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Daniel Cross (born 30 March 1983) is an Australian rules football midfielder who currently plays for the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League.
Cross was taken pick 56 in the 2000 National Draft and made his debut two year later in Round 10, 2002 against Richmond.
Cross won his first Western Bulldogs best and fairest award in 2008, finishing ahead of Brownlow Medallist, Adam Cooney.
He finished 2nd in the same award in each of the two seasons following his win, and remains a highly regarded player for the Bulldogs in season 2011.
Cross made his AFL debut in a 19 point victory over Richmond in Round 10. Despite the Bulldogs winning the match, Cross was hardly sighted and managed just two disposals. The following week was even more disappointing for Cross as he was not even able to get a kick in a huge victory over Fremantle. Cross only played a further two games in the 2002 season, it what was a relatively disappointing start to his AFL career.
Cross made his first 2003 appearance in Round 4 against Essendon but struggled to once again make a big impact. After two more lackluster performances the following weeks, Cross was dropped to the VFL to play with the Werribee Tigers. After impressive performances with Werribbe, Cross was able to earn a recall in to the Bulldogs side. His return to the Bulldogs side was good enough for him to keep his place in the side the following week, but after a disappointing performance against Richmond in Round 17, the AFL career of Daniel Cross appeared to be in jeopardy. That was until a solid performance in Round 22 gave himself, and the Western Bulldogs, hope that he had a future at the club. Cross managed 18 disposals in Round 22, in what was an otherwise disappointing game as the Bulldogs lost by 84 points to the Brisbane Lions.
Cross made the decision to stay with the Western Bulldogs for the 2004 season, despite only managing to play a total of 10 games in his first three seasons. Cross had contemplated leaving the Bulldogs due to lack of opportunities but was assured he had a future at the club by then coach Terry Wallace. After playing just two games in the first 10 weeks of the 2004 season, Cross was able to play the remaining 12 games of the season. Cross was solid, without being spectacular, for the following 6 weeks, averaging 12 possessions. Cross has just 7 possessions in Round 18 against West Coast but all of his hard work finally began to pay off as Cross earnt himself a NAB Rising Star nomination in Round 19, against Hawthorn. Despite the Bulldogs losing a nail-biter, Cross managed a then career-high 29 disposals. Cross was again dominant the following week when he collected 26 disposals against eventual premiers Port Adelaide.
The Western Bulldogs made an impressive start to the 2005 campaign under new coach Rodney Eade. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 32 point victory over Collingwood. Cross was vital in the win, collecting 24 possessions. After breaking the 20 possession barrier for the following 5 weeks, Cross ended up earning his first ever Brownlow Medal vote for his Round 7 performance against the Brisbane Lions, where he had an impressive 29 possessions in the 23 point win.
Cross continued to rack up the possessions, and had his first 30 possession game against Essendon in Round 10. The outstanding form of Cross continued as he managed more than 20 disposals in every game until Round 16. His 18 disposal game in Round 16 was still impressive, considering his performance the previous week. Cross was seemingly everywhere in Round 15 against Fremantle as he had a staggering 35 possessions.
Cross got over 20 possessions in every game after Round 16, but it was not enough to give the Bulldogs a finals birth. Cross finished the season with a highly impressive 563 disposals. This included 21 out of 22 games in which he obtained more than twenty possessions. Cross managed more handballs then any other played in the competition in 2005, and finished 9th in terms of possessions. The Western Bulldogs ended up finishing in 9th position, just one sport out of the finals and Daniel Cross was winning many admirers for his outstanding season.
Cross was again a regular in the Bulldogs midfield, alongside Scott West and Adam Cooney. Cross reached his 50 game milestone in Round 4 against Geelong. Cross was able to rise to the occasion, collecting 20 disposals in a thrilling 1 point victory over the Cats.
The Bulldogs opened the season with 4 wins from 4 matches, but lost their next two. The Western Bulldogs were back to winning ways in Round 7, against Port Adelaide. Cross was magnificent as the Bulldogs ran rampant against the Power, winning by 76 points at AAMI Stadium. Cross was constantly dominating the midfield and after a quiet game against Sydney in round 8, Cross got 20+ disposals in every remaining match of the home and away season. That remarkable effort was good enough to help the Western Bulldogs reach the AFL finals. Cross finished 2nd overall for handballs and third in the overall disposal count.
In Cross' first ever AFL Finals appearance, he lined up in the Bulldogs side which faced off against Collingwood in the Elimination Final. Cross was outstanding in his first ever finals appearance, his 32 disposals crucial in the Western Bulldogs 41 point victory. However, the Bulldogs lost the following week against eventual premiers West Coast. Cross managed just 18 disposals for the match in what was a disappointing way to end a fantastic season.
Cross made a superb start to the 2007 season, getting 37 disposals in a hard fought victory over Geelong. Cross continued to blossom as a footballer, as he continued to rack up the possessions. Despite his continues good form, Cross was often overlooked in Brownlow Medal voting due to his perceived "in and under" and "link-up" style play in which Cross was usually disposing of the ball mostly by hand. Cross unfortunately suffered a serious injury against Brisbane Lions in Round 11 and missed the following six games. Cross made a fantastic return with a 30 disposal performance against Melbourne, but was unable to stop the Bulldogs losing streak as they were unable to win any of their last 7 matches.
The Western Bulldogs opened up the 2008 campaign against the Adelaide Crows and won a thrilling encounter by 3 points, with Cross again amongst the best players for the Bulldogs. With legendary midfielder Scott West suffering a long term injury, Cross has taken on a much greater midfield role, and is constantly performing at a high level, making him one of the competitions elite midfielders. Cross played his 100th AFL game in Round 15 against Melbourne. Cross stood tall in his milestone game, claiming 25 possessions in a dominating display.
Cross is currently leading the AFL in handballs and is averaging 26 disposals a game. Despite being amongst the Bulldogs best, Cross was unable to stop the Western Bulldogs from losing their next two matches. After getting smashed in a top of the table clash against the Cats in Round 16, Cross put his body on the line on numerous occasions the following week against Carlton, managing 27 possessions, but was unable to help the Bulldogs across the line. Cross finished the game with 12 contested possessions and was regarded as the Bulldogs best player.
The Bulldogs were back on the winners list the following week against the Swans, with Cross having a big impact, claiming 23 possessions. However, the Bulldogs were unable to back up their performance at Manuka Oval with a win the following week, as they stumbled to 20 point loss against the in-form North Melbourne. Despite having 23 possessions, Cross' performance was not up to his typically dominating standards set in previous rounds. Cross is amongst the favourites for the 2008 Most Courageous player award, an award chosen by the players. Cross was also one of the Western Bulldogs three nominated players for the 2008 MVP award.
Cross accumilated 31 possessions in the final home and away game of the season, a 9 point loss against Adelaide. Despite the loss, the Western Bulldogs finished in 3rd place, their highest position since Cross joined the club. The Bulldogs faced off against 2nd placed Hawthorn in the first week of the finals. The Western Bulldogs were completed outclassed by the Hawks, despite Daniel Cross earning a career high 39 disposals.
Commentator Dennis Cometti said Cross was the only Bulldogs player who could walk off the ground with "his head held high". The Bulldogs bounced back the following week against Sydney and booked a spot in the Preliminary Final against Geelong. The Western Bulldogs season came to an end in the Preliminary Final after losing by 29 points. Daniel Cross was seen as the Bulldogs best player, gathering 29 possessions, with 11 of them being contested.
Cross' brilliant 2008 season was capped off by winning the Charles Sutton Medal, the Bulldogs best and fairest award. Cross upstaged Brownlow Medal winner Adam Cooney to claim the award, as well as being the inaugural winner of the Scott West Award for most courageous player and the winner of the Bruce Wilkinson Award for best player as voted by the trainers. Cross was praised by Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson at the presentation who said "His determination and drive is just massive and that's why he's become one of the elite midfielders in the competition".
Cross' 2009 season got off to a great start, racking up 29 possessions in a win over Fremantle. Cross played every game of the 2009 season, despite not being 100% for the whole season due to a persistent ankle injury. Cross accumilated a total of 581 disposals in 2009, a season in which the Western Bulldogs made another Preliminary final.
The Bulldogs lost the Preliminary final to St Kilda by 7 points, Cross was one of the Dogs better players on the night, with only 4 teammates having more disposals.