UPDATE: East Fremantle midfielder Rory O’Brien has claimed the 93rd Sandover Medal at Crown Perth.
O’Brien polled 55 votes, 12 more than East Perth ruckman Paul Johnson and 14 ahead of Claremont onballer Jake Murphy in the race for the WAFL’s prestigious fairest and best award.
O'Brien described his win as “a complete shock”.
“I was nervous the whole night and I wasn’t expecting anything,” O’Brien said.
“It’s an honour to be part of that (Sandover) club now.”
O'Brien was at Subiaco this morning to lay the traditional paver for the medal winner. Ian Sandover presented O'Brien with the paver.
O'Brien was also accompanied by East Perth champion and 1950 Sandover medallist Frank Allen, 86, the oldest surviving medallist who attends the ceremony every year to congratulate the winner.
Johnson and Murphy had been pre-count favourites but it was O’Brien who triumphed by a comfortable margin.
The first Sharks player to win the Sandover since Adrian Bromage in 1998, O’Brien raced to 13 votes in the first five rounds and held off late challenges from Johnson and Murphy to take the medal.
O’Brien polled votes in 14 of a possible 20 matches, the 27-year-old earning five lost of top votes and six of four.
His winning tally was just three short of the record tally of 58 achieved by ex-Tiger Kane Mitchell (2012) and former Subiaco midfielder Matt Priddis (2006).
Claremont coach Marc Webb was awarded the JJ Leonard Medal as coach of the year, helping to ease the pain for the Tigers bowing out of the finals in consecutive loses to West Perth and East Perth.
Stuart Parry confirmed his status as the league’s premier umpire when he claimed the Ray Montgomery Medal while the Tigers took out the Rodriguez as the champion club for a fourth consecutive year.
Tall West Perth utility player Frank Stockley clinched the Prendergast Medal as the reserves fairest and best with East Fremantle’s Jacob Green taking the colts Jack Clarke Medal.
O’Brien’s 622 possessions were more than any other in the league, averaging 31 possessions per game in 2013.
He has played in the State tam for the past two years, a member of the Black Swans team which snapped a 22-year drought to beat Victoria in Northam on May 11.
Sharks captain Mark McGough, ineligible due to suspension, was fourth on 36 votes with prolific Royals midfielder Brendan Lee fifth on 32.Seven of the nine clubs had a player finish in the top 10 of the count, with West Perth’s Aaron Black (sixth), South Fremantle’s Mitch Banner (seventh), Perth captain Paul Bevan (equal eighth) and Swan Districts forward Dayle Garlett (equal 10th) leading the way for their sides.