Essendon Co-Captain Bonnie Toogood has capped off a terrific individual season by winning the club’s 2023 AFLW Best and Fairest.
After finishing runner-up in a solid 2022 season, the 25-year-old upped the ante once again this year, averaging 19 disposals per game and booting 16 goals on the way to the Bombers’ maiden finals appearance.
Toogood finished on 133 votes, beating out last year’s winner Maddy Prespakis (125 votes) and emerging star Stephanie Wales (96 votes) to claim top honours at Crown on Thursday night.
In a season stacked with strong performances, Toogood starred in the biggest games, including a career-high 24 disposals in the Country Round victory over Geelong and a 23-touch, two-goal display in round one’s win against the Hawks.
Leaving with full hands, the forward won the club’s goalkicking and received the Best Club Person Award, voted on by football and club executives for her positive impact throughout the organisation.
The result caps off a breakthrough season from Toogood, who was also named Vice Captain of the All Australian team at centre half forward.
Another stellar campaign saw Prespakis claim runner-up honours, averaging 26 disposals and five clearances per game leading the Dons’ midfield brigade.
Prespakis accumulated at least 20 disposals in every game this season and accumulated a season-high 33 touches in her 50th career game.
Despite receiving hefty opposition attention, Prespakis fought through to finish with 20 disposals and two goals in the club’s inaugural final, showcasing her importance to the side as a leader.
An exciting piece in Essendon’s future, Wales averaged 21 hitouts and 12 disposals per game to win third-place honours.
The 20-year-old frequently stood up against more experienced ruck opponents and showed a clean pair of heels around the ground, tallying a career-high 19 disposals in the round four victory over the Dockers and receiving a Rising Star nomination.
Wales’ presence in the ruck continued to improve, following up her impressive 33-hitout, 16-disposal performance against the Tigers in round seven with a career-high 40 hitouts in trying conditions against West Coast at Windy Hill in round eight.
Wales also received the Most Courageous Player Award for best showcasing bravery both on and off the field throughout the 2023 season.
Midfielder Georgia Nanscawen finished in fourth place after a successful return from an ACL injury, averaging 18 disposals and eight tackles per game this season.
The 31-year-old added a new layer to the midfield, bringing inside presence with a strong round one performance against the Hawks and a 17-tackle effort against the Eagles in round eight.
Other award winners on the night included utility Sophie Alexander, who received the Staff and Trainers Award for showing genuine care and respect to all staff members throughout the course of the year.
The 30-year-old also banked a fifth-place finish in the count, solid reward for a consistent second season in Essendon colours.
Reliable defender Alex Morcom was named the Players’ Player, voted by her peers for consistently demonstrating team values on the last line.
Dependable and versatile, Morcom’s tagging efforts throughout the second half of the club’s elimination final helped to get the side back in contention against the Cats.
Exciting forward Paige Scott received the Rising Star Award, given to the player aged under 21 with the most votes in the best and fairest to have not previously won the award.
The 19-year-old was at her explosive best in the round seven victory over the Tigers, booting two goals from 13 touches to secure a big win in the race for finals contention.
2023 Essendon AFLW best and fairest top 10
1- Bonnie Toogood – 133 votes
2 -Maddy Prespakis – 125 votes
3 - Stephanie Wales – 96 votes
4 - Georgia Nanscawen – 91 votes
=5 - (Equal) Sophie Alexander and Sophie Van De Heuvel – Both on 84 votes
7 - Ellyse Gamble – 76 votes
8 - Stephanie Cain – 66 votes
9 - Paige Scott – 65 votes
10 - Georgia Clarke – 60 votes
2023 award winners
Leading Goalkicker – Bonnie Toogood
Rising Star – Paige Scott
Staff and Trainers Award – Sophie Alexander
Players’ Player – Alex Morcom
Best Club Person – Bonnie Toogood
Most Courageous Player – Stephanie Wales