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Crouch crowned Club Champion

Matt Crouch: 2017 Club Champion Matt Crouch has taken out the 2017 Club Champion.

Matt Crouch has become the second-youngest Malcolm Blight Medallist at the Crows Club Champion presentation on Friday night.

In a reflection of his incredible consistency, Crouch was the only player to reach 300 votes (315) in the count at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The 22-year-old drew level with early leader Rory Sloane in Round 11, and streaked clear in the second half of the season to finish 62 votes ahead of runner-up Sloane (253).

Defender Rory Laird (226), and veteran pair Sam Jacobs (224) and Richard Douglas (219) rounded out the top five.

Only Adelaide legend Andrew McLeod, who received his first gold jacket in 1997 at the age of 21, has claimed the Malcolm Blight Medal at a riper age than Crouch.

Defender Daniel Talia was a month-shy of his 23rd birthday when he was crowned Crows Club Champion in 2014.

Crouch was one of the most improved players in the competition in 2017.

The prolific ball winner broke the AFL record for most disposals in a season (825), surpassing Collingwood champion and Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan’s mark of 820 in 2010.

He collected a career-high 45 disposals against West Coast in Round 23, and amassed 30 or more possessions in 19 of his 25 games. Remarkably, Crouch’s lowest disposal tally was 27 against Geelong in Round 11.

The left-footer earned All-Australian selection, was picked in the fan-voted best 22Under22 team and received the 19th Man Award voted by Crows members.

Crouch finished the season ranked top 10 in the League for disposals (first), hard-ball gets (second), contested possessions (fourth), score involvements (sixth) and clearances (eighth).

It was a race in two between Crouch and Sloane for much of the Club Champion count.

Laird polled a ‘perfect’ 20 votes against Greater Western Sydney in Round One, but surrendered the lead to Showdown Medallist Sloane after the Round Three win over Port Adelaide.

Laird (Round One) and Sloane (Round Four) were the only players to poll maximum votes in a match.

Matt Crouch was the lone Crow to receive votes in all 25 games, while Brad Crouch (20 games) and forward Mitch McGovern (13 games) polled in every match they played.

The voting system was the same as last year, with five coaches casting votes on a 4, 3, 2, 1 basis after every game.

A two-time winner, Sloane has finished top three in the Crows Club Champion award in five of the past six seasons.

It’s All Australian Laird’s second top-three placing in the last three years.

Laird pipped Jacobs for a podium finish after both players were locked on 191 votes heading into the finals series.

Betts, who was second to Sloane last year, has featured in the top 10 in each of his four seasons at Adelaide.

On Friday night, Betts claimed his fourth-straight Leading Goalkicker Award. His work in the community was also acknowledged with the Crows Children’s Foundation Community Leadership Award.

Brad Crouch was recognised by his peers with the inaugural Players’ Trademark Award, while Sloane added to his ever-growing list of accolades with the Dr Brian Sando OAM Trophy.

Retiring great Scott Thompson claimed the State League Club Champion award and was given a standing ovation by the 1,000-strong audience for his significant contribution to the Club and game.

Second-year midfielder Wayne Milera Junior received the Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award, while Douglas took out the coveted Phil Walsh Best Team Man Award.

Impressive State League development player Lachlan Murphy was presented with the Dean Bailey Award. Captain Taylor Walker and respected figure, Dr Andrew Potter, received Life Membership.

Final Leaderboard Top 10 
Matt Crouch – 315
Rory Sloane – 253
Rory Laird – 226
Sam Jacobs – 224
Richard Douglas – 219
Taylor Walker – 211
Tom Lynch – 203
Brad Crouch – 194
Brodie Smith – 194
Eddie Betts – 187

2017 Major Award Winners
Malcolm Blight Medallist
 – Matt Crouch
Runner-up – Rory Sloane
Third place – Rory Laird

Leading Goalkicker Award – Eddie Betts
Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award – Wayne Milera Junior
Players’ Trademark Award – Brad Crouch
Dr Brian Sando OAM Trophy – Rory Sloane
19th Man Award – Matt Crouch
Crows Children’s Foundation Community Leadership Award – Eddie Betts
Phil Walsh Best Team Man Award – Richard Douglas
State League Club Champion – Scott Thompson
Dean Bailey Award – Lachlan Murphy
Life Membership – Taylor Walker, Dr Andrew Potter

Club Champion Voting Protocol
1 vote:  Played their role. Solid game without significant influence on the game
2 votes: Played his role well and influenced the game
3 votes: Played his role very well with significant influence on the game
4 votes: Played his role outstandingly and dominated the game

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs