The second biggest prize in AFL football, the Brownlow Medal, has been won by West Coast Eagle Matt Priddis.
Priddis’s win ended what would have been a fairytale story for Gold Coast Sun and dual winner Gary Ablett Jr. He polled 26 votes to win by four votes and be the first Eagle to win the award since Ben Cousins in 2005.
Here’s the final standings:
Matt Priddis (West Coast): 26
Nat Fyfe* (Fremantle Dockers): 25
Gary Ablett Jr (Gold Coast Suns), Lance Franklin (Sydney): 22
Travis Boak (Port), Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide), Josh Kennedy (Sydney), Joel Selwood (Geelong): 21
*- ineligible due to suspension
“This doesn’t sit too well with me,” the 29-year-old Priddis said after accepting the medal. “I’m a shy kind of guy and I don’t see myself alongside the likes of other Brownlow Medal winners.””
“I was never going to give up. I just wanted to play at the highest possible level I could play at.”
Ablett led for most of the night, right up to Round 19, by which time he had polled 22 votes and missed the past five games through injury.
It wasn’t enough. At that stage, Priddis, Geelong captain Joel Selwood and Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak were within striking distance.
Selwood failed to poll in the penultimate round, leaving it a thrilling final round battle between Priddis, Boak and Adelaide Crow Patrick Dangerfield.
Dangerfield and Boak both failed to poll in the final round, but Priddis bagged an extra point to win it by four votes.
Priddis had a remarkable season and his Brownlow win is no doubt a huge embarrassment for All Australian selectors who overlooked him entirely for the 2014 squad.
He was the league’s leading ball-winner with 627 disposals, averaging of more than 28 per game across 22 matches.
More than half his possessions were won in direct contests.
Buddy Frankin paid Sydney back with his best season, polling 22 votes to match his Coleman Medal for kicking the most goals in 2014. It was the most votes ever polled by a Coleman Medallist.
His Sydney teammate Josh Kennedy ran close. His huge 41 possession game against Carlton in Round 16 put him within two votes of Ablett. Dangerfield was looming along with Boak but Kennedy’s regular season was over as he sat out the final couple of games to nurse an injury.
Fyfe took the lead from Ablett in Round 19 but was ineligible due to suspension. Priddis stole it from him in Round 20.
Despite not winning, it remained a remarkable night for Ablett.
In Round 7, he became the first player to reach 14 votes so quickly, in the process also becoming the fifth AFL player to get to 200 votes.
It took Hawk favourite Jordan Lewis until round 11 to even poll. By that time, Ablett already had 17 votes, enough to win the medal back in the days his dad was dominating.
The prelude red carpet event also featured the usual suspects, with Rebecca Judd continuing her winning run, Ablett’s girlfriend Jordan Papalia in headturning bridal white and Geoffrey Edelsten’s squeeze once again stealing the show.
Gabi Grecko, ladies and gentlemen.
The 2014 Brownlow night also featured for the first time awards for Goal of the Year and Mark of the Year.
The Goal of the Year was given to Matt White from Port Adelaide for this run against Richmond from the other end of the centre square.
And Port Adelaide made it a double when White’s teammate Chad Wingard took home the Mark of the Year for this screamer:
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