Williamstown midfielder Michael Gibbons has won the 2016 J.J. Liston Trophy for the Peter Jackson VFL’s best and fairest player.
The 21-year-old polled 17 votes to finish two votes clear of Geelong AFL-listed midfielder George Horlin-Smith and three ahead of Seagulls captain Ben Jolley and Port Melbourne skipper Toby Pinwill.
Gibbons had 16 votes on the board after Round 15, putting him six votes in front of Jolley and Borough midfielder Tom O’Sullivan with six rounds to play. Horlin-Smith polled eight votes and Pinwill 10 after that point, but both had commenced their runs of form too late. Pinwill had the chance to tie for the lead in the final round but failed to produce the required three-vote performance.
Gibbons backed up his Norm Goss Medal-winning performance in Williamstown’s 2015 Grand Final triumph with a break-out season that saw him play every match and average 29 disposals, seven clearances and six inside-50s per game. He finished the home-and-away season as the competition’s top-ranked player for total disposals, uncontested possessions and inside-50s, the no.2 player for total kicks, no.3 player for total clearances and no.4 player for total contested possessions.
His presence in Williamstown’s dominant first-choice midfield alongside ruckman Nick Meese and fellow on-ballers Jolley and Willie Wheeler helped drive the Seagulls to a top-four finish.
Gibbons polled votes in eight games – equalled only by Pinwill – including three best-on-ground performances for:
– 26 disposals, 10 clearances and six tackles in a 44-point win against the Casey Scorpions in Round 3;
– 30 disposals, 10 clearances and eight tackles in a seven-point win against Port Melbourne in Round 4; and
– 37 disposals, 13 inside-50s, nine clearances and a goal in a 72-point win against Footscray in Round 9.
Gibbons also won the Frank Johnson Medal for the VFL’s best player in May’s State Game against South Australia and last week played his 50th senior VFL game in Williamstown’s semi final against Sandringham. As a junior, he captained the Murray Bushrangers in 2013 and was named in that year’s TAC Cup Team of the Year.
Gibbons is Williamstown’s 10th J.J. Liston Trophy winner and the first since Paul Dooley claimed the honour in 1996.
23-year-old Horlin-Smith polled his 15 votes in just 11 matches, averaging 26 disposals and seven clearances per game. Jolley, 30, led the VFL for total handballs during the home-and-away season and averaged 31 disposals and six tackles per game in 17 matches, while Pinwill, 31, averaged 27 disposals and six clearances per game in 16 matches.
2016 J.J. LISTON TROPHY LEADERBOARD
Michael Gibbons (Williamstown) 17
George Horlin-Smith (Geelong) 15
Ben Jolley (Williamstown) 14
Toby Pinwill (Port Melbourne) 14
Alex Neal-Bullen (Casey Scorpions) 13
Eli Templeton (Sandringham) 13
Will Hams (Essendon) 13
Sam Dunell (Williamstown) 12
Jack Grimes (Casey Scorpions) 11
Tom O’Sullivan (Port Melbourne) 11
Ben Kennedy (Casey Scorpions) 10
Darcy Lang (Geelong) 10
Mitch Honeychurch (Footscray) 10
Ben Moloney (Collingwood) 9
Lin Jong (Footscray) 9
Shaun McKernan (Essendon) 9
Willie Wheeler (Williamstown) 9
In other results on the night:
- Casey Scorpions ruckman Oscar McInerney won the 2016 A. Todd Medal for the best and fairest player in the AFL Victoria Development League on Monday night. The 203cm 21-year-old polled 16 votes in 12 games to finish one vote clear of Box Hill Hawks goalkicker William Murphy and two ahead of Sandringham’s Kenny Ong, in his first VFL season after previously playing with Montrose in the Eastern Football League.
- Coburg defender Luke Ryan walked away with the Fothergill-Round Medal for the most promising U23 player in the Peter Jackson VFL
- Coburg forward Ahmed Saad received the ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal for the leading goalkicker in the VFL for season 2016, with 49 goals
- Essendon’s Alan Stevens received the Alec Gillon Award, in recognition of honorary club officials who have provided outstanding service to their club or football in general.
- Six VFL life memberships were awarded to: Toby Pinwill, Orren Stephenson, Nick Laurence, Stephen Papal, Brian Woodman and Dale Tapping
- CLICK HERE for the VFL Team of the Year
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