SIMON Goodwin has been crowned the AFL Coaches Association's coach of the year after orchestrating a stunning Melbourne revival and leading the club to its first Grand Final in 21 years.
Goodwin, who is in his fifth season as coach, won the peer-voted award for the first time after the Demons jumped from ninth in 2020 to now have a shot at their first premiership in 57 years.
The 44-year-old polled 258 votes to win the award named in honour of coaching great Allan Jeans, edging his Grand Final counterpart Luke Beveridge (193) and Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron (84).
Goodwin, who accepted the award from Perth via Zoom on Tuesday night, said he was humbled to be voted as the season's best coach by his peers, following recent winners Ken Hinkley (2020) and Chris Fagan (2019).
"Although it’s an individual accolade, ultimately it reflects the efforts of our entire footy club," he said.
"It is the sum of all parts that come together to create a strong football club and I certainly wouldn’t be receiving this award without the support and assistance of everyone who plays a role at the Melbourne football club."
Melbourne's resurgence followed a 17th-place finish in 2019 and a second consecutive year out of finals last year, leading to significant pressure on Goodwin heading into 2021.
After leading the Dees to a 17-win season and their first minor premiership since 1964, Goodwin has been lauded for his calm nature, connection with players and empowering leadership style.
The award recognises the game's best formed senior coach, up to and including the preliminary finals, taking into consideration performance, resources, player talent and team management.
AFLCA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said Goodwin's resolve under pressure had been a trait of his "incredible season".
"Simon held his head high, worked hard, remained focused and has landed Melbourne in the Grand Final," Nicholson said.
"This award has been determined by more than 120 AFL coaches this year and we know it is held in high esteem."
In other awards announced, Carlton's Luke Power was named the AFLCA assistant coach of the year after moving from head of development to stoppages coach mid-season.
He won the award from Melbourne's Troy Chaplin and Sydney assistant Don Pyke, joining recent winners Daniel Giansiracusa (2020) and Craig McRae (2019).
The Neale Daniher lifetime achievement award was won by West Coast stalwart Ian 'Serge' Miller, whose association with the club dates back to 1990 as a member of Mick Malthouse's match committee.
The AFL life member and Sandover medallist has been the Eagles' player services coordinator for the past 18 years.
Recently departed Eagles' assistant Jaymie Graham was recognised with the career and education award for furthering his credentials with study and career development.
Graham, who was among the final contenders for the Collingwood coaching vacancy won by McRae, is being pursued by Fremantle.
Respected commentator and presenter Gerard Whateley won the AFLCA media award for the eighth straight season for his work with Fox Footy and SEN.
AFLCA Coach of the Year winners
2003: Paul Roos (Sydney)
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: Mick Malthouse (Collingwood)
2011: John Worsfold (West Coast)
2012: John Longmire (Sydney)
2013: Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)
2014: John Longmire (Sydney)
2015: Luke Beveridge (Western Bulldogs)
2016: Luke Beveridge (Western Bulldogs)
2017: Damien Hardwick (Richmond)
2018: Nathan Buckley (Collingwood)
2019: Chris Fagan (Brisbane Lions)
2020: Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)