One team rising from last to first and another making finals for the first has helped two teams scoop the A-League awards.

Melbourne Victory’s stunning rise from the bottom of the A-League ladder in 2022 didn’t include passage to the grand final, but their season was recognised by scooping two major awards, including the Johnny Warren Medal for the league’s best player on Thursday night.

Central midfielder Jake Brimmer took out the top gong for a season in which he scored seven goals and emerged as a crucial plank in new coach Tony Popovic’s revival.

Victory climbed from last in the 2020/21 season to within a single goal of a grand final berth this season under Popovic, who was duly crowned coach of the year for his efforts at the A-League powerhouse.

Popovic was full of praise for 24-year-old Brimmer, who spent three years at Liverpool after signing with the Premier League giants when he was just 16.

“Jake is doing something now which he needed in his game – he’s scoring a lot more frequently now which has happened in the last couple of months,” Popovic said after Brimmer scored a stunning goal in the first leg of Victory’s semi-final showdown with Western United.

“He was always assisting goals but now he’s starting to score and score in big games.”

While Victory took out the two major men’s awards, Adelaide United scored the women’s double, with English-born striker Fiona Worts winning the Julie Dolan Medal for player of the year and coach Adrian Stenta named coached of the year.

The highlight of Worts’ season was a stunning five-goal haul in a single game against Brisbane Roar

But highlighting the sacrifices many of the women make to play in the A-League, Worts, a qualified mathematician, had to turn up for a shift at McDonald’s, a club sponsor, the day after she flew home from Brisbane.

Worts finished with 13 goals for the season as she helped Adelaide United qualify for the finals for the first time.

“It’s amazing to think I have been voted the best player,” Worts said from Norway where she is playing and scored her first goal for her new team last weekend.

“It speaks a lot for the environment my team has created that I have been able to thrive there.

“The ultimate goal of a striker is to score as many goals as possible and to win the Golden Boot means I have done that for my team. It excites me for what the future might hold for me as well.”

International stars Tom Rogic and Sam Kerr also picked up awards, named the Professional Footballers Association’s men’s and women’s player of the year respectively.

PFA AWARD WINNERS 2022

Johnny Warren Medal — Jake Brimmer (Melbourne Victory)

Julie Dolan Medal — Fiona Worts (Adelaide United)

Men’s Coach of the Year — Tony Popovic (Melbourne Victory)

Women’s Coach of the Year — Adrian Stenta (Adelaide United)

Men’s Golden Boot — Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City)

Women’s Golden Boot — Fiona Worts

Men’s PFA Player of the Year — Tom Rogic (Celtic/Socceroos)

Women’s PFA Player of the Year — Sam Kerr (Chelsea/Matildas)

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