LUKE Beveridge has been named the AFL Coaches Association coach of the year after guiding the Western Bulldogs into the finals for the first time since 2010 in his first season at the helm.
Beveridge, who took the reins after a summer of upheaval at the Whitten Oval, orchestrated a fairytale season for the Bulldogs, who won 14 games and finished the home and away season in sixth position.
Their ability to play an exciting style of football that also won games made the Bulldogs – and Beveridge – one of the stories of the season until they bowed out against Adelaide in a thrilling qualifying final.
Part of the AFLCA voting criteria applies to the list of players a coach is working with, and Beveridge lost his captain Ryan Griffen and senior players Adam Cooney and Shaun Higgins before he had coached a game.
Then the best young midfielder at his disposal, Tom Liberatore, was lost for the season because of a serious knee injury.
Beveridge (365 votes) won the award, named in honour of coaching great Allan Jeans, ahead of West Coast's Grand Final coach Adam Simpson (305) and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon (116).
All 178 members of the AFLCA vote 3-2-1 at the end of the home and away season.
The AFLCA is considering changing the timing of the vote to take in finals after Alastair Clarkson missed out on the award for the fourth straight season in which he has led the Hawks to a Grand Final.
Clarkson, who is yet to win the award, was pipped by John Longmire by one vote last year.
"It's a little bit embarrassing that 'Clarko' hasn't won one yet," Beveridge said after accepting the award.
"It's a huge honour and mainly because it is voted by your peers.
"It takes a bit for me to have any tension in my relationships, so when I took over I tried to get the message across that it was going to be a supportive coaching tenure.
"What all our coaches and staff have done for our club this has been great and it allows us to start 2016 on a better platform."
Other award winners were St Kilda's Adam Kingsley, who was named assistant coach of the year, and emerging Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli, who was judged the game's best young player.
The best young player award is for second-year players, judged across two years, with all AFLCA members voting 5-4-3-2-1.
The coach of the year award was named in Jeans' honour after his death in 2011, and on Tuesday night the St Kilda and Hawthorn great was posthumously anointed a coaching legend.
Respected coach and author David Wheadon was given the lifetime achievement award after an extensive career as an assistant coach with a number of AFL clubs.
Sydney Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery was earlier this month named the Champion Player of the Year after pipping Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe by one vote.
AFLCA Coach of the Year past winners
2003 - Paul Roos (Sydney Swans)
2004 - Mark Williams (Port Adelaide)
2005 - Neil Craig (Adelaide)
2006 - John Worsfold (West Coast)
2007 - Mark Thompson (Geelong)
2008 - Mark Thompson (Geelong)
2009 - Ross Lyon (St Kilda)
2010 - Michael Malthouse (Collingwood)
2011 - John Worsfold (West Coast)
2012 - John Longmire (Sydney Swans)
2013 - Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)
2014 - John Longmire (Sydney Swans)