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Image: Essendon Football Club

Merrett Claims Crighton

Merrett Claims Crighton

Image: Essendon Football Club

Cobden export claims record third Crighton Medal

Zach Merrett has elevated himself into the Essendon Football Club’s history books, winning a third Crichton Medal to cap off another extraordinary season in 2021.

The joint vice-captain polled 420 votes to finish ahead of Darcy Parish (339) and Will Snelling (315), claiming the Bombers’ highest individual honour for the third time in six seasons.

The 25-year-old becomes just the third Bomber in the AFL era to win triple best and fairest awards, and the fourth youngest in club history to achieve the feat behind James Hird, Dick Reynolds and Simon Madden.

Merrett’s phenomenally consistent season saw him feature in every game to average a career-high 31.5 disposals, 4.2 marks, 4.9 tackles and 3.7 clearances.

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He finished sixth in the AFL for disposals per game and third for total effective disposals, notching up an equal career-high 41 touches against Melbourne in round 15.

Merrett was rewarded for his stellar 2021 campaign with a second All-Australian blazer, while Parish collected his first as the ball-magnets became the Bombers’ first All-Australian selections since 2017.

Senior coach Ben Rutten congratulated Merrett on claiming his third Crichton Medal.

“There’s no doubt Zach took his game to another level this season and we commend him on his attitude, commitment, leadership and drive to again put together another outstanding year individually,” Rutten said.

“Zach is a strong competitor who demands the best out of himself and his teammates in his determination to take this club forward.

“We know he will continue to lead this young group over the years to come and it’s terrific to see him being rewarded for his campaign this season.”

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