Is Ablett Snr best never to win Brownlow?
Gary Ablett Senior was a magician on the field for Geelong. His legend continues to live on and for good reason. He achieved so much on the field, yet one individual honour escaped him, one he could never reach, that being the Brownlow medal.
This begs the question: Is Garry Ablett Snr the best player to have never won the award? Possibly, but there are many others which present their own case forward, as some of the unluckiest men not to have not collected the award.
The Brownlow medal is a unique award, yet there have been many which say being awarded the Leigh Matthews Trophy (AFL MVP) means so much more. This is due to the fact the winner is voted by the players themselves, rather than umpires which have their own views on a game.
There is no doubt winning an award chosen by your own peers would be so fulfilling, knowing you have the respect from others in a similar position, and it would mean so much to a player. But still the Brownlow medal with its rich history and long list of winners is still considered the highest individual honour for players in the AFL.
Gary Ablett Snr is only one of many to not have won the award. Let’s have a look at a snapshot of the players who never had Charlie around their necks:
Gary Ablett Snr (Hawthorn/Geelong):
Ablett was a prolific goalkicker and one of the greatest players to have played the game.
Racked up a total of 248 games, kicked 1030 goals and was a spectacular marker of the ball. An unbelievable player during the late 80′s and early 90′s, Ablett Snr sits fifth in the AFL’s all-time leading goal kicking list, is Geelong’s All-Time Leading Goal Kicker, and was voted in 2006 as the greatest Geelong footballer of all time.
He helped the Cats to grand final appearances in 1989, 1992, 1994 and 1995. Holds the record for the most number of goals in a losing grand final team, nine in 1989. Member of the AFL Hall of Fame, the AFL Team of the Century and Geelong Team of the Century.
“Lethal” Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn):
Best player of the 20th century, according to the AFL. Legend in the AFL Hall of Fame, member of the Hawthorn and AFL Teams of the Centuries. One of the toughest AFL/VFL players to have ever played the game. Matthews had a career spanning 332 games in which he kicked 915 goals as a player.
Wayne Carey (North Melbourne):
Carey achieved so much. He was a dual Premiership captain, four-time Club Best and Fairest, seven-time All Australian and in 2001 was named as centre half-forward and captain in North Melbourne’s Team of the Century. Veteran of 272 games with 738 goals to his name.
Robert Flower (Melbourne):
Best known for missing what was to be his first ever grand final appearance in the 1987 finals series after teammate Jim Stynes ran over the mark in Melbourne’s preliminary final match against Hawthorn. Gary Buckenara received a 15metre penalty after Stynes miss error of judgment, leading to a Hawthorn goal and Hawthorn victory, in what was Flower’s last game in the red and blue.
A career which expanded 272 games and 315 goals, Flower was Melbourne’s Best and Fairest in 1977, club captain from 1981-87, Victorian captain, part of the Victorian Team of the Century and Melbourne Football Club Team of the Century.
Others capable of posing questions against Ablett Snr as the best to have not won the award include Ron Barassi, Scott West, Kevin Bartlett, Gary Hocking and Jack Dyer to name a few.
But achievements aren’t everything telling the story of a player as many have missed out on the biggest of prizes, while others have been very lucky, especially premierships.
So is Gary Ablett Snr the best player not to have the award? Many say he is, yet the Brownlow is not an award for forwards and is a midfielder’s best friend. Ablett did play off the wing for a lot his career however.
Tony Lockett is the only full-forward to have won the award, and the next forward looks a while away, but you never know what could happen. Most thought Dane Swan would win the Brownlow in 2010, but it didn’t happen. We don’t know what’s happening in the mind of umpires and results have shown likable players have won the award.
So who would you place as the best player not to have taken home Charlie? In this on-going debate, I place it down to Ablett Snr or Matthews.
The decision is in your hands.
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