SAM Walsh joined Carlton history on Thursday night, when he was officially crowned as the winner of the 2021 John Nicholls Medal. 

The 21-year-old pipped reigning club champion Jacob Weitering to win the best-and-fairest award, while Walsh's fellow All-Australian Harry McKay rounded out the top three. 

In doing so, there were some eye-opening stats to emerge from the night: here are just a few. 

08:01 Mins
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JNM 2021 | Walsh's winning interview

Sam Walsh talks to the panel at the 2021 John Nicholls Medal after winning his maiden Best and Fairest.

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- It’s no surprise who the two outstanding performers for Carlton have been over the last two seasons, but it may be a surprise to some how close it is. After it was Weitering-Walsh in the 2020 John Nicholls Medal, the reverse occurred last night, and in doing so levelled it up at one best and fairest apiece. However, the most telling stat is that over the last two seasons, Walsh has polled 309 votes in the count. Weitering? Also 309 votes. The two can’t be split.

- By polling 183 votes, Walsh posted the highest official tally since this particular voting system was introduced for the 2016 season. With 172, Weitering’s tally was actually the third most in the last six seasons, meaning it would’ve been enough to win all bar one other John Nicholls Medal: Sam Docherty, who polled 179 in Weitering’s first season of 2016.

03:59 Mins
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JNM 2021 | Jacob Weitering Q&A

Star defender Jacob Weitering chats to Dyl Buckley at the 2021 John Nicholls Medal.

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- With his triumph, Walsh became the fourth-youngest winner of the Club’s AFL best and fairest. At 21 years and three months, Walsh settled in behind John Nicholls (1959), Patrick Cripps (2015) and Geoff Southby (1971). Madison Prespakis is the youngest winner of any Carlton best-and-fairest award when she was just 18, while Breann Moody was two months younger than Walsh when she triumphed in 2018.

- Walsh became the 59th individual winner of the John Nicholls Medal (formerly the Robert Reynolds Trophy). The award’s namesake has the most wins with five, followed by Bruce Doull with four. There are six players with a trifecta: Craig Bradley, Patrick Cripps, John James, Chris Judd, Stephen Kernahan and Brett Ratten.

03:43 Mins
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JNM 2021 | Andy Maher's cross to Patrick Cripps

Co-captain Patrick Cripps speaks at the opening of the 2021 John Nicholls Medal.

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- While the streak of top-three finishes ended last night, it was still a very notable night for favourite son Ed Curnow. Having achieved three consecutive podium finishes across 2018-2020, Curnow finished the night in fifth place on 100 votes. It was the seventh time in the past nine seasons where Curnow has finished in the top handful. The only two years he didn’t were severely impacted by injury, after a fractured fibula (2014) and bruised larynx (2017).

- Harry McKay’s third-placed finish was sandwiched in between the efforts of his fellow Coleman Medallist in Brendan Fevola. When Fevola ended the season as the competition’s leading goalkicker in 2006, he was runner-up, while he finished fourth when he backed it up in 2009. 

04:33 Mins
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JNM 2021 | McKay speaks on third place

Harry McKay joins the panel to discuss his top-three finish at the 2021 John Nicholls Medal.

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- Interestingly, the Club’s inaugural Coleman Medallist - Tom Carroll - didn’t feature in the top five when he won the award in 1961. The winner that year? The Club’s second Brownlow Medallist, John James. 

- Given the way he finished the year, it’s easy to forget just how frustrating the start of the season was for Jack Silvagni. Finishing just one game in the opening nine rounds, Silvagni either missed games or was subbed out due to concussion or shoulder injuries. When he returned and was thrust into the unfamiliar role of second ruck, Silvagni - who won the Spirit of Carlton Award on the night - flourished. Of his 71 votes, 46 came in the weeks where he supported Tom De Koning.