Following a sublime year that saw him fall just shy of a debut Brownlow and a second premiership medallion, Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli reigned supreme over his kennel contemporaries by winning the 2021 Charles Sutton Medal.
Though this season was only his eighth at the AFL level, Wednesday night's count saw the 25-year-old claim both his fourth club best and fairest and his seventh consecutive podium finish.
Despite leading a group comprised of several sterling candidates, Bontempelli predictably blitzed the field to finish ahead of fellow midfielders Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore to once again earn the tag of 'Top Dog'.
Take a look at the final leaderboard 👇 pic.twitter.com/MGH7qbardR
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) September 29, 2021
This most recent honouring also saw 'The Bont' close the gap between the clubhouse leaders on Barkly Street, as only John Schultz, Norm Ware, Ted Whitten (five), Gary Dempsey (six) and Scott West (seven) have been championed more times than the contemporary superstar.
While the gap between Ollie Wines during the 'Charlie' count and the Demons on Grand Final day could not be bridged, the intramural award will now sit on Bontempelli's burgeoning mantle alongside other achievements earned this year, including the AFLPA's Most Valuable Player and Best Captain prizes, as well as yet another All-Australian jacket.
Leading his charges from the front in both a literal and figurative sense this season, the former first round draft pick collected means of more than 27 disposals, five clearances and a goal a game across his 26 outings.
Speaking via a livestream to the Bulldogs' loyal breed of supporters and members, the club's captain claimed that it was his desire to strive for greatness that had seen him win the award named after the first of the Dogs' two premiership skippers.
“It’s always a challenge to try and front up each year and each season, and continue to try and search for more, and try to understand and learn how I can continue to support our playing group and football club in the best way I can,” Bontempelli said.
The Northern Knights product also paid respect to the many people that made up the club around him and typically remained modest as he stood behind a lectern for the umpteenth time.
“I get an enormous amount of support and help from a lot of people, but I think I’m lucky that the environment I’m in allows me to stay curious and try to be the best influence I can be for the football club," Bontempelli continued.
“It’s incredibly humbling to be sitting in a position where I get to lead the lads out of the race, and do my best to help influence the whole group as best that I can."
Despite the heartbreak of the last Saturday night, Bontempelli signed off with some words of hope for those with red, white and blue blood.
“We’ll continue to persevere, be resilient and be the team that we know we can be.”
Top 10 Leaderboard
1st place (Charles Sutton Medal): Marcus Bontempelli - 353 votes
2nd place (Doug Hawkins Medal): Jack Macrae - 296 votes
3rd place (Gary Dempsey Medal): Tom Liberatore - 291 votes
4th: Bailey Dale - 251 votes
5th: Caleb Daniel – 250 votes
6th: Alex Keath – 241 votes
7th: Bailey Smith – 216 votes
8th: Aaron Naughton – 211 votes
9th: Taylor Duryea – 198 votes
10th: Bailey Williams – 171 votes
Full List of Wednesday Night's Awards
- Chris Grant Best First Year Player: Anthony Scott
- Locker Group Coaches’ Award: Taylor Duryea
- Tony Liberatore Most Improved Player Award: Bailey Dale
- Brad Johnson Best Team Player Award: Alex Keath
- Scott West Most Courageous Award: Aaron Naughton
- Best Player in Finals: Jack Macrae
- John Van Groningen Domestique Award: Marcus Bontempelli