Two men stand next to a statue of an AFL player

Brownlow Medal winner Patrick Cripps inspires hometown pride in Northampton

Of the 11 AFL talents to emerge from the small farming community of Northampton, Patrick Cripps is the first to be awarded the highest individual football accolade.

Miners Arms Hotel owner Neville Tomelty said he raced out to put a handmade Brownlow on a statue of Cripps shortly after the Carlton star won the award.

“All week we’ve had hundreds of people come out and take photos with the Paddy Cripps statue,” he said.

“Usually every one wants a picture with Josh Kennedy, but it’s definitely Patrick this week.”

The AFL statues were unveiled last year after a rough trot with Cyclone Seroja.

The special moment brought almost all nine players together as they revealed their life-like statues.

Fans travelled to Northampton for a picture with Brownlow medallist Cripps. (ABC Midwest & Wheatbelt: Rachael Clifford)

Bob Hasleby, a former coach of Cripps, said there was a hangover from Seroja but it showed the humility of the players when they travelled back home. 

“All the AFL players came back and helped out, which was great it’s their roots, it means a lot to them,” he said.

Hasleby said Cripps’ achievement had provided even more of a boost.

“Everyone’s pretty happy at how good it is to be living in a town that’s got a Brownlow medallist,” he said.

Tomelty said the Rams merchandise was also hot property, with fans eager to get their hands on a piece of Northampton history.

“Yeah, they’ve been selling out fast,” he said.

A year book entry with a photo of a young boy and a quote underneath it.
Cripps has wanted to play in the AFL since he was a child.(ABC Midwest & Wheatbelt: Rachael Clifford)

Town in the spotlight

The town boasting just over 800 people has been relishing in the spotlight all week. 

The “footy factory” has so far produced eight All Australian players, two Coleman medallists and four premiership players.

Cripps’ Brownlow, regarded the highest individual achievement an AFL player can receive, is the town’s first.

His pre-primary yearbook has been on display this week at Northampton District High School with the quote “when I grow up I’m going to be a ‘footy’ player for the Eagles”.

School officer Tanya Husbands said a Patrick Cripps tribute had also been set up at the school.

Hasleby said football was the one thing that kept the town going.

“The town is built around footy on the weekend, it is the lifeblood of the town really,” he said.

When recounting his first memories of Cripps playing junior footy, Hasleby said he was the “real deal”.

“He was a complete package from day one, he had everything you’d want to play AFL,” he said.

“If you think of Paddy like he is now with the speed of Chris Judd, that was what he was like,” he said.

Northampton footy players
Patrick Cripps (middle) in his junior days at Northampton Rams.(ABC Midwest & Wheatbelt: Rachael Clifford)

Cripps was five when he stepped onto the Northampton football oval.

Hasleby said he knew there was something special early on.

“Every junior team has a kid who is bigger, stronger and faster and he was that, but he also had everything else,” he said.

Medal inspires upcoming footy talents

Northampton Football Club president Damian Harris said the community was “blown away” that Cripps’ dedication had paid off.

Two men standing on a football field smile at the camera.
Bob Hasleby and Damian Harris are ecstatic about Cripps’ Brownlow win.(ABC Midwest & Wheatbelt: Rachael Clifford)

“[When] he got his hands on the ball, he’d want to use it positively and move it forward, not waste opportunities,” he said.

Northampton has produced many AFL talents and Harris said the addition of a Brownlow Medal win would help drive young players at the club to work harder.

“It may mean that their dedication has to start at a younger age,” he said.

“And they’ll go ‘wow I’ll give this a shot, I can achieve anything’.

“To get the highest accolade in our country’s football is awesome.”

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