North West AFL: Andrew George named grand final best and fairest

Top game: Player of the grand final and Bulldogs skipper Andrew George goes for the spoil on New England's Phil Mitchell deep into the final term of Saturday's grand final. Photo: Samantha Newsam

Top game: Player of the grand final and Bulldogs skipper Andrew George goes for the spoil on New England's Phil Mitchell deep into the final term of Saturday's grand final. Photo: Samantha Newsam

He’s regarded as their heart and soul so it was fitting that as Gunnedah celebrated their first AFL premiership in 26 years Andrew George was named the grand final best and fairest.

The missing piece of silverware for the Bulldogs skipper he was instrumental in the 15.16-106 to to 13.8-86 triumph.

Roving between the half forward line and defence he was outstanding, his three goal first quarter setting the Bulldogs up for a 16-point lead at the first break and on their way to ending the New England Nomads’ reign.

“It’s unreal. I don’t have a better word for it,” he said after holding the trophy the Bulldogs hadn’t had their hands on since 1991 aloft alongside coach Greg Piggott.

“It’s been a long time coming.”

It’s been a long journey, and one a lot of the side have been there for.

“Back in the days when we were getting beaten by 100 points, you see a lot of the same faces today,” George commented.

Now into his 10th season with the Bulldogs the title caps off a memorable season for George after earlier in the year being recognised as one of the best 22 players to have pulled on a Bulldogs jersey.

On Saturday he showed why. As the two sides traded goals early George turned the momentum the Bulldogs way with some sublime touches. Then as the Nomads threatened to quash their premiership dream in the final quarter, he came up with some big plays.

Commenting that he’s never seen him play a bad game of footy, even Piggott was surprised by how well George played.

“I knew he’d be good but I didn’t think he’d be that good,” he said.

George said despite having their lead trimmed to just a point at three-quarter time, there was no panic.

“Jenko (vice-captain Brad Jenkinson) came in and got everyone to settle down. 

“He put us in a good mindset,” he said.

Even when the Nomads hit the lead early in the fourth quarter they didn’t panic.

“We talked about it at the start of the game that if they happen to kick away or get on top that we’ve beaten them before,” George said.

Aware that there was about two-and-a-half minutes to go when Jacob Spackman kicked his second to put them 20 up, he admittedly didn’t hear the final siren.

“The next thing I knew there were three boys hugging me,” he said.

He said being named the player of the grand final was “a nice little extra”.

“I’m very honoured to win it but at the end of the day it’s got nothing on the cup,” he said.

That was the silverware he really craved.