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Crows ball magnet romps to first B&F win

Matt Crouch has won his first Adelaide best and fairest award - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Matt Crouch
Matt Crouch has won his first Adelaide best and fairest award

ADELAIDE ball magnet Matt Crouch has romped to victory to claim his first Malcolm Blight Medal. 

Crouch streaked home to take out the Crows' best and fairest award at a gala function at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Friday night.

The 22-year-old was a clear winner on 315 votes ahead of two-time club champion Rory Sloane (253) and gun defender Rory Laird (226).

"It's a huge honour and something you don't expect," Crouch said.

"You see the names that have won it before me, so really honoured to be up there tonight.

"I didn't put a lot of thought into (whether I was a chance to win), it's been a really tough week for everyone, but I thought was consistent through the year so I thought that may have helped."

Ruckman Sam Jacobs (224) and midfielder Richard Douglas (219) rounded out the top five, followed by captain Taylor Walker (211), Tom Lynch (203), Brad Crouch (194), Brodie Smith (194) and Eddie Betts (187). 

There was no room in the top 10 for departing defender Jake Lever – one of eight Crows players selected in the 40-man All Australian squad - despite enjoying an outstanding individual season. 

Lever was advised by club officials not to attend the club champion function after he requested a trade to Melbourne.

The young backman played 20 out of a possible 25 games this season.

Forward Charlie Cameron attended the club champion function despite requesting a trade to the Brisbane Lions.'

The Crows will be hoping they can convince Matt Crouch to sign a contract extension beyond the end of his current deal in 2018. 

Crouch is the second-youngest player to don the gold jacket in Crows' history behind only champion midfielder Andrew McLeod, who was 21 years of age when he claimed top honours in 1997.

Sloane – the Crows' best and fairest in 2013 and 2016 – and Laird are also off-contract at the end of next year. 

Crouch will be in line for a sizeable pay rise after becoming one of the competition's elite midfielders this season. 

He led the League in disposals with 825 and was named in the All Australian team for the first time.

Crows coach Don Pyke and four assistant coaches awarded between zero and four votes to each player for every game this season, so a player could have received a maximum of 20 votes per game.

In other awards, midfielder Wayne Milera took out the Emerging Talent Award, Brad Crouch won the Players' Trademark Award and Sloane collected the Dr Brian Sando OAM Trophy.

Douglas was named the club's Best Team Man, while the Community Leadership Award went to Betts.

 

In his speech, Crows chairman Rob Chapman said while the club was hurting from last Saturday's 48-point loss to Richmond in the Grand Final, it wouldn't blot the copybook when reflecting on the season.

"We all know what happened six days ago," Chapman said.

"Make no mistake, we all collectively own that result, and more importantly, we'll do something about that result.

"We should not allow the season just gone to be defined by last Saturday's Grand Final loss."

Pyke drew on his time from West Coast as a player, losing the Grand Final in 1991 before winning in 1992, in describing the Crows' mindset for next year.

"If we sit here and accept that making a Grand Final is what it's about, we won't win one.

"So, the reality of what we face, and I know the players understand this, is we get back to work with a view that next year we go one better.

"History tells me, you keep banging on the door and you keep doing it with the right resolve, it will open."

Club Champion Top 10 

Matt Crouch – 315
Rory Sloane – 253
Rory Laird – 226
Sam Jacobs – 224
Richard Douglas – 219
Taylor Walker – 211
Tom Lynch – 203
Brad Crouch – 194
Brodie Smith – 194
Eddie Betts – 187

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