From Ballarat Courier
Reported by Melanie Whelan
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TOUGH North Ballarat onballer Steve Clifton has captured the Victorian Football League’s highest individual honour in a three-way tie.
Clifton, Geelong’s Jordan Schroder and Box Hill’s Mitch Hallahan were declared joint JJ Liston Trophy winners on 17 votes apiece in Etihad Stadium’s Victory Room last night.
Northern Blues Kane Lambert fell one vote shy of completing a historic four-way tie.
This is the second time Clifton has pulled on the prestigious medal, becoming the first Rooster in the club’s history to achieve the feat.
Clifton won the medal in 2010, tieing with Port Melbourne playmaker Shane Valenti, before he was drafted to AFL franchise Greater Western Sydney, where he has spent two years.
He made his return to Eureka Stadium this year in emphatic style – playing his 100th VFL game, representing the VFL in a state clash and earned a place in the VFL Team of the Year.
Clifton said he never had any doubt he wanted to return to the Roosters this season but he thought his trip to Etihad Stadium last night was just to enjoy a dinner with teammates.
The 26-year-old never imagined winning the award again at the “tail-end” of his career.
“You don’t think about individual awards. At the end of my career I can look back on what I’ve achieved, but I’m still hungry for team success,” Clifton said.
“It’s an amazing honour to win anything and to share it with these two (Schroder and Hallahan) is an honour and priviledge. They both have amazing careers ahead of them.”
Clifton shares the Trophy with two of the games emerging stars, both AFL-listed players.
Hallahan, a former amateur boxer, celebrated his 21st birthday last week.
His great uncle is East Ballarat team of the century wingman Michael Hallahan.
Schroder, aged 20, became the youngest JJ Liston winner since Sam Mitchell (Box Hill/Hawthorn) who won the honour aged 19 in 2002.
He is Geelong’s second JJ Liston winner, Hallahan is Box Hill’s fourth.
The Roosters boast three JJ Liston medallists in Julian Field in 2004, Myles Sewell in 2009 and Clifton in 2010 and 2013.
Clifton, who played in all Roosters games this season, polled in nine games, including three best-on-grounds.
Hallahan and Schroder each polled in seven games and each with four best-on-ground performances.
Meanwhile, Rooster Lachie George was named on the forward flank in the VFL Team of the Year with Clifton on the interchange.
This is George’s first time to earn team-of-the year honours.
North Ballarat fell one-vote shy of Essendon in best-conducted club honours, as voted by umpires.