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Award caps off stunning comeback for Port star

The John Cahill Medal caps off a huge year for Paddy Ryder - AFL,Port Adelaide,Paddy Ryder,Charlie Dixon,Tom Jonas
The John Cahill Medal caps off a huge year for Paddy Ryder
I just wanted to come out there and show my love for the game
Paddy Ryder

PORT Adelaide ruckman Paddy Ryder has capped a superb comeback to the AFL by winning the Power's best and fairest for the first time.

Ryder, 29, collected the John Cahill Medal at a gala function at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Friday night.

It was a close contest between Ryder and key forward Charlie Dixon.

The All Australian big man finished on top with 241 votes, just seven votes ahead of Dixon (234).

Defender Tom Jonas (203) completed the top three.

Midfielder-forward Robbie Gray, the Power's best and fairest for the past three years, was one vote back in fourth on 202, while midfielder Brad Ebert (190) rounded out the top five.

But the night belonged to Ryder, who polled in 21 of the 22 games he played this season and had the second-most hit-outs in the League this year with 831 in a sensational return after sitting out last year serving a 12-month anti-doping suspension as part of the Essendon supplements saga.

"It's just really humbling to be crowned the club champion," he said.

"As a player, I just wanted to come out there and show my love for the game, for my teammates, just try to be as consistent as I can.

"I knew in the past I was able to play some pretty good football, but maybe consistency was my let-down, so I just wanted to play at a high level of football and keep that roll on for as long as I could."

The award is a welcome distraction for Ryder as he deals with a looming court case after being charged with assaulting police at a late-night incident in front of an Adelaide nightclub last weekend.

Dixon was rewarded for the best season of his career, finishing the year as the Power's leading goalkicker (49 goals) and leading the team in marks (6.5 per game).

He was also second in the League for contested marks and fourth for marks inside 50.

Jonas was rarely beaten when assigned to the opposition's most dangerous forward most weeks and was named in the 40-man All Australian squad.

Vice-captain Ollie Wines (184), forward Sam Gray (171), midfielder-forward Chad Wingard (166), captain Travis Boak (152) and Justin Westhoff (145) completed the top 10.

Utility Jackson Trengove – who was dropped near the end of the season and signed a four-year deal with the Western Bulldogs as a restricted free agent – finished 17th in the best and fairest counting.

Contracted forward Jarman Impey, who has been linked to the Bulldogs and Hawthorn after also spending time in the SANFL, finished 20th.

Power coach Ken Hinkley and his four assistants – Matthew Nicks, Michael Voss, Brendon Lade and Nathan Bassett – awarded votes on a 0-5 basis for every player in each game.

In other awards, Jonas received the Fos Williams Award as the best team man, rookie sensation Sam Powell-Pepper took home the Gavin Wanganeen Award for the best player under the age of 21, the Coaches' Award for most improved went to Sam Gray and Jack Hombsch collected the John McCarthy Award for community service.

The Top 10

1. Paddy Ryder 241
2. Charlie Dixon 234
3. Tom Jonas 203
4. Robbie Gray 202
5. Brad Ebert 190
6. Ollie Wines 184
7. Sam Gray 171
8. Chad Wingard 166
9. Travis Boak 152
10. Justin Westhoff 145

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