Daniher follows family path with Dons best and fairest

Everything old in football is new again. Richmond are premiers, there is change at the top at Carlton, Gary Ablett wants to head back to Geelong, and a Daniher has won Essendon's best and fairest.

Joe Daniher, 23, joined uncles Neale (1981) and Terry (1982) in winning the Crichton Medal, with the high-flying forward capping off a terrific season in which he was named All-Australian for the first time, won the Anzac Day Medal, and claimed the mark of the year for a screamer over former teammate Jake Carlisle.

Daniher's 65-goal season helped him finish above veteran Brendon Goddard and captain Dyson Heppell, who finished second and third respectively.

Essendon coach John Worsfold lauded Daniher for his outstanding season. "Joe's dedication and commitment to continuous improvement makes him a deserving winner of the Crichton Medal," Worsfold said.

"He has consistently demonstrated the professionalism and resilience required to perform at the elite level. He has worked hard on his craft and developed a routine which stood up over the course of the season.

"Joe is an extremely talented footballer, he has a tremendous work ethic, shows genuine leadership and is a highly respected member of our playing group."

Daniher also won the cheer squad award, and the Matthew Lloyd Award as Essendon's leading goalkicker.

The best-and fairest-count itself was a close one, with just 12 votes separating the top four. Daniher finished 10 ahead of Goddard, who kept up his high standards in what was his 15th year as an AFL player. Heppell was one vote adrift of Goddard, while fourth-placed Zach Merrett was one vote behind Heppell.

Of the Bombers returning from 2016 drug bans, Heppell, Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker made the top 10.

The retiring James Kelly was rewarded for another steady season with a 10th-placed finish, after being runner-up last year, having joined the Dons as a top-up player following a distinguished career at Geelong.

Heath Hocking - not offered a contract for 2018 - won the Bryce Heymanson best team player award while No. 1 draft pick Andrew McGrath won the Lindsay Griffiths Rising Star award, having already claimed the AFL's main Rising Star award.

2017 Crichton Medal top 10:

1. Joe Daniher 451 votes

2. Brendon Goddard 441 votes

3. Dyson Heppell 440 votes

4. Zach Merrett 439 votes

5. David Zaharakis 412 votes

6. Michael Hurley 395 votes

7. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti 386 votes

8. Orazio Fantasia 354 votes

9. Cale Hooker 351 votes

10. James Kelly 344 votes

Club Awards:

John Kilby Best Clubman Award - Dyson Heppell

Bruce Heymanson Best Team Player Award - Heath Hocking

Bill Hutchison Community Award - Zach Merrett

Adam Ramanauskas Most Courageous Player Award - Patrick Ambrose

Matthew Lloyd Leading Goal Kicker Award - Joe Daniher

Best Defensive Player Award - Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

Lindsay Griffiths Rising Star Award - Andrew McGrath

Most Improved Player Award - Orazio Fantasia

Cheer Squad Award - Joe Daniher

This story Daniher follows family path with Dons best and fairest first appeared on The Age.