Some people may say there is no such thing as a certainty for the Brownlow Medal, and they would probably have a point.
There have been several players in history who, based on predictions, would have gone into the night thinking the medal was theirs, only for someone else to walk out with it around their neck.
But the hot favourite this year has won every other award available this season and looks certain to cap a successful 2016, not with a premiership, but with the highest individual honour in the game.
Who will win?
Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield. We’re not going out on a limb here – he will win and in a canter. In this year’s home-and-away season, the ex-Crow averaged 31 disposals and more than a goal a game.
Will Dangerfield break the votes record?
Dane Swan holds the record since the 3-2-1 system was introduced, earning 34 votes in his 2011 triumph. Dangerfield storms home in the second half of the season, though, and could realistically win votes in all of his last 11 games, giving him a very real chance of besting Swan.
Who are the Cats star’s biggest threats?
If Geelong’s Joel Selwood polls more votes than expected – and therefore takes some off Dangerfield – Richmond’s Dustin Martin is an outside chance. Martin starred in 2016, albeit for a struggling side, also averaging 31 disposals a match.
Sydney pair Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker have had great seasons but will probably take votes off each other. Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell is a proven vote-getter and just 12 more will see him move to second on the all-time list.
Who is ineligible?
No player suspended during the season can win, which is bad news for Adelaide’s Rory Sloane, who was banned after a Round 22 hit on Port Adelaide’s Brett Ebert. Sloane is tipped to poll well, and will probably finish in the top five.
Melbourne pair Jack Viney and Bernie Vince, Richmond defender Alex Rance and Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom, who will all poll votes, are also ineligible.
Who will be leading early?
Sydney’s Parker is expected to start well in the count and there could be brief appearances at the top of the leaderboard for North Melbourne forward Jarrad Waite and GWS midfielder Stephen Coniglio. It shouldn’t take long for Dangerfield to assert his dominance, though.
Will there be any surprises?
He missed the All-Australian team but St Kilda’s speedy winger Jack Steven might just poll strongly. He played particularly well in many of his club’s victories this season and could end up with 20 votes or more.
What time does it start?
The count starts at 8.15pm. Votes from all 198 matches are read out, while montage packages, highlights, awards and speeches are also included. Expect a late finish.
How can we follow it?
The count will be screened live on the Seven Network across Australia. You can catch up with all the details on who won the award – and how – and see the best and worst from the red carpet by checking The New Daily.
What can we expect?
Apart from a Dangerfield victory, some speed reading towards the end of the count from AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, who reads out the vote winners from every match. He’ll throw some dramatic pauses in from time to time to keep us guessing and, unsurprisingly, given the amount of names he has to read out, trip over a couple. No doubt that’ll cause some form of meltdown on Twitter.
There’ll be plenty of shots of drunk players raising a glass when they –or a teammate – get a vote, a few fluff interviews thrown in where players who really want to win the award claim they don’t, bad jokes on the red carpet from players about how long they took to get ready and, hopefully, a decent victory speech.
Any betting tips?
The Brownlow Medal is a massive event for bookies but we can’t really recommend Dangerfield, who is at the very short odds of $1.16 to win, according to Sportsbet, although we do envy those who backed him at $10 before the season started.
If you’re keen for a flutter, Martin ($3.25) in the ‘Without Dangerfield’ market at Sportsbet, looks good value, as does Hannebery ($10). Steven to finish in the top five with the same bookie is at $5.50, and they’re also offering $9 for Andrew Gaff to win the most votes for West Coast.