West Coast ruckman Dean Cox has won WA’s richest football prize, The West Australian-McInerney Ford Footballer of the Year Award.
Cox scooped a new Ford valued at more than $38,000 but had to survive some anxious moments after finishing in a tie with Eagles teammate Matt Priddis.
The athletic big man and Priddis each had 22 votes when the award went in camera after round 18.
Neither added to their tally in the remaining four rounds of qualifying fixtures, with Cox clinching the prize in a count back after being judged West Coast’s best player more times in 2011.
A four-times All-Australian, West Coast club champion in 2008 and member of the club’s 2006 premiership side, Cox was judged to be the Eagles most dominant player six of eight times he polled votes.
Priddis, who received votes in 11 matches, gained top votes three times.
Veteran Eagle Andrew Embley was third on 18 votes with Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich fourth on 17. Pavlich’s teammate Nat Fyfe shared fifth place with West Coast’s Daniel Kerr.
Cox sat out yesterday’s training session at Patersons Stadium. He said team officials had thought it best that he get a couple more days’ rest ahead of Saturday night’s semifinal against Carlton.
“The back’s good,” Cox said.
“It’s certainly freed up a lot from the game and earlier in the week as well.
“I’m just looking forward now to having a good hit-out tomorrow morning, to run the cobwebs out and then away we go.
“I’ll be lining up for sure.”
Claremont centreman Luke Blackwell was judged The West Australian WAFL Footballer of the Year, taking home $5000.
Blackwell finished with 43 votes, holding out classy Perth left-footer Ross Young on 41 and Subiaco midfielder Kyal Horsley on 37.
It helped atone for last year when Blackwell finished runner-up in most media awards and the Sandover Medal for the league’s best player.
Tigers’ key position player Beau Wilkes was fourth on 32, beating home a tightly-packed bunch including East Perth ball magnet Brendan Lee (31 votes), Subiaco ruckman Michael Rix (29), East Fremantle rover Rory O’Brien (27) and West Perth’s Mark Hutchings (25) and Jason Salecic (25).
Swan Districts teenager Stephen Coniglio took out The West Australian WAFL Rising Star Award from Perth pair Haydn Busher and Jaeger O’Meara.
Coniglio decided earlier his week to nominate for the national draft, ending speculation he might pursue a career in cricket.
The gifted 17-year-old gained a maximum 15 votes, beating home Perth pair Haydn Busher and Jaeger O’Meara for the $2000 award.