Geelong midfielder Olivia Purcell has been named the club’s AFLW Best & Fairest winner for season 2020, presented by Charles Rose.
In a close vote count, Purcell claimed the second AFLW Best & Fairest Award in club history, polling 134 votes ahead of defender Maddy McMahon (128) and midfielder Nina Morrison (119).
The 19-year-old was selected at pick 14 by the Cats in the 2018 AFLW Draft after playing her junior football with the Geelong Falcons. Purcell enjoyed a strong debut season in 2019, stepping up to AFLW level with ease to finish second in the club’s Best & Fairest count and third in the AFLW Rising Star.
After shoulder surgery in August, Purcell diligently completed rehab and trained consistently across the pre-season which saw her return in time for the beginning of her second AFLW season.
In 2020, Purcell continued to excel. The midfielder played all six games, she was the side’s leading disposal winner with 121 disposals across the season, an average of 20 disposals a game. Purcell also kicked four goals and was regularly involved in driving the ball forward for the team.
Geelong AFLW coach Paul Hood congratulated Purcell on a season where she took her game to the next level.
“Olivia played with a high level of competitiveness and she always looked to involve herself in the contest and take the game on,” Hood said.
“She was a leading disposal winner for our AFLW team and regularly won a high percentage of her disposals as contested possessions and clearances.
“At 19 years of age Olivia is still working hard on her game and developing her skills, awareness and athleticism whilst already playing at a very high level.
“Her enthusiasm for the game and fierce desire to impact the contest enabled her to have a very consistent season and we look forward to watching her continue to grow her game in the future.”
Maddy McMahon continued to be at her consistent best across 2020, placing second on 128 votes, just six votes behind Purcell.
After being named in the AFLW All-Australian team in 2019, the Cats inaugural season, McMahon continued her fine form into season two. The 31-year-old defender was a vital cog in the Cats’ backline, particularly with the absence of fellow defender Meg McDonald early in the season.
Nina Morrison finished the count in third place after a successful return from an ACL injury. Morrison endured a near perfect rehab over the off-season to allow a Round 1 return to play.
The 19-year-old played all six games, including a standout performance in Mackay in the Cats’ win over the Gold Coast Suns, collecting 22 disposals and 7 tackles in the best-on-ground performance.
AFLW Best & Fairest – Top 10
1st - Olivia Purcell (134 votes)
2nd - Maddy McMahon (128)
3rd - Nina Morrison (119)
4th - Phoebe McWilliams (118)
5th - Aasta O’Connor (116)
6th - Maddy Keryk (112)
6th - Amy McDonald (112)
8th - Richelle Cranston (111)
9th - Danielle Higgins (109)
10th - Rebecca Webster (108)
10th - Julia Crockett-Grills (108)
AFLW head coach rates each player out of 15 points and assistant coaches provide a combined rating for each player worth 15 points, making 30 points the most possible in any round.
The ‘Hoops’ Award: Maddy Keryk
Maddy Keryk is the recipient of the 2020 ‘Hoops’ Award for her commitment and dedication to the club and her teammates. Maddy brings the group together with her upbeat approach and friendly demeanour. In her second season at Geelong, Maddy has become an integral cog in the Cats AFLW side, living the club values in all she does on and off the field.
The ‘Hoops’ award is voted by players, AFLW staff and coaches and is awarded to the player making a values-based contribution to the club, in line with the criteria for the men’s Tom Harley award.
Community Champion Award: Renee Garing
Renee Garing has been awarded the AFLW Community Champion Award for her genuine commitment to and leadership within our community.
Renee exemplifies club values in her role as ambassador for the club’s Just Think program, as well as her work outside the club with the Pretty Foundation, Salvation Army and the Fight Cancer Foundation.
From the moment Renee joined the club, she has been the first to put her hand up and give her time to these programs, Renee works for the greater good and is driven to lead by example. A very worthy winner of the AFLW Community Champion Award for 2020.
The AFLW Community Champion is awarded by the club’s community team for the work done in the Cats community programs and outside the club.