Emerging onballer Dylan Clarke has been awarded the Lindsay Griffiths Rising Star award at the 2019 Crichton Medal awards at The Plenary on Tuesday night.
It is a just reward for an impressive breakthrough season at senior level where Clarke slotted comfortably into the AFL line-up midway through the year.
Few players can say they have comprehensively beaten a star opponent in just their second senior game, but Clarke did just that when dominating Carlton gun Patrick Cripps in round 11.
It was Clarke’s first AFL game since a quiet debut in round nine last year, but he entered the game with a clear job in mind, full of confidence following a strong start to the year in the VFL.
He kept Cripps to just 11 disposals – the midfielder’s lowest total from a full game in his career – and did some damage himself as he gathered 23 disposals, nine contested possessions, 10 tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s to announce himself as a tagger on the big stage.
✅ Stop a prolific ball winner— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) June 3, 2019
✅ Rack up 23 disposals
✅ Celebrate a win
A day to remember for Dylan Clarke. pic.twitter.com/sVfQ1haYrd
Clarke went on to succeed playing similar roles on a number of the league’s best onballers including North Melbourne’s Ben Cunnington, Hawthorn’s Jaeger O’Meara and Sydney’s Luke Parker in 10 subsequent games at the top level to show his second match was no fluke.
The negating role made Clarke a crucial part of the side and ensured he was a defensive machine this year. He led the club for average tackles (6.4) and finished fourth at the club for average pressure acts (20.3) to help fill the void left behind by injured star Devon Smith.
Clarke is sure to take confidence out of the encouraging breakthrough season going forward and claiming the award shows the club is excited about what lies ahead.