Star Hawthorn midfielder Emily Bates has won her fifth club best and fairest award and her first in brown and gold, claiming the club’s top award on Wednesday night.

The 28-year-old polled 74 votes from the coaches for her efforts this season, while dashing defender Jenna Richardson followed on 58 votes as runner-up with midfield duo Jasmine Fleming and Tilly Lucas-Rodd rounding out the podium with 57 votes. 

Bates’ best and fairest win comes off the back of an outstanding debut season with the Hawks, leading the team in average disposals (20.8), contested possessions (13), tackles (9.7) and clearances (4.9).

The 28-year-old also continued her career consecutive-game streak, featuring in all 10 outings for the Hawks this season and notching up her 75th career game in the process. 

Appointed as co-vice-captain after her arrival at the club ahead of the 2023 season, Bates immediately impressed with her leadership traits and her ability to drive high standards both on and off the track.

At just 22 years old, Richardson capped off a consistent season in defence with her highest finish in a best and fairest count.

After missing the first five rounds of 2022 due to injury, Richardson was able to play her first full season for the brown and gold in 2023. 

The talented defender went on to build impressive consistency in her game, becoming one of the team’s most reliable players down back.

She finished the season with averages of 11.7 disposals, 6.8 intercept possessions and 3.7 marks. 

Fleming and Lucas-Rodd followed closely behind Richardson in the vote count, finishing on the podium for the second season in a row.

Fleming was clinical in her second AFLW campaign with averages of 16 disposals, 8.7 contested possessions, 4.3 tackles and 3.2 clearances. 

The 19-year-old also received her second AFLW Rising Star nomination in as many seasons, earning the nod for her standout performance against Fremantle in Round 3 in which she recorded 18 disposals, four marks and four tackles. 

Lucas-Rodd led the way as captain again, featuring in all 10 games for the Hawks and averaging 20.1 disposals, 10.1 possessions, 6.6 tackles and 4.8 clearances.

Aine McDonagh backed up her Most Improved Player award with a fifth-place finish in the count on 52 votes, closely followed by the versatile Kaitlyn Ashmore in sixth with 49 votes.

Other award winners on the night included Tamara Smith who was named Most Courageous, Jenna Richardson who claimed the inaugural Outstanding Excellence Award, Catherine Brown who was crowned Best Club Person and Emily Bates who won the club’s Gold Standards Award.

2023 AFLW best and fairest top 10 

1. Emily Bates (74 votes) 

2. Jenna Richardson (58 votes) 

3. Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Jasmine Fleming (57 votes) 

5. Aine McDonagh (52 votes)

6. Kaitlyn Ashmore (49 votes) 

7. Kristy Stratton (48 votes) 

8. Mackenzie Eardley (40 votes) 

9. Greta Bodey (39 votes) 

10. Aileen Gilroy and Lucy Wales (36 votes) 

2023 AFLW club award winners 

Most Improved: Aine McDonagh 

Most Courageous: Tamara Smith 

Outstanding Excellence Award: Jenna Richardson 

Best Club Person Award: Catherine Brown 

Gold Standards Award: Emily Bates 

Votes for the 2023 Hawthorn AFLW best and fairest were awarded by three groups after each home-and-away match; Senior Coach Bec Goddard, one card between Head of Development Keegan Brooksby and Development Coaches Max Lynch and Kathryn Chatelier and one card between Line Coaches David Mackay, Lou Wotton and Ben Cavarra. 

A maximum of 12 votes can be accumulated by a player after the four voting cards are submitted using the following grading system: three votes to the best player/s, two votes for a significant influence on the game, one vote to player/s who played their role or beat their opponent. On rare occasions a player/s may receive four votes for an exceptional game.