NOT LONG to go.
With less than 12 hours until the 2023 John Nicholls Medal is crowned, all eyes are looking ahead to who will finish on top of Carlton’s night of nights.
With Patrick Cripps as the reigning (and four-time) winner, the skipper makes a strong case for back-to-back wins, but he will have plenty of competition in what was a dominant season for many Blues.
Finishing their season in a preliminary final for the first time since 2000, a lot went right for Carlton throughout 2023, with many players stepping up when things looked dire at the midway point.
So what does it take to win the John Nicholls Medal?
Here’s how the last four winners on Carlton’s current list took home the top prize.
2022: Patrick Cripps
It’s no surprise Cripps has four John Nicholls Medals to his name, with the skipper ever since winning the award in just his second year at the Club.
With a Brownlow Medal to his name last year, a fourth Carlton best-and-fairest award came just a few weeks later for the captain in 2022.
Cripps polled 181 votes and finished with five best-on-ground performances on the night in his first season as the sole captain.
His 2022 season began with 30-plus disposals in six of his first seven games, including 13 goals during that stretch, to finish with a career-high tally of 20 majors for the season.
In terms of the competition, Cripps finished in the top three for clearances and contested possession across the league, proving his dominance outside of IKON Park.
2021: Sam Walsh
Sam Walsh won his maiden John Nicholls Medal in 2021 when the then 21-year-old finished 11 votes clear of the next player and became the fourth-youngest player to win the Club’s Best and Fairest.
Walsh’s 2021 season was one to remember, with 30 Brownlow votes and a fourth-place finish in the League’s esteemed vote count, a sixth-place finish in the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year, his first All-Australian blazer as well as being named captain of the AFLPA’s 22under22 side.
Featuring in every game that season, Walsh transitioned from the wing to an inside midfielder in 2021, averaging just shy of 30 disposals while also kicking 12 goals: his impact among the Navy Blue outfit was evident as he also ranked No.1 at the Club for tackles, uncontested possessions and score involvements.
By polling 183 votes, Walsh posted the highest official tally since this particular voting system was introduced for the 2016 season.
2020: Jacob Weitering
The No.23 was 23 years old when he won his John Nicholls Medal, which took place in a COVID-19-affected event at IKON Park.
It was a well-deserved accolade for the star full-back following a 2020 campaign that began by keeping his opponents goalless in four of his first six games and ended with him ranked inside the top two in the league for contested defensive one-on-ones.
In what was his first year in the leadership group, Weitering was named in the All-Australian squad for the first time in 2020, leaving it all out there in the backline in an unprecedented season across the competition.
2016: Sam Docherty
In 2016 across 22 games, Sam Docherty averaged 26 disposals, eight marks and five rebound 50s, finishing first place ahead of mentor Kade Simpson and reigning John Nicholls Medallist Patrick Cripps.
Docherty was also awarded the Blues Coterie Most Improved Award where the defender also topped the Blues for total marks, averaging nearly eight per game.
For the first time in his career, Docherty was named in the 40-man All-Australian squad and made the AFL Players’ Association’s final 22Under22 team.
The then 22-year-old finished with 179 votes in the best-and-fairest count in the first under the voting system that exists today.