AFL Grand Final 2023: Craig McRae weighs in on premiership medal debate, Mason Cox, who should get a medal?

The AFL’s premiership medal debated has been reignited, with growing calls for coaches and players who didn’t take part in a Grand Final win to receive medals.

Every year there are hard luck stories in Grand Final week, with key players heartbreakingly denied the ultimate premiership glory by injury, selection or form.

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This time the unlucky ones for Collingwood were Dan McStay (injured in the preliminary final), Taylor Adams (declared himself not 100 per cent fit to play) and John Noble (dropped for finals despite playing 83 games in a row).

On the other hand, substitute Pat Lipinski, small forward Jack Ginnivan and big man Billy Frampton all received medals after being elevated to Collingwood’s team of 23 for the Grand Final.

The sight of hard-nosed midfielder Adams in tears after the Magpies’ triumph broke the hearts of footy fans everywhere.

It’s sparked calls for premiership medals to be given to either a club’s entire playing list, or at least those who played a game at some point during the season.

“They were a big reason why we were there, without Dan McStay kicking two goals in the prelim we probably don’t make it (to the grand final),” Collingwood’s Mason Cox told the Herald Sun.

“It is frustrating to not see them have a medal around their neck to be honest. I would change it in a heartbeat. Without them we are not in this situation.

“To have that happen (to McStay) in a prelim is f***ing shattering.”

“Guys like John Noble and Tay Adams, it is something you wouldn’t wish on the worst person.

“I don’t know what the ruling would be but it just seems wrong to not have them with a medal.”

Gerard Whateley said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360: “We have a tyranny that it’s only for the 23.”

Magpies coach Craig McRae said he was open minded to more medals being handed out, adding he believed the wider coaching group should also be recognised.

“I’m definitely of the view, we don’t make the Grand Final without Dan McStay,” McRae said on AFL 360.

“My feeling is they should get a medal. To what length, I’m not sure. I’ll leave others to debate that. But I think if you played a game in the season that should be a measurement of it. Dan McStay, Taylor Adams, John Noble — that cup isn’t there without them.

“I think the same for coaches. They gave this (the Jock McHale Medal) to me on stage and I haven’t worn it since because it doesn’t represent all the coaches.

“It’s ridiculous that the industry just sees me as the reason. That cup is representative of all our staff. Players get medals and win premierships, but staff set them up to succeed.”

But Collingwood’s 1990 premiership Tony Shaw disagreed, writing on X: “All players on the list shouldn’t get a premiership medallion. It’s harsh and brutal but I wouldn’t think any non competing player would be comfortable with it.

“All for in house recognition of some form. U r a pship player or your not.”

There are countless hard luck stories of stalwarts and stars missing out on a premiership medal over the years:

— Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge gave his medal to Bob Murphy after he ruptured his ACL in the 2016 season.

— Sydney’s Ben McGlynn missed the Swans 2012 premiership through injury despite playing 21 out of 22 regular season games.

— Crows legend Tony Modra didn’t win a premiership medal after injury cruelly ruled him out of Adelaide’s Grand Final wins in 1997 and 1998.

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