LACHIE Neale has capped a sensational first season in Brisbane, winning the Merrett-Murray Medal as club champion.
Neale led the count the entire evening and finished with 386 votes to defeat captain Dayne Zorko (348 votes) who had won the previous four best and fairests.
Wingman Hugh McCluggage (322) was third.
Coach Chris Fagan and his five assistant coaches each give a maximum of four votes after each game based on the player's overall performance, delivery of team criteria and execution of team trademarks. The maximum votes for any game is 24.
After crossing the country from Fremantle 12 months ago, Neale played in all 24 games, averaged 31 disposals and led the League in total clearances and contested possessions.
In front of 760 people at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the 26-year-old received the award from the men it was named in honour of – Brisbane Bears legend Roger Merrett and Fitzroy Team of the Century captain and Brownlow medallist Kevin Murray.
It caps a year in which Neale earned his first Virgin Australian AFL All Australian jacket and finished equal third in the Brownlow Medal behind his former Fremantle teammate Nat Fyfe.
Julie and Lachie Neale at the Brownlow Medal count. Picture: AFL Photos
Although Zorko's run of four straight titles came to an end, it was another memorable season for the game-breaking midfielder.
The 30-year-old averaged 24 disposals and seven tackles, kicked 23 goals and led the AFL in pressure acts.
Skipper Dayne Zorko enjoyed another fine season. Picture: AFL Photos
In just his third season, McCluggage took a huge leap forward, averaging 23 disposals and kicking 23 goals as a specialist wingman.
Neale, Zorko and Mitch Robinson shared the players' player award, while Harris Andrews was named the most professional player.
2019 Merrett-Murray Medal – Top 10
1. Lachie Neale (386 votes)
2. Dayne Zorko (348)
3. Hugh McCluggage (322)
4. Jarryd Lyons (298)
5. Daniel Rich (289)
6. Charlie Cameron (280)
7. Stefan Martin (275)
8. Darcy Gardiner (271)
9. Mitch Robinson (269)
10. Harris Andrews (245)