2023 Brownlow Medal Wrap Up

Some reflections on football’s night of nights

Now that the Brownlow has been run and won for 2023, let’s look back at some of my posts over the past week and see what (if anything) I managed to get right, and if there are any updates that I need to make.

Brownlow Medallist, but not All-Australian?

The first Brownlow-related post was published back in August with the release of the All-Australian squad. Lachie Neale became just the fourth player since 1991 to win the Brownlow without making the All-Australian side, following Shane Woewodin in 2000, Sam Mitchell in 2012, and Matt Priddis in 2014. However, Neale has the chance to complete the Dustin Martin treble (Brownlow, Norm Smith, and Premiership) if the Lions win on Saturday.

Brownlow Votes on Debut

As predicted, Harry Sheezel became the 49th player to poll a Brownlow vote on debut following his 34-disposal, nine-mark game in North’s five-point win over West Coast in Round 1. He was the only player to poll on his debut in 2023.

Brownlow Votes and Time on Ground

While Adam Cerra didn’t poll a vote for his 20 disposal (nine contested; 65% efficiency), six clearance, five inside 50, 466 meters gained, and two tackle effort in 40% game time in Round 20, Joel Amartey of the Sydney Swans polled three votes in Round 2 after collecting 11 disposals and four goals on 50% game time. And his teammates loved it. Amartey now holds the record for the smallest time on ground percentage to poll three votes, just edging out Peter “Spida” Everitt (52%).

Amartey also edged out Patrick Dangerfield, who polled three votes for his performance in Round 17 against North Melbourne: 26 disposals (14 kicks), eight tackles, and nine clearances in 52% game time.

No (Brownlow) Substitutions

Amartey also became the eighth player to poll votes in a game where they were subbed off, and only the second player to poll three votes before being substituted (after Drew Petrie in Round 16, 2012). I may have missed out on Dayne Zorko getting a vote, but I was correct about Amartey getting one for his efforts in Round 2.

Three other players polled Brownlow votes in games where they were subbed off:

  • Jake Soligo (Adelaide): one vote in Round 7
  • Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong): two votes in Round 18
  • Toby Greene (Greater Western Sydney): two votes in Round 19

No players polled Brownlow votes after starting as the substitute.

Brown by Name, Brown(low) by Nature?

Nominative determinism was off to a hot start in the 2023 count, with Ben Brown polling a vote in Melbourne’s Round 1 clash against the Western Bulldogs. However, this was the only vote a player with “Brown” in their surname polled for the whole year – well shy of Jonathon Brown’s 19-vote performance in 2009.

Let’s Stop ‘Vote Pinching’ and Share the Brownlow Instead

Clayton Oliver may not have pinched many votes from Christian Petracca, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anyone else taking votes off the dynamic midfielder. Jack Viney had an excellent year, polling 24 votes to finish just two behind Petracca. Both players polled in the same game only once – Round 16, with Viney taking three votes to Petracca’s two. There were eight games where both Demons played and Viney polled but Petracca missed out, and another ten games where Petracca polled and Viney didn’t.

But the AFL have suggested Port Adelaide’s Zak Butters, Connor Rozee, and Jason Horne-Francis could be the new Petracca and Oliver (with respect to vote pinching) after Butters polled 27 votes, Rozee polled 21, and Horne-Francis polled 16. As we can see in the table below, Butters being the sole poller of the trio was the most common occurrence in games when all three played.

Table: Games where Butters, Rozee, and/or Horne-Francis polled Brownlow votes in 2023

Combination Frequency
None 3
Butters only 5
Rozee only 3
Horne-Francis only 3
Butters and Rozee 4
Butters and Horne-Francis 1
Rozee and Horne-Francis 2
All three players 1

Excludes one game where only Butters and Rozee played

Interestingly, all three players polled in Port’s 51-point win over GWS in Round 22, with Horne-Francis polling three votes, Rozee two, and Butters one. Horne-Francis has 27 disposals (17 kicks) and three goals, while Rozee had 29 disposals (15 kicks) and Butters had 34 disposals (16 kicks). Only time will tell whether these three become the new Petracca and Olver.

Most “Statistic” Without a Brownlow Vote in a Single Game

None of the records for most “statistic” in a single game without a Brownlow vote were broken. The data for 2023 are presented in the table below.

Table: Most “Statistic” in a Single Game Without a Brownlow Vote (2023)

Statistic Number Player (Game)
Kicks 31 B Dale (R20)
Handballs 28 T Green (R16)
Disposals 41 Three players
Effective disposals 33 A Cerra (R6)
Contested posessions 25 C Oliver (R5)
Marks 20 B Cox (R1)
Contested marks 8 C Ballard (R9)
Goals 6 Two players
Hit outs 63 R O’Brien (R10)
Hit outs to advantage 22 T English (R18)
Tackles 16 Two players
Clearances 14 J Macrae (R6)
Centre clearances 7 Three players*
Inside 50s 12 Four players
Score involvements 13 Six players**
Goal assists 5 C Petracca (R9)
Metres gained 1010 D Rich (R1)

*Includes Matt Rowell, who had two games with seven centre clearances

**Includes Luke Parker and Hayden McLean, who did this in the same game

How Many Players Get Their Name Called of the AFL’s Night of Nights?

Adding an extra game and a fourth field umpire didn’t affect the number of players receiving Brownlow votes, which is a bit surprising. There were 201 players who polled this year, which is a slight decrease from the 207 who polled last year, and below the average of 204.5 between 1986 and 2022.

Will this Bulldog finally have his (Brownlow-winning) day?

My first Brownlow predictor model, based on the average number of votes players had polled on each day of the week, had Marcus Bontempelli winning ahead of Lachie Neale and Christian Petracca. This wasn’t really close, with Bont finishing second, and Petracca finishing sixth.

The Umpires Just Love Him

But somehow, the very unscientific approach of looking at whether umpires favour particular players picked the actual winner. Admittedly, the model gave too many votes for Neale, and too few for Bont and Nick Daicos, but was surprisingly close for Petracca.

The timeframe of this stat is limited based on what data are freely/easily available and/or accessible. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you spot any errors in what I have presented. As always, apologies to anyone who has already looked at this stat.