The 2017 Brownlow Medal – awarded to the AFL’s best and fairest player – will be presented on Monday evening at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
At the end of each of the 198 home-and-away matches, umpires give votes on a 3-2-1 basis to the players judged best afield.
The award, usually won by midfielders, is seen as the highest individual honour in the game and cannot be won by players suspended during the season.
Here’s what you can expect at this year’s count …
Dustin Martin to win it – easily
The Richmond midfielder has averaged 30 disposals per match in 2017 and is as short as $1.05 with Sportsbet to win. His main rival for the award, 2016 winner Patrick Dangerfield, is ineligible due to suspension.
And that means Martin, who could poll the maximum three votes on 10 occasions, should win comfortably.
An acceptance speech and Q&A worth staying up for
Martin is famously media-shy and many of his interviews are the typically dull on-field ‘happy to get the four points’ sort of chats.
But a Brownlow Medal winner has to make an acceptance speech before a probing Q&A that often gives viewers a great insight into the life of the champion. Given Martin’s background, this promises to be interesting.
‘Who are you wearing?’
The constant red carpet question seems to get obscurer answers by the year.
We’re hoping to hear ‘I’m lucky enough to be wearing this little ethically sourced number from an exotic boutique in Frankston’ in 2017.
An early surprise we didn’t see coming
It happens every year and it was the turn of Gold Coast’s Aaron Hall in 2016. He shot to the top of the leaderboard with nine votes from three matches last year, surprising everyone who had forgotten what happened early in the season.
This player usually fizzles out dramatically, though, and struggles to poll again.
The yearly plug for Armaguard Security
You can bet your bottom dollar on seeing footage of Armaguard officers bringing the Brownlow votes into the Crown Casino complex in suitcases.
Said staffers are usually built like front-rowers, too, and will not smile under any circumstances.
A fashion statement or two
It is unlikely Bec Judd’s famous red dress from 2004 will be topped, but expect a fashion statement.
Last year, Annie Nolan’s suit hit the headlines.
In previous years, Rachel McLeod – who had her husband’s number, 23, painted on her back – Tania Buckley and Brynne Gordon, formerly Edelsten, have set tongues wagging with daring outfits.
‘I think Dusty’s got it covered, I’m just here for a good night’
This phrase – or something similar – will be uttered by anyone given a minor chance of upsetting Martin.
Of course, those saying it will hope that Martin polls poorly and they win – but the key is not letting on, particularly during the count. Something Gary Ablett Jr hasn’t proved so good at in the past.
Dramatic pauses reading the votes
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan is famous for pausing for effect before announcing a surname. Given this year’s count is unlikely to go to the wire, expect these to pop up even earlier.
And at Richmond, the possibilities are endless. Three votes, Richmond, D … Prestia/Butler/Astbury/Grimes/Rioli/Martin … expect McLachlan to keep us guessing.
Speed reading towards the end of the count
Once a winner is declared, or obvious, McLachlan races through the votes like Lance Franklin down a wing with a poor defender in pursuit.
This really tests his pronunciation and announcing and can be hard to follow – particularly if you’ve had a few beverages.
Massive cheers if …
Geelong defender Tom Lonergan polls a vote. The 209-gamer has never been given one – an AFL record.
Lonergan has never attended a Brownlow Medal, either, but was invited this year. Is that a hint? Sydney’s Nick Smith is also without a vote in his 191-match career.