warrigal in Gippsland in 2011.
Davey also won the Zane Taylor Medal when judged best afield for the NEAFL Northern Conference representative side in their monstrous 145-point win over the Eastern Conference.
Pope, 24, a Southport junior who returned home this season after a stint with VFL club Coburg, picked up his votes in the reverse order. He didn’t poll at all in the first seven rounds and only finished with the leaders when he picked up five votes in the last two rounds.
Salter, 22, in his fourth season with Redland after being recruited from Tasmania, also finished with a barnstorming run, collecting two three-vote ratings in the last four games.
Davey polled seven times in his 12 games, including three best afield three-vote ratings, while Pope, who played 15 home-and-away games, scored maximum votes four times and was among the votes a total of five times. Salter, who didn’t miss a game, was best afield three times and on the voting card six times.
It was the 11th tie in Grogan Medal history, and the second in a row after Matthew Payne, then at Southport and now at Aspley, dead-heated with the NT Thunder’s Cameron Ilett last year.
In three previous triple dead heats, Morningside’s Terry Johnston tied with Wilston-Grange’s Ken Garcia and Windsor-Zillmere’s Terry Weller in 1969, Southport’s Chris O’Sullivan and David Crutchfield tied with Morningside’s Rick Champion in 1992, and Southport’s Jason Cotter, Morningside’s Daryl Bourke and Grange’s Dean Warren couldn’t be split in 1993.
In an extraordinary count, Redland’s Scott Clouston, Broadbeach’s Ezra Poyas and NT Thunder’s Matt Rosier each polled 13 votes to finish one vote behind the winners, while Southport’s Jason Burge, Aspley’s Matthew Payne and the NT’s Jason Roe each polled 12 votes and Broadbeach’s Jason Eagle, the Gold Coast Suns’ Josh Fraser and the Brisbane Lions’ Patrick Karnezis polled 11 votes.
Gavin Grose topped the Mt.Gravatt vote with seven, while Adam Spackman did likewise at Morningside, also with seven votes.
In other major awards announced tonight at the annual Grogan Medal dinner at the Gabba:-
· Clouston, a former Brisbane Lions rookie tipped as a possible mature-age AFL draftee this year, scored a runaway win in the Syd Guildford Trophy for the NEAFL Northern Conference Player of the Year as voted by NEAFL coaches and officials. He collected 50 votes to beat NT Thunder’s Jake Dignan (34), Davey (20), Roe (17) and Labrador’s Todd Grayson (15).
· Redland’s Greg Seton-Lonsdale, who took the Bombers from eighth to fourth on the NEAFL Northern Conference ladder in his first full season at the helm, was named NEAFL Coach of the Year.
· Broadbeach’s Andrew Boston, Queensland’s only All-Australian selection at this year’s Australian U18 Championships, scored a similarly decisive win in the NAB Rising Star Award. He polled 49 votes to beat Labrador’s Tom Fields (32), NT’s Ben Rioli and Redland’s Adam Oxley (22), and Morningside’s Josh Smith (13).
· Broadbeach’s Jason Eagle was officially named the winner of the Ray Hughson Medal as the leading goal-kicker in the home-and-away season. He booted 72 goals to beat NT Thunder’s Darren Ewing (64), Southport’s Cleve Hughes (55) and Redland’s Josh Pullman (53). Clouston (51) and Southport’s Josh Baxter (51).
· Southport captain Danny Wise was named skipper of a NEAFL Northern Conference Team of the Year, which interestingly included only Davey of the joint medal winners. And he was only named on the interchange bench after his season was curtailed by injury. The team was:
B: Danny Wise (Sp – capt), Jason Roe (NT), Steve Wrigley (BL)
HB: Todd Grayson (Lab), Wayde Mills (Sp), Adam Oxley (Red)
C: James Hawksley (BL), Jake Dignan (NT), Cheynee Stiller (BL)
HF Matthew Payne (Asp), Scott Clouston (Red), Josh Baxter (Sp)
F: Gavin Grose (MtG), Darren Ewing (NT), Sam Faure (Ms)
R: Dylan Reid (Asp), Andrew McQualter (GCS), Jason Burge (Sp)
INT: Ryan Davey (Lab), Brad Rees (Red), Phil Carse (Red), Matt Rosier (NT), Ryan Pantic (Bb).
· Broadbeach junior Dayne Zorko, already judged Best First-Year Player at the Brisbane Lions, Redland junior Lee Spurr, playing in the finals with Fremantle in his first year in the AFL, and Morningside junior Tom Bell, a booming success story in his first season at Carlton, were first-time inclusions in the Queensland Team of the Year. The team is:-
B: Lee Spurr (Frem), Daniel Merrett (BL), Sam Gilbert (St.K)
HB: Courtenay Dempsey (Ess), Charlie Dixon (GC), Jarrod Harbrow (GC)
C: Rohan Bail (Melb), David Armitage (St.K), Brendan Whitecross (Haw)
HF: Tom Bell (Carl), Nick Riewoldt (St.K – capt), Karmichael Hunt (GC)
F: Dayne Zorko (BL), Kurt Tippett (Adel), David Hale (Haw)
R: Ben Hudson (BL), Dayne Beams (Coll), Andrew Raines (BL)
INT: Luke McGuane (Rich), Lachlan Keeffe (Coll), Joel Macdonald (Melb), Josh Drummond (BL)
· Southport was named Alpha Sport Club of the Year, which was judged according to on-field and off-field compliance and performance, their strength of brand in the community, and their capacity to embrace the NEAFL development charter.
· Andrew Stephens was named Umpire of the Year.
· Volunteer of the Year was won by Broadbeach’s Dave Moran, who has overseen the club’s BBQ and bar operation despite being confined to a wheelchair following a stroke three years ago.
· Fifteen-year-old Zillmere Eagles ruck Tayla Harris won the Women’s League B&F Medal in her first season at senior level.
· Mitchell Scholard was named leading goal kicker for the SEQAFL Cup
· Scott Waters received the Bill Clerke Best & Fairest medal for the SEQAFL Cup
· Daniel Webster from Aspley was named the NEAFL emerging coach of the year
In a thrilling Grogan Medal count, Davey jumped to the lead in Round 5 and after eight Rounds led the way with nine votes from Poyas (7), Clouston, Burge, Dignan and the Lions’ Josh Green (6).
After 12 rounds it was Davey (14) from Clouston, Poyas and Roe (9), Eagle (8) and Spackman (7).
By round 16 Poyas had moved to within one votes of an anxious Davey, while Clouston, Eagle and Fraser (11) we also within striking distance.
Rosier joined the players on double-figures when he jumped to 10 votes and sixth place in Round 17, before Rosier and Clouston joined Poyas in second spot on 13 votes in Round 18 as Salter and Karnezis moved to 11.
There was no movement among the leaders in Round 19, but in Round 20 Salter collected three votes to join Davey at the top of the leaderboard while Burge moved to 12 and Pope collected two votes to get to 11.
Going into the final round no less than a dozen players could win.