Carlton star Patrick Cripps has become the first player since Gary Ablett in 2014 to be awarded the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFLPA’s MVP while playing in a team that failed to make finals.
The 24-year-old was brilliant in the first half of the season when the Blues won just one game, before lifting his performance to another level when David Teague took over from Brendon Bolton as coach after round 11, inspiring his team to victory in the caretaker coach’s first game in the role with 38 disposals and four goals.
Cripps averaged 28 disposals and 8.5 clearances a game in 2019, with 17 of his possessions per match being contested. He won the universal respect of his peers and football supporters for his efforts on the ground and measured approach off the field, polling 832 votes.
Cripps pipped Geelong star Tim Kelly (519 votes) for the award, with Kelly being runner-up in just his second season of football after being plucked from the WAFL in the 2017 national draft.