Josh Daicos put the Wingman of the Year Award to bed in Round 22. Some would argue that it should have been way earlier than that.
You see, there was this other bloke nipping at his heels in the eyes of many. His name was Errol Gulden. It still is, actually… I don’t think he’s applied to change it, but i dont know what happens in his personal life. And though Gulden was having a blindingly good season, he was still over 100 points behind Daicos in our standings heading into the final three rounds of the season.
If you need to know how the points work, go back and have a look at one of the previous Wingmen articles. It’s all in there.
Anyway, they were the front-runners, with Daicos having been at, or near the top of the tree for the entire season. A picture of consistency, the elder Daicos boy owned his wing all year, starting strong and never letting up. Gulden was a different kettle of fish. After playing quite a few games as a pure midfielder early in the season, his time on the wing increased after about a third of the way through the year, and his points in our Mongrel Punt Wingman of the Year Award totals saw him rein in those above him.
Early leader, Isaac Smith – tick.
Blake Acres – tick.
Mason Wood – tick.
Fan favourite, Nic Martin – tick.
That left just Josh Daicos, but in Round 22, with an already handy lead, the Collingwood star dropped the hammer and put paid to any discussion around the merits of his position as the number one wingman in the game.
Coming into the opener for that round, Daicos sat on 787.8 points, a clear 104.9 points ahead of Gulden, on 682.9. It was in the back of my mind that several players have topped the ton in a single week, so he had the lead within his grasp. However, if Gulden was planning to catch Daicos, the son of a gun had other ideas.
Daicos’ Round 23 game against the Cats was blistering. He threw down the gauntlet, collecting 38 disposals and eight score involvements in a polished, disciplined performance. It totalled him his highest score of the season, with 72.3 points. If Gulden was to stay in the hunt, he had to respond.
Returning 19 touches, and suffering a penalty to his scoring due to attending 15 centre bounces, Gulden was left in the dust. With his score of 72.3, Daicos moved into an unbeatable lead. He would have had to miss games down the stretch for Gulden to catch him from that point, but he added 26 disposals and a goal in Round 23 (marked down due to 11 centre bounce attendances) and finished with 25 touches and another snag to finish the season.
Gulden fought hard across the last two games (30 touches in Round 23, but again, he attended ten centre bounces, and an incredible 42 disposals and two goals in the final round – ten centre bounces), saw him pick up 33.5 and 58.7 points, respectively, but in the end it was the Magpie star reigning supreme.
Josh Daicos finished the 2023 season as our Wingman of the Year, after ending the 2022 season as Runner-Up to Karl Amon. In a sterling year as an outside runner, he averaged 26.13 disposals. That’s +5.05 on his 2022 totals. It is also worth mentioning that Daicos played the whole year as a true wingman. He didn’t have a cup of coffee out there in passing. No, that was the position he permanently played, so to see him named in the All-Australian team on the wing… I have to say, my heart swelled with pride just a tad.
That Gulden was named on the other wing was a great result, as well. My guess, having watched him play about 80% of games this season, is that he spent 30-40% of his time as a wingman, which is a damn sight more than anyone named in the role over the last three seasons. Imagine the damage he’d do in this award if he played there the whole season?
The final standings in the 2023 Mongrel Punt Wingman of the Year Award are as follows
1 – JOSH DAICOS – 942.8 POINTS
2 – ERROL GULDEN – 787.6 POINTS
3 – NIC MARTIN – 670.5 POINTS
4 – ISAAC SMITH – 668.4 POINTS
5 – MASON WOOD – 628.2 POINTS
6 – BLAKE ACRES – 607.5 POINTS
7 – KARL AMON – 568.0 POINTS
8 – LACHIE HUNTER – 549.3 POINTS
9 – BAILEY SCOTT – 501.8 POINTS
10 – ED LANGDON – 492.2 POINTS
Some of you may be wondering how Nic Martin managed to fall off the pace, right? After all, he was right up there at one stage, and seemed to be the most credible threat to Daicos.
It’s a good question, but in case you didn’t notice, Brad Scott started to toy with his lineup late in the season. Nik Cox returned and started to play wing before being moved to half-back. This forced Martin off the wing for extended periods, playing more as a half-forward. In his 32 disposal and three-goal game against the Kangaroos in Round 22, he was penalised for not starting on the wing at over half the centre bounces. A great game, yes, but not a great game on the wing.
He was also virtually unsighted in Round 23, before playing well (one of the very few who did) in Essendon’s capitulation to Collingwood. This gave Mason Wood and the old stager, Isaac Smith the opportunity to sneak over the top of him and finish in third, but they couldn’t quite get it done.
Still, had he been assessed as playing pure win in that Round 22 game, Martin could have recorded one of the bigger scores of the year, and put himself right into contention for second.
Rapt to see Bailey Scott rally in the second half of the season and really establish himself on the wing for North. His last five games of 2023 saw him average 28.4 touches. This was a fantastic outcome, and I reckon he has now found his place in this North Melbourne team. If Clarkson sticks with him in the role, he should be able to finish top-five next year.
And before we enter final celebrations for Josh Daicos, a fond farewell for one of the best wingmen of his generation – Isaac Smith.
Though the Cats failed to make finals, Smith’s last game in the hoops was one of his best. He recorded 36 touches and a goal to be the highest-rated wingman of the week, notching 71.9 points for the round.
In the wash-up, this season’s award belongs to Josh Daicos. There were points during the year when others may have tried to convince you that there were better wingmen out there, and for brief periods, maybe there were. However, you don’t hand out awards based on two or three great games. Remember that bozo from Champion Data trying to tell everyone that Nic Martin was going to break records for a wingman this year? As soon as he said it, Martin tapered off. Seriously, those blokes make Lou Richards’ kiss of death seem like a pash from a Playboy bunny.
Others may have had big weeks, or strong patches. Others still may have accumulated big numbers whilst cruising through on the wing, but if you’re looking for the man who played the role to perfection, running back to help his defenders, running forward to drive the team inside fifty, and covering off the exits with discipline every single time, there can be only one choice for the Wingman of the Year in 2023.
And that choice is Josh Daicos – a thoroughly deserving winner.
2020 – Sam Menegola
2021 – Paul Seedsman
2022 – Karl Amon
2023 – Josh Daicos
82.8 – ERROL GULDEN – R15
76.8 – ERROL GULDEN – R17
72.3 – JOSH DAICOS – R22
71.9 – ISAAC SMITH – R24
68.7 – ERROL GULDEN – R9
67.4 – ERROL GULDEN – R21
64.3 – ISAAC SMITH – R1
63.6 – ERROL GULDEN – R8
62.6 – NIC MARTIN – R12
61.8 – BLAKE ACRES – R7
61.7 – NIC MARTIN – R11
61.2 – JOSH DAICOS – R2
59.8 – JOSH DAICOS – R1
57.8 – JOSH DAICOS – R5
54.3 – JOSH DAICOS (R16)
And after you see those scores up there, with Errol Gulden ranked so highly in the games he stayed on the wing for extended periods. I want to leave you with this. Across the season, Nick Daicos attended 9.1% of Collingwood’s centre bounces. Errol Gulden attended 36.3% for the Swans.
From Round 22-24, Gulden attended 35 centre bounces. Daicos attended 13. And that was the story for most of the season. One played wing for the majority of the time. One did not. The scoring took that into consideration. Cheers.
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