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Top Tiger Jackson wins first Jack Dyer Medal

Daniel Jackson has capped the most productive season of his career with his first Jack Dyer Medal - ${keywords}
Daniel Jackson has capped the most productive season of his career with his first Jack Dyer Medal

EIGHTEEN months after he nearly gave the game away, Richmond best and fairest winner Daniel Jackson has never been more motivated to play a part in the Tigers' assault on 2014. 

The 27-year-old said winning Monday night's Jack Dyer medal in front of a 1550-strong sell-out crowd at Crown Palladium was "the proudest moment of my life". 

He was named the Tigers' best and fairest by just nine votes from newly re-signed midfielder Dustin Martin and third-place getter Troy Chaplin. 

Jackson spoke of the "dark times" that plagued him in 2012 and thanked every person on his table for their help in ensuring he didn't give up on football in the middle of last season. 

"I had a little whiteboard in my room where I'd draw how many games left I had to figure out until my career was going to be finished at the end of this year," Jackson said. 

"That's how adamant I was, I was just going to finish it out." 

Jackson singled out his parents and a schoolteacher who there when he was drafted and wasn't sure whether he belonged at AFL level.  

He spoke of a conversation with "Big Rob" in a café where he broke down in tears and said he simply couldn't do it any more, and of a Skype chat from a hotel in Perth with another friend during which he was convinced "not to hang them up". 

But, after rediscovering his passion for the game this year and signing a two-year contract extension in July, Jackson said the lost elimination final against Carlton made him even more motivated to improve again in 2014.  

"When I walked off the field at the end of the season, I was left with a big desire and a big hunger – something I've never felt before," he said. 

"I was disappointed because I wouldn't play with [Shane] Tuck again and it was the end of the year that had been going well but I was disappointed because I felt we'd let down the 70,000-odd fans. 

"That was an unbelievable feeling. I've played for 10 years now and that gave me an adrenalin rush and a smile like I've never felt before. 

"It's left a real spot we're going to have to fill in next year, so I know we're going to get bigger and better. 

"I know I'll be going away aspiring to make sure that next time we play in front of a crowd like that, we're coming back with a win." 

Jackson is the oldest first-time winner of the award since former club great Matthew Richardson in 2007. 

He played every game to end the season leading the Tigers in tackles and inside-50s (along with Brett Deledio), and finishing second for contested possessions. 

As well as averaging over 22 disposals a game, he kicked a career-best 18 goals.   

At the half way mark of the count, Jackson was in equal second place. 

With the polling system allowing for the five members of the club's match committee to cast votes from zero to five on each of the team's 22 players, the maximum an individual can amount in a single match is 25. 

Jackson polled a season-high 19 votes in round 16 for his 24 possessions and two goals against Gold Coast, which set him on track to his victory. 

Martin's second place is the 22-year-old's best result in the Tigers' best and fairest, and comes only hours after he inked a two-year contract extension following a year of speculation. 

He also played every game this season and averaged more than 24 touches a match. 

New recruit Chaplin, who helped bolster the backline after crossing from Port Adelaide in last year's free agency period, followed. 

Dual best and fairest Deledio was fourth three votes behind Chaplin while captain Trent Cotchin – who has won the past two Jack Dyer medals – finished fifth, one vote behind Deledio. 

Jackson also thanked assistant coach Danny Daly for his support and a pivotal coffee catch up last year. 

"We had a coffee and he asked me if I believe in myself, I said, 'Not particularly' … but this year I do," he said. 

"I've always been proud to be involved in other things and to win the Jim Stynes award last year was a huge part of my life. 

"There's one thing I've learned … it's just been all about the people I've had around me. 

"This is absolutely the proudest moment of my life because it's something I never thought I could do."  

2013 Jack Dyer Medal
1st - Daniel Jackson 264 votes (Jack Dyer Medal winner)
2nd - Dustin Martin 255 (Jack Titus Medal winner)
3rd - Troy Chaplin 241 (Maurie Fleming Medal winner)
4th - Brett Deledio 238 (Fred Swift Medal winner)
5th - Trent Cotchin 237 (Kevin Bartlett Medal winner)
6th - Alex Rance 231
Eq 7th - Steven Morris 211
Eq 7th - Jack Riewoldt 211
9th - Shaun Grigg 191
10th - Bachar Houli 187

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan