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2023 Brownlow Medal

Lachie Neale (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Brownlow Medal (also known as the Chas Brownlow Trophy, or simply as “Charlie”) is the highest individual award in the Australian Football League (AFL).

The 2023 Brownlow medal was won by Brisbane’s Lachie Neale in a thrilling count, who polled 31 votes, two ahead of Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli (29).

It’s Neale’s second Brownlow win, having also claimed the prestigious medal in 2020.

The Brownlow is awarded to the “fairest and best” player in the league during the home-and-away season and is determined by a simple 3-2-1 voting system cast by the officiating field umpires after each game.

The votes are kept under lock and key until the Brownlow Medal count, historically held on the Monday night before the AFL Grand Final.

The Brownlow Medal was first awarded in 1924 to Edward ‘Carji’ Greeves of Geelong, and has been awarded every year since then except for the period 1942-1945 out of respect to those fighting in the second world war.

The Brownlow Medal is named in honour of Charles “Chas” Brownlow, a premiership captain of Geelong in the 1883 VAFA season. He was secretary of the Geelong Football Club from 1885 to 1923, was vice president of the VFL from 1911 to 1916 and also the caretaker president of the VFL in 1918 and 1919.

He died in 1924 and the Brownlow Medal was created in his honour. The medal itself is engraved as the ‘Chas Brownlow Trophy’.

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Fourteen players have won the Brownlow Medal on multiple occasions and four have won it three times, these being Haydn Bunton Snr (1931, 1932, 1935), Dick Reynolds (1934, 1937, 1938), Bob Skilton (1959, 1963, 1968) and Ian Stewart (1965, 1966, 1971).

The voting system for the Brownlow Medal has altered on a number of occasions.

1924 – 1930: One vote was awarded per game to the player judged best on ground in each match.
1931 – 1976: A total of six votes were awarded to the players judged best (3 votes), second-best (2 votes) and third-best (1 vote) on ground in each match.
1977 – 1978: Similar to the above system but instead of voting as a pair the two field umpires each awarded their own votes, meaning a total of 12 votes were awarded in any given match.
1979 – present day: A return to the system used in 1931 – 1976.

From 1930 through to 1980 a countback system was used to determine the winner if multiple players finished with highest number of votes in the competition, with the player who had the most three-vote games winning the medal. From 1981, the countback system was removed and if multiple players finished at the top of the poll then they were all awarded a Brownlow Medal and in 1989, the VFL retroactively awarded Brownlow Medals to all the players who had ever lost on countback.

Brownlow ties are generally rare and one has not been seen on the night of the count since the infamous triple-tie of 2003 in which Adam Goodes, Nathan Buckley and Mark Ricciuto all finished on 22 votes apiece.

A common point of contention surrounding the Brownlow Medal is that, to satisfy the ‘fairest’ part of the ‘fairest and best’ criteria, any player who has been suspended for a week or more during the AFL season is ineligible for the Medal.

Corey McKernan (1996) and Chris Grant (1997) are the only players in history to have polled the most votes in a given year but miss out on the Brownlow due to ineligibility.

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In 1996 McKernan would have tied with joint-winners James Hird and Michael Voss on 21 votes. In 1997, Grant would have beaten Robert Harvey by a single vote.

Jobe Watson was stripped of the 2012 Brownlow Medal as a result of the Essendon supplements scandal and it was retrospectively awarded to joint runners-up Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin.

Brownlow Medal AFL tall

List of Brownlow Medal Winners

Year Player Team Votes
2023 Lachie Neale Brisbane 31
2022 Patrick Cripps Carlton 29
2021 Ollie Wines Port Adelaide 36
2020 Lachie Neale Brisbane 31
2019 Nat Fyfe Fremantle 33
2018 Tom Mitchell Hawthorn 28
2017 Dustin Martin Richmond 36
2016 Patrick Dangerfield Geelong 35
2015 Nat Fyfe Fremantle 31
2014 Matthew Priddis West Coast 26
2013 Gary Ablett Jr Gold Coast 28
2012 Sam Mitchell** Hawthorn 26
Trent Cotchin** Richmond 26
2011 Dane Swan Collingwood 34
2010 Chris Judd Carlton 30
2009 Gary Ablett Jr Geelong 30
2008 Adam Cooney Western Bulldogs 24
2007 Jimmy Bartel Geelong 29
2006 Adam Goodes Sydney 26
2005 Ben Cousins West Coast 20
2004 Chris Judd West Coast 30
2003 Mark Ricciuto Adelaide 22
Nathan Buckley Collingwood 22
Adam Goodes Sydney 22
2002 Simon Black Brisbane Lions 25
2001 Jason Akermanis Brisbane Lions 23
2000 Shane Woewodin Melbourne 24
1999 Shane Crawford Hawthorn 28
1998 Robert Harvey St Kilda 32
1997 Robert Harvey St Kilda 26
1996 James Hird Essendon 21
Michael Voss Brisbane Bears 21
1995 Paul Kelly Sydney 21
1994 Greg Williams Carlton 30
1993 Gavin Wanganeen Essendon 18
1992 Scott Wynd Footscray 20
1991 Jim Stynes Melbourne 25
1990 Tony Liberatore Footscray 18
1989 Paul Couch Geelong 22
1988 Gerard Healy Sydney 20
1987 John Platten Hawthorn 20
Tony Lockett St Kilda 20
1986 Robert DiPierdomenico Hawthorn 17
Greg Williams Sydney 17
1985 Brad Hardie Footscray 22
1984 Peter Moore Melbourne 24
1983 Ross Glendinning North Melbourne 24
1982 Brian Wilson Melbourne 23
1981 Bernie Quinlan Fitzroy 22
Barry Round South Melbourne 22
1980 Kelvin Templeton Footscray 23
1979 Peter Moore Collingwood 22
1978 Malcolm Blight North Melbourne 22
1977 Graham Teasdale South Melbourne 59
1976 Graham Moss Essendon 48
1975 Gary Dempsey Footscray 20
1974 Keith Greig North Melbourne 27
1973 Keith Greig North Melbourne 27
1972 Len Thompson Collingwood 25
1971 Ian Stewart Richmond 21
1970 Peter Bedford South Melbourne 25
1969 Kevin Murray Fitzroy 19
1968 Bob Skilton South Melbourne 24
1967 Ross Smith St Kilda 24
1966 Ian Stewart St Kilda 21
1965 Noel Teasdale* North Melbourne 20
Ian Stewart St Kilda 20
1964 Gordon Collis Carlton 27
1963 Bob Skilton South Melbourne 20
1962 Alistair Lord Geelong 28
1961 John James Carlton 21
1960 John Schultz Footscray 20
1959 Verdun Howell* St Kilda 20
Bob Skilton South Melbourne 20
1958 Neil Roberts St Kilda 20
1957 Brian Gleeson St Kilda 24
1956 Peter Box Footscray 22
1955 Fred Goldsmith South Melbourne 21
1954 Roy Wright Richmond 29
1953 Bill Hutchison Essendon 26
1952 Roy Wright Richmond 21
Bill Hutchison* Essendon 21
1951 Bernie Smith Geelong 23
1950 Allan Ruthven Fitzroy 21
1949 Col Austen* Hawthorn 23
Ron Clegg South Melbourne 23
1948 Bill Morris Richmond 24
1947 Bert Deacon Carlton 20
1946 Don Cordner Melbourne 20
1941 Norman Ware Footscray 23
1940 Des Fothergill* Collingwood 32
Herbie Matthews* South Melbourne 32
1939 Marcus Whelan Collingwood 23
1938 Dick Reynolds Essendon 18
1937 Dick Reynolds Essendon 27
1936 Denis Ryan Fitzroy 26
1935 Haydn Bunton Sr Fitzroy 24
1934 Dick Reynolds Essendon 19
1933 Wilfred Smallhorn Fitzroy 18
1932 Haydn Bunton Sr Fitzroy 23
1931 Haydn Bunton Sr Fitzroy 26
1930 Harry Collier* Collingwood 4
Allan Hopkins* Footscray 4
Stan Judkins Richmond 4
1929 Albert Collier Collingwood 6
1928 Ivor Warne-Smith Melbourne 8
1927 Syd Coventry Collingwood 7
1926 Ivor Warne-Smith Melbourne 9
1925 Colin Watson St Kilda 9
1924 Edward Greeves, Jr. Geelong 7

*Medal awarded retrospectively in 1989.
**Medal awarded retrospectively in 2016.

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