WHILE the AFL premiership is the holy grail of Australian Rules football, the Brownlow Medal is its most coveted individual award.
First awarded in 1924 to Geelong’s Edward ‘Carji’ Greeves, the medal is named after a fellow Cat and former president of the Victorian Football League, Charles ‘Chas’ Brownow.
Brownlow died in 1924 and the medal was coined in his honour to recognise the fairest and best player in the then VFL and has continued to be awarded in the AFL.
The ‘fairest and best’ qualification reflects the league’s emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play, something umpires at the coalface are best-placed to judge.
The medal is engraved “Chas Brownlow Trophy” and its namesake was added to the Australian Football Hall of Fame as an administrator in 1997.
The award is voted on by the umpires, who sit down after each match and select the three best players on the ground.
Three votes are awarded to the player deemed to have the most influence on the match, two votes to the next best and one vote to the third best player.
While there are countless other individual player awards available to AFL players, the Brownlow is still considered considered the pinnacle, despite many players also coveting the Leigh Matthews AFL Players Association Award, as it is voted on by their peers.
The Brownlow Medal count is conducted by the chief executive of the AFL, who reads out every vote, from every round, from every game, usually on the Monday night before the grand final.
There’s usually plenty of drama – not just for the players, but for punters as well – during the telecast, as the count gets to the pointy end and players compete with each other for the top honour.
The integrity of the award is upheld by the tight security and secrecy surrounding the votes. Once the umpires make their decision, the votes are locked away and transported by armoured security vehicles.
Everyone is kept guessing by the fact that only the three umpires know who has been voted for. And considering there are different umpires officiating different games, unless they all colluded, it would be impossible to know who has won.
Since its inception, the voting system has changed three times. until 1930, only one vote was awarded per game. From 1931 to 1976, six votes were awarded per game, which is the familiar three votes, two votes, one vote we know today. It was changed for the 1976-77 season, with 12 votes awarded per game and both field umpires providing the 3-2-1.
If two or more eligible players finish on the same number of votes, all are awarded a joint medal. Before that, count-backs determined who would be crowned winner.
One thing that throws a spanner in the works is the dreaded tribunal.
To be considered the season’s fairest, players must not be suspended at the tribunal, otherwise they are deemed ineligible.
If this happens, they cannot win the medal, even if they finish with the most votes.
The umpires will still vote for the player if they think they were best on ground, even if they can’t win the award.
This has left a pair of sad and awkward moments.
In 1996, gun North Melbourne ruck – forward Corey McKernan received the same number of votes as the joint-winners James Hird and Michael Voss. it was a three way tie, brought down to two, because McKernan – who won the AFL Player Associaion Most Valuable Player Award, copped a one match suspension for kneeing.
A year later, Western Bulldogs legend Chris Grant should have won the award outright after he finished one ahead of St Kilda champ Robert Harvey.
But it wasn’t to be, after he was suspended for one game during the season for striking.
Whatever your take, there’s no doubt the Brownlow Medal is one of the more exciting individual awards to bet on.
Here’s our guide to laying your bet and a few tips to help you make a little dosh on your wagers.
Which online bookmakers should you place your Brownlow Medal bet with?
While almost every online bookmaker will provide betting options on the Brownlow Medal, here’s a list of the best of the best.
The most recognised brand in Australia with the best marketing team in the country. Sportsbet knows footy and you can’t go wrong with their selection of markets and novelty specials.
You can’t argue with Samuel L. Jackson. Bet 365 is the place to be for AFL betting.
Australian owned, BetEasy should imminently be providing the best AFL markets, after is signed a lucrative multi year deal to be the league’s officially betting partner. Keep and eye out for what special offers come along when this kicks in soon.
Having already done away with Sportingbet, William Hill’s launch in the Australian market will eventually also usurp Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse brands. Expect them to launch the AFL season with a bang
Backed by TabCorp, you get the feel there’s a little more prestige to the Luxbet experience. And with that, you can expect great odds and plenty of markets, all from the comfort of your armchair.
How to place a bet on the Brownlow Medal winner
As easy as it gets. Do your research – or go with your gut.
Pick the player you think will win the Brownlow Medal, then point, click and you’re done. This is a simple win bet, just like you’d put on a head-to-head match, except it’s a player. This market is available almost all year round, with odds for next year’s medal usually posted within moments of the completion of the current season’s count. So you can place this bet before the season starts, during the season after you’ve seen which players are firing or right before the count starts, when you – and the bookies, have all the available information at hand, considering the season is complete.
Grab a quinella: Who will finish first and second in the Brownlow Medal?
Slightly more complex, but infinitely more difficult to predict. This is where you have to pick who will come first in the Brownlow count and who will come second if you want to win the bet. First and fourth is no good. If you’re going to have this bet, we would recommend also have the two players you select as straight win or place bets, as there would be nothing worse than having two guys who finish in the top three, with one of them winning, but your bet failing because the other did not finish second.
Top three place betting
Here, your guy has to finish first, second or third for your bet to salute. This is for those who are a bit gun shy on the straight winner bets. The odds will obviously be reduced, but the chances of you winning are greatly increased, because there are three slots your player can fit into.
Punting on a top five finish
Same concept as top three, except there’s an extra two slots here for the player to fit into. The odds, again, will be reduced, but your player can finish, first, second, third, fourth or fifth in the Brownlow Medal count and your bet will still win.
Halfway point leader wagers
Has your player had a hot start to the season and either cooled off, or gone down with injury? This is the bet for you.
Better placed at the end of the season, this market can be very lucrative. Obviously with a smaller sample size, predictions are easier and therefore, if your player has torn up the turf with a heap of best on grounds at the start of the season, it’s worth jumping on. They don’t have to win the Brownlow Medal for you to win – just lead it after half the rounds are completed.
Individual club Brownlow vote leaders
Diehard supporters will now exactly who the key men are at their club and who has performed out of their skin on the season. Here you need to pick who will poll the most votes in the count from your club. That means the players are only up against their team mates, rather than the entire football league. This bet is perfect for the multis, but more on that later.
Brownlow Medal group vote-getter bets
Another one for the multis, this betting option will group players, usually of similar position, and you need to select which of those players will poll the most votes out of all those in the group. So midfielders Sam Mitchell, Gary Ablett Junior, Joel Selwood and Nat Fyfe might be in one group. Another group might be rucks, Sam Jacobs, Todd Goldstein, Shane Mumford and Aaron Sandilands. This can be a really fun market and gives you an interest outside the big leader board.
Individual player medal vote markets
Focuses purely on the individual and is usually presented in an under – over format. So the selected player will be given a number of votes and you have to decide whether he will poll more or less than that number.
It will probably be quoted around $1.91.
Let’s take Sam Mitchell. He might be given a 19.5 vote line.
If you bet the unders and he scores 19 or less, you win – if he goes for 20 or more you lose. And vice versa if you go the overs.
Placing a bet on how many votes the winner of the Brownlow Medal will poll
You don’t even need to worry about who will win the Brownlow Medal with this bit – you just need to pick how many votes he will poll.
This can be presented as an exact, in two vote increments, five vote increments or as an over or under, depending on the bookie (some will have them all)
How many votes your club will poll betting
Again, forget the winner here, you’re just worried about how many votes every player at your club will add up to. Usually presented in over – under format, similar to the individual player market, you have to decide whether your team can either beat, or fall short of the number the bookie provides, based on its research.
Multi bets on the Brownlow Medal
We’ve touched on this briefly, but multi bets are a good way of enhancing your odds.
Think Mitchell will easily crack his 19.5 vote figure, but not happy with the $1.91 on offer? Add in Patrick Dangerfield to beat his 17.5 vote figure at $1.91 and then top it off with Joel Selwood to fall short of 23.5 votes, also at $1.91, and voila, your bet is now worth $6.97! Of course, with three options needing to salute, the odds of winning are also greatly reduced, but, if you’re smart, you’ll pick the best options to give you the best chance of a win. Remember, if just one leg loses, the rest of your bets are shot.
How to place a live bet during the Brownlow Medal count
As the Brownlow Medal night unfolds, bookmakers will constantly update the odds.
Players who poll well will obviously shorten, while those who might be favoured and miss votes when they were expected to poll, will drift.
Remembering that live betting online is illegal, you’ll need to pick up the phone and dial your bet in, but you can still take a huge advantage of the changing odds here. Maybe the favourite missed a couple of votes early and drifted out, but you still think he has a super end to the season and can make it through.
Jump on, quick!
Tips for betting on the Brownlow Medal
While there is no surefire way to pick the winner of the Brownlow Medal, there are certainly plenty factors to consider when trying to find the perfect bet.
– Gamble responsibly: We at cupsbetting.com cannot stress this enough. Make sure when you gamble it is fun and it is within your means. Make sure the bills are paid, there’s food on the table and your obligations have been met. We’re all for punters, but we’re all for punters doing it the right way.
– Open up multiple betting accounts : The five online bookmakers we mentioned earlier are a great start, but if you want to have access to the absolute best odds available, you need to have several accounts with all the big bookies. You would be spewing if you laid your hard earned on Gary Ablett Jr to win the Brownlow Medal at $4 with one bookmaker, only to find that another was offering $7 at another. Plus, with multiple betting accounts, you get multiple sign up bonuses and access to all the specials and bonus bets on offer at each bookmaker. It’s a no brainer.
– It’s all about the midfielders: Avoid the big forwards, defenders and ruck men. It’s called a midfielders’ award for good reason. The vote counts are traditionally dominated by the men in the middle. Guys like Ablett Jr, Selwood, Fyfe, Judd, Mitchell. The men who find the most footy and do the most with it. Makes sense when you think about it. But that often neglects a key defender who keeps a big power forward goal less or a big forward who kicks a bag of five and sets up three others. Or a ruck man like North’s Todd Goldstein or Adelaide’s Sam Jacobs, who continually force feed the ball down their midfielders’ throats. The fact that some of the most dominant players – Wayne Carey, Lance Franklin, Gary Ablett Senior, Jason Dunstall, to name a few, means you can’t always rely on who is the best player on the park consistently to win the award.
– Be wary of the injury curse : Otherwise known as the Gary Ablett Junior clause. Injuries will absolutely ravage your Brownlow Medal bet. Just ask punters who plunged Ablett into favouritism in season 2014, before he went down with a shoulder injury in round 16 and missed the rest of the season. The little master was right up there in the vote count when he suffered the injury and most experts say he would have won it in a canter, had he not gone down. Of course, it’s hard to predict when this will happen to someone, but just be sure not to pick a Jarrad Waite type, who is only able to get on the park for 15 games a year.
– Be wary of the nutcase syndrome : Does your player walk the line? Is he at his best when he is combative? Does he have a lengthy rap sheet at the tribunal? If you answered yes to any or all of these, then your man might be someone to avoid. Players who cop suspensions are no longer eligible for the Brownlow and this can be just as devastating to punters as the injury curse. Just ask those who splashed the cash on Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe in the lead up to the 2014 season. It was almost over before it began, though, with the gun midfielder crashing into the head of Gold Coast Sun Michael Rischitelli, earning a two match ban and disqualification from the Brownlow Medal race.
– Know your player’s voting history : We’ll call this the Ablett Jr clause, Mark II. This is when he goes out and has a mediocre game, 19 touches and few hard ball gets, but still gets the three votes because of who he is. Ditto Joel Selwood. These are the guys who have consistently polled well over multiple seasons and they are the umpires’ darling. They don’t necessarily have to be in the best to nick a vote and this enhances their chances over the more common players. Having said that, these guys are among the best players in the competition, so why wouldn’t you bet on them. - Did your player’s team make the top four or eight?
– Players from the winning team tend to get the threes and twos: Unless someone has a remarkable performance in a losing effort, this is always the case, so it makes sense to back players whose sides will be playing finals football. Those teams that make the top four are generally very well balanced (see below) but the ones around 5-10 tend to rely on fewer stars to carry the load, enhancing the chances of your midfielder nabbing votes.
– Who are they competing against in their own team?: Swan vs. Pendlebury vs. Beams vs. Ball vs. Sidebottom. That elite Collingwood midfield over the past few years has surely cost each other plenty. Swanny did manage to nab one, but it is possible that Pendles would have been afforded higher finishes in the count, had those other guys not been around to nick his votes. Inspect your players midfield. See who might take votes. Do they have 2-3 elite players, or is there one stand out who is a cut above the rest?
– How well does your guy handle the tag?: Otherwise known as the Brett Deledio rule. This guy is elite in almost every facet of the game. Except he gets destroyed by the very best taggers. And that makes him vulnerable in an award like this. You don’t think twice with a Gary Ablett Junior, who copes with the taggers well. If you think outside the square here, you can get real value. Who is the second or third best midfielder in your side, unlikely to cop the tag every week? He could be worth a flutter.
– Keep your eyes open for leaks: They happen every year. Perhaps they’re made up, perhaps there is some truth to them. Who knows. What we do know is that these top secret leaks that supposedly come from AFL House have a great impact on the betting, because punters, like everyone, never want to miss out on a good thing. Believe them, or don’t believe them, if you bet on the leak, more power to you. If you stick with your guy and he drifts out a couple of points because of the change in the betting market, then make sure you take advantage.
Brownlow Medal history
Players with three Brownlow medals:
Haydn Bunton Senior, Fitzroy, 1931, 1932, 1935
Dick Reynolds, Essendon, 1934, 1937, 1938
Bob Skilton, South Melbourne, 1959, 1963, 1968
Ian Stewart, St Kilda and Richmond, 1965, 1966, 1971
Players with two Brownlow Medals:
Ivor Warne-Smith, Melbourne, 1926, 1928
Bill Hutchison, Essendon, 1952, 1953
Roy Wright, Richmond, 1952, 1954
Keith Greig, North Melbourne, 1973, 1974
Peter Moore, Collingwood and Melbourne, 1979, 1984
Greg Williams, Sydney and Carlton, 1986, 1994
Robert Harvey, St Kilda, 1997, 1998
Adam Goodes, Sydney, 2003, 2006
Chris Judd, West Coast and Carlton, 2004, 2010
Gary Ablett Junior, Geelong and Gold Coast, 2009, 2013
List of Brownlow Medal winners:
1924 Edward Greeves Junior, Geelong, 7 votes
1925 Colin Watson, St Kilda, 9 votes
1926 Ivor Warne-Smith, Melbourne, 9 votes
1927 Syd Coventry, Collingwood, 7 votes
1928 Ivor Warne-Smith, Melbourne, 8 votes
1929 Albert Collier, Collingwood, 6 votes
1930 Harry Collier, Collingwood, 4 votes
1930 Allan Hopkins, Footscray, 4 votes
1930 Stan Judkins, Richmond, 4 votes
1931 Haydn Bunton Sr, Fitzroy, 26 votes
1932 Haydn Bunton Sr, Fitzroy, 23 votes
1933 Wilfred Smallhorn, Fitzroy, 18 votes
1934 Dick Reynolds, Essendon, 19 votes
1935 Haydn Bunton Sr, Fitzroy, 24 votes
1936 Denis Ryan, Fitzroy, 26 votes
1937 Dick Reynolds, Essendon, 27 votes
1938 Dick Reynolds, Essendon, 18 votes
1939 Marcus Whelan, Collingwood, 23 votes
1940 Des Fothergill, Collingwood, 32 votes
1940 Herbie Matthews, South Melbourne, 32 votes
1941 Norman Ware, Footscray, 23 votes
1946 Don Cordner, Melbourne, 20 votes
1947 Bert Deacon, Carlton, 20 votes
1948 Bill Morris, Richmond, 24 votes
1949 Col Austen, Hawthorn, 23 votes
1949 Ron Clegg, South Melbourne, 23 votes
1950 Allan Ruthven, Fitzroy, 21 votes
1951 Bernie Smith, Geelong, 23 votes
1952 Roy Wright, Richmond, 21 votes
1952 Bill Hutchison, Essendon, 21 votes
1953 Bill Hutchison, Essendon, 26 votes
1954 Roy Wright, Richmond, 29 votes
1955 Fred Goldsmith, South Melbourne, 21 votes
1956 Peter Box, Footscray, 22 votes
1957 Brian Gleeson, St Kilda, 24 votes
1958 Neil Roberts, St Kilda, 20 votes
1959 Verdun Howell, St Kilda, 20 votes
1959 Bob Skilton, South Melbourne, 20 votes
1960 John Schultz, Footscray, 20 votes
1961 John James, Carlton, 21 votes
1962 Alistair Lord, Geelong, 28 votes
1963 Bob Skilton, South Melbourne, 20 votes
1964 Gordon Collis, Carlton, 27 votes
1965 Noel Teasdale, North Melbourne, 20 votes
1965 Ian Stewart, St Kilda, 20 votes
1966 Ian Stewart, St Kilda, 21 votes
1967 Ross Smith, St Kilda, 24 votes
1968 Bob Skilton, South Melbourne, 24 votes
1969 Kevin Murray, Fitzroy, 19 votes
1970 Peter Bedford, South Melbourne, 25 votes
1971 Ian Stewart, Richmond, 21 votes
1972 Len Thompson, Collingwood, 25 votes
1973 Keith Greig, North Melbourne, 27 votes
1974 Keith Greig, North Melbourne, 27 votes
1975 Gary Dempsey, Footscray, 20 votes
1976 Graham Moss, Essendon, 48 votes
1977 Graham Teasdale, South Melbourne, 59 votes
1978 Malcolm Blight, North Melbourne, 22 votes
1979 Peter Moore, Collingwood, 22 votes
1980 Kelvin Templeton, Footscray, 23 votes
1981 Bernie Quinlan, Fitzroy, 22 votes
1981 Barry Round, South Melbourne, 22 votes
1982 Brian Wilson, Melbourne, 23 votes
1983 Ross Glendinning, North Melbourne, 24 votes
1984 Peter Moore, Melbourne, 24 votes
1985 Brad Hardie, Footscray, 22 votes
1986 Robert DiPierdomenico, Hawthorn, 17 votes
1986 Greg Williams, Sydney, 17 votes
1987 John Platten, Hawthorn, 20 votes
1987 Tony Lockett, St Kilda, 20 votes
1988 Gerard Healy, Sydney, 20 votes
1989 Paul Couch, Geelong, 22 votes
1990 Tony Liberatore, Footscray, 18 votes
1991 Jim Stynes, Melbourne, 25 votes
1992 Scott Wynd, Footscray, 20 votes
1993 Gavin Wanganeen, Essendon, 18 votes
1994 Greg Williams, Carlton, 30 votes
1995 Paul Kelly, Sydney, 21 votes
1996 James Hird, Essendon, 21 votes
1996 Michael Voss, Brisbane Bears, 21 votes
1997 Robert Harvey, St Kilda, 26 votes
1998 Robert Harvey, St Kilda, 32 votes
1999 Shane Crawford, Hawthorn, 28 votes
2000 Shane Woewodin, Melbourne, 24 votes
2001 Jason Akermanis, Brisbane Lions, 23 votes
2002 Simon Black, Brisbane Lions, 25 votes
2003 Mark Ricciuto, Adelaide, 22 votes
2003 Nathan Buckley, Collingwood, 22 votes
2003 Adam Goodes, Sydney, 22 votes
2004 Chris Judd, West Coast, 30 votes
2005 Ben Cousins, West Coast, 20 votes
2006 Adam Goodes, Sydney, 26 votes
2007 Jimmy Bartel, Geelong, 29 votes
2008 Adam Cooney, Western Bulldogs, 24 votes
2009 Gary Ablett Jr, Geelong, 30 votes
2010 Chris Judd, Carlton, 30 votes
2011 Dane Swan, Collingwood, 34 votes
2012 Jobe Watson, Essendon, 30 votes
2013 Gary Ablett Jr, Gold Coast, 28 votes
2014 Matthew Priddis, West Coast, 26 votes
2015 Nathan Fyfe, Fremantle, 31 votes
2016 Patrick Dangerfield, 35 votes
* The medal was not awarded between 1942 and 1945, as a mark of respect to soldiers fighting overseas in World War II.