In a historic night, the Brownlow Medal was held in Perth and the 2021 Brownlow Medallist was Port Adelaide’s star midfielder Ollie Wines, who became the club’s first-ever winner of the prestigious award.
The count was a close run from the Round 1 votes, with Western Bulldog’s captain, Marcus Bontempelli, leading for much of the night, before being overtaken by Wines late in the count.
To add some flair and dramatics for the final round of voting, only Wines or Bontempelli could possibly win and in Round 23 the Bulldogs and the Power played off. Bontempelli didn’t poll and Wines earned two votes, securing his Brownlow Medal win.
In a Brownlow record, Wines polled in 16 rounds, including 11 of the last 12. He polled a record-equalling 36 votes, on par with that of Dustin Martin when he won the medal in 2017.
Wines was in Perth for the count and when he first approached the podium for his acceptance speech he said he was “a little bit rattled, to be honest.”
“There are so many great players that I still look up to at my age, who have had tremendous seasons and a lot of them are playing on Saturday in the biggest game of the year, and I’m extremely envious of them,” said Wines.
In a post-event video for AFL social media channels, Wines said; “As a kid you dream of these moments, of winning a Brownlow or winning a premiership and one of them has today come true for me and I’m incredibly honoured for that.
“Hopefully it inspires kids younger than me who want to win this award and win premierships and play AFL,” he said.
For the first time in Brownlow history, a record four players polled 30-plus votes in the count. Runner Up, Marcus Bontempelli, finished with 33 votes, in third Clayton Oliver of the Melbourne Demons had 31 and Carlton young gun Sam Walsh finished in fourth with 30 votes.
To round out the top five, Essendon’s Darcy Parish and St Kilda captain Jack Steele both had 26 votes to finish equal fifth.
Broken Hill’s exports represented well in the count, with Adelaide Crows’ Taylor Walker leading the count on seven votes after Round 3, evidence of his strong start to the season. While in Round 21 against Geelong, GWS Giants’ Isaac Cumming polled his first-ever Brownlow votes with two, in what was a cracking game from him.
As well as the main medal in that of the Brownlow, the AFL also crowned the winners of the Mark and Goal of the Year.
Fremantle youngster, Caleb Serong, took out Goal of the Year in their Round 22 clash with West Coast. The goal was a kick from the boundary, deep in the pocket after Serong lost his footing and managed to get to his feet and put boot to ball.
“I don’t think much was going through my head when I was in that situation, I got up as quick as I could and just smacked it on the boot,” said Serong. “I think it was more of a fluke than anything but pretty glad it went through”
Having taken out the Rising Star Award in 2020 and now the Goal of the Year, when accepting his award on Sunday night he was asked what else the football world can expect from him.
“Hopefully a flag next year for the Dockers,” he said.
Richmond highflyer, Shai Bolton, was the winner of the Mark of the Year award, with a perfect leap and specky over Geelong’s Mark Blicavs at the top of the goal square in Round 8.
“I was just waiting there for a while and I wanted them to kick it to me earlier, but I guess it was a good mark,” he said.
Previous Mark of the Year winner, Nic Naitanui, asked who Bolton’s step ladder is at training, to which he responded, Liam Baker. In the theme of taking one over teammates, fellow Tiger Jack Riewoldt was in contention for the award, to this Bolton said “Maybe next time mate.”
Now to the red carpet, which for some is the best part of the evening and it definitely makes for good viewing – from the players we’re used to seeing in a playing kit all dressed up in their suits, to the partners in stunning dresses and the hosts putting on their best frocks.
For me, there were a clear top three in the women’s outfits. From the red carpet it was Brittany Brown, who was best on in my opinion; she accompanied West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and wore a turquoise dress with a deep V-neck and a tule skirt. The 7AFL hosts were serving looks, with Jacqui Felgate in an emerald green strapless number with a corset-style bodice, while Abbey Holmes rocked a white one shoulder form-fitting gown.
The male top three were harder to come by, with most of the players rocking basic black suits. However, Melbourne captain, Max Gawn, sported a black-on-black paisley embossed print jacket with the traditional white shirt and black bow tie. Brisbane Lions captain, Dayne Zorko, wore a cream jacket and white top combo, with black pants, shoes and bow tie. Lastly, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca donned a grey check suit with a darker grey vest, but it was the Nike Air Force 1’s that sold this outfit for me – very on trend and looked a treat.
Overall, it was enjoyable viewing, with a great red carpet display and a tight race for the Brownlow. With the Brownlow done and dusted, that means all that’s left is the Grand Final this weekend and, boy, am I looking forward to it.
This article was first published on Wednesday, 22 September 2021.