David Swallow has claimed his first Gold Coast SUNS Club Champion Award, taking out the honour in front of Tom Lynch and Dion Prestia in a nail biting three-way finish at a sold out event at Sharks Event Centre on the Gold Coast.
Swallow and three-time Gold Coast SUNS Club Champion Gary Ablett regularly traded the lead throughout the count, with Swallow trailing Ablett by just six votes heading in to the GC SUNS’ round 16 match against Collingwood, a game that proved to be Ablett’s last for the year following season ending shoulder surgery.
Swallow, however, continued to blossom in Ablett’s absence, polling a total of 240 votes, to win the award from Tom Lynch (233) and Dion Prestia (230).
The number one selection at the 2010 AFL draft becomes the first Gold Coast player to join Ablett as Club Champion. Performing consistently throughout the year, Swallow polled in 21 of 22 matches, exceeding 25 disposals in 11 games. Swallow’s season included inspirational performances against the Adelaide Crows in round 11 where he collected 37 disposals, four inside 50s, two goals and 22 votes; and Collingwood in round 16, with 31 disposals, eight clearances, four inside 50s and 23 votes.
Despite falling short to Swallow, Lynch's consistency was highlighted in the second half of the season, where he polled in every match after round 11, in a run that saw him shoot up the leader board from fifth place to second. Lynch was ranked second overall in the AFL for contested marks (43) in 2014, and regularly kicked multiple goals, kicking five against the GWS Giants and four against St Kilda (twice), the Western Bulldogs and Essendon.
Dion Prestia's continued improvement didn't go unnoticed by the match committee. He picked up in excess of 25 disposals in 15 games, while in the final three rounds of the season he demonstrated he could break opposition tags, averaging 28 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s. Prestia polled 17 more votes than he did in last year’s count to finish in 3rd place, just ten votes shy of Swallow.
In other awards presented at the GC SUNS club championship:
- Steven May won the Players’ Player, as voted by the players themselves
- May - who finished sixth in the 2014 GC SUNS Club Championship and led the AFL in spoils - also won the Victor Sports Most Improved Player Award
- Charlie Dixon won the Community Award highlighted by his work with the Gold Coast’s Northern Growth Corridor
- Michael Rischitelli was judged the HOSTPLUS Most Professional Player
- And Leigh Osborne was named the GC SUNS NEAFL Player of the Year
2014 Gold Coast SUNS Club Champion Top Ten
1st – David Swallow 240
2nd – Tom Lynch 233
3rd – Dion Prestia 230
4th – Gary Ablett 190
5th – Jaeger O’Meara 178
6th – Steven May 173
7th – Jarrod Harbrow 137
8th – Michael Rischitelli 120
9th – Harley Bennell 119
10th – Greg Broughton 112
Gold Coast SUNS Club Champion Voting System
The Gold Coast SUNS match committee, comprising of the senior coach and four assistant coaches, can award votes to an unlimited number of players per match. A player can receive a maximum of five votes from each individual member of the match committee, therefore the maximum number of votes a player can receive per round totals 25.
2013 Gold Coast SUNS Club Champion Top Ten
1st – Gary Ablett 260
2nd – Dion Prestia 213
3rd – Jaeger O’Meara 204
4th – Rory Thompson 162
5th – Jarrod Harbrow 149
6th – Danny Stanley 142
7th – David Swallow 135
8th – Aaron Hall 130
9th – Trent McKenzie 120
10th – Harley Bennell 103