By Mitch Guy
PHILLIP Island’s Sam Docherty has capped off a sensational season for Carlton by winning the 2016 John Nicholls Medal for the Blues’ best and fairest player at the Crown Palladium on Friday night.
The 22-year-old defender won the count with 179 votes, ahead of veteran Kade Simpson on 169 votes and last year’s winner Patrick Cripps on 168.
Docherty, who played all his junior footy at Phillip Island and debuted in the Bulldogs’ senior side at 15, had a breakout season this year, which saw him regularly catch the eye of commentators and earned him a spot in the 40-man All-Australian squad.
Docherty’s mother Annabel, brother Josh and partner Natalie Cini were amongst the crowd on Friday night, along with his grandmother Mary Docherty and extended family.
Speaking at the presentation, Docherty acknowledged the support of his loving family.
“To my mum and my brother, thanks so much for coming and thanks so much for the help over the years,” he said.
“To my lovely partner Natalie, I love you and I couldn’t be a footballer without you to be honest. I can’t do the washing, I can’t cook, I can’t clean so I’ve got Nat who helps me out immensely.”
He also paid tribute to his father, Eddie, a legend of the Phillip Island Football Club who suddenly passed away in late 2013.
“My old man can’t be here tonight, but it would be remiss of me not to thank him for all the work he put in over the years,” he said.
“To my family, which is Dad’s side and my mum and my brother, thanks for making it through the years without him and thanks to Dad as well.
Originally drafted with pick 12 by the Brisbane Lions, Docherty spent two seasons at the Lions before he returned home in 2014 to play for the club he supported as a youngster.
Injuries plagued his time at Brisbane, but his return to Melbourne has seen him develop into a consistent and dependable running defender.
He said it was always a dream to play AFL footy.
“It was always a dream growing up but it was probably not until I turned 18 in my top age of TAC Cup when I strung a few good games together and played a few Vic Country games which made me realise I can actually play at the level,” he said.
“Obviously getting drafted and going up to Brisbane was a good experience but I was very happy to come back to Carlton and I’m very happy I made the move.”