K rock Football

Mitchell’s Medal

2018 Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Hawthorn star Tom Mitchell has won the 2018 Brownlow Medal, prevailing over Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom to claim the AFL’s greatest individual honour.

The gun onballer polled maximum votes in the first three rounds of the season on the way to a total of 28, claiming an unassailable lead after 21 rounds and outpolling Sidebottom (24) and Melbourne young gun Angus Brayshaw (21).

A comfortable favourite prior to Monday night’s count, 26-year-old Mitchell is the sixth Hawthorn player to win the prestigious award.

Last year’s winner, Richmond star Dustin Martin, had been viewed as a chance to finish strongly and become just the seventh player and the first since St Kilda great Robert Harvey in 1997-98 to claim back-to-back Brownlows.

But it was Sidebottom who threatened to spring a major upset.

A $51 rank outsider who had never previously placed in the top 10, Sidebottom led the count after 17 rounds with Mitchell trailing by a solitary vote.

But Mitchell polled three votes against Carlton in round 18 and Fremantle in round 19, leaving his rivals in the dust.

Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn polled 20 votes to finish equal-fourth with Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps and Adelaide’s Rory Laird tied Martin for sixth place.

Mitchell, who also won the AFL Players’ Association most valuable player award, averaged a league-high 35.7 disposals and 7.9 clearances per game during the home-and-away season and ranked third for contested possessions.

The ball magnet tipped the 50-disposal mark twice, including a record 54-disposal outing against Collingwood in round one.

All-Australian duo Gawn and Brodie Grundy’s outstanding seasons had led many to tip this could be the year the “midfielders medal” returned to a ruckman’s hands.

Gawn failed to poll in the Demons’ round four loss to Hawthorn despite having a whopping 66 hitouts while Grundy finished equal-10th with 17 votes.

Ineligible Fremantle star and 2015 Brownlow winner Nat Fyfe surged to an early lead with 14 votes after nine rounds.

But the star Docker went on to miss six games with a hamstring injury, having had his one-week ban for striking Collingwood’s Levi Greenwood upheld by the AFL tribunal.

© AAP 2018

BROWNLOW MEDAL LEADERBOARD

28 Tom Mitchell
24 Steele Sidebottom
21 Angus Brayshaw
20 Patrick Cripps
20 Max Gawn
19 Rory Laird
19 Dustin Martin
18 Dayne Beams
18 Jack Steven
17 Brodie Grundy
17 Patrick Dangerfield

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