Club Champion runner-up Hugh McCluggage is set to pick up a consolation win on Sunday night by heading the Brisbane Lions vote-count in the 2021 Brownlow Medal if the collective view of coach Chris Fagan and his counterparts is any guide.

This is a prediction based on the conversion of 5-4-3-2-1 votes awarded by the coaches after each game in the AFL Coach’s Association Player of the Year Award to notional 3-2-1 Brownlow votes. Or the ‘Coachlow’ votes as they might be called.

Overall, McCluggage and Jarryd Lyons, third in the Merrett/Murray Medal, polled 66 votes and fifth-time winner Dayne Zorko 62 votes to top the Brisbane vote in an award introduced in 2003 and won only once by the club – Lachie Neale in 2020.

But if the round-by-round AFLCA votes are converted to ‘Coachlow’ votes McCluggage heads the Lions tally with 17 votes from Zorko (13) and Lyons (11.5).

The conversion is simple. If the top three vote-getters in the AFLCA award in a game are clear-cut they are allocated the 3-2-1 votes.

00:40 Mins
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Nigel Lappen Trophy: Hugh McCluggage

Hugh McCluggage finishes runner up in the 2021 Club Champion.

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So, in Round 23 when Brisbane beat West Coast and the coaches rated Daniel Rich (10), West Coast’s Nic Naitanui (8) and Zorko (6) the best three players on the ground the ‘Coachlow’ votes would be Rich 3, Naitanui 2 and Zorko 1.

If there are ties at the top end of the coaches votes then the ‘Coachlow’ votes are split.

For example, in Round 22 when Brisbane beat Collingwood and the coaches were split between McCluggage (7), Charlie Cameron (7), Lyons (5) and Zorko (5) the ‘Coachlow’ votes would be McCluggage (2.5), Cameron (2.5), Lyons (0.5) and Zorko (0.5).

If round-by-round voting in the ‘Coachlow’ rings true McCluggage will be the club front-runner throughout the count.

He will be the first of the Lions trio to poll in Round 3 and at the halfway mark of the season McCluggage will have 13 ‘Coachlow’ votes from Lyons (8) and Zorko (5).

McCluggage will also sit equal third on the overall ‘Coachlow’ leaderboard at Round 11, equal with Essendon’s Darcy Parish and behind only Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver (14.5) and Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli (13.5).

01:33 Mins
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2021 Second Place: Hugh McCluggage

Hugh McCluggage has been awarded this years Nigel Lappin Trophy for second place in the Merrtt-Murray Medal count.

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For the record, although Oliver won the AFLCA award with 114 votes from Bontempelli (101), Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines (101), St.Kilda’s Jack Steele (100) and Gold Coast’s Touk Miller (97) the final ‘Coachlow’ leaderboard throws up a different result.

It has Bontempelli (28.5) heading the count from Steele (27.5), Oliver (26), Wines (23) and Miller (23). McCluggage (17) ranks 11th also behind Essendon pair Parish (21) and Zach Merrett (20), Carlton’s Sam Walsh (19), Melbourne’s Christian Petracca (18.66) and Fremantle’s David Mundy (18).

The ‘Coachlow’ also suggests another 12 Brisbane players will figure in the count – Cameron (7), Harris Andrews (6), Marcus Adams (4.5), Zac Bailey (4.5), Neale (4.5), Rich (4.5), Oscar McInerney (4), Lincoln McCarthy (3.5), Mitch Robinson (2.5), Joe Daniher (1.5) and Dan McStay (1).

It is a count that promises to add a raft of new layers to the club’s history in the Brownlow Medal.

Most significantly, McCluggage would become the 19th different player to head the Brisbane vote-count since 1987, joining a list headed by Simon Black, who topped the club count six times, Michael Voss and Tom Rockliff, who did so five times each.

Zorko, with a career vote tally of 66 heading into the 2021 count, could go past Rockliff to move from 8th to 7th on the club’s all-time vote list headed by Black (184), Voss (150) and Jonathan Brown (112).

And if as the ‘Coachlow’ suggests McStay’s four-goal performance against Gold Coast in Round 9 gets him in the Brownlow votes it will see him avoid a less welcome slice of history.

02:58 Mins
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Peoples Presser With Dan McStay

Dan McStay answers all your questions.

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As the record books stand heading into the 2021 medal count McStay, such a pivotal figure late in the 2021 campaign and sadly missed in the semi-final against the Bulldogs, has played most games for the club without a vote at 139.

Even one medal vote in what was McStay’s 125th game in Round 9 would see this position move to ever-reliable teammate Darcy Gardiner, who has played 133 games without a vote and is less likely to figure after an injury-disrupted 2021 season.

Oscar McInerney, still chasing his first medal vote after 71 games, will anxiously watch the voting in the Round 19 win over Gold Coast in which he had 18 possessions (16 contested), 39 hit-outs and 12 clearances to earn maximum votes from the coaches.

McInerney, winner of the club’s Most Professional Player Award this year, could also poll in Round 11, when he 20 possessions (14 contested), a goal, 30 hit-outs and four clearances to pick up four coaches votes behind only Zorko (9) and Mitch Robinson (9).

McInerney’s standout performance in Round 19 was one of seven games in which Brisbane players received maximum votes from the coaches and can reasonably look forward to three votes in the Brownlow.

Lyons did likewise in Rounds 9-10 after Neale polled 10 coaches votes in Round 5 and McCluggage did so in Round 6, and before Zorko did so in Round 21 and Rich followed in Round 23.

Six times Brisbane players received nine coaches votes – McCluggage and Harris Andrews in Round 7, Zorko and Robinson in Round 11, Zorko in Round 15 and Marcus Adams in Round 16.

The Brisbane Brownlow Medal history, headed by winners Michael Voss (1996), Jason Akermanis (2002), Simon Black (2003) and Lachie Neale (2020), was re-written last year when Neale polled a record 31 votes in a 17-game season due to the Covid pandemic.

Among the champion midfielder’s club ‘firsts’ were four consecutive three-vote games – double that of any other Brisbane player - and golden runs in 2019 and 2020 in which he polled nine times in 11 games.

Only one Brisbane player has polled three votes in his AFL debut – Darryl White in 1992.

01:47 Mins
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Cult Figures: Darryl White

Athletic, Entertaining, Long Sleeves and 3 Premiership medals Darryl White was something special on the footy field.

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MOST VOTES: 184 Simon Black, 150 Michael Voss, 112 Jonathan Brown, 93 Nigel Lappin, 91 Jason Akermanis, 83 Luke Power, 68 Tom Rockliff, 66 Dayne Zorko, 57 Lachie Neale, 44 Dayne Beams, 39 Adrian Fletcher, 36 David Bain, 34 Daniel Bradshaw, 33 Matthew Clarke, 32 Shaun Hart, 30 Daniel Rich.

MOST TIMES POLLED: 82 Simon Black, 72 Michael Voss, 52 Jonathan Brown, 45 Nigel Lappin, 42 Luke Power, 41 Jason Akermanis, 36 Dayne Zorko, 32 Tom Rockliff, 24 Lachie Neale, 23 Daniel Bradshaw, 22 Dayne Beams, 20 David Bain.

MOST 3-VOTE GAMES: 38 Simon Black, 26 Michael Voss, 23 Jonathan Brown, 19 Jason Akermanis, 17, Nigel Lappin, 15 Luke Power, Lachie Neale, 12 Tom Rockliff.

MOST VOTES IN A SEASON: 31 Lachie Neale (2020), 25 Simon Black (2002), 23 Jason Akermanis (2001) & Simon Black (2008), 22 Simon Black (2007), 21 Michael Voss (1996) & Tom Rockliff (2013), 19 Michael Voss (2001 & 2003), Simon Black (2009), Jonathan Brown (2009), 18 Simon Black (2004) & Dayne Beams (2014), 17 Michael McLean (1991), Michael Voss (2002), Nigel Lappin (2003 & 2004), Luke Power (2004), Jonathan Brown (2007), 17 Dayne Beams (2017), 16 Michael Voss (2000), Des Headland (2002), 15 David Bain (1990), Tom Rockliff (2014).

TOP 10 FINISHES (including ties)
6 – Simon Black
5 – Michael Voss
2 – Jonathan Brown & Lachie Neale
1 – Roger Merrett, Michael McLean, Nathan Buckley, Jason Akermanis, Luke Power, Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko.

6 – Des Headland
5 – Michael Voss
5 – Simon Black 
5 – Tom Rockliff 
5 – Lachie Neale
4 – Jonathan Brown
4 – Jonathan Brown
4 – Daniel Bradshaw
4 – Jonathan Brown 
4 – Lachie Neale 
4 – Lachie Neale 

+ club record for most consecutive three-vote games

3 – Darryl White (1992)
2 – Mark Mickan (1987)
1 – Brad Rowe (1990)

3 – Brenton Phillips (1987)
2 – Rod Lester-Smith (1988)
2 – Danny Craven (1993)
1 – Phillip Walsh (1987)
1 – Alastair Lynch (1994)
1 – Lachie Neale (2019)

2 – Michael Voss (2006)
2 – Simon Black (2013)
1 – Mike Richardson (1990)
1 – Ross Lyon (1995)
1 – Dayne Beams (2018)

139 – Dan McStay +
133 – Darcy Gardiner +
100 – Cheynee Stiller
94 – James Polkinghorne
81 – Josh Green, Ryan Harwood
80 – Joel Macdonald
79 – Oscar McInerney +
73 – Dion Scott, Nick Robertson
68 – David O’Keeffe, Allen Christensen, Tom Cutler
67 – Andrew Raines
62 – Rhys Mathieson +
60 – Nathan Chapman

+ Votes for 2021 still to be counted