Two Best & Fairest Trophies, 1976 & 1977


Haby Hawks Museum Curator

The Hawks Museum recently received two Best & Fairest trophies won by Club Legend, Leigh Matthews in 1976 and 1977.Matthews won this prestigious award a record eight times, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982.

The 1976 trophy holds great significance.Two days after the 1976 Premiership, former captain and a member of the 1971 premiership, Peter Crimmins tragically died from cancer.To recognize his outstanding contribution to Hawthorn the Club bestowed the honour of having the Best & Fairest Award carry his name.Now known as the ‘Peter Crimmins Memorial Best & Fairest Trophy’, his fellow teammate, Leigh Matthews won the renamed award the first time in 1976.

A big thank you goes out to Glenferrie Gold Life Patron of the Hawks Museum and former Club President, Ian Dicker kindly assisted with the return to the Club of two Leigh Mathews Best & Fairest trophies.

A short history of Hawthorn’s Best Player Award since 1902

The Hawthorn Football Club has understood the importance of recognizing the achievements of it’s players from the time the Club formed in 1902.The Hawthorn and Kew Express reported on October 3, 1902 that at the HFC Annual Smoke Night, C Boxhall was awarded Mr Piggott’s medal for Best All-Round Play.Other awards presented were Best Place Play (Mr Croft’s medal) to J Coucher, Best Follower, J Poole and Best Attendance to Training, W Trott.

Unfortunately, no detailed records were kept for the presentation of playing awards until 1933 when the Club’s Annual Report recorded, “The donation of an ‘Honour Board’ to the Club by Mr F Craig during the season was typical of the generosity of this indefatigable Club worker … The honour board will be known as the ‘Fred Phillips Honour Board’ and on it will be placed the name of the player selected as the ‘Best and Fairest’ each season.”

This commemorative board was dedicated to the memory of the newly appointed coach, Fred ‘Flops’ Phillips, considered a spectacular player from St Kilda.Phillips was 27 years old and had been a member of the 1930 Carnival Team that won the Australian Football Championship in Adelaide.He was appointed playing coach for the 1933 season.Phillips fitted in well with the Hawthorn players in the first practice matches, inspiring them with his high-marking style and sense of comradeship.Then, a week before the first game of the season, he suddenly died.

With the adoption of the Fred Philips Honour Board, it became Club folklore that the Best and Fairest Award started in 1933.However, during July 1999, Bill Utting, the son of Ernest ‘Tich’ Utting, visited the Hawks Museum then at Glenferrie with his father’s 1929 Best and Fairest Award.He wanted to know why his father’s name did not appear on the Best and Fairest Honour Board.

Research since has established that the Club’s best player award when introduced in 1902 was known as the ‘Best All-Rounder’.As far as we can tell this remained the case until in 1928.In 1929, the name of the award was changed to the ‘Best & Fairest’ with Ernest ‘Tich’ Utting being the first player to receive this award.Unfortunately, records for early Club awards remain incomplete.

The Best and Fairest Award has been renamed several times since 1929.In 1985 the award became known as ‘The Club Champion Peter Crimmins Perpetual Memorial Trophy’ when Dermott Brereton won the award. It was changed to the ‘Peter Crimmins Medal’ in 2004, with Peter Everitt receiving this prestigious award.Current star, James Worpel is the most recent winner of the Crimmins Medal for 2019.

Former President, Ian Dicker & Club Legend, Leigh Matthews present his 1976 & 1977 Best & Fairest trophies to the museum curator, Peter Haby

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