Carlton midfielder Sam Walsh has capped a superb year in which he was an All Australian for the first time and finished fourth in the Brownlow Medal by claiming his maiden John Nicholls Medal.
The hard-running midfielder polled 183 votes in the Blues’ best-and-fairest count on Thursday, edging out last year’s winner Jacob Weitering (172 votes) to secure the top honour. Coleman medallist Harry McKay, also an All-Australian, was third (118 votes).
Blues head of football Brad Lloyd said Walsh had been “extraordinary” in his three seasons at the club so far.
“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,” 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.”
Walsh finished second in the count last season, but his latest campaign was irresistible – polling 30 votes in a record-breaking Brownlow count when, for the first time, four players had at least 30 votes.
The 21-year-old was a ball magnet, averaging almost 30 disposals per game. He was No.1 ranked at the club for tackles, uncontested possessions and score involvements. His toughness in the contest, outside run, and ability to hit the scoreboard were impressive in a season when the Blues failed to deliver on club expectations and missed the finals, leading to the sacking of coach David Teague.