ADAM Kingsley has been rewarded for overseeing Greater Western Sydney's stunning transformation from bottom-four strugglers to preliminary finalists, claiming the 2023 Allan Jeans Senior Coach of the Year award on Tuesday night.
The first-year coach became the first person in the club's brief history to be recognised with the prestigious honour, having revitalised the Giants' fortunes by spearheading their improved 13-10 season before winning two finals matches.
Their unlikely rise saw Kingsley poll 263 votes from his peers within the AFL Coaches' Association, seeing him take out the accolade ahead of Grand Final coaches Craig McRae of Collingwood (197 votes) and Chris Fagan of Brisbane (164 votes).
The Giants ultimately bowed out in agonising fashion during last Friday's preliminary final against Collingwood, losing by a solitary point, but the club had vastly surpassed expectations through its journey to September.
A 170-game premiership player at Port Adelaide, Kingsley then served a 16-year apprenticeship working as an assistant at Port Adelaide (2007-10), St Kilda (2011-18) and Richmond (2019-22) before finally earning his chance at the Giants last August.
Speaking to AFL.com.au in pre-season, Kingsley set his sights on bringing back the club's 'Orange Tsunami' mantra and said: "I reckon the fans probably found it quite exciting, and I reckon the opposition probably found it a little intimidating."
It proved prophetic, with Kingsley inspiring a turnaround in the team's form after the Giants found themselves stuck in the bottom-four at the midway point of the year with a 4-8 record. They then reeled off seven straight wins to book a spot in finals.
After winning at a V/AFL record 11 different locations throughout the season, the Giants then knocked off St Kilda at the MCG in an elimination final before beating Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval in a semi-final.
"It's a tremendous honour to receive this award, particularly given it’s an award voted on by the other coaches. I'm grateful for the support I've received this season from the club and our players but also a whole new coaching group and I’m exceptionally proud of the way we've come together to build a whole new program," Kingsley said.
"While still disappointed by the result on Friday night, in time I think we’ll look back on this season with a great amount of pride, particularly in the growth of our group. I'm determined to continue to learn and grow and, along with our great group of assistant coaches, am excited by what we can achieve together into the future."
2023 ALLAN JEANS SENIOR COACH OF THE YEAR
1. Adam Kingsley (Greater Western Sydney) 263 votes
2. Craig McRae (Collingwood) 197 votes
3. Chris Fagan (Brisbane) 164 votes
Elsewhere, Adelaide assistant James Rahilly was honoured for his work by claiming the AFLCA Assistant Coach of the Year award. The Crows' forwards coach oversaw an attacking group that led the League for scoring in 2023.
Adelaide's SANFL coach Michael Godden and Melbourne's recent Hall of Fame inductee Mark Williams also tied for the honour of winning the AFLCA Development Coach of the Year award.
Hawthorn assistant Adrian Hickmott was awarded the AFLCA Career and Education award, while former eight-year Adelaide coach Neil Craig was honoured on the night with the Neale Daniher Lifetime Achievement Award.
It followed a career that saw Craig play 320 SANFL games with Norwood, Sturt and South Adelaide, winning two premierships in 1975 and 1978, before moving into coaching throughout the 1990s.
He spent five years coaching Norwood, before taking the reins as Adelaide's senior AFL coach between 2004-11 where the Crows made finals for five consecutive seasons between 2005-09.
Craig then spent time at Melbourne, Essendon, Carlton and Gold Coast working in a variety of different coaching roles, while he also served as caretaker coach of the Dees for 11 matches in 2013.
2023 AFLCA ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
1. James Rahilly (Adelaide)
2. Nigel Lappin (Geelong)
3. David Hale (Hawthorn)
2023 AFLCA DEVELOPMENT COACH OF THE YEAR
=1. Michael Godden (Adelaide)
=1. Mark Williams (Melbourne)
3. Scott Borlace (Brisbane)