BALL magnet Tom Mitchell has joined his father as a club best and fairest winner, claiming the Peter Crimmins Medal on Saturday night as reward for his brilliant first season at Hawthorn.
The former Swan proved one of the AFL's best recruits in an astonishing 2017 campaign, where he broke the all-time record for possessions (787) in the home and away season.
Mitchell was an All Australian for the first time this year and finished second behind record-setting Tiger Dustin Martin in the Brownlow Medal.
The 24-year-old polled 192 votes to easily capture Hawthorn's highest individual honour, ahead of ruckman Ben McEvoy (138) and the departing Luke Hodge (131).
NAB AFL Rising Star runner-up Ryan Burton (117) and line-breaking wingman Isaac Smith (111) rounded out the top five.
Mitchell now has his sights set on becoming a Hawks leader.
"It's a special feeling, obviously to see some of the past winners that have won the Peter Crimmins Medal," Mitchell said.
"Guys like Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge … and Josh Gibson – some guys who are finishing their career at Hawthorn – to be put in the category winning an award in the same boat as them means a lot.
"Now I'm comfortable around the club and understand the surroundings and how the culture works, (being in the leadership group is) something I'd like to strive towards."
Dual Norm Smith medallist Hodge, 33, announced his retirement in July, but is set to continue his outstanding career with the Brisbane Lions next season.
The Hawks honoured the four-time premiership star at the function, alongside retiring duo Sam Mitchell and Josh Gibson, who was absent after tearing an adductor muscle in a horse riding incident.
Club officials knew they were acquiring a quality midfielder when they parted with their first-round pick for Mitchell last year, but he emphatically shed his midfield bridesmaid tag from his Sydney days behind Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dan Hannebery.
"I think I had a fairly consistent season, but at the same time, as a team, we didn't really achieve what we wanted to this year, so that's a priority," Mitchell said.
"Going into the pre-season, I'm looking forward to the hard work starting and hopefully producing a stronger 2018.
"I always had belief in myself that I could continually improve and get better each year … I probably just improved five, 10 per cent in each aspect of my game and hopefully I can keep building on that for the future."
He averaged a League-most 35.8 disposals as one of only six Hawks to play every match, as well as ranking second in total handballs (480), third in contested possessions (326), seventh in tackles (143) and 10th in clearances (137).
Mitchell never had fewer than 26 touches in any game and had at least 30 on 20 occasions, including 50 against Collingwood in round nine to earn himself three Brownlow votes.
But neither the season disposal record nor the half century of possessions in a single game mean much to him, because Hawthorn failed to make finals for the first time since 2009.
"I play an inside mid role, so I'm going to be around the footy, so that's how those things can come about," Mitchell said.
"But I'm more interested in what we can do as a team, and the history of this club over the last decade shows they've been able to produce Grand Final teams and premiership sides, so that's the main thing I want to be part of.
"I think the back end of this year we showed some promising signs, so if we can produce that sort of footy, as well as get some key senior players back, things are looking pretty positive."
His father, Barry, was also a natural ball-winner who played 221 VFL/AFL matches for Sydney, Collingwood and Carlton and kicked 247 goals between 1984 and 1996. He won the Swans' best and fairest award and was an All Australian in 1991.
McEvoy enjoyed a career-best season and would have been a serious contender to make the All Australian squad of 40.
The 28-year-old didn't miss a match in averaging 12.5 disposals and 32.4 hit-outs, and led full-time ruckmen in marks (four, equal with Stefan Martin) and contested marks (1.73).
Hodge averaged 23.2 disposals, 6.3 marks, 3.1 rebound 50s and 2.5 tackles in 19 games this year, on top of providing invaluable leadership in a youthful backline.
Peter Crimmins Medal top 10
1. Tom Mitchell (192 votes)
2. Ben McEvoy (138)
3. Luke Hodge (131)
4. Ryan Burton (117)
5. Isaac Smith (111)
6. Jarryd Roughead (107)
T7. Jack Gunston (104)
T7. James Sicily (104)
9. Shaun Burgoyne (100)
10. Liam Shiels (91)
Best Clubman: Liam Shiels
Best First Year Player: Conor Glass
Most Consistent: Luke Hodge
Most Promising Player: Ryan Burton