Dunell and Lok share 2021 Neil Bencraft Best & Fairest Award
In a night of celebration for the club, Sam Dunell and vice-captain Goy Lok were recognised for their brilliant contributions throughout the 2021 VFL Season as joint winners of the Neil Bencraft Best & Fairest.
Goy Lok: Photo by AFL Media
Both players featured prominently in the votes all night to finish with 74 votes apiece, with Dunell’s impressive 8-vote game against Carlton in Round 16 propelling him into equal first alongside Lok.
Lok established himself as the Zebras ‘Mr Reliable’ in 2021, being one of just two players to play all 9 matches.
He impressed in a variety of different positions, alternating between the midfield and forward line as a hard-running utility.
For Dunell, his homecoming in 2021 couldn’t have gone more to script after returning for his second stint at the Zebras after 5 years and 100 games at Williamstown.
The playing coach displayed remarkable consistency despite being asked to play a variety of different roles, with the 31-year-old spending time as both a medium forward and half-back flanker.
Oscar Clavarino: Photo by AFL Media
In second place was Oscar Clavarino, who played all bar one match for the season and was a mainstay in defence.
He led the voting for consecutive rounds towards the end of the count but was unseated for top spot after missing the Zebras final match of 2021 against Carlton.
It was a good night for Anthony Seaton, as he capped off his first year in the leadership group with a fourth-place finish and the Zeal Player of the Year Award.
The Zeal Player of the Year is peer-voted and is awarded to the player who demonstrates selflessness, consistent effort and is an all-round great teammate.
In other awards, head Trainer John Newson was recognised for his contribution to the club with the Extra Mile Award.
The extra mile award is awarded to someone who goes above and beyond to help the Sandringham Football Club and conducts themselves with professionalism when acting on behalf of the club.
Darby Hipwell: Photo AFL Media
CEO Marcus Ashcroft spoke at the virtual event and was buoyant about what season 2022 might hold for this Zebras group.
“We weren’t that far off being a top eight side, let’s hope next year we get a little bit of luck on our side and go a couple of steps better and play finals footy,” he said.
Ashcroft also praised Senior Coach Jake Batchelor for his efforts in his first year at the helm.
“The way you’ve led your coaches, your staff, your volunteers and more importantly your players, you’ve been able to galvanise your team and you’ve been able to instil a culture where we are now a destination club,” he said.
Batchelor was similarly positive in his speech, thanking his coaches and players for “making the year so enjoyable.”
“Everyone involved with the football club has had a really big impact this year, and despite the stop-start nature everyone’s done it with a smile on their face and made me want to come here every day.”
“Sam Dunell and Trent Dennis-Lane bringing that history back to the club, it really adds to the culture and is a great example of how we can connect the past and the present.”
“There was still a lot of great things to come out of the year for us — Darby Hipwell, a nineteen-year-old from Sandy Dragons played almost every game and showed he was at VFL standard.”
Hipwell finished equal sixth in the polling with 60 votes alongside Tyson Milne and Paul Hunter, trailing key defender Darragh Joyce who finished fifth with 61 votes.
Matthew Allison, Cody Henness and Finlay Bayne rounded out the top 10 with Allison earning 59 votes, while Henness and Bayne finished with 57 apiece.
NEIL BENCRAFT TROPHY TOP 10:
WINNER. Sam Dunell (74 votes)
WINNER. Goy Lok (74 votes)
RUNNER UP. Oscar Clavarino (72 votes)
4. Anthony Seaton (63 votes)
5. Darragh Joyce (61 votes)
= 6. Tyson Milne (60 votes)
= 6. Darby Hipwell (60 votes)
= 6. Paul Hunter (60 votes)
9. Matthew Allison (59 votes)
= 10. Cody Henness (57 votes)
= 10. Finlay Bayne (57 votes)
ZEAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD:
EXTRA MILE AWARD:
Congratulations to all the award winners!
Dean Kent and Sam Dunell: Photo by AFL Media
Written by Jack Bennett - Sandringham Football Club Media