A Cabinet with the Best

There is a certain prestige that comes with the title of Best & Fairest Player. Whether it be for a junior side in the bush or the best Club in the AFL, the outstanding player of the year is worthy of recognition. Those players who have been awarded this wonderful distinction for the Hawthorn Football Club are honoured in the Best & Fairest Cabinet in the Hawks Museum.

This cabinet has recently been updated to include more trophies and medallions from Best & Fairest players representing the Hawthorn Seniors, Second and Third 18s and the Hawthorn Colts under age sides. They have earned their place in the cabinet; they all ran out in the Brown & Gold.

The sheer number of trophies now on display could easily lead to a confusion of name tags and information.Instead, the display has benefited from the Museum’s attendance at a recent Australia & New Zealand Sports Museum Network conference, which highlighted excellent ways to display and label a collection. The display now includes a numbered key on the side of the cabinet. So, come and see our latest efforts during your next visit.

The Best & Fairest Cabinet in the Hawks Museum.

When you do come to the Hawks Museum, you may wonder why there are clocks, tea sets, watches and even golf clubs in the cabinet. There were years when the players could choose a trophy for finishing in the top three of the Best & Fairest count. These prizes would complement the cups and platters that were also presented. There are two golf clubs on display, representing the third-place finishes of Roy Simmonds in 1955 and John O’Mahony in 1956.

The first back to back Best & Fairest winner was Leo Murphy in 1936-37. He is represented by the mantle clock that was a trophy for his 1937 award. There is also a tea set that was a trophy for one of John Kennedy Snr’s four Best & Fairest titles. It sits on the cabinet’s top shelf, the tea pot showing signs that it was not just a trophy, but often used!

This top shelf contains trophies from the players who have been the most prolific in winning the award. Leigh Matthews leads the way with eight titles. Sam Mitchell’s 2011 Peter Crimmins Medal represents one of his five Best & Fairest years. There are trophies from other favourites with multiple wins such as Graham Arthur, Shane Crawford and Jason Dunstall.

The cabinet also contains names you may not recognise. John Hester was Best & Fairest for the Hawthorn Third 18 in 1939 and for the Seconds in 1941. His two trophies are now on display. Jack Boldiston was the Best & Fairest player for the Hawthorn Under-20 Colts in 1939. His beautiful trophy is on display near the trophy for a very well-known player, one of the cabinet’s latest acquisitions, Kelvin Moore’s Best & Fairest trophy from 1979.

Trophies numbered for easy identification.

During the years that Hawthorn first played in the VFL, the award was known as Best All-Rounder. The first winner was Fred Finch in 1925. The 1928 Best All-Rounder, Miles Sellers is represented by his mantle clock trophy, it is the oldest item in the cabinet. It is not the oldest best player trophy in the Hawks Museum, though. That would be the 1906 Most Consistent trophy awarded to Matt Collins during Hawthorn’s time in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association. This stunning piece from Hawthorn’s early years can be found in the Chronology Cabinet.

The term Best & Fairest Player was used from 1929 to 1984. The award became known as Club Champion from 1985.Whilst a perpetual trophy was named in honour of Peter Crimmins at the time of his passing in 1976, the award itself became the Peter Crimmins Medal in 2004.

Come and see our display with many of the players who have been honoured as Hawthorn’s best. Is your favourite in the cabinet?

Our records from Hawthorn’s years in the MJFA (1902-1913) and VFA (1914-1924) are, unfortunately, incomplete. We are also searching for the names of the Best & Fairest players from the 1926 and 1931 seasons. If you know of a winner of the best player award from these years, or, indeed have a Hawthorn trophy from this period, we would love to hear from you.

Author: Rachel Bradshaw - Hawks Museum

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