Defender Jordan Ridley has today been crowned Essendon’s 2020 Crichton medallist to cap off his meteoric rise this season.
The 21-year finished on 333 votes ahead of 2019 Crichton Medal winner Zach Merrett (308) and dashing defender Adam Saad (292), presented with the coveted medal at the club’s hub on the Sunshine Coast with teammates, staff and families in attendance.
With just 26 games to his name, Ridley becomes the fourth most inexperienced player to win Essendon’s best and fairest behind John Coleman (1949 winner, 21 games), Jack Garden (1920, 21 games) and Albert Thurgood (1901, 22 games).
Drafted at pick No.22 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft from the Oakleigh Chargers and making his debut in against Geelong in round nine, 2018, Ridley had played just nine senior games prior to 2020.
But in a stunning breakout season, he played every game to lead the Bombers for intercepts (5.2 per game) and rank third and fourth in the competition for intercept marks (2.8) and contested mark intercepts (1.1) respectively.
It was a double delight on Sunday for the reliable Ridley, who also claimed the club’s Most Improved Player award.
The outgoing John Worsfold congratulated Ridley on a stellar 2020 campaign.
“This is a season in which Jordan announced himself as a key part of the club’s future and he should be incredibly proud of his commitment, drive and output this year,” Worsfold said.
“Jordan is an unassuming, determined and driven young man who is a wonderful teammate and has commanded the respect of the playing group, and especially fellow defenders. Since he arrived at the club, his work ethic and commitment to get the best out of himself has been obvious to all.
“He has worked closely alongside Michael Hurley and Adam Saad to further understand the game and hone his craft and we know that Jordan continually wants to improve and build his game and at only 21 years of age, there is much more improvement to come for Jordan which is really exciting.
“While this season has been disappointing from a win-loss ratio, we have a very exciting emerging group coming through, and that is reflected in our overall votes with Zach Merrett, Adam Saad, Kyle Langford, Andrew McGrath and Darcy Parish all placing as the top-six place-getters behind Jordan.
“Jordan is a key member of this emerging group with a bright future ahead, so it is wonderful to see him being dually rewarded today for his terrific campaign this season.”
Dual Crichton medallist Merrett placed second in the club’s count with 308 votes, with the 24-year-old leading his side for disposals (26), score involvements (five), metres gained (413) and inside 50s (4.9)
Finishing in the top three for the second consecutive year, the explosive Saad picked up from where he left off to finish in the League’s top 10 for metres gained, rebound 50s and bounces.
Finishing fifth in the Crichton Medal, Andrew McGrath was awarded the Adam Ramanauskas Most Courageous Player, while Kyle Langford was named the Bruce Heymanson Best Clubman.
After making his debut in round nine against Brisbane this season, emerging ruckman Sam Draper was named the Lindsay Griffiths Rising Star.
2020 CRICHTON MEDAL LEADERBOARD:
1. Jordan Ridley (333 votes)
2. Zach Merrett (308)
3. Adam Saad (292)
4. Kyle Langford (281)
5. Andrew McGrath (270)
6. Darcy Parish (263)
7. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (261)
8. Devon Smith (253)
9. Will Snelling (247)
10. Dylan Shiel (239)
After each game of the 2020 season, each player is rated from zero to five by the coaching panel, resulting in a minimum of zero votes and maximum of 30 per game. At the end of the season, each player's games are tallied for the final score.
Bruce Heymanson Best Clubman – Kyle Langford
Adam Ramanauskas Most Courageous Player – Andrew McGrath
Matthew Lloyd Leading Goalkicker – Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
Lindsay Griffiths Rising Star – Sam Draper
Most Improved Player – Jordan Ridley
John Kilby Trainers and Staff Award – Martin Gleeson
RECENT CRICHTON MEDAL WINNERS:
Zach Merrett (2019)
Devon Smith (2018)
Joe Daniher (2017)
Zach Merrett (2016)
Cale Hooker (2015)
Dyson Heppell (2014)
Brendon Goddard (2013)
Jobe Watson (2012, 2010, 2009)
David Zaharakis (2011)