FOR the second straight season Jackson Ramsay was a dominant figure in the midfield for East Perth as he continues to show what he's capable of when fully healthy, and it was no surprise as a result to see him claim a second straight fairest and best award.
There were high hopes for what Ramsay could provide to East Perth when he returned from his time in the AFL at Collingwood back in 2018, but his season was then cruelly ended before ever really starting as he ruptured his ACL and underwent a knee reconstruction.
However, for the start of 2019 Ramsay was back, fit and raring to go and he went on to produce an outstanding season with the Royals that culminated with him winning the FD Book Medal as the club's fairest and best.
That meant he was excited coming into 2020 to keep that form going but then COVID-19 struck and like everyone else, his football career was put on hold until the shortened WAFL season got underway.
But with the bye in Round 1, East Perth had to wait an extra week than the rest of the competition but once Ramsay did get to run out there with the Royals once again, he quickly reconfirmed himself as one of the best and most prolific players in the competition.
Ramsay would rack up 32 possessions in that first game of the season for the Royals against Perth and then across the eight matches, he averaged 28.8 disposals a game including a high of 35 against Subiaco in Round 9.
While East Perth fell heartbreakingly short of playing finals on that last day of the season having beaten Subiaco to take fourth spot only to see Perth hand South Fremantle its first loss to replace them, it was a year worth celebrating individually for Ramsay.
He confirmed himself one of the best players in the competition and was named to the WAFL Team of the Year once again as the ruck rover showing that his standout performances were being recognised.
Ramsay ended up polling 28 votes to win the FD Book Medal ahead of joint runners-up Rohan Kerr and Angus Scott who polled 20 votes apiece. Kye Willcocks was third with 18 votes.
Ramsay becomes the first player since the legendary Peter Spencer in 1975 and 1976 to win back-to-back fairest and best awards at East Perth without sharing it in either season with one or more teammates.
Premiership hero Rod Wheatley did win successive FD Book Medals back in those triumphant years of 2000 and 2001, but in the former of those he shared the award with premiership teammates David Swan and Aaron Marley.
That highlights what a significant achievement it is for Ramsay to make it two club champion awards in-a-row. That's not lost on him nor is the fact that it means a bit more in 2020 when there was a real chance of no WAFL season taking place at all.
"Definitely in the early parts of the year we didn’t even know if we were going to get any games underway so I always said it was a good credit to the footy commission and everyone involved to get a season underway," Ramsay told 91.3 SportFM.
"It ended up being quite an interesting season too that we had which was good for the competition. From an individual perspective it was quite a good season. I find with my body now that I sort of know what I can and can't do especially after the injuries I've had.
"It's just good to be able to back up each week and have a role with the team which allowed me to hunt the footy and go for my kicks. I enjoyed my year and would have loved to play finals after we were in there for half an hour or so, but we are definitely looking towards finals next year that's for sure."
While the 2020 season turned out tremendously on an individual basis for Ramsay, as vice-captain what he wanted more than anything was to help East Perth into finals action.
It went ever so close to happening too. The Royals looked well on track to hand South Fremantle its first loss of the season in Round 8 with a big lead before being overrun.
As it turned out, winning that game would have been enough to see them play finals if the last round played out the same way with East Perth going on to beat Subiaco.
However, it wasn’t to be and now for Ramsay and his teammates it has only ensured that passion to be there in 2021 for the finals action burns even stronger.
"That game against South Fremantle comes to mind for sure but there was probably another couple of games there where one quarter let us down," Ramsay said.
"You go to Round 2 against Perth which was our first game and we gave them a six-goal head start before winning every quarter after that. So that hurt. But I think we've shown the competition that at East Perth we do have a fantastic list and we're capable of beating the top sides.
"Even though we would have loved to play finals this year, the mood is definitely positive for what we can bring into 2021."
The FD Book Medal night was also an emotional occasion to farewell outgoing captain and former fairest and best winner Patrick McGinnity as he moves into retirement after a tremendous AFL and WAFL career.
Ramsay couldn’t speak more highly of McGinnity the footballer and person.
"Like everyone that spoke about him at the FD Book Medal night, everyone is in massive praise of him because he is such a great character to have around the club," Ramsay said.
"But for me personally he has probably done more for me off the field than he did on the field. He's just someone I can talk to any day of the week and he's someone to really look up to now that he has finished his career. I can't speak highly enough of Patty for being a fantastic fella but also a very good footballer."
Meanwhile, East Perth's reserves did celebrate premiership glory in 2020 and it was a former FD Book Medallist that claimed the Eric Smith Medal as fairest and best, Julian Ameduri. He won ahead of Taylor North, Nathan Arbon and Daniel Rowe.
Josh Hubbard and Jason Kissack split the Hec Strempel Medal as colts fairest and best winners. They finished ahead of Jaylen Colegate, Kye Jasper, Jake Littleton and Luke Lombardi.
There has been plenty of news out of East Perth since the 2020 season ended too including the signing of Stan Wright to return and the re-signing of Ajang Ajang, Aidan Lynch, Kye Willcocks, Scott Jones, Jaxon Cahill, Nick Robertson, Rohan Kerr, Jayden Magro, Eddie Simpson and Matthew Young,
LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS
FD Book Medal Winners (Fairest and Best): Jackson Ramsay
Outstanding Play Award (Runner-up Fairest and Best): Rohan Kerr, Angus Scott
Outstanding Play Award (Third-place Fairest and Best): Kye Willcocks
Jeremy Silcock Trademark Award: Jordan Hayden, Kye Willcocks
Ken Hatfield Trophy (Coaches Award): Jayden Magro
Rising Star Award: Matthew Young
Leading Goalkicker: Eddie Simpson (13 goals)
George Law Trainers Award: Kobe Chrisp
Best Clubman: Julian Ameduri
RESERVES AWARD WINNERS
Eric Smith Medal (Fairest and Best): Julian Ameduri
Outstanding Play Award (Runner-up Fairest and Best): Taylor North
Outstanding Play Award (Third Fairest and Best): Nathan Arbon, Daniel Rowe
COLTS AWARD WINNERS
Hec Strempel Medal (Fairest and Best): Josh Hubbard, Jason Kissack
Outstanding Play Award (Runner-up Fairest and Best): Jaylen Colegate
Outstanding Play Award (Third Fairest and Best): Kye Jasper, Jake Littleton, Luke Lombardi