Brownlow Medal

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Brownlow Medal
First Brownlow Medal.jpg
The first Brownlow Medal, awarded to Edward Greeves Jr. in 1924
Awarded forThe best and fairest player in the Australian Football League
Location Crown Palladium Ballroom
CountryAustralia
Presented by AFL
First awarded 1924
Currently held by Lachie Neale (Brisbane Lions)
Website Brownlow Medal
Television/radio coverage
Network Seven Network (1970–2001, 2007, 2009, 2011–present)
Fox Footy (2012–2016)
Network Ten (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010)
Nine Network (2003, 2005)

The Charles Brownlow Trophy, better known as the Brownlow Medal (and informally as "Charlie"), is awarded to the "best and fairest" player in the Australian Football League (AFL) during the home-and-away season, as determined by votes cast by the officiating field umpires after each game. It is the most prestigious award for individual players in the AFL. It is also widely acknowledged as the highest individual honour in the sport of Australian rules football.

Contents

The medal was first awarded by the Victorian Football League (VFL). It was created and named in honour of Charles Brownlow, a former Geelong Football Club footballer (1880–1891) and club secretary (1885–1923), and VFL president (1918–19), who had died in January 1924 after an extended illness.

Format of citation

Charles "Chas" Brownlow, namesake of the award Chas Brownlow.jpg
Charles "Chas" Brownlow, namesake of the award

Although the award is generally spoken of the "best and fairest", the award's specific criterion is "fairest and best", reflecting an emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play (which also explains the decision to have the votes cast by the umpires), as the 1924 somewhat illuminated citation expressly states:

Mr. Edward Greeves
Geelong Football Club
[VFL EMBLEM]
THE CHARLES BROWNLOW TROPHY
Dear Sir,
On behalf of the Victorian Football League, we desire
to place on permanent record the appreciation of your excellent play
during the Season 1924.
You were selected as the fairest and best player and we have
pleasure in presenting the accompanying Gold Medal in recognition of those
sterling qualities.
Trusting that you will be long spared to interest yourself in the
adancement[ sic ] of the Game.
We are, yours sincerely
W. Baldwin Spencer (President),
M.E. Green (Treasurer), E. L. Wilson (Secretary) [1]

The VFL was the last of the four major mainland leagues to strike an award for league best and fairest: the SANFL's Magarey Medal had been awarded since 1898, while the WAFL's Sandover Medal (1921) and the VFA's Woodham Cup (1923) had been struck more recently. Over time, all of these awards have migrated towards similar rules regarding voting and eligibility.

But for the change of the monogram from VFL to AFL in 1990, the design, shape and size of the medallion itself has remained virtually unchanged from that of 1924.

Criteria for "fairest" and "best"

Voting procedure for "best"

To determine the best player, the three field umpires (not the goal umpires or boundary umpires) confer after each home-and-away match and award 3 votes, 2 votes and 1 vote to the players they regard as the best, second best and third best in the match respectively. On the awards night, the votes from each match are tallied, and the player or players with the highest number of votes is awarded the medal (subject to eligibility – see below).

The current voting system has been used for the vast majority of Brownlow Medal counts. There have been different voting systems for short periods in the past:

Since the rules were changed in 1980, if two or more eligible players score the equal highest number of votes, each wins a Brownlow medal. Prior to 1980, if two or more players were tied, a single winner was chosen on a countback:

Even with these considerations, these countbacks failed to separate Des Fothergill and Herbie Matthews, who tied for the medal in 1940. [6] [7] The league decided to keep the original medal and award replica medals to the two winners. [8] In 1989, the eight players who since the inception of the award had tied on votes but lost on a countback were awarded retrospective medals. [9]

Ineligibility

The fairest component of the medal is achieved by making ineligible any player who is suspended by the AFL Tribunal during the home-and-away season. An ineligible player cannot win the Brownlow Medal, regardless of the number of votes he has received.

A player remains eligible for the Brownlow Medal under the following circumstances:

The application of the ineligibility criteria has remained fairly consistent throughout the history of the award, with some subtle changes, since it was introduced in 1931. [10] The main exception was from 2005 until 2014, when a player would become ineligible if he committed an infringement that the Tribunal's Match Review Panel judged as being worthy of a one-game suspension, before applying adjustments based on a player's good or bad record, or for accepting an early guilty plea – meaning that players with a good record or early plea could be ineligible despite avoiding suspension, or a player with a bad record could be eligible despite having been suspended. [11]

Umpires cast their votes for each game independent of eligibility criteria of the players; i.e. umpires can cast votes for players who have already been suspended during that season if they perceive them to be amongst the best on the ground. Prior to 1991, votes could not be awarded to a player in a match in which he was reported, but this rule was eliminated in 1991 so that a player would not be disadvantaged if he would have gained votes in a match in which he was reported but later cleared by the tribunal. [12]

On three occasions, an ineligible player has tallied the highest number of Brownlow votes:

Criticism

The voting system has come under scrutiny because the Medal is almost always won by midfield players, with relatively few key-position players ever winning. Some of the game's greatest players in these positions never even coming close to winning the Brownlow, despite having high reputations amongst their peers and coaches. This is primarily because players who are most valuable to their teams in key or defensive positions tend not to attract enough attention to feature amongst the top three players on the ground. It is also perceived that umpires may not be best suited to judging the quality of gameplay. Several prominent coaches, including Kevin Sheedy and Leigh Matthews, have publicly criticised the voting process.

The eligibility system has also come under criticism. The argument has been made that many offences worthy only of a one-match suspension are caused by negligent play, rather than intentionally "unfair" play, and hence that suspension is not a reasonable measure of fairness. The break from tradition under the newer demerit points-based tribunal system (i.e., a player being ineligible despite not having served a suspension) has also been criticised as confusing. Prominent players, including dual-winner Chris Judd, have indicated a desire to have the eligibility criterion removed from the award (effectively eliminating the fairest component altogether); [13] but this view is not universally held, and 1958 winner Neil Roberts stated in 1988 that he would hand back his medal if the fairness criterion were removed. [14]

Award ceremony

Crown Casino, current home of the Brownlow Medal ceremony CrownTowers-hotel.jpg
Crown Casino, current home of the Brownlow Medal ceremony

Over the years, [15] the award ceremony has become increasingly elaborate, with footballers and their dates gradually becoming more fashion-conscious. This aspect of the night has become widely reported by gossip columns. The ceremony is currently held at Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex in Melbourne on the Monday five days prior to the AFL Grand Final. Only twice since the award's inception in 1924 has the count been held outside of Melbourne, when it was held in Sydney in 1999, [16] [17] and in 2020 when the event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the event from being held in Melbourne. [18] In years past, prospective Grand Final players have attended the ceremony in person, but in recent years non-Victorian Grand Final teams have declined to attend the ceremony due to the inconvenience of travel in such an important week; a live video link to Brownlow functions in their home city is done instead.

The event itself consists of the votes for each match being read out in succession by the CEO of the AFL, currently Gillon McLachlan, interspersed with a retrospective look at highlights from each round of the season and commentary from the broadcast network's usual football commentary team.

The integrity of the award is upheld by the tight security and secrecy surrounding the votes. Once the umpires make their decision, the votes are locked away and transported by armoured security vehicles. No one except the three umpires knows exactly who has been voted for, and as different umpires vote on different games, no one can be sure of who will win. Unlike most award ceremonies, the votes are not tallied or even opened until they are actually announced on the night, so the drama is maintained until late on the actual night, when the result sometimes comes down to the final round of votes.

From 1959 until 1974 radio stations including 3UZ, 3KZ and 3AW broadcast the vote counts. 1116 SEN now covers the count. Direct television telecasts began in 1970, when the venue was the Dallas Brooks Hall, and have occurred every year since.

Some bookmakers offer betting on the winner of the Brownlow Medal. A number of well-publicised "plunges" on supposed winners has led to increasingly elaborate security measures to ensure the Brownlow votes are kept secret until the vote count. [19] [20] [21]

Since 1987, the theme used in the moments after the winning player has been announced is the theme from The Untouchables.

Each major state league, and most suburban and country leagues have similar awards with generally the same voting and eligibility requirements. The major awards are:

Winners

Records

Most medals by player
Haydn Bunton Sr., the first of four players to win three Brownlow Medals Haydn Bunton Snr leap.jpg
Haydn Bunton Sr., the first of four players to win three Brownlow Medals
Dustin Martin won the 2017 Brownlow Medal with 36 votes, the highest number since the introduction of the 3-2-1 voting system. Dustin Martin 2017.3.jpg
Dustin Martin won the 2017 Brownlow Medal with 36 votes, the highest number since the introduction of the 3–2–1 voting system.
Most medals by club
Most votes in a season
Most career votes
More votes than games
Youngest winner
Oldest winner
Winners with multiple clubs
Winners who also won a premiership in same season
Most votes by a club in a season (3-2-1 voting system)
Fewest votes by a club in a season (3-2-1 voting system)

See also

Related Research Articles

Gregory Donald Williams is a former Australian rules footballer who represented Geelong, the Sydney Swans and Carlton in the Australian Football League (AFL) during the 1980s and 1990s. A midfielder, he is a dual Brownlow Medal winner and at his peak was the then highest-paid player in the history of the sport. He was also a very controversial player throughout his career, and was involved in a variety of scandals throughout the 1990s.

In Australian sport, the best and fairest, or fairest and best in some competitions e.g. West Australian Football League, recognises the player(s) adjudged to have had the best performance in a game or over a season for a given sporting club or competition. The awards are sometimes dependent on not receiving a suspension for misconduct or breaching the rules during that season.

2007 Brownlow Medal

The 2007 Brownlow Medal was the 80th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Jimmy Bartel of the Geelong Football Club won the medal by polling twenty-nine votes during the 2007 AFL season.

2008 Brownlow Medal

The 2008 Brownlow Medal was the 81st year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Adam Cooney of the Western Bulldogs won the medal by polling twenty-four votes during the 2008 AFL season. Pre-vote favourite, Gary Ablett and sentimental favourite, Matthew Richardson finished equal third on twenty-two votes. Cooney polled twenty-four votes, one ahead of Brisbane's Simon Black, who won the award in 2002 and was equal second in 2007.

The 2009 Brownlow Medal was the 82nd year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Gary Ablett of the Geelong Football Club won the medal by polling thirty votes during the 2009 AFL season.

2010 Brownlow Medal

The 2010 Brownlow Medal was the 83rd year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Chris Judd of the Carlton Football Club won the medal by polling thirty votes during the 2010 AFL season. It was broadcast on Channel Ten and, for the first time, simultaneously on One live and nationally.

The 2005 Brownlow Medal was the 78th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Ben Cousins of the West Coast Eagles won the medal by polling twenty votes during the 2005 AFL season. It was Cousins' first Brownlow Medal win, and with Daniel Kerr finishing the runner up, it was the first time in 79 years that the top two votegetters were from the same club.

2011 Brownlow Medal

The 2011 Brownlow Medal was the 84th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Dane Swan of the Collingwood Football Club won the medal by polling thirty-four votes during the 2011 AFL season a then-record number of votes in a Brownlow Medal counted under the 3-2-1 voting system, it was surpassed by Patrick Dangerfield in 2016, where he polled thirty-five votes. It was then again surpassed by Dustin Martin in 2017 where he polled thirty-six votes

The 2012 Brownlow Medal was the 85th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. The award was won jointly by Sam Mitchell of the Hawthorn Football Club and Trent Cotchin of the Richmond Football Club, each of whom polled 26 votes during the 2012 AFL season.

2013 Brownlow Medal Award

The 2013 Brownlow Medal was the 86th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Gary Ablett of the Gold Coast Football Club won the medal for the second time by polling twenty-eight votes during the 2013 AFL season.

The 1977 Brownlow Medal was the 50th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Victorian Football League (VFL) home and away season. Graham Teasdale of the South Melbourne Football Club won the medal by polling fifty-nine votes during the 1977 VFL season. The count was the second of two occasions in which the two field umpires independently voted for the best players on the ground under the 3-2-1 system. This meant that the winner of the Brownlow had a higher number of votes than usual, and Teasdale's fifty-nine votes set and holds the record for the most votes ever polled in a single season. From 1978 onwards, the field umpires conferred after each game and awarded a single set of votes, rather than voting independently.

The 1996 Brownlow Medal was the 69th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Michael Voss of the Brisbane Bears and James Hird of the Essendon Football Club both won the medal by polling twenty-one votes during the 1996 AFL season. Corey McKernan of the North Melbourne Football Club polled the same number of votes as Voss and Hird, but due to a tribunal suspension during the year, he was deemed ineligible to win the award. This caused some to call for the rules to be changed to allow suspended players to still be eligible. The eligibility rules have remained the same since then, relying on the fairest section of fairest and best to continue to exclude suspended players from being able to win the award. McKernan went on to be a member of North Melbourne's 1996 AFL Grand Final winning team, something that both Voss and Hird said that they would prefer over winning the medal.

The 2014 Brownlow Medal was the 87th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Matt Priddis of the West Coast Eagles won the medal by polling twenty-six votes during the 2014 AFL season. Defending Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett of the Gold Coast Football Club was the short-priced favourite for the medal until he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in round 16. Betting on the medal was suspended while the extent of the injury to Ablett was determined. Geelong captain Joel Selwood, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury and Sydney's Josh Kennedy were considered to be among the new favourites in the wake of Ablett's injury, but at the end of the season Ablett was still second favourite to have polled enough votes before his injury to win the award. He ended up polling the equal-third most votes, tying with Sydney's Lance Franklin on 22 votes.

2015 Brownlow Medal

The 2015 Brownlow Medal was the 88th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Nat Fyfe of the Fremantle Football Club won the medal by polling thirty-one votes during the 2015 AFL season. He became the first Fremantle player to win the Brownlow Medal.

2016 Brownlow Medal

The 2016 Brownlow Medal was the 89th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Patrick Dangerfield of the Geelong Football Club won the medal by polling thirty-five votes during the 2016 AFL season, at the time the most by any player under the 3-2-1 voting system, beating the previous record of 34 votes set by Dane Swan in 2011.

2017 Brownlow Medal

The 2017 Brownlow Medal was the 90th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season. Dustin Martin of the Richmond Football Club won the medal with 36 votes.

The AFL Women's best and fairest is awarded to the best and fairest player in the AFL Women's (AFLW) during the home-and-away season, as determined by votes cast by the officiating field umpires after each game. It is the most prestigious award for individual players in the AFLW. It is also widely acknowledged as the highest individual honour in the sport of women's Australian rules football.

The Lambert–Pearce Medal is awarded to the best and fairest player in the VFL Women's (VFLW) during the home-and-away season, as determined by votes cast by the officiating field umpires after each game. It is the most prestigious award for individual players in the VFLW.

The Dhara Kerr Medal is awarded to the best and fairest player in the WAFL Women's (WAFLW) during the home-and-away season, as determined by votes cast by the officiating field umpires after each game. The award was part of the original West Australian Women's Football League competition and was carried over to the WAFLW when it commenced in 2019. Kerr was born in Warrnambool, Victoria in 1971 and died in Perth in 1995, three years after she had relocated to Western Australia and begun playing football for Innaloo.

References

  1. A photograph of the citation appears at Ross, (1996), p.116.
  2. "LEAGUE FOOTBALL". The Argus . Melbourne. 25 April 1931. p. 20. Retrieved 30 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "Football - Brownlow Medallist". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. 5 September 1929. p. 5.
  4. "Brownlow Medal". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. 24 April 1924. p. 9.
  5. 1 2 "Brownlow Medal - Conditions of Award Conflict". The Herald. Melbourne, VIC. 18 September 1930. p. 15.
  6. Ross (1996), p 163
  7. "Football Matthews and Fothergill Tie for Medal". The Argus . Melbourne. 5 September 1940. p. 12. Retrieved 30 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Football AWARDS FOR PLAYERS". The Argus . Melbourne. 14 September 1940. p. 11. Retrieved 30 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  9. Ross (1996), p 332
  10. "League Football - Premiership Rounds". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 25 April 1931. p. 20.
  11. Nathan Schmook (25 November 2015). "The Nat Fyfe rule: Brownlow Medal shake-up". Australian Football League. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  12. Michael Stevens (27 July 1990). "Medal vote change". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne. p. 80.
  13. Edmund, S, Champions call for update on Brownlow reprimand ruling 18 June 2008, retrieved 3 Aug 2010
  14. "The Medal". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne. 28 October 1988. pp. 84, 81.
  15. Sharland, W.S., "The Brownlow Medal: Presentation At Grand-Final", The Sporting Globe, (Saturday, 23 July 1932), p.6.
  16. Browne, Ashley (16 November 2016). "Mitchell's triumph adds to Hawks' quirky Brownlow winners". AFL.com.au. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  17. Crawford, Shane (22 September 2014). "Shane Crawford: Winning Brownlow changes your life, but it shouldn't change your approach to footy". Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  18. "Made for TV: Brownlow Medal count to be 'virtual' event". AFL.com.au. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  19. Baggio, Giulia (14 April 2000). "Medallist says Brownlow isn't immune to rigged bets". The World Today.
  20. McFarlane, Glenn. "The Brownlow Medallists: Nathan Buckley".
  21. Walsh, Courtney (23 September 2013). "Plunge on Sam Mitchell but Gary Ablett is Brownlow Medal favourite".
  22. "Brownlow Medal history and winners – AFL.com.au". afl.com.au. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  23. @js_kay (28 August 2018). "OTD in 2000 @EssendonFC polled a VFL / AFL record 116 (of possible 132) #Brownlow votes. The club polled... - all 6 votes in 14 rounds - the 3 votes in 20 rounds - at least one vote in all rounds - 74 of 78 votes in first 13 rounds" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  24. @sirswampthing (10 December 2019). "Fewest Brownlow votes by a club in a season (3-2-1 voting system only) 16 - 2013 MELB 17 - 2013 GWS 20 - 1996 FITZ, 2016 BRIS 21 - 1981 MELB 22 - 2012 GWS, 2019 GCS @AFL" (Tweet) via Twitter.