Australian Football League stars and their partners hit the red carpet on AFL’s most glamorous night, in anticipation of the season’s coveted Charles Brownlow Trophy, more widely known as the Brownlow Medal.
Labelled by the AFL as “the most intense Brownlow Medal finish in ages,” nerves and excitement alike filled Melbourne’s Crown Palladium during the count, which resulted in a tight competition between Gold Coast’s Touk Miller, Brisbane Lions’ Lachie Neale, and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps.
The Carlton captain emerged victorious with 29 points, only a small point margin to Neale’s 28 and Miller’s 27. Though almost deemed ineligible following a two-match suspension for a high challenge on Brisbane’s Callum Ah Chee in round 21, Cripp’s Tribunal appeal saw the ban overturned.
Cripps played what was arguably the greatest football of his career during the season, averaging 28.1 disposals, and ranking 3rd in the AFL with 7.7 clearances and 15.3 contested possessions.
Accepting the Brownlow Medal from 2021 winner Ollie Wines, Cripps stated, “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” and went on to give a touching speech.
“I loved footy growing up as a kid,” Cripps said, “and I still remember being at boarding school back in WA, and I used to always ask my mum, ‘Make sure you sign me out, give me leave on Brownlow night’, because I used to love watching it…I can’t put it into words at the moment but it’s a massive honour and I’m absolutely pumped.”
Cripps recalled watching the Brownlow awards with his older brother, and went on to give tribute to his family, saying, “My parents, my brothers, they mean everything to me, but most importantly my fiancée Mon. They’re all the backbone of what I do, and you can’t play high level sport without a good backbone.”
Other winners on the night included Port Adelaide’s Mitch Georgiades for Mark of the Year, Essendon’s Sam Draper for Goal of the Year, and Geelong’s Joel Selwood for the Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award.
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