Fyfe’s still favourite for Brownlow Medal
BELIEVE it or not, there was a time when Nat Fyfe couldn't even get a spot in his school football team.
Considered too small, tipping the scales at just 55kg, the then-scrawny 16-year-old was consigned to playing the role of cox on the Aquinas College rowing team. A couple of growth spurts here and there and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fyfe is now a giant of the game - Aussie rules that is, not rowing - although he may have conquered that sport too if he'd had the inclination.
He is the sort of character who would be a success at whatever he did - he was apparently a decent tennis player, excellent swimmer and damn good triple jumper.
Born and bred in the small West Australian town of Lake Grace, four hours south of Perth, where his family runs a transport business, Fyfe grew up riding horses and driving cars, tractors and trucks.
And he is also comfortable behind the wheel of a road train or in the pilot's seat of a helicopter.
But however far he gets off the ground in a chopper can't compare to the heights he's soaring to in footy.
And in a season when he took the mantle of the game's No.1 player, he deserves to also claim its highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal.
As Fremantle won 12 of its first 13 games, Fyfe produced one of the best first halves to a season ever seen - contested disposals and contested marks a feature.
He topped 30 possessions nine times during that incredible start, and when you add multiple goals (four times) into the mix, you have a recipe for displays sure to catch the umpires' eyes.
Fyfe has been a proven vote-winner, going back to his debut season (2010), collecting a couple of 'twos' in just his fifth and sixth games.
Two years later, he really showed the shape of things to come with 14 votes coming in just nine games.
If not for a shoulder injury sidelining him for three months, he may already have taken home 'Charlie'.
And if not for a two-match suspension, he may have won last season, too, after being awarded 25 votes - one behind the winner, West Coast's Matt Priddis.
While few would be a more deserving winner than Fyfe, as a spectacle the Brownlow count will at least be made interesting by the fact missing four games late in the season has left the door ajar for rivals.
Priddis is one of those.
He averaged more disposals, more tackles and more clearances than last season and his team won four more games.
Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield enjoyed arguably his best season, even after seasons in which he's polled 23 (2012), 22 (2013) and 21 (2014) votes, while Sydney's Dan Hannebery took his game to another level and was rewarded with the AFL Coaches Association best-player gong.
In his 14th season, and at 32, Hawk Sam Mitchell has been as good as ever, even rivalling 2011 when he finished runner-up with 30 votes.
And it would be more than a little ironic if he was to win after it was his knee that caused the inflammation in Fyfe's left leg that led to him missing those four games.
NAT FYFE (Frem) $2
Games: 18. Averaged career-high 29 disposals, and competition-best 17.9 contested, and 8.6 clearances.
MATT PRIDDIS (WC) $4.50
Games: 22. Averaged career-highs of 30 disposals and 7.7 clearances.
PATRICK DANGERFIELD (Adel) $8
Games: 21. Averaged career-high 26.8 disposals.
DANIEL HANNEBERY (Syd) $10
Games: 22. Averaged career-high 30.2 disposals.
SAM MITCHELL (Haw) $11
Games: 20. Averaged career-high 30.5 disposals.
TODD GOLDSTEIN (NM) $14
Games: 21. Averaged career-high 15 disposals and competition-best 44.6 hitouts.
JOSH KENNEDY (Syd) $21
Games: 22. Averaged career-highs of 30.1 disposals, and 6.2 tackles.
ANDREW GAFF (WC) $21
Games: 22. Averaged career-high 30 disposals.