AVERAGE footballers don’t win club best-and-fairest awards.

It takes a terrific feat of consistency across a whole season to rack up enough votes to stand out as the champion player of any club, and the winners are rightly feted as achieving the most important on-field individual award in any football club.

Some have just started out on their footy journey or have finally broken through for their maiden club champion award, but others have long established their greatness.

Aspley and Queensland football legend Matthew Payne stands at the top of this list, winning a remarkable seventh Hornets’ best-and-fairest award in eight years to make it an unimaginable 13 times he has received a club’s highest honour – and that’s on top of three NEAFL MVPs and three Grogan Medals as AFL Queensland’s star player.

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Then there’s Werribee champion Matt Hanson, who this season won his fourth Bruce Montgomery Trophy to become the most decorated individual award winner in the club’s 56-year history.

And of course, you can’t forget Northern captain Tom Wilson, who stamped himself as one of the greats of the famous club in winning the Laurie Hill Trophy, his first best-and-fairest wearing the big white Bullant after three for the Northern Blues.

So who were the 22 champion players (plus the top 10 votegetters) in the truncated 2021 VFL season? 

CARL HERBERT MEDAL

1. MATTHEW PAYNE 107
2. Matt Hammelmann 96
3. Ryan Bastinac 83
4. Corey Lyons 45
5. Jordan Hayden 44
6. Liam Dawson 36
6. Connor Stackelberg 36
8. Jack Rolls 35
9. Will Gowers 30
10. Isaac Corvo 28

Voting system: Four voters can award up to 22 votes after each match, with a maximum of five for a single player. There is no requirement to award the full 22 votes, but players can poll up to 20 votes per game.

Aspley's Matthew Payne gets a kick away in round 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

COL AUSTEN TROPHY

1. DAMIAN MASCITTI 41
2. Emerson Jeka 27
3. Vincent Adduci 26
4. Brayden Kilpatrick 25
5. Hugh Beasley 24
6. Fergus Greene 22
7. Jai Newcombe 20
7. Mason De Wit 20
9. Ethan Phillips 18
9. Josh Morris 18

Voting system: The coach (one card) and the assistants (one card) each give every player a score from 0-4, meaning a maximum of eight votes can be polled in a match.

Box Hill's Damian Mascitti at the 2021 VFL launch. Picture: AFL Photos

NEVILLE FALLON AWARD

1. CONNOR BALLENDEN 29
2. Bruce Reville 26
3. Tom Joyce 25
3. Carter Michael 25
5. Rhys Mathieson 24
6. Brock Smith 23
7. Toby Triffett 22
8. Connor McFadyen 21
8. Archie Smith 21
10. Tom Fullarton 20

Voting system: Two coaches award each player a score from 0-4 after every game, meaning an unlimited number of players can poll up to eight votes per match.

Connor Ballenden. Picture: AFL Photos

1. BEN CROCKER 64
2. James Parson 50
3. Toby Wooller 44
4. Stefan Radovanovic 40
5. Josh Honey 30
6. Lochie O’Brien 29
7. Cooper Stephens 27
8. Sam Ramsay 25
8. Tom North 25
10. Will Setterfield 24

Voting system: Four coaches each award 4-3-2-1 after every match, meaning a player can poll up to 16 votes per game.

Ben Crocker in action against Sandringham, round 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

GARDNER CLARKE MEDAL

1. JIMMY MUNRO 53 (second win in a row)
2. Toby Bedford 45
3. Neville Jetta 43
3. Jake Bowey 43
3. Majak Daw 43
6. Zac Foot 41
6. Jay Lockhart 41
8. Mitch White 39
9. Sam Weideman 37
10. Tom Sparrow 36

Voting system: The coaches award every player a combined score from 0-10 for each game.

JIM SULLIVAN MEDAL

1. LUKE BUNKER 78
2. Jack Maibaum 75
3. Marcus Lentini 73
4. Peter McEvoy 72
5. Tom Silvestro 70
6. Charlie Thompson 68
7. Ryan Exon 65
8. Harry Nolan 64
9. Jesse Corigliano 63
10. Sam Lowson 62

Voting system: The coaches award every player a combined score out of 10 for each game.

JOSEPH WREN TROPHY

1. LACHLAN TARDREW 35
2. Max Lynch 33
3. Jack Ginnivan 32
4. Tom Wilson 30
5. Brayden Sier 29
6. Sam Fowler 27
7. Oliver Henry 25
8. Anton Tohill 23
9. Will Kelly 19
10. Jay Rantall 16

Voting system: Four coaches award each player a score from 0-4 after every game.

Lachlan Tardrew in action in the VFL, round 13, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

R.A. FREEMAN MEDAL

1. NICK BRYAN 103
2. Nick O’Kearney 95
3. Joe Atley 91
4. Ned Cahill 87
4. Tom Hird 87
6. Marty Gleeson 80
6. Brandon Zerk-Thatcher 80
8. Patrick Ambrose 64
9. Sam Conforti 61
10. Alec Waterman 55

Voting system: Four coaches allocate 1-5 votes per player after each match, meaning a player can poll up to 20 votes per game.

Nick Bryan warms up before round seven, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

1. ROBBIE McCOMB 78
2. Rhylee West 68
2. Will Hayes 68
4. Lachie Sullivan 66
5. Ben Cavarra 64
6. Josh Schache 62
7. Buku Khamis 59
8. Patrick Lipinski 56
9. Riley Garcia 51
10. Louis Butler 50

Voting system: Four coaches rate every player from 0-5 at the end of each match, meaning a player can poll up to 20 votes in a game.

Robbie McComb in action during round six, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

PETER GEDDES MEDAL

1. JOSH NEWMAN 28
2. Nathan Freeman 27
3. Mitch Cox 26
3. Connor Riley 26
5. Josh Begley 24
6. Anthony Brolic 23
7. James Rendell 18
8. Jack Mentha 17
9. Will Arthurson 16
10. Bailey Lambert 15

Voting system: The coaches award each player a score of 0-5 for each game, ranging from no impact to VFL elite.

Josh Newman marks the ball under pressure against Coburg, round one, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

1. DARCY FORT 102
2. Oscar Brownless 93
3. Charlie Constable 92
4. Darcy Lang 86
5. Jackson McLachlan 81
6. Jackson Thurlow 72
7. Stefan Okunbor 68
8. Aaron Black 67
9. Nick Stevens 65
10. Ben Jarvis 63

Voting system: The coaches rate each player from 0-15 in every game, ranging from a standout performance to being poor or injured early in the match.

1. WILL BRODIE 80
2. Alex Davies 75
3. Brayden Fiorini 74

* The Suns only recorded their top three finishers.

Voting system: The coach and assistant coach score each player out of 10 for every game, meaning a player can poll up to 20 votes per match.

Will Brodie in action during the 2021 AAMI Community Series. Picture: Getty Images

* The Giants do not have a VFL best-and-fairest award, but mid-season draftee James Peatling received the AFL Development Award.

JOHN LAW MEDAL

1. HARRY JONES 31
2. Tristan Xerri 30
3. Flynn Appleby 26
4. Kade Answerth 24
5. Josh Clayton 17
6. Tom Campbell 16
7. Will Phillips 15
8. Ben Speight 13
9. Connor Byrne 12
9. Jacob Heron 12
9. Tyler Roos 12
9. Bailey Scott 12

Voting system: The coach and assistant coaches (collectively) score each player from 0-10 after every game, meaning a player can poll up to 20 votes per game.

LAURIE HILL TROPHY

1. TOM WILSON 113
2. Daniel Hughes 62
3. Liam Mackie 54
4. Paul Ahern 52
5. Tim Jones 38
6. Will Mitchell 35
7. Matthew King 33
8. Jean-Luc Velissaris 22
9. Tynan Smith 20
10. Sunny Brazier 19

Voting system: Four coaches award 5-4-3-2-1 after every match, meaning players can poll up to 20 votes per game.

Bullants skipper Tom Wilson at the 2021 VFL Media Day. Picture: AFL Photos

JACK MCFARLANE MEDAL

1. ELI TEMPLETON 92
2. Corey Wagner 64
3. Harvey Hooper 52
4. Nash Holmes 47
5. Matt Signorello 36
6. Tom 'Tos' O’Sullivan 34
7. Anthony Anastasio 33
8. Ben Jolley 29
9. Campbell Walker 28
10. Fletcher Roberts 22
10. Ethan Phillips 22

Voting system: Four coaches can award up to five votes for any player in each match, meaning a player can poll up to 20 votes every week.

Eli Templeton salutes after kicking a goal against Sandringham in round two, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

GUINANE MEDAL

1. WILL MARTYN 28
2. Lachlan Street 24
3. Derek Eggmolesse-Smith 22
4. Callum Coleman-Jones 21
5. Samson Ryan 20
6. Garrett McDonagh 18
7. Patrick Naish 16
8. Riley Collier-Dawkins 14
8. Josh Caddy 14
8. Sydney Stack 14

Voting system: The match committee assesses each player’s offensive, defensive and contest impact and awards a rating of 0-5 for each game.

Will Martyn in action for Richmond's VFL side, round one, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

NEIL BENCRAFT MEDAL

1. SAM DUNELL 74
1. GOY LOK 74
3. Oscar Clavarino 72
4. Anthony Seaton 63
5. Darragh Joyce 61
6. Tyson Milne 60
6. Darby Hipwell 60
6. Paul Hunter 60
9. Matthew Allison 59
10. Cody Henness 57
10. Finlay Bayne 57

Voting system: The coach and a rotating pair of assistants each score every player from 1-5 every week. Players poll between 3 and 15 votes for each match they play.

Sam Dunell gets a kick away in Sandringham's round one game in 2021. Picture: Getty Images

DOC MACKENZIE MEDAL

1. JACOB DAWSON 119
2. Jesse Joyce 83
3. Billy Gowers 77
4. Mike Manteit 68
5. Brad Scheer 67
6. Kwabe Boakye 65
7. Brayden Crossley 64
7. Lukas Webb 64
9. Mackenzie Willis 60
10. Seb Tape 54

Voting system: Four coaches each rank every player out of four for each game, meaning a player can poll up to 16 votes per match.

1. LEWIS TAYLOR 24
2. Colin O’Riordan 21
3. Ryan Clarke 11
3. Dylan Stephens 11
5. Will Gould 10
6. Marc Sheather 9
6. Callum Sinclair 9
8. Kaiden Brand 7
9. Joel Amartey 6
9. James Bell 6
9. Nick Blakey 6
9. Logan McDonald 6

Voting system: The coaches award 5-4-3-2-1 on a single card after every game.

Lewis Taylor at Sydney training in August, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

BRUCE MONTGOMERY TROPHY

1. MATT HANSON 44
2. Shaun Mannagh 36
3. Jack Henderson 34
4. Hudson Garoni 32
5. Matt Lobbe 31
6. Tom Gribble 30
7. Michael Sodomaco 28
7. Max Spencer 28
9. Bior Malual 27
10. Dom Brew 26
10. Jesse Clark 26

Voting system: The coach awards every player a score from 0-5 after each game, and the relevant line coach (forward, midfield, defence) awards another score up to five, meaning each player can poll up to 10 votes per game.

GERRY CALLAHAN MEDAL

1. MITCH HIBBERD 52
2. Luke Meadows 48
3. Corey Rich 45
3. Liam Hunt 45
3. Cam Polson 45
3. Jack Toner 45
7. Jack Leslie 43
8. Adam Marcon 42
9. Jordan Gallucci 41
9. Jake Greiser 41
9. Charlie Dean 41

Voting system: Two voters award every player a score of 0-4, meaning eight votes can be polled in a single game.

Mitchell Hibberd fights for the ball for Williamstown in round 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Twitter: @BRhodesVFL