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Teenager Banfield claims Cook Medal as Claremont bestTuesday, October 24, 2017 - 1:25 PM - by Chris Pike

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BY winning Claremont's fairest and best award for 2017 ahead of Jye Bolton only further highlights the tremendous future that Tigers midfielder Bailey Banfield as he claimed the EB Cook Medal.

Banfield got some league opportunities late in the 2016 season where he showed he was more than ready for the level, but it was a year where he had again shone at colts level ending up third in fairest and best voting while taking the MVP award in the premiership year.

But the 19-year-old stood up right throughout the 2017 in the midfield for Claremont and his performances were rewarded by winning the EB Cook Medal as the fairest and best winner.

Banfield claimed the award polling 373 votes for the season to win ahead of Jye Bolton (346) and Keifer Yu. Key defender Haydn Busher, a lock in the wafl.com.au Team of the Year was fourth.

The season by Banfield as a 19-year-old will be one that puts him right in calculations to earn a chance at AFL level now. 

He was already on the radar 12 months ago following his colts career and brief league experience, but now with a whole year under his belt and proving just how well he can perform, he will be difficult to overlook.

Banfield ended up averaging 24.2 disposals a game throughout the season with his consistency remarkable for someone still a teenager. He never had a game below 16 possessions and that was the only one he didn’t rack up at least 20 disposals.

His high of 32 came in Round 19 and he seven games all up where he compiled 27 disposals or more.

Making Banfield's fairest and best triumph all the more impressive is that he won ahead of last year's winner and 2016 Sandover Medallist Bolton.

And it's not as if Bolton wouldn’t have been a deserving winner either. The 2016 Cook, Simpson and Sandover Medallist had a slightly slow start compared to last year with a knee complaint, but by Round 12 he was right back to his very best of 12 months earlier.

He might have even played better in the second half of the season than last year ending up averaging 31.3 possessions over the last 11 games including 41 touches in Round 22, 40 in Round 20, 37 in Round 13 and 36 in Round 16.

It was a second straight superb season from the VFL recruit and much to the delight of everyone at Claremont, he has committed to remaining with the Tigers beyond 2017 as well.

Keifer Yu was another Claremont player to end up having a career-best season in 2017 in the first season in charge of coach Darren Harris. Yu settled into a role in the back-line where he could use his kicking skills and ability to run to great effect.

The 84-game veteran ended up averaging 17.8 possessions a game to finish third in fairest and best voting.

Claremont veteran Beau Maister won the club's leading goalkicker award claiming the Jeff Mazzini Trophy having booted 32 goals for the season including five against Perth in Round 20.

Another veteran, 190-game dual premiership winning star Ian Richardson had another tremendous season as a hard-leading half-forward. He was rewarded by being named the Sacrificial Tiger for 2017.

Jesse Laurie made his return to Claremont in 2017 and the premiership player was terrific before going down injured in Round 17. The respect he is held in by the club's support staff was shown when he was presented with the Engine Room Award.

Ryan Murphy was named Best First Year Player while Matt Guelfi earned the Players' Player Award. That was presented to him by outgoing Claremont captain Jake Murphy.

Claremont's reserves finished second at the end of the home and away season before ending up bowing out in the preliminary final against Subiaco. Lachlan Martinis won the fairest and best award ahead of Jacob Sideris and Tom Shanahan who captained the team throughout the finals.

Claremont's colts, meanwhile, made yet another grand final appearance in 2017 only to fall short against East Fremantle in the decider at Subiaco Oval.

Fraser House won the colts' fairest and best award ahead of Callan England and Lewis Davis.

LEAGUE AWARDS
EB Cook Medal (Fairest and Best): Bailey Banfield
Runner-up: Jye Bolton
Third-place: Keifer Yu 
Leading Goalkicker: Beau Maister (32 goals)
Best First Year Player: Ryan Murphy
Engine Room Award: Jesse Laurie
Sacrificial Tiger Award: Ian Richardson
Players' Player Award: Matt Guelfi

RESERVES AWARDS
Dennis Marshall Trophy (Fairest and Best): Lachlan Martinis
Runner-up: Jacob Sideris
Third-place: Tom Shanahan

COLTS AWARDS
Tom Richardson Trophy (Fairest and Best): Fraser House
Runner-up: Callan England
Third-place: Lewis Davis
Past Players & Officials Encouragement Award: Jack Lewsey