Brownlow Medal 2021: midfielders award, umpire voting, Bernie Vince, Taylor Walker, take voting off umpires







The day after the Brownlow Medal was awarded, there are calls to change a key part of the AFL’s highest individual honour.

Former AFL star Bernie Vince has called for a major overhaul of how the Brownlow Medal votes are cast and claimed the prestigious honour has become “a midfielders award”.

Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines won the 2021 Brownlow on Sunday night with a record-equalling 36 votes and also became the first Power player ever to receive the award.

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After each game in every round, the match officials award three votes, two votes and one vote to the three players they believe were the most impressive on the field.

Vince, who played 229 AFL games with Melbourne and Adelaide, believes the responsibility of deciding the Brownlow votes should be taken off umpires.

In a sign of just how skewed the award is towards midfielders, not one specialist forward or defender polled 10 votes or more.

Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn (16 votes) was the only non-midfielder to poll double figures.

“I know we speak about it every year and people probably get sick of it but it’s a midfielders award,” Vince told Triple M.

“You go through the All Australian team, Jake Lever and Steven May from the Melbourne footy club had huge influences on games (with their) intercept marking ability.

“Even Aliir Aliir from Port Adelaide (had a) huge effect on games. Jake Lever got five votes, Steven May got one vote for the whole year.”

”My thought is, the umpires have got enough on their plate,” Vince said.

“How can they be concentrating on who’s the best player. They throw the ball up, they’re right around the footy, of course they’re going to see the players that are around the footy at the stoppage, all the midfielders.

“Even ruckmen don’t poll too well either for the effect they have on games.”

Vince proposed an “independent panel” of former players to take over the voting duties in the hope greater emphasis will be placed on the impact players have on games, rather than only rewarding midfielders who accumulate a massive number of disposals.

“I just feel like it needs to be an independent panel, watching the games,” he said.

“I think the system needs to change. It can be more about effect on games, influence.

“The umpires go ‘nah we don’t look at the stats’. They see the stats, that’s been proven.

“They see the stats and they don’t want to make a big blue when it comes to Brownlow night and miss out on giving someone that has had 40 disposals a vote. They go ‘oh well, you know what, let’s just give it to (Jack) Macrae who’s had 40 touches. Of course they’re going to do that, I would probably do that too.

“I think it’s a certain panel for each game.”

There was uproar among AFL fans during the Brownlow count when GWS defender Sam Taylor was completely overlooked for his dominant game on Geelong forward Tom Hawkins in the Giants’ upset win over the Cats in round 21.

Pundits were also unimpressed when Geelong’s Tom Stewart only received two votes for his epic game against the Western Bulldogs in round 14, in which he broke the AFL record for intercept possessions.

Brownlow runner-up Marcus Bontempelli was judged best on ground by the umpires on that occasion.

Vince cited the example of Adelaide key forward Taylor Walker only receiving two votes in the Crows’ round two loss to the Sydney Swans, despite kicking six goals and having a large influence on the game.

“It doesn’t have to be a panel,” he said.

“Maybe it’s just one person who’s just looking at influence, because I looked at Taylor Walker’s first few rounds and there was a game against Sydney, he got one vote,” Vince said.

“He kicked six goals, three (behinds), had 15 disposals, was the highest ranked player on the ground by a fair way, he should have got three votes.

“Yes, Sydney did win but the influence he had. What does a forward have to do in a losing team? What does he have to do, kick 10? Because (Josh) Kennedy got the three votes, he had 27 touches, no goals, Tom Hickey got two votes, he had nine disposals and kicked two goals. How’s that influence on the game better?

“We keep mentioning it every year, I think it seriously needs to be looked at.”


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