The 2023 Sydney Swans AFL Club Champion Dinner was a night of celebration, recognition, and reflection on a remarkable season. Held at the Hilton Sydney, Grand Ballroom, this annual event brought together players, coaches, supporters, and special guests to honour the outstanding achievements of the Sydney Swans 2023 season. One of the standout moments of the evening was the recognition of several UNSW elite athletes who received awards for their contributions to the club's success.

Errol Gulden, a Bachelor of Arts student at UNSW, stole the show by winning his first Bob Skilton Medal as the Sydney Swans Club Champion. At just 21 years old, Gulden's performance in the 2023 season was nothing short of exceptional. His statistics spoke volumes, with an average of 27 disposals, five tackles, and one goal per game. Gulden's on-field heroics inspired both his teammates and fans alike, making him a deserving recipient of this prestigious award.
Gulden's achievements in 2023 extended beyond the Club Champion Medal. He received his first All-Australian blazer, cementing his status as one of the league's brightest young stars. Gulden also received the Carey Bunton Medal, recognizing him as the best AFL player from New South Wales—an accolade presented by former Sydney Swans chairman Richard Colless. Errol Gulden's exceptional season was further acknowledged with the Paul Kelly Player's Player award, voted on by his teammates. This recognition highlighted Gulden's high standards and emerging leadership qualities within the young midfield group.

Errol Gulden Holding The Bob Skilton Medal as Sydney Swans Club Champion
Errol Gulden Holding The Bob Skilton Medal as Sydney Swans Club Champion

James Rowbottom, studying a Bachelor of Commerce, claimed the Peter Bedford Trophy after finishing third in the Bob Skilton Medal count. Rowbottom's midfield tenacity was a standout feature of the season as he set a new club record with 176 tackles, surpassing Brett Kirk's previous record from 2009. Rowbottom's defensive prowess, averaging seven tackles per game, added depth to the Swans' young midfield and solidified his place in the club's history.

UNSW elite athlete Hayden McLean (Bachelor of Construction Management and Property) received the Dennis Carrol Award for Most Improved Player. The young key forward's fifth season with the Swans saw him go from strength to strength, culminating in impressive performances, including a 12-mark game against Carlton in the preliminary final. 

Another standout among the UNSW elite athletes was Angus Sheldrick (Bachelor of Commerce), who earned the Rising Star Award. Sheldrick's dominant performance in the first half of the season showcased his promise, despite a year-ending injury. Callum Mills (Graduate Certificate in Commerce) was awarded life membership after securing over 150 games with the Sydney Swans.

The 2023 Sydney Swans AFL Club Champion Dinner was a night filled with accolades and appreciation for the team's hard work across the season. UNSW elite athletes, including Errol Gulden, James Rowbottom, Callum Mills, and Hayden McLean, played significant roles in the Swans' success, further highlighting the strong partnership between the club and the university. As the Swans look ahead to future seasons, we are excited to see what is in store for this promising young batch of superstars with hopefully more to come!