Some players are made only for the biggest of stages
Dustin Martin made history in 2017, becoming the first player to win both the Brownlow and Norm Smith Medals in the same season. He won the Brownlow with 36 votes, ahead of Patrick Dangerfield (33 votes), and collected 29 disposals (21 contested) along with two goals on Grand Final day as the Tigers defeated Adelaide by 48 points.
But how have other Norm Smith medallists (the players judged best afield in the Grand Final by a panel of former players, journalists, and media personalities) faired in the eyes of the umpires, who allocate votes for the Brownlow medal?
Since its introduction in 1979, the Norm Smith winner has averaged 9.5 Brownlow votes. Martin holds the record for most Brownlow votes polled in a season by the Norm Smith medallist (36 in 2017), ahead of Christian Petracca and Martin again (23 votes in 2021 and 2019, good for ninth and sixth respectively) and Scott Pendlebury (21 votes for equal fourth in 2010).
However, there have been five players who won the Norm Smith medal despite not polling a Brownlow vote during the home and away season:
- Gary Ayres (Hawthorn, 1986)
- Paul Dear (Hawthorn, 1991)
- Shaun Hart (Brisbane Lions, 2001)
- Byron Pickett (Port Adelaide, 2004)
- Brian Lake (Hawthorn, 2013)
I feel this appropriate for Gary Ayres, who, despite being a five-time premiership player, two-time Norm Smith medallist, and having the award for the best player in the finals series named after him, only won one best and fairest award, and polled just 51 Brownlow votes in his sixteen-year career.
In addition to these five, there have been two players who won the Norm Smith after polling one Brownlow vote that year: Michael Long (1993) and Andrew McLeod (1997).
The timeframe of this stat is limited based on what data are freely/easily available and/or accessible. Please let 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.