Tue, Sep 25, 11:07am by Head Editor
Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell has become the fourth favourite in as many years to take out the AFL’s most prestigious individual honour, the Brownlow Medal.
The ball-magnet, who was as short as $1.45 with some bookmakers when the count started, collected 28 votes to beat Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom by four votes.
It is the sixth time that a Hawk has saluted on football’s night of nights with the former Swan joining Colin Austen (1949), Robert DiPierdomenico (1986), John Platten (1987), Shane Crawford (1999) and his namesake Sam Mitchell who saluted in 2012.
The midfielder’s season was one to behold, he averaged 36 disposals per game game, 16 of which were contested, eight clearances, five inside 50s, six tackles and five marks.
Six three-vote games, including the Round One win over this season’s Grand Finalists Collingwood, when the 25-year old set a new AFL record for the most disposals in a game, saw Mitchell add his name to the honour role.
The West Australian spoke well when he was presented with his medal, thanking his family, who he said have helped him immensely in his journey to the top.
Mitchell’s father Barry, played 170 games for the Sydney Swans which paved the way for Tom to be recruited to the club as a father-son selection with pick 21 in the 2011 Draft.
The newly-crowned Brownlow Medalist could only manage 39 appearances in the red and white during his first four years at the club and although he did play every game in Sydney’s 2016 campaign, which ended in a Grand Final loss to the Bulldogs, he was traded to the Hawks in the ensuing trade period, for pick 14.
It could have been a far different story for the midfielder had he been suspended for a high elbow on North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein in Round Five and Mitchell thanked “Goldy” for the part he played in getting him off with a fine for misconduct.
“I do remember the incident. I think Goldy actually looked after me a bit in the post-game as well,” Mitchell said.
Online bookmaker Sportsbet were hurting from the result, announcing on Tuesday morning that they had paid out more than $1.8 million on Mitchell, who held more than half the total money in the betting market, including a wager of $80,000 at $1.50.
Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom may have bigger fish to fry this week, with he and his teammates the $1.67 favourite to win the Premiership on Saturday, but he did threaten to spring a major upset, which had the room buzzing.
The midfielder was a $51 outsider and despite never placing in the top 10 before, Sidebottom led the count by a single vote with six games to play.
Mitchell went to the top of the leaderboard with a best on ground performance in Round 18 against the Blues and then we he matched that feat against the Dockers in the next round, he was never going to be beaten.
Melbourne young-gun Angus Brayshaw capped off a brilliant season finishing in third place with 21 votes, which was just one vote ahead of fellow youngster, the powerfully built Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps.
Brownlow Medal Top 10 Leaderboard
28 Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)
24 Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
21 Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne)
20 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
20 Max Gawn (Melbourne)
19 Rory Laird (Adelaide)
19 Dustin Martin (Richmond)
18 Dayne Beams (Brisbane)
18 Jack Steven (St Kilda)
17 Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)
17 Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
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