Brendon Goddard has taken out Essendon's best and fairest award
ALMOST a year to the day since Brendon Goddard crossed to Essendon, the 28-year-old has won the club's best and fairest.
The former St Kilda star polled 431 votes to edge out captain Jobe Watson, who finished in second place with 382 votes at the count on Wednesday night.
In his third season with the Bombers, Dyson Heppell rounded out the top three, with 336 votes.
It was Goddard's first best and fairest in his illustrious career, with his previous highest finish coming in 2009, when he was runner-up at St Kilda.
He also finished third in 2010 when the Saints made the Grand Final for the second successive year.
His Crichton Medal victory capped a strong year at the club, having joined the Bombers on the opening day of last year's free agency period as a restricted free agent.
Goddard's consistency was rewarded in the voting, having played every game of the season, averaging 26 disposals and seven marks a game. He kicked 18 goals – his highest total since 2010.
It also recognises his enormous leadership since joining the Bombers, having played an important role in the club's challenging season.
"Both on and off the field, 'BJ' has led from the front in what was a very difficult year for the football club," assistant coach Mark Thompson said.
"He played some exceptional football this season, not to mention a variety of roles, and it’s just great to see how well he’s been accepted by his teammates, coaches and supporters.
"It really is a fantastic achievement to win a best and fairest in your first year at a new football club, and it says so much about BJ’s professionalism and dedication to getting the best out of himself."
Watson's three-game absence in the middle of the season with a broken collarbone ultimately ended his chance of winning his fourth best and fairest, after shooting to the lead early in the count.
It was the fifth season Watson has finished in the top-two of the club's best and fairest.
After being runner-up last year, Heppell continued his brilliant start to his AFL career.
It was also a nod to his move into the midfield, where the 21-year-old grew into one of the club's most damaging players.
Heppell also won the best clubman award, which was renamed after the late Bruce Heymanson, a former life member and No.1 ticket holder at Essendon.
In other awards, Jackson Merrett won the Lindsay Griffiths rising star, Mark Baguley was named most improved, Kyle Hardingham was judged the best team player, and Michael Hibberd won the most courageous player award, named after former Bomber Adam Ramanauskas.
Brendon Goddard – 431
Jobe Watson - 382
Dyson Heppell - 336
Michael Hibberd - 321
Jake Melksham - 294
Jake Carlisle – 241
Brent Stanton – 229
Heath Hocking – 211
Cale Hooker – 207
David Zaharakis – 191