HBL's Jesse Crichton wins the 2019 Hayward Medal

Hayward Winner: Jesse Crichton took out the top gong by just three points in the final round. Photo: Taylar Amonini.
Hayward Winner: Jesse Crichton took out the top gong by just three points in the final round. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

In a nail-biting count last week, which saw five boys tying until the final round, Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault midfielder Jesse Crichton came out on top to win the 2019 Hayward Medal.

In a gripping count, five players were all tied on 19 votes, before Crichton received three votes in Round 18 against Carey Park - pushing him into first place.

Carey Park's Rory O'Brien finished on 19 votes, along with former Hayward Medallists Jace Cormack from Donnybrook, Mitch Lynn from Augusta-Margaret River, and Jesse Gribble from Bunbury.

O'Brien was thrilled to receive this year's MGIB Coaches Player of the Year award.

Crichton said he came into the night not expecting anything more than a good night with his fellow team members.

"You don't come into these nights expecting to win anything," he said.

"Towards the end of the count, I thought it might have been the five of us fitting up [on the stage]."

Originating from Tasmania and playing for the Fremantle Dockers from 2010 to 2013, Crichton said he is happy to now call HBL home.

"HBL has been great to me and my family...everyone's very welcoming down there and it's a great, little family club," he said.

"It's the boys who have made this possible too, we have a real even spread across the board.

"A lot of blokes do the nasty stuff no one wants to do, and I just get on the end of it.

"There was a fair few of us [HBL players] up there on the leaderboard, and a fair few of the boys go unnoticed."

The sort of player who prefers to fly under the radar and "get the job done", Crichton said, while he was honoured to receive the award, there was another award he was keen to receive in the coming weeks - the title of 2019 South West Football League Premiership winner.

HBL have dominated the 2019 season, going undefeated thus far with Crichton bagging 12 goals and 43 Best on Ground points over 18 games.

Ladies win: Fleur Parker from the Harvey Bulls and Ebony Bilcich from South Bunbury tied with 21 points. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

Ladies win: Fleur Parker from the Harvey Bulls and Ebony Bilcich from South Bunbury tied with 21 points. Photo: Taylar Amonini.

The Nola Marino Medal count also went down to the wire, with the final count seeing a tie between two of the league's top female players.

Fleur Parker from the Harvey Bulls and Ebony Bilcich from South Bunbury tied for the top gong with 21 votes apiece at the end of the 18 rounds, both three votes clear of third-placed Ruby Mahoney from Bunbury.

Parker, who thankfully chose to attend the night rather than a fishing trip with her husband, said she was honoured to be recognised for her time in the South-West.

"Nola was a big driving force for the women's league. She kept pushing for it," she said. "I think in the first game we had about 14 players. Since then, we have really taken off at the Harvey Bulls.

"I want to say a big thanks to my husband. Being a shift-working husband and having two kids is a lot to take on to allow me to play the game I love, so I am really appreciative of him."

Fellow winner Bilcich said she was floored at the response, considering the missing games on her roster due to injury and basketball commitments.

"I really only started playing because of my dad, he has been a real inspiration," she said.

"It's been really fun and enjoyable, and the whole team is great.

"I didn't choose to be captain, they chose me. We really work well together as a team."

The three winners were among a host of talent on the night including Hall of Fame inductee John Sabourne, who was named Life Member on the night for his work within all aspects of the league and his club, HBL.