AFL Trades 2022: Josh Dunkley’s awkward speech at Western Bulldogs awards before Brisbane Lions move

Josh Dunkley and Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge have traded emotional, heartfelt messages to each other at the club’s Best and Fairest Awards on Wednesday night.

The problem is, Dunkley has asked to be traded to the Brisbane Lions, having rejected an upgraded contract offer from the Bulldogs, who are reported to have been desperate to keep him at the club.

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Beveridge said the Lions will have to “pony up” after Dunkley walked out of the club on a high by taking out his first club best and fairest award.

Dunkley made a classy farewell speech to the club, despite there being a slim possibility that the two clubs will not be able to reach an agreement in their negotiations at the upcoming AFL Trade Period.

Beveridge told the audience at the club champion award he privately asked Dunkley to stick with the club before being given the news about Dunkley’s desire to move on.
“Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way,” Beveridge said.

“I said to Josh many weeks ago that whatever happens, whatever your decision may be, you’ve got to see it through with us because you’ve invested too much here and we’ve invested too much in you for this to end badly – and he agreed. I don’t know whether he’d made his decision at the time.

“We’ve had a couple of conversations since. Probably the most deflating one was when he called me to let me know what his decision was. Again, we had that chat and I reminded him of his conviction. He promised me he’d be here (until season’s end) – and I’m really grateful, I think we all are, that he’s been mature and respects his time at our football club that he’s here tonight to really see it through.”

Dunkley was clearly emotional when he addressed the crowd after having the Charles Sutton Medal placed around his neck.

“It’s so hard being up here right now to be honest,” Dunkley said.

“Hearing what Bevo just said, it makes me really emotional to be honest. The support and all the love I get from all the fans, I’m very grateful for it.

“I was always going to come tonight. Bevo talked about not cutting the cord and being here – I’m not that type of person that would never show up to an event like this.

“I’ve tried my absolute heart out for this football club – and I hope everyone knows that. I’m not that person or player that wanted to leave anything behind me. I owe it to everyone to be here tonight and I’m grateful that I am to accept the award. It’s a massive thing for the footy club and for myself personally, it’s such an honour to be here tonight.”

Dunkley, 25, showed the depth of his talent throughout 2022, playing every game, but powered home late, polling 52 votes in the final three rounds, which included a season-high 33 disposals against Fremantle in round 21, to hold out teammate Tom Liberatore to win the Charles Sutton Medal, NCA NewsWire reports.

Power forward Aaron Naughton, who kicked a career-high 51 goals, came third, with captain Marcus Bontempelli fourth.

Dunkley adds the best and fairest award to the premiership medallion he won with the Bulldogs in 2016, having played 116 games since his debut that AFL season, with his 584 disposals in 2022 second only to the 651 he racked up in 2019.

“He’s a real diamond that we discovered and pinched from under Sydney’s nose all those

In his speech on the night, Beveridge said.

“It’s a real shame. I describe Josh as the glue in our team. He does all the hard team things unconditionally and we’re going to need more of that from his former teammates next year.

years ago.

“It’s difficult to come up and match market value when you’ve got to spread the financial load across your whole group. That’s part of it, but Josh has also made a life decision on where he sees his future and where he’s going to live and what it means to him at this point in time, and we respect that.

“The obvious thing is that the Lions are going to have to pony up. Sammy (Power) is going to go to work on that over the next week or two.”

Port Adelaide also threw a monster offer at Dunkley, and in choosing to leave for Brisbane, he said there was “no bad blood” with the Bulldogs but he had made a lifestyle decision.

“This year has been the best year out of all of them. It was a good step in the right direction after the grand final, so there is no bad blood,” Dunkley said.

“Bevo was really good to speak to on the phone. We have had a great relationship from day one and before I was drafted he spoke to me about how much I can be a role model and leader, so Bevo has been great for me and he’s like a father figure.

“I said to Bevo it was more of a lifestyle choice. He backed it in and said he completely understands the long-term deal was appealing.”

In other notable moments on the night, young forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was given the coaches award after playing 17 of 22 games, including every match after round 12 as he began to assert himself at AFL level.

Rookie sensation Sam Darcy was named best first-year player, while livewire forward Cody Weightman, who played out the round 14 games against GWS despite dislocating his elbow, was named the most courageous player.

Charles Sutton Medal – Top 10

1st place: Josh Dunkley – 231 votes

2nd:Tom Liberatore – 211 votes

3rd: Aaron Naughton – 180 votes

4th: Marcus Bontempelli – 174 votes

5th: Jackson Macrae – 170 votes

6th: Caleb Daniel – 158 votes

7th: Ryan Gardner – 151 votes

8th: Adam Treloar – 150 votes

9th: Bailey Dale – 146 votes

10th: Ed Richards – 144 votes

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