THE SOARING career of Sam Walsh has received yet another major accolade, with the Carlton youngster claiming his first ever John Nicholls Medal as the club's best and fairest on Thursday night.
Walsh polled 183 votes to narrowly edge clear of reigning winner Jacob Weitering (172 votes) in second and Coleman Medal winner Harry McKay (118 votes) in third, with Patrick Cripps (112 votes) and Ed Curnow (100 votes) rounding out the top five.
It capped a magnificent career-best third season for the 21-year-old, who also finished second in the AFL Players' Association MVP award and polled a remarkable 30 votes in the Brownlow Medal.
The supremely talented Walsh also coupled his first ever John Nicholls Medal with a maiden Therabody AFL All-Australian blazer earlier this year, reward for a season in which he averaged 29.8 disposals, 4.8 clearances and 4.5 tackles per game.
Walsh, previously the NAB AFL Rising Star winner following his fantastic debut campaign in the League, is the youngest Carlton best and fairest since Patrick Cripps claimed the honour as a second-year player in 2015.
"When Sam was drafted to our football club in 2018, he was determined to succeed and make an impact in the navy blue and tonight serves as recognition for doing just that," Blues football boss Brad Lloyd said.
"What he has achieved in his career to date is extraordinary and becoming a John Nicholls medallist marks another very special moment for him, which we and the whole Carlton family should be extremely proud of.
"While he is an undeniable talent, it has been extremely rewarding for our entire football club to see him continue to progress over the course of the last three years and enjoy another prolific season.
"He has worked unbelievably hard to become the player that he is and, after getting extremely close last year, we are thrilled that Sam has been duly recognised tonight."
Walsh also claimed the Carltonians William A. Cook Trophy, voted on by Carltonians members throughout the year, in addition to the Bill Lanyon Inner Blue Ruthless Award as the club's most brave, resilient and committed player.
The consistency of Weitering was celebrated with the Coaches Award and the Most Valuable Bluebagger Award, while Liam Stocker took out the Best Young Player Award and Marc Pittonet was recognised with the Best Clubman Award.
Jack Silvagni, who recently re-signed on a two-year contract with the Blues, claimed the Spirit of Carlton Award for demonstrating the spirit of the football club both on and off the field.
Carlton's best and fairest is decided by the senior coach and three assistants giving as many players as they choose between 0-4 votes per game. The most votes any player can poll in a single match is 16.
2021 JOHN NICHOLLS MEDAL
1. Sam Walsh (183)
2. Jacob Weitering (172)
3. Harry McKay (118)
4. Patrick Cripps (112)
5. Ed Curnow (100)
6. Adam Saad (97)
7. Lachie Plowman (86)
8. Liam Jones (80)
9. Eddie Betts (75)
10. Jack Silvagni (71)