By JESS WEBSTER
Inaugural Canberra Demons best-and-fairest Jordan Harper created more history on Friday night when he became the first two-time winner of the Demons highest individual award.
The Canberra co-captain, 23, polled 144 votes to edge out fellow NEAFL representatives Andrew Swan (105) and Sam Martyn (92).
After winning his first best-and-fairest by a whopping 105 votes last year, Harper said he wasn’t as confident this time around after a more even spread of contributors throughout the season.
“This year we were a more rounded team and we weren’t relying on one or two guys every week,” he said. “You want it to be close, because it means you have more contributors each week.
“Swanny had a fantastic season and guys like Sam Martyn and Mitch Maguire had awesome years aswell, so they deserved to be up the top aswell.
“It means we’re on the right track.”
Harper finished in the Top 10 of the NEAFL MVP Award voting for the second year in a row, in a season where the star midfielder recorded the Demons most disposals per game (28.2), and ranked in the side’s top three for average contested possessions (8.7) and inside 50s per game (3.5).
He was the only Demon named in the NEAFL Team of the Year, and was among the league’s best in their representative clash against Tasmania with a game-high 33 disposals and seven clearances.
The Demons had mixed results in 2017, at one stage sitting in the top four before missing out on finals by just four points.
With team success firmly on his mind, Harper said the Demons took great strides this year under new coach Kade Klemke.
“Personally, I had another decent year I guess. I played a different role as more of an outside mid, and to get a taste of rep footy and get a win there was pretty special,” he said.
“From a team perspective we improved heaps. Kade has brought in a whole different perspective on things and we went from doubling our win tally and almost making finals, which was a huge step for the club.
“It was a successful season for sure, I think the culture has improved heaps. To me, character comes first, and we have definitely brought in those types who are good people first and foremost.
“The coaches have really fostered that environment, which made it a real joy to play with those guys who have come into our group for the first time.”
Klemke and emerging defender Ben Halse rounded out the best-and-fairest top five. Halse also won the Players’ Player Award and newcomers Jacob Turner and Mitch Hardie were joint winners of the Most Improved.
NEAFL Rising Star nominee Mitch Maguire won the club’s Rising Star Award after an impressive debut season.
Canberra Best-and-Fairest Top 5
144 votes: Jordan Harper
105: Andrew Swan
92: Sam Martyn
59: Kade Klemke
58: Ben Halse
2017 Canberra FC Award Winners
Best-and-Fairest: Jordan Harper
Runner-up Best-and-Fairest: Andrew Swan
Most Improved: Jacob Turner & Mitch Hardie
Coaches Award: Lucas Meline
Most Consistent: Sam Martyn
Rising Star: Mitch Maguire
Leading Goal Kicker: Aaron Bruce
Players’ Player: Ben Halse
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