Jonathan Brown has shed his unabashed love for the Brisbane Lions to go into bat for his former club at the All-Australian selection table.
And after a year in which he has deliberately under-played the stunning improvement of his former club in his media commentary, the triple premiership ace went in with real gusto.
Speaking ‘On the Couch’ on Fox Footy last night, he nominated Lachie Neale, Harris Andrews, Charlie Cameron and Hugh McCluggage as ‘certainties’ for the Team of the Year and suggested Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson and Daniel Rich should come under strong consideration for the All-Australian squad.
He said Neale was a ‘lock’ in the midfield, Andrews likewise in defence and Cameron as a small forward, and suggested McCluggage was “as good as any wingman in the competition” and should be recognised as a specialist in that position.
Brown was glowing in his praise of the Lions as they prepare for a huge fortnight to close out the home-and-away season, with a sell-out Gabba clash against ladder leaders Geelong on Saturday to be followed by an MCG showdown with fourth-placed Richmond in Round 23.
His comments came on the back of the Lions’ brilliant 91-point win in Q-Clash #18 at the Gabba on Saturday – the club’s biggest win under coach Chris Fagan, their biggest win since they beat the GWS Giants in their first meeting at the Gabba in 2012, and the biggest win ever in a Q-Clash.
And they came after Cameron, described by Brown as “the best small forward in the competition”, did something Brown had never done when he kicked a career-best six goals against the Suns.
This took Cameron’s season tally to 47 goals and sees him sit sixth in the race for the Coleman Medal behind only GWS’ Jeremy Cameron (58), Geelong’s Tom Hawkins (52), North Melbourne’s Ben Brown (52), West Coast’s Jack Darling (50) and Richmond’s Tom Lynch (50).
In another significant milestone on Saturday, Neale had 21 possessions against the Suns to take his season total to 608 and become just the seventh player in club history to top 600 possessions in a season.
The best from QClash18! pic.twitter.com/meTKapVSgT— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) August 11, 2019
He already has topped Michael Voss’ single-season best of 603 in 2001, and is chasing Dayne Beams’ 612 last year, Adrian Fletcher’s 613 in 1995, Nigel Lappin’s 615 in 2001, Luke Power’s 615 in 2009, Simon Black’s 622 in 2001, Lappin;s 630 in 2004, and Black’s club record 634 in 2003.
Also on Saturday Marcus Adams, the 321st player for the Brisbane Football Club and just six games into his time at the Gabba, completed something that 319 of the other 320 Brisbane players have not done.
Adams, the former Western Bulldogs powerhouse who has slotted so nicely into the Lions defensive unit, has started his Brisbane career with six wins on the trot.
The only Brisbane player with more consecutive wins from the start of his career with the club is 2004 grand final ruckman Dylan McLaren, who won his first nine games split over three years in 2001-02-03.
McLaren played and won Rounds 20-21 in 2001, Rounds 1-3-4 in 2002, and Rounds 1-2-6-8 in 2003 before his first loss came in Round 12 that year.
Three other players began with five wins in a row – Ash McGrath in 2000-01, Jamie Charman in 2001-02 and Matthew Leuenberger in 2007.
Blake Caracella also started his 2003 premiership season with the Lions with five games without a loss – he went win-draw-win-win-win.
Five others started their time at the club with four wins in a row – imports Matt Maguire, Andrew Raines, Brent Staker and Brendan Fevola, plus Todd Banfield.
In a steadying reminder of how rare Adams’ 6-0 start is, it is a huge outlier among the current Brisbane playing list.
Only six other the other 30 players at the club who have played at AFL level started their time at the Gabba with a win – Lachie Neale, Lincoln McCarthy and Jarryd Lyons went 3-0 this year, Noah Answerth started 2-0 and Mitch Hinge began 1-0. And back in 2014 Dan McStay began 1-0.
At the other end of the scale, Ben Keays went 0-10 before his first win, Charlie Cameron, Jarrod Berry and Cam Rayner 0-8, Hugh McCluggage and Luke Hodge 0-7, Lewis Taylor, Mitch Robinson, Zac Bailey, Allen Christensen and Rhys Mathieson 0-5.
Christensen, back to his brilliant best in recent weeks, has seen both sides of this football oddity. He won his first seven games at Geelong in 2011.
Keays’ 10-game losing streak to open his AFL career in 2006 equalled the club record set by Peter Worsfold in the Bears days of 1991.
Four other players started their Brisbane career 0-9 – ex-Bulldog star and dual Brisbane B&F winner Michael McLean, ex-Geelong grand final player Shane Hamilton, David Ogg and Richard Champion.
The 0-9 record of West Australian Ogg is also the most games played for the club without a win.
Jordon Bourke played six games in 2014-15 and Hugh Beasley six games in 2015 without a win.
Aside from Adams’ current 6-0 record, Queenslander Shane Morrison was unbeaten in five Lions games in 2002-03 – he went win-win-win-draw-win – and Will Hamill, another Queenslander, played three games without a loss in 2007.
Others never to play in a losing side for the club have been 1996 two-gamer Troy Johnson, and three one-gamers – Daryl Cox in 1987, Darren Bradshaw in 2002 and Leigh Ryswyk in 2005.
One other player whose early win/loss is not listed in the record books but is something extra special is that of 2001-03 premiership player Robert Copeland. The 143-game Queenslander lost his AFL debut and then won 20 games in a row, including the 2001 grand final in his 16th game.
The McLaren club record of nine wins in a row is nine games short of the all-time AFL record of 18 consecutive wins set by triple Collingwood premiership player Albert Lauder.
In one of football’s great trivia questions, Lauder played and won Round 5 in 1926, Round 17 in 1927, and Round 17, a semi-final and the grand final in 1928.
Then, after 14 wins in a row in 1929, he suffered his first loss in the semi-final before winning the 1929 grand final. He also won the 1930 grand final, and finished with a 32-4 record from 36 games.
Among all AFL players who have played a minimum 50 games, Collingwood 1928 premiership player Norm MacLeod has the best win/loss ratio at 74.22% from 51 wins, 1 draw and 6 losses through 58 games from 1927-32.
Among Brisbane players who have played a minimum 50 games for the club the 20 players with the highest win/loss ration are:-
76.92% - Des Headland (52 games)
70.28% - Martin Pike (106)
64.62% - Craig McRae (195)
64.29% - Beau McDonald (91)
64.03% - Clark Keating (139)
63.93% - Mal Michael (140)
63.44% - Alastair Lynch (186)
62.28% - Aaron Shattock (57)
61.69% - Jason Akermanis (248)
61.48% - Jarrod Molloy (61)
60.35% - Justin Leppitsch (227)
59.76% - Chris Johnson (205)
59.59% - Brad Scott (146)
59.30% - Chris Scott (215)
59.14% - Nigel Lappin (279)
59.13% - Tim Notting (208)
58.74% - Robert Copeland (143)
58.53% - Jamie Charman (129)
58.13% - Michael Voss (289)
57.23% - Jonathan Brown (256)
Among 100-game players in AFL history, Melbourne’s Clyde Laidlaw has the best ratio at 72.06% from 99 wins, 3 draws and 22 losses in 124 games from 1954-62. He played in four Demons’ premiership sides in 1955-56-59-60.
And among 150-game players, Carlton’s Charlie Hammond has the best ratio at 67.78% from 120 wins, 2 draws and 32 losses in a 154-game career split by World War 1. He played in Carlton premiership sides in 1906-07-08-14-15 and losing grand finals in 1909-16.