Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale won this year’s Brownlow Medal after being voted best local player in more than half of the AFL games he has played.
His father, Robbie who can recite the last 40 Brownlow medalists by heart “could have a tear in his eye ” Said Neale after the vote 31 votes from 17 games to beat Sunday night’s number.
“He loves his footy. I learned my love for the game from him, ”said the 27-year-old.
Neale Beat Port Adelaides Travis Boak, who polled 21 votes, the largest gap between first and second place in Brownlow’s history.
He is also the first AFL player to receive 25 votes in 12 rounds.
Two-time Brownlow winner Nat Fyfe was the only other player who got that close with 23 votes after Round 12.
Footy’s Night of Nights, which went virtual for the first time, has been largely criticized for forcing players to give themselves their own awards.
In the meantime, Seven has turned off the heat for not streaming the event online.
Robbie was one of the influential people Neale thanked in his acceptance speech. He noted, “Our relationship has grown and evolved every year, and I can honestly say he’s one of my best friends now.”
Dubbed the Lion King, the midfielder was voted the best player on the floor in 10 of the 17 games he played this season.
He joins in a prestigious list of Brownlow medalists that includes his childhood hero and 1993 winner Gavin Wanganeen.
“People remember Brownlow medalists, what they achieve and what they don’t. If I’m in that category it doesn’t really fit, ”said Neale.
“Because I admire so many players who have won them, they are the greats of the game. It’s incredibly humble. “
His victory came one night after Geelong was defeated Brisbane by 40 points in the pre-finals at the Gabba, with Neale Admitting that he was still terribly flat after the loss.
But he has “hooked” its Brisbane side and promised not to stop until the next box is ticked – to win a Premier League.
“This is what I want, what I long for and I don’t think we’re going to stop until we’re there.
“I’m ready to put us on the hook. This group can have a really sustained period of success and I look forward to being a part of it, ”said Neale.
The Lions have ranked second in the regular season out of five wins in 2017 and 2018 in the two years since Neale joined the club.
“We know that we have to work every summer and every low season, otherwise the teams will pass us.”
The virtual event was streamed from the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, where the majority of the players were, and rated as “worthy” and “excruciating” by some AFL fans.
Neale’s former Fremantle teammate Fyfe presented him with the Brownlow Medal, but Neale had to pick it up and put it around his own neck.
Meanwhile, Mark of the Year winner Sam Walsh and Goal of the Year winner Josh Daicos were asked to hand out their awards, which fans say was bizarre and unnecessary.
The sports broadcaster Sam McInnes tweeted: “Sam Walsh had to be named” Mark of the Year “. Surely someone in the room could have passed it on to him! ”
Andrew Wu, sports reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, tweeted, “Why couldn’t anyone give Lachie Neale the medal? Certainly not because of social distancing or even the look. What else is the point in holding an indoor vote count meeting? ”
Seven has also been criticized for not streaming the event online.
“So let me get that straight, the first time online, Brownlow, and you can’t watch it online or see a tracker online?” 2011 Brownlow winner Dane Swan wrote.
The black tie dress code went out the window last night, but that didn’t stop attendees from doing anything.
Although there is no Crown entrance, Neale’s wife, Julie, like many other players’ partners, is wore a floor length dress.
And all players were fit for the small team functions in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
Some glances from the night