Tue, Mar 8, 5:17pm by Kevin Pitstock
The Brownlow Medal – the most prestigious award given to the best AFL player in a home-and-away season.
It’s all a matter of opinion, but the majority of footy experts firmly believe 2010 winner – Carlton captain Chris Judd – was not the best player in the league last year. Judd finished with 30 votes –which included eight games where he polled three votes – a whopping 21 votes ahead of his next best teammate Kade Simpson.
Positions two to five in last year’s medal tally were occupied by Geelong’s Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood and Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan. Each player collected between 26 and 21 votes, meaning they stole a number of votes off each other throughout the season.
What did we learn from last year’s count? If you’re the lone star player in your team for the entire season, you won’t have a lot of votes taken off you.
Yes Jimmy Bartel and Ablett were recent exceptions in 2007 and 2009 during the Cats’ years of dominance. But more often than not, a Brownlow medal winner is the sole star player in a team and would’ve had very few votes taken off them.
Let’s have a look at some of the contenders for this year’s Brownlow medal.
Dane Swan (Collingwood) – Was the favourite going into last year’s count but was once again denied by the umpires. Swan ranked first for kicks, total disposals and inside 50’s in 2010, yet finished third in the Brownlow count. However he is still 27 and will continue to rack up the stats under the umpires’ eyes.
Chris Judd (Carlton) – Despite his controversial win last year, Judd is a superstar of the game. To win a Brownlow medal is an outstanding achievement, but to win two is beyond belief. However expect some of the Blues’ other young midfielders like Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs to steal votes off him this year.
Gary Ablett (Gold Coast) – This year will be the ultimate challenge for the 2009 Brownlow medallist. After achieving almost everything with Geelong, the captain of the league’s newest team will have to singlehandedly lead a young team into the unknown. But while he won’t have many votes taken off him, Ablett’s nagging injury problems might see him miss too many games to win his second medal.
Joel Selwood (Geelong) – You could watch this man play all day. Tough and amazingly skilled, Selwood is the typical umpire’s pet, putting his head over the ball and trying to extract the footy at every contest. The 22-year-old has accumulated 56 votes in the past three years and with Ablett heading to the Suns, this could be Selwood’s year.
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood) – One of the very few AFL players who seem to have all the time in the world to dispose of the footy. Pendlebury enjoyed a very consistent season in 2010, averaging 27 disposals and six tackles per game. He has all the characteristics of a future Brownlow medallist, but with Swan in the same midfield as him, it’s hard to see the 23-year-old winning this year.
Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) – Former Carlton great Mark Maclure recently said the Fremantle giant was the best ruckman of the last 20 years. Sandilands has dominated the ruck like very few before him. If the 211 centimetre monster can increase his disposal average and push forward to kick a few more goals, he could become the first ruckman to win the Brownlow since Scott Wynd in 1992.
Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs) – Perhaps the surprise packet of the 2010 count. Boyd took his game to another level last year, ranking fourth in the league for total kicks and fifth for total disposals. Perhaps the added pressure of being the Dogs’ new captain might spur him on to even greater heights this year.
Brendon Goddard (St Kilda) – Clearly the most versatile player in the game. As we saw from both 2010 grand finals, Goddard can play at a supremely high level in almost any position on the ground. However Saints hard nut Lenny Hayes, as well as Leigh Montagna, Nick Dal Santo and skipper Nick Rieowldt, are all likely to take votes off him.
Joel Selwood ($14.00 – Sportsbet)
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