Woodward wins J.J. Liston Trophy
Box Hill Hawks Alex Woodward is the 2014 J.J. Liston Trophy winner.
The Hawthorn listed midfielder claimed the competitions top honour with three votes in the final round against the Northern Blues, finishing clear of North Ballarat’s Liam Anthony (17 votes), Footscray’s Tom Campbell (15), Port Melbourne’s Toby Pinwill (14) and Williamstown’s Scott Clouston (14).
Woodward polled in nine of his 13 VFL games this season - the most individual votes awarded to any player this season -receiving best on ground honours on four occasions averaging 23 disposals and six tackles a game.
- Listen to Alex Woodward speak about his win on the VFL Podcast (5 minute mark)
The 21-year-old made it back to back wins in the Liston for a Box Hill Hawks/Hawthorn listed player, after Mitch Hallahan dead-heated with North Ballarat’s Steve Clifton and Geelong’s Jordan Schroder for last year’s award.
Woodward is the fifth Box Hill player to win a J.J. Liston Trophy. Don Brown was the first in 1960, followed the next year by Doug Beasy. There was a 41-year break until Sam Mitchell won the 2002 Liston Trophy in a phenomenal season where he polled 10 three votes and a single vote from the 11 games he played in the VFL that season.
The latest Hawks Liston winner had a decorated career as a teenager, which saw him co-captain Sandringham Dragons to win the 2011 TAC Cup premiership, collect the Dragons’ best and fairest and was then selected by Hawthorn in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft.
While everything appeared rosy for Woodward, he was struck down by injury not once, but twice in a horror start to his AFL career.
He underwent a knee reconstruction after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during a NAB Cup match in his first year with Hawthorn. It erased the entire 2012 season.
The 2013 season had not even begun when fate dealt Woodward the cruelest of blows, a second knee reconstruction after he re-injured his ACL.
After two games with Box Hill Hawks this season, Woodward was again cast in the unwanted role as a spectator with a shoulder injury. It cost him a couple of games.
While it hasn’t been the easiest of journeys for Woodward, he wasn’t anchored by what happened in the past.
Woodward put all that wretched luck behind him to showcase his talent in a manner that saw him make his AFL debut this season and secure the J.J Liston Trophy.
He was not however the Box Hill Hawks player at the top of the voting early in the season.
Teammate Sam Iles led the count early, polling seven votes in the first three rounds.
It was not till midseason that that Woodward made his move up the leaderboard, with back to back best on ground performances catapulting him into Liston contention against Essendon and Footscray, to join the lead with North Ballarat’s Liam Anthony after Round 14.
But Woodward’s lead was short lived as he made his AFL debut against Sydney, subsequently missing VFL Round’s 15 and 16.
Footscray’s Tom Campbell wrestled the lead from Woodward with a three-vote game against Essendon in Round 15, but it would be the last VFL game Campbell would play with Footscray as he played the rest of the season with Western Bulldogs at AFL level.
With his nearest rivals on AFL duties, Anthony moved to the outright lead in Round 17 after a best on ground performance against Coburg, but that was before Woodward’s late charge, with the Hawk polling in all three final home and away games.
Woodward polled the maximum votes in Box Hill Hawks’ crushing wins against Bendigo Gold and Northern Blues to end the season, piping Sam Grimley for best on ground honours on both occasions, despite the Hawks forward kicking 13 goals across the two final games.
The three votes in the final round elevated Woodward to 20 votes while Anthony was left on 17 votes after failing to secure a vote in North Ballarat’s big loss against Port Melbourne.
Footscray polled the most votes of any club - 87 - with 20 of its players gaining at least one vote, ahead of ladder-leader Port Melbourne with 83 votes, one more than Box Hill Hawks.
As is usually the case the Liston count threw up some anomalies.
Port Melbourne captain John Baird was not among the 18 Borough players who polled at least one vote.
Baird’s teammate Daniel Connors, who tied with Grimley for the Jim ‘Frosty’ Miller, received just two votes. Grimley received five votes.
Hallahan, one of last year’s Liston Trophy winners, collected just three votes while Schroder polled eight votes.
Ben Ross, another previous Liston Trophy winner, polled two votes and dual Liston Trophy winner Shane Valenti received six.
Ben Cavarra, winner of last year’s Morrish Medal for fairest and best in the TAC Cup, headed Frankston’s vote count with seven votes, while teammate Nicholas Newman, winner of the Fothergill Round medal, polled five votes.
J.J. Liston Trophy top 10
|A. Woodward||Box Hill Hawks||20|
|L. Anthony||North Ballarat||17|
|T. Campbell||Footscray Bulldogs||15|
|T. Pinwill||Port Melbourne||14|
|M. Wooffindin||Port Melbourne||13|
|C. Cain||Port Melbourne||11|
|M. Gawn||Casey Scorpions||10|
|L. Jong||Footscray Bulldogs||10|
|J. Moore||Werribee Tigers||10|
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