In the ninth episode of the second series of The Originals podcast, Sam Lane takes you behind the scenes at the club's 2021 Best and Fairest awards for an insight from the major players of the Richmond Women's program.
Richmond's inaugural 2020 AFLW Best and Fairest was presented via zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the 2021 night of nights marked the club's first official Best and Fairest dinner.
>> LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW IN THE PODCAST BELOW
Hear snippets from Club President Peggy O'Neal, coach Ryan Ferguson, captain Katie Brennan, and Best and Fairest winner Monique Conti, as they reflect on the Tigers' second season in the league.
Star midfielder Monique Conti was sitting on a lounge room couch when she was crowned Richmond's inaugural AFLW Best and Fairest winner in 2020.
It was a different scene this year, as she accepted her second award in front of fellow players, family, staff and more at function centre 'The Park' with sunset views of Melbourne’s Albert Park Lake.
O'Neal opened proceedings, welcoming all invitees and describing the past 18 months as "anything but dull".
"Our AFLW program is only two years old, but what an incredible time we've had on this first leg of the trip," she said.
"We had our first ever win, as well as our first ever on the road. We welcomed a first-year coach and our second number one draft pick, Ellie. We staged our inaugural Midsumma match day, and proudly wore our AFLW Indigenous guernsey.
"We've seen courage, resolve, and unwavering commitment of these elite athletes to be the best they can be and do our club proud. And we are proud."
Captain Brennan then captured the audience effectively as always, as she shared the core themes the Tigers embodied in 2021, which played a key role in their rise as a group.
"This year was all about the process. It was about staying connected, making our teammates better, playing for each other, staying level, and being hungry to achieve," she said.
"It was about being our best in every single moment, and recognising that the present moment is the most important moment we have.
"We embraced this from day one, and this is a big reason why we sit here tonight celebrating a number of firsts."
In his first year at the helm as Richmond's AFLW coach, Ryan Ferguson captivated, further coordinated and further educated his team.
At the Best and Fairest dinner, Ferguson noted his side was "committed to immersing (themselves) in the moment".
He said, however, that he wanted the group to take the opportunity that night to look back on the season that was.
"On the whole, what a fantastic season it was," he said.
"Most pleasingly this season, was everyone's commitment to our vision. Everyone working together and pulling in the same direction.
"It's a very unique program, with very special people, who care and invest their time for the betterment of our program."
Richmond’s AFLW match committee awarded votes after every game in 2021. One vote was awarded to a Tiger who played their role and won their position, two votes to someone who won their position and impacted the game, and three votes for a player who produced an outstanding game.
Following the count, the top ten in Richmond's 2021 AFLW Best and Fairest were:
Eq 10th: Courtney Wakefield, Tayla Stahl and Ilish Ross (6 votes)
9th: Maddy Brancatisano (7 votes)
Eq 7th: Sarah Hosking and Sarah D’Arcy (10 votes)
6th: Gabby Seymour (12 votes)
5th: Rebecca Miller (13 votes)
4th: Harriet Cordner (14 votes)
Eq 2nd: Katie Brennan and Ellie McKenzie (15 votes)
1st: Monique Conti (16 votes)
A tearful Conti thanked her Tiger "sisters" as she accepted her second Richmond AFLW Best and Fairest medal.
"The season we had was very different, but it's probably been my most enjoyable one so far," she said.
"I just love this Club and I'm truly honoured to be winning this award.
"There are big things coming for us."
Richmond 2021 Best and Fairest winners:
1st Best and Fairest: Monique Conti
Equal 2nd Best and Fairest: Ellie McKenzie
Equal 2nd Best and Fairest: Katie Brennan
Players’ Player Award: Katie Brennan
Leading Goalkicker Award: Katie Brennan
Best First Year Player Award: Ellie McKenzie
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