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Heartbreak to Hero: Heath's Story

Alison Zell  September 16, 2015 9:16 AM

GIANTS vice-captain Heath Shaw with former Collingwood teammates Dane Swan and Paul Seedsman earlier this season.

GIANTS vice-captain Heath Shaw with former Collingwood teammates Dane Swan and Paul Seedsman earlier this season.

The decision had to be made - to be honest it's been the best decision that's been made for me, or that I've made.

When Heath Shaw left Collingwood, the club his family had been involved with for over 40 years, he was heartbroken.

Now, just two years on, the 29-year-old is in the best form of his career and has just won his first Club Champion Award, becoming the 2015 Kevin Sheedy Medallist on Saturday night.

At the end of the 2013 season, Shaw had played 173 games for the black and white, including the 2010 premiership.

His father Ray had captained the club and played from 1974-1981, his uncle Tony captained the 1990 premiership and played and coached from 1978-1999 and his older brother Rhyce played there from 2000-2008. 

It was a tough time for now-GIANTS vice-captain, who didn’t want to leave the club he had grown up with.

"I told them (Collingwood) I wanted to stay and they said they wanted to trade me," Shaw told The Daily Telegraph at the time.

"I was pretty shocked and upset at that time.”

Fast forward two seasons and Shaw, along with Shane Mumford who arrived at the same time, has become one of the most valuable pick-ups in recent trade times.

Named vice-captain before his first season in Sydney, Shaw has played 40 of a possible 44 games in the orange and charcoal, including every game in 2015.

Shaw averaged a career-high 24 disposals and seven rebound-50s per game this season and led the competition for rebound 50s and running bounces.

The defender could also be in line for his first All Australian honour after being named in the 40-man squad, with the final team to be named on September 22.

After polling votes in 19 of the 22 games to take out the 2015 Kevin Sheedy Medal, Shaw reflected on how his life, and career, had changed.

"I'm 29 years old and I'm probably playing the best footy of my life and I never thought I'd be in this position, but the guys that I've got around me make me better so I'm just rapt to accept this award," Shaw told AFL.com.au after accepting the accolade. 

"Leaving Collingwood, I loved the club, loved the people at the club, but it was the right time for me to go.

"The decision had to be made - to be honest it's been the best decision that's been made for me, or that I've made.

"To come to this place and start from square one, I'm absolutely stoked that I made that decision."

Fair or not, Shaw arrived at the youngest team in the competition having been discarded by the biggest sporting club in the land with a less than ideal reputation. 

In just two years, Shaw has proven the doubters wrong and played certainly his best season yet.

And father Ray was in the room on Saturday night to watch him accept his new club’s highest individual honour.