Former Brownlow Medal host Bruce McAvaney told SEN Breakfast this week he was “surprised” by this year’s Medal count.
“I didn’t think we’d know until the last round,” he said. “I thought it would be won by someone with around 25 (votes).”
In the end, Nathan Fyfe’s 33 votes earned him the ‘Charlie’, a solid six votes clear of any opposition player. This was despite the Fremantle captain missing two games this season and his team finishing 13th on the ladder.
Down low in The Brownlow
This week’s Grand Finalist Richmond were the seventh-placed team overall in the Brownlow count with a total of just 72 votes – the equivalent of around 2.2 Fyfes.
2017 Medallist Dustin Martin polled 23 votes this year but was ineligible due to his one-game suspension for elbowing Adam Kennedy of GWS in Round 3, the same game in which he also struck Matt De Boer and mocked players including Shane Mumford. ‘Dusty’ was the only Tiger to score a dozen or more votes this year, while midfield gun Dion Prestia flew deep under the umpires’ radar with only eight votes.
Other players with unexpectedly modest outcomes were the 2019 Champion Data rankings leader Max Gawn (17 votes), Adelaide’s ultra-consistent Brad Crouch (14) and GWS Giant Lachie Whitfield (12), but the latter did amass 11 of his votes before his bye and collarbone injury.
Andrew Gaff (13) was the AFL’s second highest kick-getter in 2019 but came equal-23rd in the Brownlow. North Melbourne players Todd Goldstein (5 votes) and Ben Cunnington (10) came sixth and twelfth respectively in Champion Data rankings, but were easily outscored by Shaun Higgins (18).
Brad Hill’s superb season alongside Fyfe at the Dockers only earned him four votes, while Gold Coast ruckman Jarrod Witts tallied just one.
A complete lack of defenders on the Brownlow leader board has become somewhat typical since a backman last won it in 1993 (Gavin Wanganeen) and prior to that in 1983 (Ross Glendinning). But it’s perhaps best and fairest if we simply say this year’s All-Australian defenders could feel underdone.
Tom Stewart, Dylan Grimes and Shannon Hurn each polled three votes, Harris Andrews polled two and Jeremy McGovern zero, for a grand total (including Bachar Houli’s eleven votes) of 22 total AA backline mentions, or just under one vote per round. In other words, those six players combined were deemed about two-thirds of a Fyfe.
Up forward, whilst Tom Hawkins only had five votes, his fellow All-Australian goal kickers combined for a respectable total 70 votes (although this includes Patrick Dangerfield’s 27).
Some of this year’s favourites kept punters holding their breath at times throughout the count.
No votes were awarded to Patrick Cripps from Round 13 to Round 18 inclusive and Marcus Bontempelli didn’t poll from Round 8 to 14. Tim Kelly ran dry in the last four rounds, likewise Jack Macrae for five weeks mid-year. Dayne Zorko had a double drought between Round 2 to 6 and Round 9 to 13.
Hawks spread wings
Fourteen Hawthorn players polled in this year’s Brownlow – the most of any club. The Hawks shared a total of 67 votes, but this was only the 10th highest tally of all teams.
Of their 14 representatives, Jaeger O’Meara was the slightly surprising ‘winner’ with 11 votes, outshining both Henderson and Worpel (10 each).
Off the field
Perhaps the biggest surprise on the red carpet was a certain red suede number, as one of the night’s early talking points surrounded Patty’s jacket, but not in a bad way. It was a major improvement on Graham Teasdale’s retina-burning display in 1977.
Elsewhere, (Brad Hill’s partner) Samantha Dobbs’ dress, or lack thereof, opened eyeballs for a whole other reason. Well played Samantha.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it and the world will take notice.
Unless you’re a defender. Then you’re stuffed.