And the medal goes to... Tim. Sorry Daniel
AFL: AFL Queensland State Football operations manager Barry Gibson says a ruling has forced its hand to have Gladstone Mudcrabs' midfielder Daniel Clay returning the Bernie Gottke Medal to Glenmore Bulls' dynamo Tim Higgins.
Clay was the original winner after Wednesday night's AFL Capricornia medal count and he was notified he had won via communication with Muddies president Michael Galonski because Clay could not attend.
AFL Capricornia president John Round then contacted AFL Queensland operations manager Barry Gibson for clarification after Higgins had emailed Gibson.
"AFL Queensland's official position is that clarity was sought on Thursday morning on the rules regarding best and fairest eligibly and clarity was given by myself,” Gibson said.
"From that, AFL Capricornia president John Round acknowledged that a mistake had unfortunately occurred in not awarding the best and first award to Tim Higgins and such an error would be rectified immediately.
"We only became aware of the issue on Thursday and the player Tim Higgins brought it to my attention and we were questioned by correspondence by Tim Higgins (about what the ruling was),” Gibson said.
"I then spoke with John Round and it was simply a misinterpretation of the rules by AFL Capricornia.”
Rule 8.3 of AFL Queensland Rules and Regulations explains that the player who is on a reprimand can in fact still be eligible for the best and fairest medal.
"I contacted both Daniel Clay and have known him for a long time and spoke with Tim Higgins on Thursday to let them know and both understood,” Round said.
Gibson said AFL Capricornia had handled the situation as best they could.
"Once I alerted AFL Capricornia of the mistake, they were very apologetic and I take my hat off to them,” Gibson said.
The reshuffle forced original runner-up and the league's leading goal-kicker, Yeppoon's James Malone, into third place in the medal count - and Clay resigned to runner-up.
"It could've been handled a lot better and should've been rectified at the start of the season,” a disappointed Clay said.
Clay congratulated Higgins on his eventual win.
Higgins added he would have preferred a much different scenario, but was not surprised in the 'about face'.
"I got a reprimand for low impact which meant I did not receive a suspension,” Higgins explained.
"It came as a surprise that I was then ineligible for the best and fairest, but I was confident.”