Brisbane’s Emily Bates wins nail-biting AFLW best and fairest by a single vote

Craig Starcevich drinks from a black shoe

Emily Bates has taken out the AFLW best and fairest award, beating Anne Hatchard by a single vote.

Key points:

  • Emily Bates polled 21 votes in the AFLW best and fairest award
  • Mimi Hill was named AFLW rising star, a year after an ACL injury
  • Orla O’Dwyer became the first Irish player to be named in the AFLW All Australian team

Brisbane Lions vice-captain Bates, who was also named AFLCA champion player of the year, was tied with Hatchard with one round of votes to count.

However, Bates earned a maximum three votes from her final round while Hatchard had to settle for second place after earning two votes.

It was Hatchard’s fellow Crow Ebony Marinoff who earned the three votes in Adelaide’s final game to pip Hayley Miller to third spot.

“I’m just in shock really,” Bates said.

Bates paid tribute to the Lions’ “sisterhood”, which she said was particularly in evidence when they came to help her clean her home after it flooded last month during Brisbane’s floods.

She also paid credit to her late father, who she credited with getting her involved in football at the Aspley club in Brisbane, where he was a coach of the men’s team.

Lions coach Craig Starcevich bought the house down when he obliged Bates by drinking a champagne shoey in celebration, to the delight of the audience at the Crown Palladium.

Craig Starcevich drinks from a black shoe
Craig Starcevich didn’t need much encouragement to drink champagne out of his shoe.(Getty Images: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos)

Earlier in the night veteran defender Emma Kearney was named in her sixth All-Australian team, the only player to be honoured in every AFLW season to date.

The North Melbourne defender was also named as captain.

“It’s a huge honour,” she said.

“Obviously really privileged to lead such a skilful and great group of women.”

Carlton’s Mimi Hill completed a remarkable return from injury to win the Rising Star award, beating out Charlie Rowbottom of the Gold Coast Suns by a single point.

Mimi Hill speaks at a podium wearing a floral dress and a medal with blue ribbonMimi Hill speaks at a podium wearing a floral dress and a medal with blue ribbon
Mimi Hill returned to the competition after suffering an ACL injury last season. (Getty Images: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

Hill earned 43 votes after earning a nomination for her stellar performance in the Blues’ round five defeat against Adelaide.

The award marks an impressive return after she missed the end of the 2021 season with a knee injury.

Author: Ivan Robinson