Great senior seasons celebrated with Best and Fairest winners crowned

Mitch Taylor capped off an outstanding year with his first League Best & Fairest. PHOTO: My Action Images


Three grades, four winners. The 2021 AFL Central West Senior Best & Fairest counts went down to the wire – well two did – on Thursday night. In the end, two former league champions claimed their second league B&F whilst two others won their first.

The night kicked off with an enthralling count in Tier 2. Frank Bright and Mitchell Stubberfield were inseparable atop the leaderboard at the conclusion of the count. Star Demon, Emily Warner lapped the field on her way to back-to-back league medals whilst for the Bathurst Giants, a first Men’s Minor Premiership led to a first Men’s league medal as Mitchell Taylor finished strong to claim the top grade prize.

For those who missed the count but want to check it out, you can watch it here

Tier 2:

The eventual winners got off to a great start, Cowra Blues’ Bright leading after 3 rounds following Best on Ground (BoG) performances in rounds 2 and 3. Parkes’ Stubberfield sat two back, with Jordan Longmore (5) proving that forwards can poll votes after some promising early season displays. Kirk Phillips continued his good start, picking up a second BoG to take the outright lead after six rounds. Stubberfield, and his teammate Ethan Morton, who impressed in 2021 joined Bright (6) in a tie for second.

Bright (six in three rounds) and Stubberfield (four in two) continued to poll votes in succession. Whilst they continued to poll, very few others were keeping up. The votes were being shared evenly throughout the competition with 60 total vote getters across the season.

Whilst it would be hard to argue against the two joint-winners, there were some surprises in the votes. Ryan Alexander, highly touted for the Panthers B&F was mid-table, finishing with seven votes. Cowra young guns Jacob Haeata (6) and Brayden Harmer-Clark (5) polled in two matches each. Additionally, the Bushrangers Rebels and Outlaws, who finished third and fourth respectively on the ladder, only had one player (Alex Sparks) poll in multiple matches.

What wasn’t a surprise though was the number of Panthers’ players polling heavily. Stubberfield topping the table, with Braeden Snow and Ethan Morton rounding out the minor places.

Final Standings:

Frank Bright (Cowra Blues) & Mitchell Stubberfield (Parkes Panthers), 12 votes

Braedon Snow (Parkes Panthers), 11 votes

Ethan Morton (Parkes Panthers), 10 votes



Similar to Cooper Brien in the Under-17s, the Women’s count was over by Round 5. Emily Warner, dominated the season, her precision ball movement and uncanny ability to be everywhere the ball is standing out in the eyes of the umpires. Worryingly, the result could have been even larger, with Warner failing to poll maximum votes (she settled for two) in Round 8. That match, what was arguably her best game for the season, a dominant midfield effort in the wet against Orange.

The Bathurst Giants were dominant in season, but for their charge, were ultimately undone by too many players having great seasons. Kaitlyn Kennedy and Zoe Peters (8) topped their team, with Olivia Johnston and Molly McCrossin one vote further back.

Bushrangers’ Chloe Hinde pulled a rare double, collecting maximum votes in two of their losses to the Giants, capping an outstanding first season in the competition. Orange’s Elizabeth Gibson (12) backed up her 2020 Youth Girls Best & Fairest with an impressive second place with next-best placed teammates Erin Naden and Jacqui Ryan (5) finishing inside the Top-10.

Final Standings:

Emily Warner (Dubbo Demons), 25 votes

Elizabeth Gibson (Orange Tigers), 12 votes

Chloe Hinde (Bathurst Bushrangers), 10 votes


Tier 1

By the conclusion of the count, the Tier 1 leaderboard had everything you could ask for. A first time winner, a new recruit who’d only played six games, a ruckman, and a former winner. Ultimately, it was Mitchell Taylor, the man who starred for the Central West Eagles in their representative loss to AFL Sapphire Coast celebrating at the conclusion.

Thomas Byrnes (13), who moved to Dubbo and began playing mid-season, opened his account with four consecutive three-vote games. Byrnes played a huge part in the Demons’ second-half resurgence so it was no surprise to see him flying towards Taylor. The form he was in, one can only imagine what could have been without the interruptions towards the end.

Jack Goodsell (11) was outstanding early in the year, before injury cruelled his ability to remain close. A third placed finish for the competition’s #1 ruckman, a credit to the season he had around his injury. The Bushrangers votes were shared well across the team, with former winner Bill Watterson (8) leading the way with Scott Brown (6) and Peter Grundy (5) closely behind.

For the Tigers, it seemed almost fitting that in a season celebrating the history of the league, it was Peter Byrne (7), the son of Tigers star Mark, who led the club during a tough season on-field for the Tier 1 side.

Final Standings:

Mitchell Taylor (Bathurst Giants), 16 votes

Thomas Byrnes (Dubbo Demons), 13 votes

Jack Goodsell (Bathurst Giants), 11 votes


Congratulations to all winners on outstanding seasons. You should all be incredibly proud of yourselves.


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