ESSENDON received more proof it has found the right person to lead its journey into the AFLW after captain Georgia Nanscawen became the first Bomber to win the Lambert-Pearce Medal for the VFLW’s best-and-fairest player on Thursday night.
Hockey convert Nanscawen, 29, dominated the VFLW competition for the second straight season to poll 17 votes and win the medal by three from Collingwood best-and-fairest Caitlin Bunker, while Hawthorn ruck Tamara Luke (11) bounced back from being delisted by St Kilda’s AFLW team to finish third after claiming the Hawks’ award.
North Melbourne best-and-fairest Meagan Kiely, Geelong talls Olivia Barber and Claudia Gunjaca (who won the Cats’ award) and Magpie Amelia Velardo filled the top five with nine votes each.
The names of VFLW greats Meg Hutchins (Hawthorn, seven votes) and Cecilia McIntosh (Essendon, six) jump off the voting page in ties for eighth and 15th at the ages of 39 and 42 – proving their amazing longevity and consistency after each winning Helen Lambert Medals in 2004 and 2008 for Deakin and Melbourne University respectively.
Nanscawen averaged 23.5 disposals and a stunning 10.5 tackles across her 15 VFLW matches and won the Lambert-Pearce Medal despite amazingly only finishing 10th in Essendon’s own best-and-fairest award.
She did win the Bombers’ best finals player after finding another level again with 27.7 disposals and 11.7 tackles on average across their three post-season games.
A stunned Nanscawen, who was born in Brunswick, grew up in the local area and started her professional sporting journey at Essendon Hockey Club, credited the Bombers’ environment for helping her succeed in football after 205 appearances for Australia that included a Commonwealth Games gold medal at Glasgow 2014.
“I’m pretty speechless, I wasn’t expecting this when I jumped on the Zoom call, so certainly very honoured and pretty shocked,” she said after being surprised with the medal by her mum Kerryn and dad Peter.
“From the day I walked into Essendon I felt at home – most of my sporting life I’ve been in that high-pressure, high-stress environment, but when I came to Essendon I just felt really at ease and was just able to enjoy myself and enjoy sport.
“Obviously you play your best in whatever sport when you’re feeling valued and comfortable with where you are, and I’ve certainly been very happy at Essendon and that has helped me enjoy myself and play good football.”
It was just Nanscawen’s third full season of football after she retired from hockey in 2018 and joined Swan Districts in the WAFLW before being picked up by North Melbourne for the 2019 AFLW season.
But after playing just two matches as she struggled to break into the powerful Kangaroos’ team, she was delisted and found her way “home” to Windy Hill, winning the Bombers’ best-and-fairest in her first season of 2019.
“I got to North extremely fresh, I hadn’t even played a full season in Perth in the local league, so I was kind of thrown into the deep end,” Nanscawen said.
“I obviously gave it my best shot, but the North team was pretty hard to find a way (into), so I found my place at Essendon and the coaching staff and playing group put a lot of faith in me and made me feel really valued, and I think that’s when you really play your best.
“I feel like I’m still learning, I have a relatively young football age, so I still feel I can get a lot better, and now with the announcement of Essendon having an AFLW licence there’s certainly that potential there to give it another crack – if that’s what might happen down the track it would be quite exciting.”
And she is happy to wait for the Bombers to arrive at the top level for the 2023 season as opposed to answering the call from another AFLW club.
“For a couple of years I’ve been quite forward in saying Essendon is where I want to be. I don’t see myself going anywhere else and if the opportunity to play for Essendon at AFLW level was there that would be wonderful, but for now we’ve got another season of VFLW to focus on and hopefully go two steps better than we did this year.”
Six-time VWFL Helen Lambert medallist Daisy Pearce, who won a seventh league best-and-fairest in the VFLW’s debut year of 2016 when her name was added to the medal, thanked Lambert’s family for her contribution to football after she lost her battle with cancer two months ago.
Lambert was among the drivers of the formation of the former VWFL in 1981 and was a founding board member of the competition, although injury forced her retirement after only two seasons.
“We lost an icon of the game this year in Helen Lambert and want to pass on our condolences to the Lambert family and thank them for her contribution to football,” said Pearce, who had an astonishing two Lambert Medal threepeats for the Darebin Falcons in 2009-11 and 2013-15 before winning the inaugural Lambert-Pearce Medal in 2016 to make it seven wins in eight years.
2021 LAMBERT-PEARCE MEDAL
17: Georgia Nanscawen (Ess)
14: Caitlin Bunker (Col)
11: Tamara Luke (Haw)
9: Amelia Velardo (Col); Olivia Barber, Claudia Gunjaca (Gee); Meagan Kiely (NM)
7: Ally Bild (Car); Imogen Barnett (Col); Alana Barba (Ess); Meg Hutchins (Haw); Melissa Kuys (PM); Tara Bohanna, Madi Capsalis (SS)
6: Lucy McEvoy (Car); Samantha Johnson (Cas); Sophie Alexander (Col); Cecilia McIntosh (Ess); Darcy Moloney (Gee); Alice Edmonds, Ellie Macdonald (PM); Isabelle Pritchard (WB); Ashlea Melnikas, Ruby Tripodi, Megan Williamson (Wil)
5: Akayla Peterson (Car); Niamh McEvoy, Eliza West, Bridie Winbanks (Cas); Brooke Brown (NM); Emily Harley (PM); Eleanor Brown (WB); Lisa Steane (Wil)
4: Jorja Borg, Jennifer Lew (Car); Shree Fairchild (Cas); Matilda Zander (Col); Courtney Ugle (Ess); Maddie Boyd (Gee); Hannah McLaren (PM); Valerie Moreau (SS); Katelyn Betts, Mary Sandral (WB)
3: Grace Egan, Bryannen Gurr, Charlotte Linssen, Teresa Zampaglione (Car); Alexandra Kirkwood, Grace Matser, Casey Sheriff (Cas); Chloe Molloy, Marla Neal, Ebony O’Dea (Col); Stephanie Simpson (Dar); Mia-Rae Clifford (Ess); Rene Caris, Richelle Cranston, Olivia Fuller, Georgia Rankin, Tamara Smith (Gee); Katelyn Cox, Emily McIlvena, Nadia von Bertouch, Jessie Williams (Haw); Jess Mourney, Amy Smith (NM); Sabrina Frederick, Ellie McKenzie, Sophie Molan (PM); Jessica Matin, Georgia Patrikios, Tyanna Smith (SS); Molly Denahy Maloney, Angelica Gogos, Nell Morris-Dalton (WB); Eliza Straford (Wil)
2: Charlotte Hammans (Car); Alyssa Bannan, Megan Fitzsimons, Maddison Gay, Imogen Milford, Brenna Tarrant (Cas); Jasmine Ferguson, Abbey Green, Sarah King, Jaimee Lambert, Georgia Ricardo (Col); Alice Caddy, Sidney Cubasch, Samara David, Katelyn Hazlett, Kathleen Roe (Dar); Marianna Anthony, Federica Frew, Kendra Heil (Ess); Georgia Clarke, Michelle Fedele, Laura Gardiner, Carly Remmos, Stephanie Williams (Gee); Alexia Hamilton, Jayde Hamilton, Elisha King, Bethany Lynch (NM); Holly Bailey, Christina Bernardi, Nayely Borg, Kodi Jacques, Akec Makur Chuot, Pip Peschke, Elizabeth Wilson (PM); Alice Burke, Rebecca Ott, Kayla Ripari, Jacqueline Vogt (SS); Bailey Hunt, Eliza Morrison, Simone Ruedin (WB); Scarlett Dunell, Erin Meade (Wil)
1: Serena Gibbs (Car); Elizabeth Birch, Grace Buchan, Gabrielle Colvin, Mietta Kendall, Stephanie Topp (Cas); Mikala Cann, Demi Hallett (Col); Jessica Dal Pos, Hayley Munro (Dar); Lori Stepnell (Ess); Renee Garing, Madisen Maguire, Paige Sheppard (Gee); Dominique Carbone, Kate Dudley, Kristen Hay, Isabelle Khoury, Phoebe McWilliams, Ruby O’Dwyer, Jenna Richardson, Jessica Trend (Haw); Daria Bannister (NM); Courtney Bromage, Claire Dyett, Belinda Ousley, Katherine Smith, Abbey Tanner (PM); Aisling Curley, Francesca Hocking, Deanna Jolliffe, Molly McDonald (SS); Riley Christgoergl, Jessica Fitzgerald, Gemma Lagioia, Amelia van Oosterwijck (WB); Asha Price (Wil)
VFLW LAMBERT-PEARCE MEDAL HONOURBOARD
2021: Georgia Nanscawen (Essendon)
2019: Lauren Pearce (Darebin)
2018: Jess Duffin (Williamstown)
2017: Katie Brennan (Darebin)
2016: Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
VWFL HELEN LAMBERT MEDAL HONOURBOARD
2016: Emma Grant (Bendigo)
2015: Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
2014: Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
2013: Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
2012: Lou Wotton (Eastern Devils)
2011: Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
2010: Daisy Pearce (Darebin), Lou Wotton (East Burwood)
2009: Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
2008: Cecilia McIntosh (Melbourne University)
2007: Shannon McFerran (St Albans)
2006: Shannon McFerran (St Albans)
2005: Shannon McFerran (St Albans)
2004: Meg Hutchins (Deakin)
2003: Shannon McFerran (St Albans)
2002: Shannon McFerran (St Albans)
2001: Debbie Lee (Sunshine YCW)
2000: Sharon Bonnici (St Kilda City)
1999: Sharon Bonnici (St Kilda City)
1998: Sharon Bonnici (St Kilda City)
1997: Bronwyn Hutchinson (Ballarat)
1996: Debbie Lee (Sunshine YCW)
1995: Debbie Lee (Sunshine YCW)
1994: Doreen De Pasquale (St Kilda City), Debbie Lee (Sunshine YCW)
1993: Debbie Lee (Sunshine YCW)
1992: Kris Gardiner (Fairfield)
1991: Bronwyn Hutchinson (Ballarat)
1990: Rhonda Rumler (Ballarat)
1989: Lisa Hardeman (Parkville)
1988: Doreen De Pasquale (Ballarat), Bernie Marantelli (Parkville)
1987: Bernie Marantelli (Parkville)
1986: Tracey Winch (Ferntree Gully)
1985: Siobhan Taylor (Gladstone Park)
1984: Maree Cave (Broadmeadows)
1983: Maree Cave (Broadmeadows)