A massive series of finals performances from Dustin Martin earned him the 2017 AFLCA Gary Ayres Award, but it was Bachar Houli that drew the most praise from the Grand Final coaches, earning a perfect-10 votes on a big day for the Tiger Army which saw the Tigers defeat Adelaide by 48 points in the 2017 Toyota AFL Grand Final, securing the club’s first premiership since 1980.
Houli was a rock playing off halfback, with his safe hands and efficient ball use helping set up the Tiger’s attacking efforts all afternoon. Houli had 25 disposals, took 11 marks and kicked a goal in the opening term, with his early efforts key to Richmond’s success.
Dustin Martin’s Norm Smith Medal winning performance in the Tiger’s drought breaking premiership earned him eight votes from the Grand Final coaches and see him crowned winner of the 2017 AFLCA Gary Ayres Award, for the best player in the AFL Finals series as voted by the coaches.
‘Dusty’ had 29 disposals (22 contested), six clearances, and kicked two goals—including the final goal of the match—with the Gary Ayres Award completing a clean sweep of the major individual awards, including the 2017 AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award and Brownlow medal.
“I congratulate Dustin on an awesome season,” Ayres said.
“He performed at an extraordinary level, all the time under the pressure of his contract and Brownlow favouritism once Paddy Dangerfield was suspended. If anything, it seemed to me he lifted his game in the Finals Series. Well done to the young man.”
The AFLCA Gary Ayres Award is presented in recognition of the player who has been adjudged as the best player throughout the AFL Finals series, as voted by the coaches on a weekly basis throughout the duration of the AFL Finals Series. Votes for the AFLCA Gary Ayres Award are issued after every game of the AFL Finals series by the competing coaches, with each coach providing their 5-4-3-2-1 for the match. The award was first introduced by the AFLCA for the 2016 season, and is named in honour of one of the game’s great finals players.