Main content

Former Lion flies high as Eagles' best

Elliot Yeo has taken out the Eagles' best and fairest award - AFL,West Coast Eagles,Elliot Yeo,Jeremy McGovern,Luke Shuey
Elliot Yeo has taken out the Eagles' best and fairest award

ELLIOT Yeo has capped his breakout campaign by taking home the John Worsfold Medal as West Coast's club champion on Friday night.

Yeo polled 197 votes to edge fellow All Australian star Jeremy McGovern by six, with last year's winner Luke Shuey (180) rounding out the top three.

Ever-reliable skipper Shannon Hurn (170) came in fourth, while gun spearhead Josh Kennedy (166) finished in fifth position, despite missing five games due to a calf strain.

Yeo vowed to make amends coming off a disappointing 2016, when he was chopped and changed between roles, and he became a weapon for coach Adam Simpson this season.

Settling the powerful 24-year-old across half-back proved a masterstroke, with the high-flying aerialist dominating games and rocketing to the top of the AFLCA Champion Player leaderboard after 13 rounds.

The big-bodied former Lion was also deployed at times through the engine room to help address West Coast's lack of midfield pace, and finished the year averaging career-best disposals (23.1) and marks (seven). 

Speaking after Friday night's function, Yeo was stunned he had joined a long list of Eagles greats who have won the club's top honour. 

"It's a pretty surreal feeling," Yeo said. "It's such a great honour.

"At the end of 2016 I had a fair few things that I wanted to work on. It was a disappointing year for myself. 

"It (form turnaround) definitely came from a lot of hard work, but it also came from having a mentor such as 'Hick' (assistant coach Adrian Hickmott), he's been absolutely phenomenal for myself this year.

"He's one of those coaches who keeps you accountable but also pushes you to the limits he thinks you're capable of."

By claiming the club champion award, after a previous highest placing of 10th two years ago, Yeo confirmed his standing as a key plank in West Coast's future.

He harbours ambitions of spending more time in midfield next season and the Eagles will need reinforcements after Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell's retirements.

Securing Yeo and McGovern's signatures on contract extensions beyond 2018 looms as priority No.1 for the Eagles as they transition their list from the competition's oldest this year.

McGovern, 25, underlined his reputation as the AFL's best intercept defender this season, when he also led the League in contested marks (61), and his versatility to swing forward helped cover Kennedy's absence.

Shuey led the club for clearances and inside 50s, while collecting the second-most disposals and contested possessions.

His year will be forever remembered for his ice-cold after-the-siren set shot that clinched an epic elimination final victory over Port Adelaide.

Hurn steered the Eagles through a frustrating and inconsistent season, never letting the team's struggles affect his rock-solid form at half-back.

Meanwhile, Kennedy was on track to win an historic third-straight Coleman Medal until he was pipped in the final round by Lance Franklin.

The brilliant full-forward booted 69 goals – including 30 in his first five games back from injury – to claim the club's goalkicking award. 

Hard-nut Mark Hutchings received the Chris Mainwaring Medal as best clubman, while Liam Duggan was named rookie of the year.

Retiring champion Matt Priddis was player of the finals after a fitting finish to his decorated career against the Power and Giants.

Priddis, who won the John Worsfold Medal in 2013 and Brownlow Medal the following year, also placed top 10 in the best and fairest for the 11th-straight season.

Shuey, Jack Darling and Andrew Gaff received life membership after playing 150 games, while recruiters Rohan O’Brien, Kim Hannah and Greg Hyde were also recognised for serving the club since 1992.

John Worsfold Medal top 10

1. Elliot Yeo - 197
2. Jeremy McGovern - 191
3. Luke Shuey - 180
4. Shannon Hurn - 170
5. Josh Kennedy - 166
6. Andrew Gaff - 158
7. Jack Darling - 140
8. Sam Mitchel - 134
9. Matt Priddis - 125
10. Brad Sheppard - 120

* Under the voting system, five members of the match committee give the players a score out of three, meaning a player can poll between 1-15 votes in any given game.