It’s always a joy when September swings around. Sure, general excitement rises as the season builds to a crescendo with the commencement of finals, but for me personally, having followed and analysed the Brownlow Medal quite closely since 2010, I’m like a boy on Christmas when that prestigious occasion rolls around on September 24th – the Brownlow Medal.

This will be the first of a series of articles dedicated towards analysing the main Brownlow contenders, and evaluating their chances of taking home ‘Charlie’.

 

Candidate #1: Jobe Watson.

Ever since assuming the captaincy in 2009, Watson has come on in leaps and bounds as not only a leader, but in terms of improving his overall game to become one of the game’s elite midfielders. Much maligned for his lack of kicking prowess, he is now recognised as one of the most damaging players in the competition.

After polling a career high 16 votes in 2010, Watson maintained this consistency by backing it up with 15 votes in what was an injury riddled season in 2011. On face value, it would seem as though he performed quite similarly in both seasons, but look a little closer and it’s evident that there are signs to suggest that he made significant inroads in his polling performance, and will become a perennial Brownlow poller in 2012.

In the first 8 games of the season, up until he went on to miss 3 games through injury, Watson polled 11 votes. In other words, he polled 73% of his total votes in 8 games; a period in which he averaged 29 possessions and 1.6 goals a game. That in itself is a massive achievement, especially considering he polled 16 votes in 21 games in season 2010.

Upon returning from injury in Round 12, he played a further 3 games before again being struck down with a hamstring injury where he missed a further 4 games. Taking into account his early season form prior to injury, if you were to play devils advocate and say that if he had an injury free season and played all 23 games in 2011, it’s not unreasonable to guesstimate he’d have polled over 30 votes and gone close to winning the Brownlow ahead of Swan.

So what of his season this year?

With a game remaining, Watson is averaging 29 disposals and scoring 0.9 goals a game. Those stats sound eerily familiar, don’t they?

I am very confident Watson will finish top three, and with him enjoying arguably his best season to date, he’ll come very close to having the Brownlow draped around his neck on that illustrious night.

The only factor that could prevent him from taking the Charlie home this year will be the late season form of Essendon, which could undermine his ability to nab votes in losses that were quite sizable. With the Bombers facing Collingwood this weekend – a club that he has only polled once against in 13 matches – it doesn’t bode well for his chances of finishing the season with an extra vote or two under his belt.

As to how much of a detrimental impact the team’s performance has had on Jobe’s Brownlow aspirations – if at all – remains to be seen.

Predicted finish: 1st – 3rd.
Expected total votes polled: 27 – 30 votes.
Number of games expected to poll votes: 13 – 14 games.

For the latest information on the Brownlow Medal, check out Brownlow Talk.