Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps took a huge step towards becoming a Carlton immortal when he claimed a fourth club best and fairest award on Friday for his all-conquering 2022 season.
But as it did for him to win the Brownlow, it took a powerhouse final round display for the Carlton captain to edge out cancer survivor Sam Docherty to join one of the club’s greatest names in rarefied air.
Cripps, who also won club champion awards in 2015, 2018 and 2019, joined Bruce Doull as a four-time John Nicholls Medal winner. Only Nicholls, with five, has won more in the club’s 158-year history.
“Only two other players have done what Patrick has in the 158 years of our football club: that tells you a lot about the legacy he is building at Carlton,” Blues coach Michael Voss said.
“The biggest part of his legacy though is what most people don’t see. The work he does as a leader to set standards and drive those standards to ultimately have us in a position to be successful over the coming years – that is infectious across the entire football club.
“Patrick is incredibly driven to see us succeed, and while it’s not individual awards that motivate him, to be a four-time John Nicholls medallist, equalling one of the all-time greats in Bruce Doull, that is an achievement that deserves to be celebrated – every Carlton person is proud of our skipper.”
Cripps polled five best-on-ground performances in the club count compared with seven on Brownlow night, including in the final round where he edged out Docherty who made a stunning return to the AFL less than 14 months since a secondary cancer occurrence.
Despite being unable to start pre-season until the middle of January, Docherty played every game in 2022 to again stamp himself as an elite AFL player.
Between then, Cripps and Docherty took out six awards on the night, with the captain also winning the most ruthless player award, the coaches’ award and the players’ award.
Docherty won the Spirit of Carlton award after fight through illness to make it back to football.
2022 John Nicholls Medal leaderboard
1. Patrick Cripps 181 votes
2. Sam Docherty 173 votes
3. Sam Walsh 163 votes
4. Charlie Curnow 149 votes
5. George Hewett 125 votes
6. Adam Saad 124 votes
7. Harry McKay 123 votes
8. Zac Fisher 117 votes
9. Matthew Kennedy 111 votes
10. Adam Cerra 105 votes