In October 2021 Tom Stewart sat in front of a screen in Jamieson, a little town in Victoria’s Highlands at the junction of the Goulbourn and Jamieson Rivers.

Like most clubs at the time, Geelong was holding their best and fairest count online, and Stewart, having just won his first ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal, gave his acceptance address in his Mum’s living room to a computer. 

Two years later, he would take his rightful spot on stage at Crown Palladium accepting his second best and fairest award, now a premiership player and a five-time All-Australian. 

But as coach Chris Scott said in announcing Stewart’s win last Thursday night, the 30-year-old from South Barwon Football Club has become much more than the League’s premier defender, as highly decorated as he is. 


“I think this guy is getting to the point where he is transcending individual awards and is becoming something much more important to our football club than just the sum of his individual achievements,” Scott said on the night. 

“The individual performances you’ve delivered this year have made us all so proud, but if I just take one minute to explain how important Tom is behind the scenes at our footy club. I think you saw it conveyed a little bit in the community award that Tom won. 

“He’s so much than what he does on the field, he’s so much more than what he does even on the training track, he has become someone that the whole Geelong community can be proud of.”

Stewart’s acceptance speech this year was everything, especially those within the club itself, people have come to expect: humble, self-deprecating, and when he turns it on, a little bit inspiring.  

He shared a pathway, via the VFL, with the night’s second place finisher, Tom Atkins, and he couldn’t hide how proud he was of Atkins, even though the moment was technically his. But if you expected anything less, you don't know Tom Stewart.

Pride came up over and over again throughout his speech, but not before a little nod to fact that he does go, as he said, ‘rogue’ at times. 

“To my teammates, thank you first and foremost for covering my arse a lot of the time," he said to knowing laughter. 

“I do go rogue a bit and try not to play on anybody so it's always your job to clean up after me but I appreciate everything you do for me.”


But it’s his pride in those same teammates and the joy he gets from their successes, the pride in his community, and his pride in his football club that came through loud and clear. 

“I'm so lucky to be at this football club, one that has a special place in my heart, this community, this club is something that is truly special, to be a part of it is something I do not take for granted at all, so to the boys, thank you so much, I love each and every one of you. 

“To all the corporate partners, to all the coterie groups, all the supporters, the fans, the cheer squad, you are what makes the Geelong Football Club who we are. You're the fabric, this community, this football club is so ingrained in what we do and we couldn't be more proud to represent our club for you guys.”

But finally, Tom Stewart the competitor, who is never far from the surface, had one final message for the faithful. 

“This year wasn't exactly what we planned for but seeing the boys around, seeing everyone at the club already, we're ready, we're excited, it's something new, it's a new challenge, so we're all ready to get stuck in and bring that cup home where it belongs.”