With all eyes in awe of the fantastic individual performances of Nat Fyfe this season, we cast an eye on some of the players that may not be in the limelight, but will definitely be in for a shout for the Brownlow Medal.
You don’t need to delve too far into history to understand the Brownlow Medal always shapes up to be an exciting and unpredictable vote count. Take a look at the way last year’s Brownlow carried out. The five favourites to take out the Brownlow at the beginning of the night were Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, Josh Kennedy, Jordan Lewis and Scott Pendlebury, though Fyfe would have been up there with the favourites if it wasn’t for his ill-discipline and ineligibility.
How did it finish?
Matt Priddis: 26 votes
Nat Fyfe: 25 votes
Gary Ablett: 22 votes
Lance Franklin: 22 votes
Patrick Dangerfield: 21 votes
The medal was won by Matt Priddis, one outstanding footballer who epitomises that hard work, dedication and consistency are all that is needed to make it in this great game.
To the AFL audience, Priddis was seen as an outside chance for the medal, but to many that analyse the game and obviously the umpires who decide the votes, his achievements were far less surprising.
West Coat’s prolific in and under midfielder had an excellent season that no other could match. He won more ball than any other AFL player, averaging 28.5 disposals a game. He was also ranked third for tackles, averaging over seven per game. He also ranked third in contested possessions and second in clearances.
So though it seems as though Fyfe may have the Brownlow all wrapped up, there are certainly some candidates that wouldn’t surprise if they’re kissing the medal come season end.
First cab off the ranks has to be the man just spoken about – Priddis. This man has unquestionably put his name up for a shout again this season, showing his real class by bettering his outputs of last season.
After collecting the most disposals last season, this season Priddis has been able to go even better and retain the mantle of highest overall possession winner and average 30.3 disposals a game.
His fantastic resume in 2015 doesn’t just stop there. He has also averaged 7.4 tackles a game this season, putting him first in total tackles so far in 2015, third in contested possessions, second in clearances and another tool that his added to his locker – fourth in goal assists this season.
His individual performances have translated into a greater team performance, which has seen West Coast move from a ninth-place finish in 2014 to a comfortable top three finish this season.
There is no reason why Priddis can’t be named a two-time Brownlow Medallist and put his name up there on a small but famous list of players who have managed to win the prestigious medal on more than one occasion.
Typically ruckmen have been ignored when it comes to the Brownlow. In the past 10 years only one ruckmen has polled more than 20 votes in a season, and since 1992 only one ruckman has won the Brownlow. However, Todd Goldstein’s exceptional season will challenge Fyfe’s grip on the medal.
After another dominant performance on the weekend against Melbourne, Goldstein will be expected to poll in nine of 18 rounds so far.
Potential best on ground games which will provide a much needed three votes include against GWS, where he had a career-high 80 hit outs, against Essendon where he had 56 hitouts, 27 disposals and kicked 1.2 and also against Brisbane where Goldstein had 37 hitouts, 23 disposals, eight tackles and kicked a goal.
Goldstein is undoubtedly the most in-form ruckman in the competition at the moment and this season is averaging 15 disposals and 45 hitouts a game.
What makes Goldstein stand out from the crowd is his ability to move around the ground, averaging four clearances and two inside 50s while also having the ability to play defensively.
Few ruckmen have had the ability to be so influential, not only at stoppages, but around the ground.
Despite an impressive 2014 season, Goldstein managed to poll just three votes. He has a challenge on his hands but the elevation of his performances this season will give him every opportunity to challenge Fyfe on Brownlow night.
Dan Hannebery is another player who has elevated his game this season and will emerge as a Brownlow Medal favourite should Fyfe struggle to return to form after injury.
Hannebery is just 15 votes behind Nat Fyfe in the AFL Coaches Association votes and will be expected to poll in nine of 18 games.
Champion Data’s Brownlow formula, which focuses on ranking points and overall statistics, has Hannebery equal second with Priddis after 19 rounds.
He has been racking up massive numbers this season with an average of 30 disposals a game, as well as five clearances and five inside 50s. He has also improved his defensive work over the past couple of years with his average number of tackles increasing to five per game.
His game has become more complete and as the most dominant Swans midfielder this season it will see him draw a lot of attention from umpires come voting time.
An impressive 2015 season should see Hannebery add to his career vote total of 55 and challenge other contenders.