Sandover Medal: Claremont’s Bailey Rogers storms home to pip teammate Jye Bolton

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Jordan McArdleThe West Australian
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VideoClaremont’s Bailey Rogers won the Sandover Medal by five points

Bailey Rogers insists he won’t stop pursuing his AFL dreams until “someone says no” after pipping Claremont teammate and red-hot favourite Jye Bolton to win his first Sandover Medal.

The half-back turned onballer/forward edged out two-time winner Bolton by five votes, finishing on 30 in a thrilling count at Optus Stadium last night to become the 13th Tiger to win the WAFL’s most prestigious individual honour.

The 24-year-old trailed his midfield partner by two votes after round 18 before storming home with three best-afield performances in the final four matches of the home-and-away season to cap off a career-best year.

“I can’t believe it’s around my neck, I don’t think it will sink in for a while,” Rogers said.

“I’m still in shock but it’s an absolute honour. I can’t thank my family, my girlfriend, my teammates and my coaches enough.”

Sport. WAFL. Claremont Tigers v Peel Thunder at Claremont Oval. Tigers Bailey Rogers and Jye Bolton celebrate a goal. Picture Jackson Flindell The Sunday Times
Camera IconBailey Rogers pipped teammate and hot favourite Jye Bolton for the Sandover. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Sunday Times

Three of the top five had won the award previously with Bolton (2016 and 2018 winner) runner up and West Perth captain Aaron Black (2014) finishing equal-third alongside South Fremantle’s Haiden Schloithe (2017) and Subiaco vice-captain Greg Clark on 22 votes.

Rogers was on 11 votes at the midway point of the season, with Bolton holding a seven-vote lead over Schloithe, but finished strongly

He didn’t record fewer than 25 possessions in each of the final seven games of the season, amassing five three-vote hauls with his dual midfield-forward prowess catching the eye.

The Marist Junior Football Club product averaged 28 possessions in 18 home-and-away appearances this season, well up from his career average of 19.5, to go with 19 goals to show AFL clubs he’s ripe for the picking.

“It’s always been a dream, it always will be until someone says definitely no so it’s fingers crossed,” Rogers said about his AFL ambitions.

“But I’m at the Claremont Football Club which is one of the best places in the world to be and I love going there every day and spending time with my best mates.”

Sandover Medallist Bailey Rogers.
Camera IconSandover Medallist Bailey Rogers. Credit: John Koh/The West Australian

Before this season, Rogers had polled only 11 career votes, but a move into the engine room has unlocked his full potential.

Rogers credited Bolton and first-year coach Ash Prescott for their part in getting him into the midfield on a more permanent basis.

“Jye has been pushing for the last few years to get me into the midfield and I spent a couple of games in there last year,” Rogers said.

“When the new coach came in, Jye spoke to Ash a fair bit I believe and I expressed my feelings towards playing midfield to him as well.

“He gave me a crack early and I just had to make the most of it and I think I did.”

Rogers also reflected on Sunday’s preliminary-final exit against South Fremantle, which he felt “almost hurt more than last year’s grand final loss”.

“It was very disappointing to lose and to not even kick a goal in the first three quarters,” he said.

Bailey Rogers.
Camera IconBailey Rogers. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

“We gave it a bit of a run in the last but it was all too late. South Fremantle are a very good team, they got the stoppages, repeat after repeat, and it’s going to hurt almost more than last year’s grand final loss.”

East Fremantle ball magnet Josh Browne took out the Jack Clarke Medal as the colts’ fairest-and-best player, despite missing six games with a hamstring injury and State 19s duties.

Browne averaged more than 32 possessions for the Sharks to put his name in lights ahead of the AFL national draft in November.

Claremont fringe player Rylie Morgan won the Prendergast Medal, given to the best player in the reserves.

Broadcaster Dennis Cometti, former North Melbourne and Claremont rover Jim Krakouer, long-time Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich and dual Brownlow/Sandover medallist Matt Priddis were inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame.

Dennis Cometti.
Camera IconDennis Cometti. Credit: John Koh/The West Australian

Two-time WAFLW premiership coach Steve Markham finished his sensational season with the JJ Leonard Medal for coach of the year. Trent McPhee claimed the Montgomery Medal as the WAFL’s best umpire.

Claremont won the Rodriguez Shield as the most successful club across the grades.

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