North Melbourne’s Harry Sheezel has capped off his remarkable first AFL season by being crowned the 2023 Syd Barker medallist.
Sheezel finished Saturday night’s best and fairest count with 197 votes ahead of second-placed Nick Larkey (173) and third-placed Bailey Scott (140), while Luke Davies-Uniacke (131) and Jack Ziebell (112) rounded out the top five.
The 18-year-old featured in all 23 games and was a key distributor for the Roos off half-back with his class, temperament and skill.
Originally drafted as a forward, Sheezel had not spent much time in defence before he burst onto the AFL scene in Round 1 and went on to average 27 disposals, 5.4 marks, 5.2 rebound 50s and 441.8 metres gained across the season.
He collected 30-plus disposals on 12 occasions, including an equal season-high 37 against Richmond in Round 23 that saw him claim the record for the most disposals in a debut V/AFL home and away season, and was crowned the AFL Rising Star last month in a 25-year first for the Roos.
Sheezel was also named the club’s Best Young Player and claimed the fan-voted Mazda Excellence Award.
Larkey enjoyed his best season at Arden Street to date to finish runner-up.
The sharpshooter led the club’s goalkicking tally for a third straight season with a career-high 71 goals and kicked five or more majors on five occasions, including a personal best nine in the Roos’ Round 24 win over the Gold Coast Suns.
His 71.24 was also the most kicked by a North Melbourne player in a home and away season since Wayne Carey’s 73.37 in 1998 and saw the 25-year-old earn his maiden All-Australian blazer.
Larkey was also voted the Glenn Archer Shinboner of the Year by his teammates for his contributions on and off the field.
Scott continued his fine form from 2022 to finish in third position for the second year in a row.
The hard-running 23-year-old averaged 22.1 disposals, 5.2 marks and 453.2 metres gained per game in his fifth year at the top level. Among his season highlights was a standout performance against Sydney in Round 10, where he notched up a game-high 33 disposals, seven clearances and a goal.
Scott also took home the Harold Henderson Best Clubman Award, while teammates Luke McDonald and Kayne Turner, former CEO and board member Carl Dilena, and club historian Greg Ryan received Life Membership for their service to the club.
Jaidyn Stephenson received the Peter Scanlon Community Award for his work with HeartKids, a national not-for-profit organisation focused on supporting and advocating for all people impacted by childhood heart disease.
Stephenson became a HeartKids ambassador after he was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition before being drafted to Collingwood in 2017. His ‘Jaidyn’s Lunch for the Kids’ event has become a staple on the HeartKids fundraising calendar, raising more than $300,000 for the organisation over six years.
Coaches vote individually after each round via a 4, 3, 2, 1 voting system. One vote means a player played their role, while four votes denote a standout best-on-ground performance. Five coaches vote each week, with a player able to receive a maximum of 20 votes in any one game. If two players finish on the same number of votes, a countback is applicable.
Other award winners
Best Young Player Award – Harry Sheezel
Glenn Archer Shinboner of the Year Award – Nick Larkey
Mazda Excellence Award – Harry Sheezel
Harold Henderson Best Clubman Award – Bailey Scott
Peter Scanlon Community Award – Jaidyn Stephenson
John Law Medal (VFL Best & Fairest) – Jack Watkins
Life Memberships – Luke McDonald, Kayne Turner, Carl Dilena and Greg Ryan