Dayne Beams. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
DAYNE Beams has sealed a breakout season, winning the Copeland Trophy for Collingwood's best and fairest.
The midfielder won his first Copeland by 35 votes over last year's winner, Scott Pendlebury, and 58 votes clear of three-time club champion Dane Swan.
It caps a stellar season for the Queenslander, who also earned his first All-Australian guernsey.
But his improvement wasn't easy. He missed last year's grand final through injury and round one this season because of another injury.
But as the weeks turned into months, he became a key part of the Pies' midfield and was elevated to the leadership group.
"I was pretty stoked about it, and pretty humbled by it," he told The Age last month. "It's something I'm really enjoying."
Pendlebury led the count after 11 rounds, but Beams, who had answered the call to move into the middle after the season-ending knee injury to Luke Ball, was clear with six matches to play and was not headed.
He gathered 741 possessions across 24 matches at an average of 30.9. He finished equal second on the Collingwood goalkicking list with 28 goals and also averaged of 4.2 tackles a match.
Drafted in 2008, Beams was part of Collingwood's 2010 premiership.
He said he was surprised how quickly he had found his feet in the midfield maelstrom. "I've never really had any doubts in my ability as a footballer, but I suppose you don't have expectations when you go into the midfield permanently," he said.
"I suppose I've surprised myself a little bit in how quickly I've come to be consistent. I haven't really been consistent in previous years."