SOMETIMES who you beat for a fairest and best award highlights just what an achievement it is and for Alec Waterman to come out on top of a star-studded leaderboard at Claremont in 2020 shows just how outstanding a season he had.
Waterman came into the 2020 season with some confidence that things were beginning to turn around for him after he got to play some encouraging football again in 2019 after his career was almost taken away from him.
The son of dual West Coast Eagles premiership player Chris, Waterman was an exciting young talent and was picked up under the father-son rule by the Eagles but then he was struck down by a debilitating case of glandular fever.
There was no guarantee of Waterman ever getting back to play WAFL football, let again at the standard he showed in 2020. But the signs were strong in 2019 and then despite the delay to this season due to COVID-19, once he hit the field he was truly ready to make his mark.
Now armed with a powerful body to enable him to play as a target in attack despite not being overly tall, Waterman became a powerhouse in the forward half for the Tigers who could win his own ball in the air and at ground level only to then be able to finish on his lethal left boot.
Waterman ended up kicking 19 goals in the eight matches of the home and away season before then delivering four goals in a remarkable preliminary final performance to get Claremont into the Grand Final.
He then went ever so close to leading Claremont to the premiership as well with three goals in the eventual three-point Grand Final loss at the hands of South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval.
Waterman's performances right throughout 2020 was one of the league's highlights but still he had quite the battle on his hands to claim Claremont's fairest and best award given the quality the Tigers possessed all over the field.
In the end, Waterman won the EB Cook Medal by polling 116 votes to win ahead of Jye Bolton (114 votes), Jared Hardisty (71), Kane Mitchell (54), Declan Mountford (54), Callan England (53), Declan Hardisty (45), Oliver Eastland (39), Anton Hamp (37) and Haydn Busher (29).
For Waterman to become a Cook Medallist in a Grand Final year is something he's tremendously proud of.
"It's a huge honour to win the EB Cook Medal," Waterman told claremontfc.com.au.
"To see my name up there with some great players from the club will be awesome."
While Grand Final day didn’t go to plan for Claremont, it was a significant achievement from the Tigers in 2020 for all three grades to end up playing in premiership deciders.
Tom Curren ended up winning the Dennis Marshall Trophy as fairest and best in the reserves. He won ahead of Ben Elliott and Jack Buller.
Logan Young won the Tom Richardson Trophy as the fairest and best in the colts ahead of Jack Avery, Jake Wilson and Joel Western.
There has been plenty happening at Tigerland since the Grand Final as well with the departure of Darren Harris as league coach. That opened the door for the return of Ashley Prescott who coached Claremont to Grand Finals in 2004, 2005 and 2007 in his previous stint.
Claremont has also announced the returns of Jake Patmore, Isaiah Butters, Francis Watson, Anthony Treacy and Jason Carter all of whom return from time in the AFL system.
EB Cook Medal (Fairest and Best): Alec Waterman
Runner-up: Jye Bolton
Third-place: Jared Hardisty
Leading Goalkicker: Alec Waterman (26 goals)
Best First Year Player: Tom Baldwin
Engine Room Award: Jack Lewsey
Sacrificial Tiger Award: Declan Hardisty
Players' Player Award: Ryan Nyhuis
Dennis Marshall Trophy (Fairest and Best): Tom Curren
Runner-up: Ben Elliott
Third-place: Jack Buller
Players' Player Award: Tom Curren
Tom Richardson Trophy (Fairest and Best): Logan Young
Runner-up: Jack Avery
Third-place: Jake Wilson
MVP Award: Joel Western
Past Players & Officials Encouragement Award: Leith Fitzpatrick
Players' Player Award: Jacob Blight