Seven major talking points from the AFL Brownlow medal count.
SEVEN AFL BROWNLOW MEDAL TALKING POINTS
By Steve Larkin
Winner Matt Priddis was overlooked at four national drafts before finally being given a chance with West Coast. How could recruiters get it so wrong, for so long? It’s a victory for Priddis’ persistence but also a win for pure footballers not blessed with the athletic grace that now obsess recruiters.
ALL AUSTRALIAN BLUNDER
How can the winner not make the All Australian team? Priddis is the first medallist since Melbourne’s Shane Woewodin in 2000 to be overlooked for the team. Priddis collected the most disposals of any player in the home and away season, had the third-highest number of clearances, ranked third for tackles and contested possessions – but still couldn’t crack a berth in the ceremonial team.
The result confirms that forwards, defenders and rucks shouldn’t even be invited to the Brownlow. Swans forward Lance Franklin polled 22 votes, the most ever by a Coleman medallist as the league’s leading goalkicker. The ruckman who polled the most votes was Greater Western Sydney’s Shane Mumford, with eight. And Geelong’s Harry Taylor was the leading defender in the count, with seven votes.
THE BAD BOYS
Priddis, by polling two votes in the last round, saved the AFL from a raging controversy – those votes put him one ahead of Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe, who was ineligible due to a contentious suspension. Fyfe (25 votes), Geelong’s Stevie Johnson (19), Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff (15) and North Melbourne’s Brent Harvey (15) were other ineligible players to poll well.
SHADES OF GRAY
Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray was a pre-count favourite. He won the AFL Coaches’ Association champion player award. He was acclaimed by his coach Ken Hinkley as “clearly the best” player in the competition this season. But Gray polled only 14 votes with umps repeatedly preferring his captain Travis Boak, who finished on 21 votes.
ABLETT’S STILL THE MAN
No offence to Priddis and others, but only a season-ending shoulder injury prevented Gold Coast champ Gary Ablett from winning a third Brownlow. Ablett, who finished equal second with Franklin with 22 votes, missed the last seven games yet still nearly won again.
The AFL’s new chief executive Gillon McLachlan was labelled a “tease” by the host broadcaster’s Bruce McAvaney for contrived pauses when reading the votes. The Seven Network’s coverage was a mishmash, with the actual counting of votes often appearing secondary to the night. McLachlan’s undue haste at reading out the votes also left viewers precious little time to digest them.