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Our Brownlow history

September 21, 2018 9:30 AM

 - Brisbane Lions

It was Monday night, 21 September 1987, when AFL CEO Ross Oakley stepped up to the podium at the Hyatt on Collins in Melbourne to begin his first call of the medal count.

With the eyes of the football world on him, Oakley started with the first game of the first round, which was the Brisbane Bears’ shock Friday night win over North Melbourne at the MCG.

“One vote, Brisbane, P Walsh,” Oakley said, before going on to announce that the new Club had swept the votes, with captain Mark Mickan receiving two, and Brenton Phillips three.

As much as Phillips is remembered for his three-vote recognition of a match-winning five goals at half forward it is Walsh who went into the record books as the recipient of the Bears' first Brownlow vote.

Aged 27 at the time, Walsh had a game-high 31 possessions on the wing as the Bears, labelled a bunch of misfits and has-beens by the football media in the lead-up to their big-time debut, led at every change to win 19-23 (137) to 15-14 (104).

Walsh was recruited by Bears for the Club’s entry to the AFL after 22 games at Collingwood in 1983 and 40 games at Richmond in 1984-86.

After he left the Bears at the end of 1991 he was an assistant-coach at Geelong, West Coast and Port Adelaide before winning the Adelaide senior coaching position in 2015.

After this historic one-vote rating in the Bears’ first game Walsh went on to win the Club's inaugural best & fairest in 1987.

Only one other time did he figure in the Brownlow votes when playing in Brisbane – when he earned two votes in a 25-point Round 17 loss to Fitzroy at Princes Park in 1987.

Still, 31 years on, he fills the number one spot on the Club’s list of all-time Brownlow medal vote-getters.

Forever he will be part of the Club’s rich Brownlow history alongside three Brisbane winners of the game’s highest individual honour and the eight Fitzroy winners before them.

Heading into the 2018 count in Melbourne on Monday night, Walsh is remembered as the first of 112 Brisbane players to have polled a total of 1856 votes, including 1996 winner Michael Voss, 2001 winner Jason Akermanis, and 2002 winner Simon Black.

Black has most Brownlow votes for the Club at 184 from Voss at 150 and Jonathan Brown at 112.

The Club’s top 20 vote-getters since 1987 are:

ALL-TIME BRISBANE
LEADING VOTE-GETTERS

Rank

Votes

Players

1

184

Simon Black

2

150

Michael Voss

3

112

Jonathan Brown

4

93

Nigel Lappin

5

91

Jason Akermanis

6

83

Luke Power

7

68

Tom Rockliff

8

41

Dayne Zorko

9

39

Adrian Fletcher

10

36

David Bain

11

34

Daniel Bradshaw

12

33

Matthew Clarke

13

32

Shaun Hart

14

28

Daniel Rich

T15

27

Pearce Hanley

T15

27

Jared Brennan

T15

27

Chris Johnson

T18

26

Alastair Lynch

T18

26

Michael McLean

T18

26

Dayne Beams

Black has led the vote-count six times from Voss (5) and Tom Rockliff (5).

LEADING VOTE-GETTERS
YEAR BY YEAR

Player

LVG

Years

Simon Black

6

2002-04-07-08-09-11

Michael Voss

5

1995-96-98-2000-03

Tom Rockliff

5

2011-12-13-14-16

Jonathan Brown

3

2006-09-10

Jason Akermanis

2

1991-2001

Geoff Raines

2

1987-88

Dayne Beams

2

2015-17

Roger Merrett

1

1989

David Bain

1

1990

Michael McLean

1

1991

Martin Leslie

1

1992

Darryl White

1

1992

Nathan Buckley

1

1993

Craig Lambert

1

1994

Nigel Lappin

1

1997

Luke Power

1

2005

Daniel Rich

1

2012

Black’s winning 25-vote tally in 2002 is the most by a Brisbane player in a season.

MOST VOTES IN A SEASON

Votes

Player

Year

25

Simon Black

2002

23

Jason Akermanis

2001

23

Simon Black

2008

22

Simon Black

2007

21

Michael Voss

1996

21

Tom Rockliff

2013

19

Simon Black

2009

19

Jonathan Brown

2009

19

Michael Voss

2001

19

Michael Voss

2003

18

Simon Black

2004

17

Michael McLean

1991

17

Michael Voss

2002

17

Nigel Lappin

2003

17

Nigel Lappin

2004

17

Luke Power

2004

17

Jonathan Brown

2007

17

Dayne Beams

2017

16

Michael Voss

2000

16

Des Headland

2002

15

David Bain

1990

15

Tom Rockliff

2014

Twelve Brisbane players have had a total of 23 top 10 finishes, headed by Voss (6), Black (5) Brown (2) and Luke Power (2). Voss and Black have had three top five finishes each.

Twice the club has had three players in the top 10 in the same year – in 2001 it was Akermanis (1st), Voss (equal 3rd) and Black (equal 10th) and 2004 it was Black (6th) and Nigel Lappin and Luke Power (equal 7th). Also, Black and Brown finished equal 4th in 2009.

Top 10 finishes have been:

TOP 10 FINISHES

Year

Player

Votes

Finish

1989

Roger Merrett

14

T6th

1990

David Bain

15

T4th

1991

Michael McLean

17

T5th

1993

Nathan Buckley

14

T5th

1995

Michael Voss

13

T9th

1996

Michael Voss

21

1st

2000

Michael Voss

16

T7th

2001

Jason Akermanis

23

1st

Michael Voss

19

T3rd

Simon Black

12

T10th

2002

Simon Black

25

1st

Michael Voss

17

T3rd

2003

Michael Voss

19

T7th

2004

Simon Black

18

6th

2004

Nigel Lappin

17

T7th

2004

Luke Power

17

T7th

2005

Luke Power

14

T8th

2007

Jonathan Brown

13

8th

2008

Simon Black

23

2nd

2009

Simon Black

19

T4th

Jonathan Brown

19

T4th

2013

Tom Rockliff

21

T5th

2017

Dayne Beams

17

9th

Beams, who was also equal 7th in 2012 (19 votes) and equal 9th in 2014 (16 votes) when playing with Collingwood, is strongly favoured to head the Lions' vote-count on Monday night.

And if the votes awarded by the AFL coaches in the AFLCA Player of the Year Award are used as a guide, Beams, runner-up to Zorko in the Lions Merrett-Murray Medal, is in line for a career-best Brownlow finish.

This is based on a conversion of the 5-4-3-2-1 votes awarded by both coaches after each game in the AFLCA Player of the Year Award into notional 3-2-1 Brownlow votes  - or ‘Coachlow’ votes - whereby Beams ranked fourth.

Under this system he would poll 20 ‘Coachlow’ votes to trail only Carlton’s Patrick Cripps (25.5), Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell (24.5) and Melbourne’s Max Gawn (24) in a thrilling finish in which Cripps would pip Mitchell for top honours in the last round of matches.

Other Lions players to figure in the notional ‘Coachlow’ vote count would be Zorko (7), Stefan Martin (6.33), Hugh McCluggage (5.5), Harris Andrews (3.5), Tom Cutler (2.5), Luke Hodge (2.5), Eric Hipwood (2), Jerry Berry (1.5), Mitch Robinson (1), Charlie Cameron (0.5) and Josh Walker (0.33).

According to the Coaches Votes, Beams will be in contention for maximum Brownlow votes as many as seven times in Rounds 9-10-11-15-16-17-22.

Zorko could get three votes in Rounds 7-8-20, Martin likewise in Round 3, McCluggage in Round 9, Andrews in Round 12 and evergreen Hodge in Round 14.

AFL 2018 Round 22 - Gold Coast v Brisbane

Fitzroy, too, had a wonderfully proud Brownlow Medal record.

At the time of the merger at the end of 1996 they had won eight medals to sit equal third on the all-time list behind South Melbourne/Sydney (12) and Western Bulldogs (9), and level with Essendon and St Kilda.

Add the three Brisbane medals and the Lions, with 11 medals in total, sit second behind Sydney (14).

The Fitzroy domination of the 1930s was extraordinary. Not only did they win the Brownlow five times in this decade via Haydn Bunton (1931-32-35), Wilfred ‘Chicken’ Smallhorn (1933) and Dinny Ryan (1936), but in the same period Bunton was 2nd in 1934, and Smallhorn was 6th in 1934, equal 3rd in 1938 and 5th in 1939.

Fitzroy’s 333-game games record-holder Kevin Murray had his own period of domination through the 1960’s. Not only did he win the medal in 1969 but he was 2nd in 1960, equal 2nd in 1962, equal 5th in 1963, 7th in 1964 and 3rd in 1968. He was equal 7th in 1967 despite stepping away from the Club in the prime of his career to captain-coach East Perth in 1965-66. 

FITZROY BROWNLOW MEDALLISTS

Year

Player

Votes

1931

Haydn Bunton

26

1932

Haydn Bunton

23

1933

Wilfred Smallhorn

18

1935

Haydn Bunton

25

1936

Dinny Ryan

26

1950

Allan Ruthven

20

1969

Kevin Murray

25

1981

Bernie Quinlan

22

Allan Ruthven was 5th in 1946 and 6th in 1948 in addition to his win in 1950, while in more recent times, Garry Wilson was 3rd in 1978 and 2nd in 1979, and Paul Roos was 3rd in 1985 and 1986.

Murray was Fitzroy’s leading Brownlow vote-getter all-time with 178.

At the time of his retirement in 1974 he was second on the all-time vote list behind South Melbourne’s three-time winner Bob Skilton, and now, 44 years since his last game, he still sits equal 11th on adjusted votes all-time.

He slips ahead of Leigh Matthews because 57 of his 202 actual votes were received in 1976-77, thereby giving him an adjusted votes tally of 173.5.

LEADING BROWNLOW MEDAL
VOTE-GETTERS ALL-TIME

Votes

Player

234

Gary Ablett Jnr

227

Sam Mitchell

218.5

Gary Dempsey *

215

Robert Harvey

210

Chris Judd

191

Brent Harvey

186

Dane Swan

184

Simon Black

181

Joel Selwood

180

Bob Skilton

178

Kevin Murray

178

Nathan Buckley

175

Scott West

173.5

Leigh Matthews *

* In 1976-77 votes were awarded under a two-umpire voting system, which meant twice as many votes were available to players. So, for comparison purposes, votes received in these years are halved.

AFL 1996 Round 21 - Fitzroy v Richmond

Geelong captain Joel Selwood went past Murray last year, and Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury needs 14 votes this year to do likewise.

FITZROY LEADING VOTE-GETTERS

Player

Games

Votes

Kevin Murray

333

178

Garry Wilson *

268

138.5

Haydn Bunton

201

119

Wilfred Smallhorn

150

100

Paul Roos

269

98

Allan Ruthven

222

97

John Murphy *

214

83.5

Grant Lawrie

168

68

Bernie Quinlan

189

62

Bill Stephen

162

59

Fred Hughson

164

50

Danny Ryan

70

48

Richard Osborne

187

44

Mathew Armstrong

132

42

* In 1976-77 votes were awarded under a two-umpire voting system, which meant twice as many votes were available to players. So, for comparison purposes, votes received in these years are halved.

Among players who have played a minimum 50 games, Bunton has the highest votes-per-game ratio in League history. Having played 119 home-and-away games for 122 votes, his ratio is 1.025.

Next best to the end of 2017 is Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe (0.984) and Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield (0.868).

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