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Crows defender grabs first Malcolm Blight Medal

Daniel Talia of the Adelaide Crows kicks during the 2014 AFL Round 12 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Adelaide Crows at Patersons Stadium, Perth on June 08, 2014. (Photo: Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Daniel Talia has won the Malcolm Blight Medal in just his fourth season
ADELAIDE key defender Daniel Talia has been crowned the 2014 club champion, finishing strongly in a thrilling count to claim his first Malcolm Blight Medal.
 
Talia shared the lead with Patrick Dangerfield entering the final round on 72 votes, but his stellar performance on St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt in round 23 saw him clinch the award (79 votes) from Rory Sloane (77).
 
Dangerfield finished third (76) and only nine votes separated the top five, which was rounded out by Brodie Smith (72) and Sam Jacobs (70).
 
Talia's brilliant season, in which he kept star forwards Nick Riewoldt, Jack Riewoldt and Jarryd Roughead goalless, saw him selected in the 2014 All Australian 40-man squad.
 
The 22-year-old, still only in his fourth season, is the second-youngest best and fairest at West Lakes after legend Andrew McLeod claimed the award in 1997 at just 21 years of age.
 
Talia ranked eighth in the AFL for spoils (135) and also improved the attacking side of his game, averaging career-high disposals (11.8 a game), rebound 50s, intercept marks and inside 50s.

While it was an exciting count, Talia said the night had been dampened by the club's failure to qualify for the finals for the second successive year. 

Talia asserted that change was required for the Crows to take the necessary steps to not only push into the eight, but challenge for higher honours.
 
He said the club's younger players, including himself, needed to speak up about the direction of Adelaide's culture and future.

"A lot of guys are really hurting and it has probably soured the presentation a bit ... we're just going to have to find a way to use that next year," Talia said.

"I know we've said that the last couple of years but we've got to change something over the pre-season ... too much has been left up to the top six to eight guys; that leadership group has really been carrying the rest.

"Young guys like myself and Brodie Smith ... are really passionate about the club but haven’t had as much to say as we probably could.

"That's an area moving forward that we're going to work on, and (on our) output as well – we need more consistency from more than, say, eight or 10 guys on match day."

After successfully returning to senior football from his knee reconstruction in 2014, Taylor Walker was deemed the club's best team man, while young gun Charlie Cameron won the Mark Bickley Award as the club's best emerging talent under 21 years and his mentor Eddie Betts took out the coaches’ award.
 
TOP 10
Daniel Talia - 79
Rory Sloane - 77
Patrick Dangerfield - 76
Brodie Smith - 72
Sam Jacobs - 70
Scott Thompson - 68
Matthew Jaensch - 63
Eddie Betts - 60
Josh Jenkins - 50
Richard Douglas - 49