Finn Callaghan takes out Sandringham Best and Fairest
By Jonty Ralphsmith
Finn Callaghan has garnished an outstanding season by taking out the Sandringham Dragons 2021 Best and Fairest.
The big-bodied midfielder polled 76 votes to finish seven clear of intercepting defender Luke Cleary in second place, with reliable on-ballers Lachie Benton and Charlie McKay and the athletic Blake Howes rounding-out the top five.
A monster 2020 in the gym that coincided with a growth spurt set up a strong season for Callaghan, who impressed in practice matches and started the season solidly as a composed wingman.
His season took off against Dandenong where he gathered 24 disposals, moving well and using the ball effectively and kicking a goal of the year contender to round off the first block of games.
Midfielder Lachie Riley led the count at this point of the night and, despite injury ruling him out of the remainder of the season, he held on to a sixth-placed finish, underscoring his strong start.
Callaghan continued his dominance after the fixtured break, polling 39 of a possible 40 votes when cast onto the ball against Western Jets and Eastern Ranges after dominating in that position for St. Bedes, playing with great confidence and using his size as a weapon.
He also polled votes against Tasmania, with the honour capping a stellar 2021 that included elevation to the Vic Metro squad, AFL/AIS Academy, and Sandringham Dragons leadership group.
Cleary was rewarded for a strong 2021 as a staple of Sandy’s defence with his intercept marking and effective ball use throughout the season a feature of his game, while his voice on the field is lauded internally. Receiving votes in six of his seven games in 2021 proved a true reflection of his consistency across the campaign.
Benton played all nine games and polled votes in seven of them, hitting rich form in the second half of the season when thrust into the midfield, while McKay’s ferocity and Howes’ strong second half to the season were rewarded with top five finishes.
The maximum number of votes a player can receive in a match is 20: four match committee staff award 15 votes per game to the five best-performed players under the 5-4-3-2-1 system.
Impressively, the Dragons had 21 players to poll votes throughout the season. School footy, Vic Metro selection, VFL opportunities and injuries were among the challenges to stability causing the depth of the squad to be tested – but the Dragons’ system held up well, as shown with an 8-1 win-loss record for the season.
Sandringham would like to thank everyone involved with the football club for a successful 2021 season and congratulate all award winners.
1: Finn Callaghan – 76 votes
2: Luke Cleary – 69 votes
3: Lachie Benton – 65 votes
4: Charlie McKay – 61 votes
5: Blake Howes: 44 votes
6: Lachie Riley: 35 votes
7: Luca Macnab: 27 votes
8: Max Heath: 26 votes
9: Mitch Owens: 23 votes
= 10th: Josh Sinn and Campbell Chesser: 14 votes
Other award winners:
Coaches award: Blake Howes
Most Improved Player: Mitch Owens
Honest efforts award: Charlie McKay
Fiercest Dragon: Liam Hayes
Mark of the year: Caleb Lewis
Goal of the year: Tom Blamires