Young Essendon AFL star Zach Merrett is the runaway winner of the Bombers’ best-and-fairest award, the Crichton Medal, at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony.
Merrett, who was widely considered unlucky not to make the All Australian squad, finished 105 points ahead of joint runners-up Joe Daniher and James Kelly on Wednesday night to claim the club’s highest individual award.
The 20-year-old played every game of a difficult season for the Bombers, who managed just three wins and finished bottom of the ladder without the 12 experienced players serving doping suspensions.
He averaged 30 possessions a match and became the club’s third-youngest captain in history when he stood in for the injured Brendon Goddard in rounds 21 and 22.
“Zach was our most-consistent performer this season and is a deserving winner of the 2016 Crichton Medal,” coach John Worsfold said.
“Zach played some exceptional football this season, and that was built off the back of his professionalism, living elite standards and a hunger to improve and develop with each game.
“(He) showed tremendous leadership in a season, which challenged our playing group on a weekly basis.
“Zach is an exciting young player and he’s really determined to work hard over the summer in order to come back ready for another big season in 2017.”
Merrett also claimed the best club man and best defensive player awards and Daniher won the leading goal kicker award with a season tally of 43 majors.
2016 CRICHTON MEDAL TOP 10:
1. Zach Merrett: 378
2. Joe Daniher: 273; James Kelly: 273
4. Brendon Goddard: 269
5. David Zaharakis: 257
6. Mitch Brown: 245
7. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti: 236
8. Orazio Fantasia: 229
9. Matt Dea: 228
10. Darcy Parish: 224