Tom Stewart remembers the moment vividly. 

The then South Barwon defender had been invited to trial for the Cats’ VFL program at the end of 2015 on the recommendation of former Swans’ coach and Geelong legend, Matthew Scarlett. 

By mid-2016, Scarlett tapped Stewart on the shoulder at training mid-week with the five words Stewart told last year, he’ll never forget:

''Wellsy' wants to meet ya'.

A meeting with the then Cats’ recruiting box Stephen Wells, along with VFL coach Shane O’Bree and Football Operations Boss, now CEO, Steve Hocking, was the first official step in Stewart eventually becoming a Cat. 


Eight years, five All-Australian Blazers, a premiership, the vice-captaincy, and as of Thursday night, a second ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal later, Tom Stewart now sits comfortably alongside Scarlett, Corey Enright, and others as one of the best defenders, and players, in Geelong’s 164 year history.

He left the season opener early due to injury and missed the second game, before returning in Round 3 against the Gold Coast and in typical Stewart fashion, picked up 29 disposals and took 13 marks on his return. 

He received the maximum votes from the coaches in Round 12 against the Western Bulldogs, in Round 15 against Melbourne, in Round 19 against Brisbane, and in Round 24, again against the Bulldogs, while also polling nine votes in Round 23 against St.Kilda when the Cats’ season was on the line. 

Assistant coach James Kelly said while he is a ruthless competitor on the field, he has evolved into an outwardly caring figure off it - becoming a Dad helped in developing that side of him according to Stewart himself - and it manifests daily inside the four walls of GMHBA Stadium in the way he guides and mentors his younger teammates. 

“Has always been a great player but has grown as a leader,” Kelly said, 

“He plays the game with a ruthless edge but is a kind caring family man off the field. 

“He is easy to coach and can always be relied on to invest in others, especially younger players. He’s a uniquely Geelong person.”

Stewart polled 135 total votes, 35 votes ahead of the second placed Tom Atkins.