Emily Bates has taken out the AFLW best and fairest award, beating Anne Hatchard by a single vote.
- 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.
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.
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.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who was also selected in the extended, 40-player All-Australian squad, missed out on making the final team.
“If you told me 12 months ago when I was sitting on the couch, or hobbling around on crutches that I was going to be here, I wouldn’t believe you,” Hill said.
“My heart’s racing so quick, this is crazy. This is a dream and the fact that I’m here is crazy.
“Anyone who’s gone through a serious knee injury or any long rehab knows how much you miss it when you’re not on the field.
The 21-player All-Australian team was dominated by grand finalists Adelaide and Melbourne, who had four players apiece.
There were five debutants.
Brisbane’s Orla O’Dwyer became the first AFLW player from Ireland to earn an All-Australian guernsey while Fremantle skipper Hayley Miller was named vice-captain on her debut.
Kirsty Lamb, Natalie Grider and Ashleigh Woodland also earned their first guernseys.
Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff received a fourth blazer while Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce received her third, but her first since 2018.
Kearney, Marinoff, Sarah Allan, Ruby Schleicher, Jasmine Garner, Katie Brennan (Richmond) and Monique Conti retained their spots from 2021.
Ebony Antonio of Fremantle scored goal of the year for her acute effort in round four.
Tahlia Randall was winner of mark of the year for her sensational pack mark for North Melbourne against GWS in round three.