PEEL Thunder once again dominated the WAFL finals series for a second straight year to continue making history with back-to-back premierships with defender Sam Collins named Tuckey Medallist as fairest and best winner for 2017.
Coming off its maiden premiership success in 2016, Peel once again qualified or a third straight finals series in 2017 from third position.
The Thunder went on to defeat South Fremantle in the qualifying final and Subiaco in the second semi-final to book a place in a second straight grand final. Then in the last ever official match at Subiaco Oval, it was Peel who prevailed to make it back-to-back premierships.
That success was celebrated at their fairest and best winner with the Tuckey Medal won by Fremantle-listed defender Sam Collins. In the ultimate bittersweet moment, on the same day he took out the fairest and best award Collins was told he was delisted by the Dockers.
Remarkably it means that Peel's last three fairest and best winners have all been Fremantle-listed players who were delisted that same season. Firstly it was Jacob Ballard back in 2015, then last year it was Matt de Boer and now in 2017 it is Collins suffering the same fate.
But there was still plenty for Collins to celebrate as he became a two-time WAFL premiership player and now fairest and best winner along the way following his outstanding season.
In 17 matches for Peel in 2017 during the home and away season and then the three finals, he was tremendous as a key defender who could do well against dangerous opponents. But more impressively he could take intercept marks and set up play going the other way for the Thunder.
He ended up averaging 16.5 possessions a game across the season and was a deserved fairest and best winner, and it wouldn’t surprise to see him earn another AFL chance as a result with his two-year stint at the Dockers coming to an end.
Another player who it was perhaps surprise not to see spend more time in the AFL with the Dockers to the benefit of the Thunder was Matt Taberner. The strong-marking key forward had a strong showing throughout 2017 for Peel and that saw him finish runner-up in fairest and best voting.
He ended up kicking 41 goals for the season also lead Peel's goalkicking including eight during the three finals, and one bag of six, and two hauls of five along the way. The left-footer looks ready to become a force at AFL level as a key forward in 2018.
It was another Docker who finished third in fairest and best voting for Peel with Cameron Sutcliffe rewarded for his strong season when with the Thunder that culminated in the premiership.
The night also saw the retirement of Peel's greatest ever player, Rory O'Brien.
Fresh off the birth of his third child and his winning of a second premiership, he announced that the 2017 season was his last as the 31-year-old brought to an end a remarkably decorated career.
Now with the two premierships added in, O'Brien is likely the most decorated WAFL player this season decade having not only won two flags, but having won five club fairest and best awards made up of three at East Fremantle and two at Peel on top of his winning the 2012 Sandover Medal.
The prolific ball winning midfielder whose hallmark was his remarkable consistency to win plenty of the ball week after week, and to run all day finished up playing 247 WAFL matches made up of 139 with Peel Thunder and 108 at East Fremantle.
His 139 games at Peel is the most in club's history and factoring in that he's a two-time fairest and best winner and dual premiership player at the Thunder, he is the club's finest servant since it entered the WAFL in 1997.
Two premierships, three grand finals, a Sandover Medal, state representation, five fairest and best awards and having his name on the locker at two clubs means O'Brien leaves behind a remarkable legacy.
Leroy Jetta won the Tom Stone Medal for overcoming adversity as well in recognition of his performance to come back from his suspension in 2016 and then a serious knee injury to play in Peel's premiership in 2017.
Corey Morris won the Players' Player Award, Traye Bennell was named Most Consistent Player, Haydn Matthews the Young Player of the Year and Ben Hancock received the Coaches Award.
Former Carlton player Brad Walsh won Peel's reserves fairest and best award ahead of Brett Milward. Chris Wrigley was awarded the Coaches Award.
Lachlan Mitchell won the colts fairest and best award ahead of Jordan Boulineau and Jakeb Shine.
PEEL THUNDER LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS
Tuckey Medal (Fairest and Best) – Sam Collins
Runner-up Fairest and Best – Matt Taberner
Third Fairest and Best – Cameron Sutcliffe
Players Player Award – Corey Morris
Tom Stone Medal (Overcoming Adversity) – Leroy Jetta
Most Consistent Player – Traye Bennell
Leading Goalkicker – Matt Taberner
Arthur Marshall Young Player of the Year – Haydn Matthews
Coaches Award – Ben Hancock
RESERVES AWARD WINNERS
Ball Family Medal (Fairest and Best) – Brad Walsh
Runner-up Fairest and Best – Brett Milward
Coaches Award – Chris Wrigley
COLTS AWARD WINNERS
Dave Cameron Medal (Fairest and Best) – Lachlan Mitchell
Runner-up Fairest and Best – Jordan Boulineau
Third Fairest and Best – Jakeb Shine
Players Player Award – Kyle Havelberg
Past Player & Officials Encouragement Award – James Sturrock
Leadership Award – Tyson Powell