As another season rolls around, so too does the opportunity for one player to eclipse the rest of the competition, and be recognised alongside a bevy of esteemed legends of the game by winning the AFL’s highest individual honour; the Brownlow Medal.

Last year saw Jobe Watson become the 64th player to win the game’s most prestigious award, thereby cementing his place in footballing folklore after a stellar season.  But it didn’t come without solid competition.

Richmond maestro Trent Cotchin charged home with a hot run of form in the latter part of the season, only to finish runner-up alongside Sam Mitchell, who surprised many by how close he came to claiming ‘Charlie’. It was little surprise, however, that Ablett looked to be in the running throughout the entire season, only to come up short of snatching his second Brownlow from Watson’s grasp.

This article will be the first in a series of weekly installments, in which Bound For Glory News will be providing analysis for each game, round by round, highlighting the best performed players and giving votes accordingly. Throughout the season, readers will also be given an insight into who we think the top contenders are, and who is in the hunt to claim football’s top prize with the ‘Bound For Glory News Phantom Brownlow Count.’

ROUND ONE

Adelaide vs. Essendon:

Watson’s impact was unquestionable, with the reigning Brownlow medalist starting 2013 where he left off in 2012 by accumulating 34 disposals (13 of which were contested), along with seven clearances and one goal.

It was, however, Ben Howlett who worked most tirelessly throughout the match, kicking four crucial goals to go with 25 disposals. Hocking also stood out, claiming the scalp of Patrick Dangerfield by restricting him to 17 disposals, and a career low efficiency rate of 35.3%.

3. B. Howlett
2. J. Watson
1. D. Heppell

Fremantle vs. West Coast:

Mundy and Barlow quite literally played equally outstanding games, with both players tying for the Ross Glendinning Medal and amassing 27 disposals and 14 contested possessions each. The three and two votes could easily be reversed, but there is little doubt that they were the best two players on the ground.

The big surprise was the impressive performance of Danyle Pearce, who made his debut for Fremantle after cementing his spot in the team with some solid form during the pre-season. His impact in the middle was only emphasized by the fact that 15 of his 23 disposals were contested, and made up most of his side’s clearance dominance by drifting forward to kick two crucial goals to break the game open for the Dockers.

3. D. Mundy
2. M. Barlow
1. D. Pearce

Carlton vs. Richmond:

In what was a breakthrough win for Richmond after nine successive losses to Carlton, Brett Deledio led the charge with 17 disposals (coming in at 88% efficiency) and three goals. His impact, however, did drop off dramatically in the last quarter when Carlton posted a late resurgence.

His teammate and newly appointed captain in Trent Cotchin also did as he pleased, slicing through the Carlton midfield with every one of his 16 contested possessions that helped to make up his 33 disposals. The major drawback to his game was the fact he didn’t quite use the football as cleanly as he normally would, with his efficiency rate being only 48.5%

Whilst Judd’s impact in the last quarter was immense in helping rope Carlton back into the match when it looked as if all was lost, it was the overall performance of Bryce Gibbs that caught the eye with 34 disposals (16 contested), six clearances, seven inside 50s and two goals. Having said that, don’t write off Judd to feature in the votes.

3. B. Gibbs
2. B. Deledio
1. T. Cotchin

Western Bulldogs vs. Brisbane:

The Dogs came into the match as massive underdogs due to the absence of their skipper Matthew Boyd, but surprisingly it was the impact and performance of their midfield brigade that was most impressive.

Ryan Griffen proved he could stand up and fill Boyd’s shoes with 27 disposals, to compliment the scoreboard impact he had by kicking two goals.

Meanwhile, Liberatore’s contested work in the middle was a feature, and his impact was evident with 16 contested possessions, and 11 clearances – both of which were game highs. The one vote could go to either Shaun Higgins or the debutant in Brett Goodes, the former was selected due to his overwhelming influence up forward with 10 inside 50s and his scoreboard contribution of 3 goals and 3 behinds.

3. R. Griffen
2. T. Liberatore
1. S. Higgins

GWS vs. Sydney:

If his 25 disposals and 3 goals were not enough to suggest his dominance, also taking out the ‘Brett Kirk Medal’ for best afield would imply it is hard to go past giving top votes to Kieren Jack.

Josh Kennedy was also in fine form, with a whopping 24 of his total 28 disposals being contested.

The battle of the rucks looked to have broken-even between both sides, but it was Mumford’s ability to give the dominant Swans midfield first use of the ball that stood out.

3. K. Jack
2. J. Kennedy
1. S. Mumford

Gold Coast vs. St. Kilda:

Not much more needs to be said to explain why Ablett deserves best on ground honours. His impact was immense throughout the entire match, and his ability to turn the game in the Suns’ favour with his work and three crucial goals in the last quarter was something to behold.

Armitage battled willfully for the Saints with 25 disposals, eight clearances, and nine inside 50s, whilst Hayes’ cleanness with the ball was a highlight, with his efficiency rate of 93% exemplifying that.

3. G. Ablett
2. D. Armitage
1. J. Geary

Melbourne vs. Port Adelaide:

Hamish Hartlett dominated the hapless Demons with a scintillating display, which included 29 disposals and two goals. Travis Boak also ran riot, with 26 disposals (14 contested), and a game-high 11 clearances.

3. H. Hartlett
2. T. Boak
1. B. Ebert

North Melbourne vs. Collingwood:

Pendlebury oozed class in the middle for Collingwood, amassing 30 disposals, 18 contested possessions, eight clearances, and one goal. Sidebottom was another standout who kicked three goals of his own, and combined with Pendlebury to help get the Pies over the line in a close encounter with North Melbourne.

For North Melbourne, Andrew Swallow was clearly the most effective, with every one of his 34 disposals helping to ensure North stayed within grasp of Collingwood right up until the final siren.

3. S. Pendlebury
2. A. Swallow
1. S. Sidebottom

Hawthorn vs. Geelong:

This Easter Monday clash saw the Hawthorn hoodoo continue, as they once again suffered their tenth successive loss to Geelong. At the helm of the victory was Cats skipper Joel Selwood, who was the catalyst in his side’s second half resurgence after trailing Hawthorn by five goals. He gathered 33 disposals, and 11 contested possessions.

Mitchell was outstanding for the Hawks, with a game high 37 disposals, and 13 contested possessions, whilst Chapman’s forward penetration was equally as effective, giving the Geelong forwards ample opportunity to convert as many forward entries as possible in what was a tight tussle.

3. J. Selwood
2. S. Mitchell
1. P. Chapman

ROUND ONE PHANTOM BROWNLOW LEADERBOARD:

3 – G. Ablett
3- S. Pendlebury
3- J. Selwood
3 – B. Gibbs
3 – B. Howlett
3 – D. Mundy
3 – R. Griffen
3 – K. Jack
3 – H. Hartlett

DISCLAIMER: BFGN does not endorse the use of the information provided to help inform betting decisions. All information, votes and analysis provided are opinion based, and therefore do not necessarily reflect the actual votes given by umpires.