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West Coast Eagles

Eric Mackenzie: 2014 John Worsfold Medallist

2014 John Worsfold Medallist: Mackenzie Defender Eric Mackenzie receives his first John Worsfold medal
Eric Mackenzie

The capacity of the West Coast Eagles to produced quality key defenders was galvanised tonight when Eric Mackenzie won the John Worsfold Medal in a glittering ceremony at the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre.

In a tight count. Mackenzie wrestled with Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis from mid-season down to the wire before holding off the star midfielder to win by 11 votes.

For all the John Worsfold Medal coverage, click here.

Under a new voting system, implemented by first-year senior coach Adam Simpson and his match committee, players received votes ranging from 0-3 from each member of the match committee, meaning that a maximum of 15 votes could be collected by an individual in any game.

And Mackenzie, came out on top after a stellar season where he assumed seniority in defence when skipper Darren Glass retired mid-season.

The victory by Mackenzie means that for the ninth time in the club’s 28 years, a key defender has been adjudged the Eagles’ best.          

Glass was three times awarded the West Coast Eagles Club Champion, following a strong tradition which was initiated by four-time winner Glen Jakovich and another outstanding back man, Ashley McIntosh.

Historically, individual awards are won by midfielders, but the club’s match committee is a little more appreciative of the defensive aspects and the roles players are asked to play against important opposition players.

It was only as the curtain was slowly drawing on the career of skipper Glass that the media and fans started to appreciate the work of the unassuming Mackenzie.

In particular, they started to notice that Mackenzie was taking the opposition’s most dangerous power forward. In reality that had been happening for a couple of years, with Glass deferring to the second of the opposition’s key attacking options.

And Mackenzie, who had a front row seat to watch Glass in action, took on board those early lessons. There has not been a more accomplished one-on-one player than Glass in the last decade and Mackenzie observed and put into practice the Glass master class.

So much so that Mackenzie could emulate his skipper by winning the John Worsfold Medal.

Mackenzie lowered his colours decisively, just once during the season, when half of Jarryd Roughead’s eight goals were kicked on his watch in Launceston in round 12. Other than that, he conquered all of his opponents.

Memorable personal victories came against the likes of Buddy Franklin, who kicked one goal when Sydney came to town in round 16 (from a dubious free kick) and Mackenzie was also the master of Travis Cloke in two battles against Collingwood.

As mentioned, midfielders often win the individual accolades and clearly Mackenzie’s main rival for the mantle as the second John Worsfold medallist was the title holder Priddis.

JOHN WORSFOLD MEDAL TOP 10

ERIC MACKENZIE  
MATTHEW PRIDDIS
LUKE SHUEY
ANDREW GAFF
JACK DARLING
JOSH KENNEDY
SHANNON HURN
CHRIS MASTEN
NIC NAITANUI
JAMIE CRIPPS

Other major winners were:

Chris Mainwaring Medal (best clubman) – Sam Butler
Leading goal kicker – John Kennedy  (61 goals)
Rookie of the Year – Jeremy McGovern
Life Membership – Shannon Hurn, Matt Rosa, Gary Greer
Eagles in the Community Award – Beau Waters, Chris Summer (staff)

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs