Prolific Werribee midfielder Tom Gribble blitzed the field to claim the coveted 2019 J.J. Liston Trophy by eight votes, capping off a special night for the club at the VFL Best & Fairest celebration at Crown Palladium.
The 24-year-old left-footer became Werribee’s sixth Liston Trophy winner, joining Ben Ross (2012), James Podsiadly (2008), Michael Frost (1998), Paul Satterley (1995) and Anthony Eames (1991).
Gribble polled in 13 of his 18 VFL regular season games (three votes x four, two votes x four, one vote x five) to finish the count on 25 votes – the highest winning tally since Port Melbourne’s Shane Valenti (25) in 2011.
Only two players have polled more votes to win the Liston Trophy in the last 39 years – Sam Mitchell (Box Hill Hawks) with 31 votes in 2002 and Michael Frost (Werribee) with 32 in 1998.
Gribble finished the count well clear of Footscray’s AFL-listed on-baller Rhylee West (17 votes), with North Melbourne AFL-listed ruck Tom Campbell placing third (15) and Werribee’s Michael Barlow, Port Melbourne’s Shannen Lange and Box Hill’s Marc Pittonet (14 apiece) tying for fourth.
In his fifth season at Avalon Airport Oval following one year with Geelong’s VFL team and time in the Geelong Falcons under-18 program, Gribble took his game to a new level in 2019 following a typically productive 2018, which yielded team of the year selection but only two Liston votes.
In 2019 he averaged 30 disposals, 15 contested possessions, seven clearances, five tackles and five inside-50s per game, and kicked nine goals.
He was the equal-leading disposal-getter in the VFL (alongside Coburg’s Marcus Lentini), led the competition for inside-50s, and also ranked in the top five players for contested and uncontested possessions, clearances, goal assists and score assists.
Following a frustrating run of injuries, Gribble, a type one Diabetic, hasn’t missed a match in the last three years and will enter 2020 with 93 VFL games to his name.
Despite only playing 11 games due to injury, veteran Barlow finished equal fourth in the Liston count with 14 votes.
Gribble’s gong continued a strong Werribee theme on the night, after teenage spearhead Jake Riccardi was crowned the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medallist (FRMM) as the VFL’s rising star, while five players were selected in the VFL Team of the Year.
The FRMM has proven to be a golden ticket into the AFL system for over a decade, with the last 13 winners drafted to the top level.
Riccardi is Werribee’s fourth winner of the award since its inception in 1989, joining last year’s recipient Josh Corbett, Michael Barlow (2008) and James Puli (1997).
Earlier in the night, five Werribee players earned selection into the VFL Team of the Year, a competition high.
Leadership group member and damaging defender Nick Coughlan was named at centre half back, Riccardi (centre half forward), Gribble (ruck rover), Barlow (bench) and defender-turned-forward Jack Henderson (bench) were also rewarded for standout seasons.
Full list of Werribee Liston votes:
Tom Gribble (25)
Michael Barlow (14)
Michael Sodomaco (7)
Dom Brew (6)
Matt Hanson (5)
Jake Riccardi (3), Matt Munro (3), Bior Malual (3), Angus Clarke (3), Joel Bennett (3)
Timm House (2)
Max Augerinos (1), Jack Berry (1), Nick Coughlan (1), Jack Henderson (1)
2019 J.J. LISTON TROPHY LEADERBOARD
Tom Gribble - Werribee (25)
Rhylee West - Footscray (17)
Tom Campbell - North Melbourne (15)
Michael Barlow - Werribee (14)
Shannen Lange - Port Melbourne (14)
Marc Pittonet - Box Hill Hawks (14)
Patrick Naish - Richmond (13)
Alex Woodward - Collingwood (13)
David Myers - Essendon (12)
Braydon Preuss - Casey Demons (12)
Eli Templeton - Port Melbourne (12)
Will Fordham - Frankston (11)
Mitch Hibberd - Williamstown (11)
Sam Fisher - Northern Blues (10)
James Parsons - Geelong (10)