Football’s night of nights is just around the corner and the 2018 Brownlow Medal race is shaping up as one of the closest in years.
With the votes locked away until Monday night, we can only predict how it might unfold for the plethora of potential candidates.
It is hard to look past the Hawthorn midfielder for this year’s top individual award. Mitchell finished with the third most votes in 2017 and was an absolute ball magnet again this year, racking up a league-high 786 disposals. Mitchell took out this season’s AFLPA MVP and you can almost guarantee that “T. Mitchell, 3 votes” will be ringing in your ears by the end of Monday’s count.
Like his Tiger teammates will hope to do on Grand Final day (should they make it), Dustin Martin will be looking to go back-to-back on Brownlow night. The 27-year-old couldn’t reach the lofty standards he set last year but still looks set to poll well after leading the Tigers to another minor premiership. A proven vote-getter in a side that only faced defeat on four occasions? Sounds like another podium finish is on the cards for Dusty.
Could Max Gawn be the first ruckman to take out ‘Charlie’ in over 25 years? His stats say yes but history says no. The AFL’s big man brigade have struggled to poll votes in recent years despite often being seen as some of their team’s most valuable players. After fellow ruckman and 2015 Brownlow favourite Todd Goldstein finished a mere 10th in that year’s count, Gawn faces an uphill battle on Monday night. Big Maxy already claimed the AFLCA Player of the Year award but adding a Brownlow would justify his impact in 2018.
Champion Data says that a Cripps victory is almost impossible but it is hard to count out the 23-year-old after his stellar season. The young Blue broke the AFL record for most contested possessions in a season and was a shining light in Carlton’s two-win season (the club’s worst return since 1901). While he won’t have any teammates to steal his votes, polling in a losing side is never easy. Over the past 10 seasons, only Richmond’s Trent Cotchin (2012) and Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett Jnr (2013) have won the award when playing in a side that finished in the bottom half of the ladder.
After 35 votes in 2016 and 33 votes the following year, Patrick Dangerfield has shown his ability to win the admiration of the umpires. The dominant Cat was ineligible to win the award in 2017, but with no suspensions or blemishes on his record this year, it is hard to ignore someone like Dangerfield. Despite a slow start to the year, expect Danger to come home strong and give the league leaders a scare on Monday night.
— AFL (@AFL) June 9, 2018
Those who are ignoring Dayne Beams’ Brownlow credentials are the same few who thought Matthew Priddis was no chance of taking Charlie home in 2014. Playing outside the footballing hub of Victoria definitely impacts a player’s ability to win over the AFL pundits but it has no bearing on the umpires’ votes. Beams polled 17 votes last season despite playing for the bottom side in the competition. With the Lions’ improvement and Beams reaching new heights in 2018, expect a solid return on Brownlow night for the former Magpie.
Not dissimilar to the Beams situation, Elliot Yeo will be doubted by those who didn’t see much of the Eagles in 2018. He will be a lock for a few three-vote performances but it is Yeo’s consistency that will see him rack up a lot of votes throughout the night. His final tally could be impacted by (the ineligible) Andrew Gaff’s vote-stealing abilities but expect the Eagles pair to both finish in the top 10.
Clayton Oliver – Melbourne
Brodie Grundy – Collingwood
Steele Sidebottom – Collingwood
Jack Macrae – Western Bulldogs
Stephen Coniglio – GWS
Shaun Higgins – North Melbourne
Nat Fyfe – Fremantle
Andrew Gaff – West Coast
Josh Caddy – Richmond
Tom Hawkins – Geelong
Brownlow Predictors are all the rage with media outlets and bookmakers keen to voice their opinions on how the votes will fall. Below are some varying perspectives (including our own).
1st – Dustin Martin (25 votes)
2nd – Max Gawn (24 votes)
3rd – Patrick Cripps (23 votes)
3rd – Brodie Grundy (23 votes)
1st – Tom Mitchell (30 votes)
2nd – Dustin Martin (28 votes)
3rd – Max Gawn (24 votes)
3rd – Dayne Beams (24 votes)
3rd – Patrick Dangerfield (24 votes)
1st – Tom Mitchell (26 votes)
1st – Stephen Coniglio (26 votes)
2nd – Dayne Beams (25 votes)
3rd – Elliot Yeo (24 votes)
1st – Max Gawn (27 votes)
2nd – Brodie Grundy (25 votes)
2nd – Tom Mitchell (25 votes)
3rd – Dustin Martin (24 votes)
1st – Tom Mitchell (29 votes)
2nd – Dustin Martin (28 votes)
3rd – Patrick Dangerfield (23 votes)
1st – Tom Mitchell
2nd – Dustin Martin
3rd – Dayne Beams
Smokey – Shaun Higgins