Adelaide’s Fiona Worts and Melbourne Victory’s Jake Brimmer have taken out the top awards at the Dolan Warren Medal on Thursday night.
Worts, in her second season at the club, is the first Adelaide player to win the Julie Dolan Award, whilst Brimmer joins Carlos Hernandez and Marco Rojas as Victory players who have a Johnny Warren medal to their name.
In a unique occurrence, Adelaide and the Victory was also the destination of the coach of the year awards, with Adrian Stenta and Tony Popovic recognised for their achievements with their respective clubs.
Stenta, who led Adelaide’s A-League Women’s team to their first ever finals appearance was grateful to receive the award.
“I’m a little bit shocked to be honest,” he told Kick360, “because there’s some great coaches in the league and some coaches that did an outstanding job this season. [I’m] quite humbled to be winning this award.”
Stenta was also full of praise for Worts, with the Englishwoman also taking out the golden boot in her second season at the club with 13 goals.
“She’s had a fantastic season, didn’t really get the opportunity to show just how good she is in her first season with us.
“I’m really pleased to announce and say that she’ll be back with us after her season in Norway. It’s one of the first things I wanted to do was bring her back, even though she’s of an English background, she’s been playing in Adelaide in our local comp for number of years now, so it fits perfectly into what we are as a club.”
After a difficult season in 2020-21, Brimmer and the Victory were reborn under Tony Popovic, with the club winning the FFA Cup and reaching the semi-finals. Brimmer netted five goals and created seven from midfield, which helped him pip Brisbane’s Jay O’Shea and Adelaide’s Craig Goodwin to the prestigious award.
For Brimmer, it is clear who is responsible for the transformation.
“For me personally it’s just one man, Tony Popovic. Obviously I worked with him at Perth and I knew his expectations and what to expect from him coming in, and I’m not surprised that he can transfer a club around in the space of a year.”
He credits Popovic with playing him higher up the pitch to get the best of his abilities.
“He knew my technical ability was very good… and he strongly believed that I was a number 10 – previously I’d played as a number six or eight if you like to call it at Perth – he strongly believed that I was a number 10. And he just said I need to start getting goals and assists on my name, and that’s exactly what I practiced all pre-season and that led into the games this year.”
Popovic, who now has three coach of the year awards to his name, was keen to express the team behind him that helped him revolutionise a club that finished bottom of the table last season.
“We’re obviously very happy with the transformation, and a lot of hard work goes into that; not just from myself but I think it starts with the chairman, the board, our managing director, our football director, the entire staff before it gets to the players who do the magic that they do on the field, which we love to come and watch and see.
“A lot of hard work’s gone into this, and we’ve had a very good year with winning a trophy and so close to achieving more, so hopefully this can be a bit of a foundation to build on for next year.”
Amongst the other award winners was Melbourne City’s Holly McNamara and Newcastle’s Angus Thurgate winning the young player of the year awards; Thurgate said it was a special moment to win it with his local club.
“Yeah it means a lot, I’ve been through a bit at the club. It was a different season this year, we played some good stuff. We wish we could be playing some finals footy, but to win it with Newcastle is a great achievement.”
Melbourne City, whose men and women’s teams finished first and second respectively, took out the inaugural Club Championship, which tallies the shared performance of club’s men’s and women’s teams. City Women’s captain Emma Checker says she is proud the club has a commitment to all aspects of their football program, and hopes the new award will prompt other clubs to lift their game.
“As a club that does take a lot of pride in the collective unit that we are, it’s nice to be rewarded for that and the most promising thing as a league is that we’re seeing the clubs step up into that place as well. I think our hope is that we can pave the way and as time goes on, other clubs step up into that role as well.”
In the PFA player-voted awards, European based Sam Kerr and Tom Rogic were voted players of the year, whilst Mary Fowler and Denis Genreau won the young player of the year awards.
Full list of award winners:
- Julie Dolan Medal: Fiona Worts (Adelaide United)
- Johnny Warren Medal: Jake Brimmer (Melbourne Victory)
- Women’s Golden Boot: Fiona Worts (13 goals)
- Men’s Golden Boot: Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City; 16 goals)
- Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year: Casey Dumont (Melbourne Victory)
- Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year: Mark Birighitti (Central Coast Mariners)
- Women’s Young Player of the Year: Holly McNamara (Melbourne City)
- Men’s Young Player of the Year: Angus Thurgate (Newcastle Jets)
- Women’s Goal of the Year: Rachel Lowe (Sydney FC)
- Men’s Goal of the Year: Ben Garuccio (Western United)
- Women’s Coach of the Year: Adrian Stenta (Adelaide United)
- Men’s Coach of the Year: Tony Popovic (Melbourne Victory)
- Women’s Referee of the Year: Lara Lee
- Men’s Referee of the Year: Alex King
- Women’s PFA Player of the Year: Sam Kerr (Chelsea FC)
- Men’s PFA Player of the Year: Tom Rogic (Celtic)
- Women’s PFA Young Player: Mary Fowler (Montpellier)
- Men’s PFA Young Player: Denis Genreau (Toulouse)