Young gun Alyce Parker has capped off a magnificent season, taking home the 2020 Gabrielle Trainor Medal as club champion.
Parker was named winner during a live broadcast on Wednesday night featuring the club’s entire AFLW team, coaches and special guests including AFL Commissioner Gabrielle Trainor, proudly presented by premier partner Harvey Norman.
Parker has had a remarkable second season in the AFLW competition, winning her first club champion award to go with All Australian honours and the rebel Young Leader award.
Parker stormed home in the second half of the season to win with 61 votes ahead of netballer-turned-defender Elle Bennetts with 55 votes. Returning midfielder Britt Tully and inaugural Gabrielle Trainor Medallist Jessica Dal Pos tied in third place with 49 votes.
New captain Alicia Eva led the voting after two rounds before Bennetts took the lead after round four. Parker topped the voting in each of the final three rounds to amass 36 votes and take home her first Club Champion.
Originally from Holbrook in regional NSW, Parker averaged 21 disposals in her seven games (up from 16 in 2019) and developed a reputation as a match winner while ranked first in the competition for metres gained and second for contested possessions.
Coach Alan McConnell paid tribute to Parker’s brilliant season.
“It’s a brilliant achievement for Alyce to win this award in just her second season and at just 19-years-old,” McConnell said.
“She’s part of the next generation of female footballers in our state, and the country, who have benefited from the pathways due to the growth of female football and the opportunities presented by having an elite competition.
“Alyce is a brilliantly talented footballer but this club champion award is borne from hard work and dedication. She took an enormous amount of learning from her debut season and came back to the club knowing what it took to become an elite player.
“We’re incredibly proud of her and the sky’s the limit for what she can achieve. She’s not only an outstanding footballer but a wonderful teammate and developing herself as a great leader.”
McConnell also acknowledged his side’s maiden finals appearance, though it ended in heartbreak with a last-minute loss against Melbourne. The competition would be suspended following the first round of finals with no Premier awarded for the 2020 season.
“The season didn’t finish the way anyone wanted but it’s important to acknowledge what we did achieve,” McConnell said.
“We learned a lot about ourselves and what it takes for us to compete week in and week out. We had some great victories and highlights that are appropriately being acknowledged tonight.
“While it was an unfortunate ending for the competition as a whole, we’re all looking ahead to what next season can bring with our group as united and determined as ever.”
Chairman Tony Shepherd congratulated Parker and the club’s AFLW program.
“I want to congratulate Alyce on this wonderful achievement,” Mr Shepherd said.
“She represents the hard work, dedication and drive that embodies our AFLW team and will be a star of this competition for many years to come.
“I’d like to congratulate all tonight’s award winners on their exceptional achievements and thank Briana Harvey and Alan McConnell for their commitment to taking our AFLW program to a new level in 2020.
“The GIANTS are proud to be the AFLW team for all of New South Wales and the ACT with everyone member of our team playing an important role in growing the game.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our premier partner Harvey Norman as well as Kia, Westfund and Facilities First who all support our players and program enormously off the field to enable them to achieve what they do on the field.”
It was an impressive season from Bennetts, who in the last 12 months has also made her Suncorp Super Netball debut for the championship-winning NSW Swifts.
A move to half-back to cover Ellie Brush while she was away on W-League duties proved a masterstroke as the 30-year-old had her best season yet.
Tully also made a remarkable return to the top level with her second third-place finish in the Gabrielle Trainor Medal, following the same honour in her inaugural season in 2017. Tully took a year off in 2019 before returning to the club for the 2020 edition.
Tully tied with 2017 winner Jessica Dal Pos who starred in a new defensive role throughout the 2020 season.
Across the night a number of other awards were handed out, with Parker also taking home the 2020 Members’ Choice Award, presented by Kia.
25-year-old recruit and Canley Heights Public School teacher Lisa Steane won the Rising Star Award, presented by Harvey Norman, in her first season in the competition while Nicola Barr took home the 2020 Community Award, presented by the GIANTS Foundation, for her work with Headspace and the NSW Education Department.
It was no surprise Rebecca Privitelli won the club’s Mark of the Year, presented by Westfund, considering her pack mark in round one also took out the AFL Women’s Mark of the Year for the whole competition.
Livewire forward and WBBL cricketer Jodie Hicks showed her football nous, taking out the Goal of the Year, presented by Kia, for a great goal from a stoppage in round six against Adelaide.
Irishwoman Cora Staunton celebrated her remarkable return from a badly broken leg by being awarded the club’s leading goal kicker, presented by Harvey Norman, with her eight goals from seven games and was also honoured by her coaches, taking home the Coaches Award, presented by Facilities First.
Like the Kevin Sheedy Medal, the Gabrielle Trainor Medal has had four different winners in each of its first four seasons with Parker’s win following in the footsteps of Jessica Dal Pos, Alicia Eva and Rebecca Beeson.
2020 Gabrielle Trainor Medal Top 10
1. Alyce Parker (61 votes)
2. Elle Bennetts (55)
3. Britt Tully (49)
Jessica Dal Pos (49)
5. Rebecca Beeson (39)
6. Pepa Randall (36)
7. Cora Staunton (35)
8. Haneen Zreika (34)
9. Alicia Eva (29)
10. Annalyse Lister (28)
2020 Rising Star Award, presented by Harvey Norman
2020 Community Award, presented by the GIANTS Foundation
2020 Members’ Choice Award, presented by Kia
2020 Mark of the Year, presented by Westfund
Rebecca Privitelli - Round 1 v Gold Coast Suns
2020 Goal of the Year, presented by Kia
Jodie Hicks - Round 6 v Adelaide Crows
2020 Leading Goal Kicker, presented by Harvey Norman
Cora Staunton (8 goals)
2020 Coaches Award, presented by Facilities First
Previous Gabrielle Trainor Medal winners
2017 - Jessica Dal Pos, 2018 - Alicia Eva, 2019 - Rebecca Beeson