Young Blue caps incredible rise with top gong

DUAL AFLW best and fairest winner Erin Phillips uttered some prophetic words about this time last year.

Carlton's Maddy Prespakis had just finished an impressive debut season in the competition and offered her congratulations to Phillips after the announcement of her second individual triumph.

Phillips' response? "Don't worry, kid, this will be you one day."

That day took barely 12 months to arrive, with Prespakis' barnstorming start to her AFLW career capped with the 2020 best and fairest award on Tuesday night. 

From Rising Star to MVP: Maddy breaks new ground

04:55 Apr 28. 2020. 9:07 PM

Carlton's Madison Prespakis is top of the NAB AFLW pops after claiming the 2020 AFL Women's Best and Fairest

"It's definitely going to take some time to sink in but as soon as I heard the news I cried and I was just very shocked," the 19-year-old told

"I'm not sure there's a word I can find to describe how it felt – it was just pure emotion.

"It's been the best two years of my life. I've grown up wanting to play AFL, and now that I'm here, I've put my best foot forward to work as hard as I can, play as well as I can, and I love the club I'm at."

The gun Blues midfielder is the first teenager to claim the award, following in the footsteps of established stars Phillips (2017 and 2019) and Emma Kearney (2018).

Maddy Prespakis wipes tears away after winning the AFLW's best-and-fairest award. Picture: Michael Willson


She polled maximum votes in five of her six matches, including crucially in the Blues' come-from-behind, final-round victory over Melbourne to clinch the medal.

Prespakis (15 votes) led the count by three from Kiara Bowers (12) entering round six, and the tough Docker also polled three votes in her last match to finish runner-up.

North Melbourne's Kearney came third with 11 votes, with Adelaide ball magnet Anne Hatchard and another Kangaroo, Jenna Bruton, rounding out the top five with 10 votes apiece.

One of the pre-count favourites, North's Jasmine Garner, surprisingly finished equal-17th, with only four votes.

Prespakis was the No.3 draft pick in 2018 and her AFLW resume already includes two Carlton best and fairests and two All-Australian selections.

Sister Georgie gives a tearful Maddy Prespakis a hug during the W Awards. Picture: Michael Willson


She also helped the Blues reach last year's Grand Final, and they were just one win from matching that feat when the coronavirus pandemic caused the season to end prematurely.

"It was shattering, especially after the heartbreak of last year's Grand Final loss," Prespakis said.

"To get close again this year hurt a little bit more, too, but I know the girls are very hungry for a premiership and I know we're going to work extremely hard to get there."

Prespakis' incredible rise contrasts with the horrid luck of the No.1 pick in her draft class, Geelong's Nina Morrison, who has suffered successive ACL ruptures.

However, Prespakis is confident Morrison will bounce back strongly to prove how good she is.

Young Carlton star Maddy Prespakis with her AFLW best-and-fairest award. Picture: Michael Willson


"We've come through the Victorian pathways together and I was extremely shattered for her again this year," she said.

"It breaks my heart to see such a great player like her struggle these past two years with an unfortunate injury but the performances she put in this year show how capable she is.

"She's a great player of the competition and she'll be back next year bigger and stronger, and she'll definitely set the league on fire."

Prespakis' shot on goal controversially ruled behind

00:25 Mar 22. 2020. 2:36 PM

A Maddy Prespakis snap on goal is ruled a touched behind, despite appearing to be a goal on replay

They are two of an increasing group of young players making their presence felt, with 2017 No.1 draft choice Izzy Huntington earlier in the night announced as the NAB AFLW Rising Star.

Prespakis and Huntington joined the likes of Geelong's Olivia Purcell, Giant Alyce Parker and St Kilda goalkicker Caitlin Greiser in this year's Toyota AFLW All-Australian team.

"It's saying to everyone, 'Sit back and enjoy what's about to come', because there's plenty of young talent coming up," Prespakis said.

"To see some of those girls and (All-Australian) debutantes really show who they are this year was amazing, and I can't wait for plenty more in my side to keep doing their thing.

"The competition is growing and it's going to look really good."

The Toyota All AFLW All Australian team, Mark of the Year and Coates Hire Goal of the Year were revealed in the previous two days.


1. Madison Prespakis (Carlton) 15
2. Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 12
3. Emma Kearney (North Melbourne) 11
=4. Anne Hatchard (Adelaide) 10
=4. Jenna Bruton (North Melbourne) 10
6. Karen Paxman (Melbourne) 9
=7. Brittany Bonnici (Collingwood) 7
=7. Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda) 7
=7. Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 7
=7. Monique Conti (Richmond) 7