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"I’m not good with this stuff": Cunnington breaks down with gratitude, Simpkin wins first Best and Fairest


North Melbourne midfielder Jy Simpkin won his first Syd Barker Medal on Friday night, but it was fellow on-baller Ben Cunnington who stole the show with his emotional runner-up speech.

Cunnington, 30, missed the final four games of the Roos season after successfully undergoing surgery to remove a testicular tumour.

The tough midfielder is renowned for his no-nonsense approach to the game and his toughness in the contest, however showed a different side of himself when asked by club legend David King if his second place in the award was a special achievement.

“Yeah it actually is. For some reason I’m getting a bit emotional, even though I didn’t even win it … I’m not good with this stuff,” Cunnington said.

“Just to have the support from the club, the players and my beautiful family — I couldn’t have done it without them.

“You think you’re a bit more alone, but the support everyone at the top of the club to the fans stuck at home, it’s been huge.

“It actually helps me smile and makes me want to keep continue playing for this great club. It means more than I ever thought.”

The 30-year-old also said he didn’t want to “take too much attention away from the winner.”

Despite missing seven games during the season, Cunnington was still able to poll 117 votes in North Melbourne’s Best and Fairest to finish a distant second behind Simpkin on 142.

Simpkin, 23, was a deserving winner of the award, averaging career highs in disposals, marks, inside fifties, and clearances in 2021.

2021 North Melbourne B&F Top 10:

  1. Jy Simpkin – 143 votes
  2. Ben Cunnington – 117
  3. Jack Ziebell – 114
  4. Aaron Hall – 114
  5. Luke Davies-Uniacke – 109
  6. Ben McKay – 106
  7. Cam Zurhaar – 95
  8. Tarryn Thomas – 95
  9. Kayne Turner – 92
  10. Nick Larkey – 90


North Melbourne

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