While the Gary Abletts and Chris Judds of the world line up to receive their better-known medals such as the Brownlow, the Norm Smith, the AFLPA award and so on, there still remains one medal that has slipped largely under the radar of the widespread media.
The Rhyce Shaw Medal.
This noble decoration is awarded to the AFL grand final participant who, as a recognised name, has managed to perform the most underwhelmingly and inspired both their fans and opposition supporters alike to unite in disdain against their individually abysmal performance. It is named after the great Rhyce Shaw himself – an excellent footballer for both Sydney and Collingwood – who lowered the bar for all those to follow with his 2002 blunders against Brisbane. The inaugural winner was actually Leon Davis in the previous year but after Shaw’s performance, the world knew it had found an icon worthy of naming such a prestigious award after.
In more recent years, the award has had some influence within the sport. Geelong coach Mark Thompson ruled out canny forward Matthew Stokes from the 2009 Grand Final after his Shaw-winning performance in 2008. Likewise, former medallist Alistair Lynch needed to imemdiately retire following his, shall we say, ‘punchy’ performance. Port coach Mark ‘Choco’ Williams was not spared after earning votes in Geelong’s 2007 demolition of the Power, taking a sizable pay cut when (eventually) being re-signed. A few more votes and who knows – maybe Choco wouldn’t have had a job at all?
The award is voted on in a 3-2-1 format by a hand-picked panel of armchair experts and this year will be no exception. I invite everyone to comment below and offer their picks following their event. Can Michael Gardiner win an historic second medal? Will the oft-inept Justin Koschitzke, the loathed Steven Milne or the bloodnutted Cameron Ling be the recipients? The moment, dear friends, is mere hours away!
2002: Leon Davis, Collingwood
2003: Rhyce Shaw, Collingwood
2004: Alistair Lynch, Brisbane
2005: Michael Gardiner, West Coast
2006: Barry Hall, Sydney
2007: Daniel Motlop, Port. 13 votes. (R/Up: Michael Pettigrew, Port. 9 votes.)
2008: Matthew Stokes, Geelong. 23 votes. (R/Up: Cameron Mooney, Geelong. 18 votes.)