Whateley and Cornes assess what was right and wrong about the Brownlow Medal


Gerard Whateley and Kane Cornes have gone through Sunday night’s Brownlow Medal and what they felt was right and wrong about the count.

Both agreed that Lachie Neale was the right choice as winner and also agreed that Channel 7 did the best they could with the broadcast given the circumstances.

Read their thoughts from SEN’s Whateley below:

What they got right

Whateley: “I think Channel 7 and the AFL in difficult circumstances produced an excellent broadcast. I don’t think you could do any better given the circumstances that we had and from where it might have been with the Zoom count, I thought they did a superb job.”

Whateley: “Matt Rowell got his hat-trick of threes. I was so reassured by that. That’s how we felt in real time, that he had nine Brownlow votes.”

Whateley: “A big shout out to umpires Ryan, Mollison and Gianfagna who in Round 7 gave three votes to Harris Andrews, so well done, they found the All-Australian defender as best on ground once.”

What they got wrong

Cornes: “I agree with you, I thought Channel 7 did an excellent job, but someone had to present Lachie Neale with his Brownlow. Chris Fagan or someone, a teammate, he had to present his own Brownlow Medal. Maybe it was because of social distancing, but I doubt it because I saw pictures of Neale’s wife was arm in arm with Fagan. They had to get the coach to present Neale with his Brownlow, it was an awkward moment.”

Whateley: “Simon Black was in the room, a previous Lions Brownlow Medallist, I thought he would present it to Neale and then it didn’t happen.”

Whateley: “Nic Naitanui only getting five votes … he got 12 from the AFLCA by comparison and 16 in the Herald Sun. He got five. I’m not sure how you’re missing Nic Nat.”

Whateley: “I don’t really understand why the Brownlow was last night instead of Monday night.”



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Kybybolite roars as former Tiger Lachie Neale wins Brownlow Medal with Lions


Growing up in the tiny farming town of Kybybolite, near South Australia’s border with Victoria, the young Lachie Neale was “always a little sports-mad boy”.

“He was very young when he pulled on his first pair of boots,” his mum Amanda Taylor said.

“He was certainly kicking the football or bouncing the basketball or bowling the cricket ball around the house and the garden.”

His dad Robbie Neale remembers his son “was never much help in the sheep yard”.

“He’s had a footy in his hand for quite a while.”

Lachie Neale (centre) in action against the Adelaide Crows in June.(AAP: Darren England)

Last night, Neale was honoured with the AFL’s top individual honour, the Brownlow Medal — much to the delight of the Kybybolite community.

The Brisbane Lions midfielder played junior football for the Kybybolite Tigers, winning a premiership in 2004, and about 100 locals watched last night’s count together at the clubrooms.

“I did say, at the end of the count, once Lachie was crowned the Brownlow Medallist, that everyone in the room would remember where they were on October 18 to celebrate that little bit of history,” club president Jamie Tidy said.

A sign next to a gate opening onto a football oval reads "Welcome to Kybybolite Memorial Sports Club, home of the Kyby Tigers"
The Kyby Tigers are hoping Neale’s success can expire them to a long-awaited premiership.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

“Our club has had some rough times but that’s up there with some of the more special things that can happen at a little country footy club.

‘They’d all love to have him home’

Ms Taylor said her son was lucky to be in a job he loved, but had worked hard to get there.

“It’s his passion and he’s always wanted to play football in the AFL,” she said.

An older man and woman hugging a young man wearing a suit and tie on a deck
Lachie Neale with stepfather Brett Shepherd and mother Amanda Taylor at last year’s Brisbane Lions best and fairest awards.(Supplied)

She said she was closely watching the Brownlow count, but became less stressed towards the end.

“I was doing the maths around [round] 10 onwards trying to work out, so about round 14–15 I was quietly confident, as long as he polled in one more game.”

Ms Taylor has received messages of support from Kybybolite locals wishing Neale well over the past couple of weeks.

Lachie Neale smiles while holding up his Brownlow Medal
Lachie Neale holds up the coveted Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

Mr Tidy said the club had been lucky with its juniors, with five junior colt premierships in a row when Neale was in the team, alongside former AFL footballers Jack Trengove and Alex Forster.

“We’ve got a very long and proud history of good coaches and good juniors,” he said.

He said he hoped Neale’s win would inspire the club to make a little bit more history.

“Unfortunately, it’s been 46 years since our last A-grade [premiership], which I believe is the longest premiership drought in South Australian country football,” he said.



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Julie Neale rejected Lachie Neale, Brownlow Medal, relationship, WAG


Brownlow Medal night belonged to Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale — but the spotlight soon shifted to his better half.

Neale polled a staggering 31 votes from only 17 games played this season, and in doing so etched his name into the AFL record books.

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He equalled the biggest winning margin in AFL history since the introduction of the 3-2-1 voting system, joining Roy Wright from 1954 after finishing 10 votes clear of Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak.

But it was during his acceptance speech where Neale paid a moving tribute to the woman who has been by his side through it all — his wife Julie.

“My wife Jules, she’s an amazing human being,” Neale said.

“Not many people probably know but she owned a salon in Perth before we decided to move to Brisbane. She had to sell that to come over here and follow my dreams.

“She was doing very well for herself over there but she always puts me ahead of herself when she shouldn’t have to.

“She’s the most selfless person I know and my biggest support, so thank you very much Jules, I love you.”

RELATED: Brownlow winner’s WAG steals the night

RELATED: Star’s Brownlow outfit savagely mocked

Julie was overcome with emotion when in round 16 it became evident Neale couldn’t be caught as the award winner, wiping away tears as she celebrated her man’s awesome achievement.

However, things didn’t exactly get off to a rosy start for the pair as Julie brutally rejected Neale’s advances when they first met.

After being scooped up by Fremantle with pick 58 in the 2011 National Draft, an 18-year-old Neale asked Dockers teammate Matthew Pavlich to introduce the two.

But a then-21-year-old Julie had no interest.

“The first time I met Jules I was 18 and I asked Pav to introduce me to her,” Neale told Perth Now last year.

“He came back and said, ‘She’s not interested in an 18-year-old Harry Styles looking kid’.”

But Neale recovered from that One Direction insult and a few years later, he and Julie reconnected and sparks flew between the pair.

In June 2017, Neale popped the question to his stunning partner with a custom-designed diamond ring, while out for dinner in South Fremantle.

Neale, then 24, shared the news with his Instagram followers with the caption: “One very happy, lucky guy.”

Julie posted on social media: “How bloody lucky am I. @lachieneale you are one in a million. Cannot wait to marry you x.”

The pair tied the knot in 2018 at the end of the AFL season. The nuptials came a matter of weeks after Neale’s trade request had been granted and saw him sent from Fremantle to join the Lions.

The move was a big deal for Neale, but it was an even bigger shift for Julie, who had to sell her well established salon in Perth.

Located in Mosman Park, Studio Luxe Hair was where Julie made her mark after building the business up from scratch. But then love came along and Julie, as Neale said, put him first as the pair moved across the country.

“She’s sort of left everything behind,” Neale told The Age in 2018.

Julie currently works at Mikki Auld Hairdressing in Brisbane, where she’s described in her profile as “our beauty queen, girl next door, classy AF yet so down to earth, angel babe”.

“With a love for lived in colour and balayage, she’s the best in the biz when it comes to blonde and seamless colour,” her bio says. “Jules also shares our love for 70s style fringes and effortless, waterfall waves.

“She’s a big fan of almond croissants and is a self-confessed Francophile, oui!”

Despite never wanting the limelight, Neale has gone from strength to strength since becoming a Lion.

It culminated in a stellar 2020 when he sizzled his way through the entire season and captured the full allotment of three Brownlow votes in 10 games — just one less than Dustin Martin’s record of 11, which he polled in the full 2017 season.

Neale’s historic night would have shattered Martin’s 36-vote record if the 2020 season wasn’t shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now the AFL’s new power couple won’t be able to escape the limelight after the 27-year-old star’s blistering night.



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AFL Brownlow Medal ceremony goes virtual, but the footy stars and their partners still rock red carpet looks


The Brownlow Medal 2020 ceremony usually takes place in Melbourne, but this year’s event was spread out across Australia.

The bulk of the players in the Queensland bubble were at an event at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast.

And there were events in Perth and Adelaide, as well as in Sydney and Melbourne.

AFL players and their partners at Carrarra stadium, the SCG, the Gabba, Adelaide Oval, Perth Stadium and the Melbourne studio.(Supplied: Channel 7)

Things may be all over the place due to coronavirus, but the footy stars and their partners still delivered looks — even though attendees were reportedly told they didn’t need to follow a strict black tie dress code this year.

Here’s who dressed up and who didn’t (spoiler alert: everyone did).

The Brisbane Lions’ Lachie Neale and partner Julie didn’t hold back, with the new first lady of footy donning a sheer floor-length gown and tousled waves.

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And Hawthorn’s Jack Gunston rocked a suit and a face mask, captioning his Instagram outfit post: “Brownlow Medal Victorian Style.”

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Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and his partner Bella were #Brownlow ready in Brisbane.

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The Brisbane Lions’ Charlie Cameron went for a suave dark velvet ensemble, with his partner Caitlin Seeto in an equally elegant black number.

Charlie Cameron smiles as he holds his partner Caitlin by the waist. They both wear black.
Charlie Cameron, with partner Caitlin Seeto, was up for the mark of the year gong but went home empty handed.(AAP Image: Darren England)

West Coast Eagles player Luke Shuey and his partner Dani were dressed to the nines.

Shuey said he was disappointed not to be playing this weekend.

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Melbourne’s Jack Viney and his wife Charlotte posed for pictures with their baby daughter Mila Grace.

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And the Sydney Swans’ Luke Parker cut a dapper figure next to partner Kate Lawrence, who stood out in a red number.

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Equally sharp were the Melbourne Demons’ Steven May and partner Briana.

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The Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Libatore brought their fashion A game, both rocking up to the Gold Coast event in style.

Libatore’s suit even covered up his, “My god you’re greasy” tattoo.

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Lachie Neal opens favourite to win 2021 Brownlow Medal


The majority of TAB punters are celebrating after Lachie Neale was awarded the 2020 Brownlow Medal with a 10-vote win.

Neale was $13 before the home-and-away season started, became the $4 outright favourite after Round 4 and started tonight’s count at $1.25, which makes him the third shortest-priced favourite to win a Brownlow Medal since Gary Davies kept records in 1998.

Dustin Martin ($1.05 in 2017) and Patrick Dangerfield ($1.16 in 2016) are the only players to have been a hotter favourite than Neale before the commencement of the Brownlow Medal counts in the year they took ‘Charlie’ home.

Half of the money placed with TAB on the 2020 Brownlow Medal winner was on Lachie Neale including bets of $33,100 at $1.25 yesterday, $20,000 at $1.25 minutes before this evening’s count began and $10,000 at $1.60 on August 11.

One TAB punter pocketed $26,011 from a $100 multi placed on August 13 after they selected the correct result of four horse races between August 13 to 15 with the fifth and final leg requiring Neale to win the 2020 Brownlow Medal.

TAB has already opened betting on the 2021 Brownlow Medal and Lachie Neale is the $6 favourite to win consecutive Brownlows.

TAB ODDS

2021 Brownlow Medal

$6           Lachie Neale

$7           Patrick Cripps

$8           Nat Fyfe

$9           Dustin Martin

$11         Marcus Bontempelli

                Patrick Dangerfield

$13         Christian Petracca

$17         Travis Boak

$21         Tom Mitchell

                Jack Steele

$26         Jack Macrae

                Zach Merrett

$34         Tim Kelly

                Matt Rowell

$41         Andrew Gaff

                Clayton Oliver

                Scott Pendlebury

                Adam Treloar

$51         Taylor Adams

                Max Gawn

                Zak Jones

                Josh Kelly

                Andrew McGrath

                Dylan Shiel

$67+      Others Quoted

TAB BETS OF NOTE ON LACHIE NEALE TO WIN THE 2020 BROWNLOW MEDAL

$33,100 @ $1.25 to collect $41,375 {October 17}

$20,000 @ $1.25 to collect $25,000 [Today}

$10,000 @ $1.60 to collect $16,000 {August 11}

$6000 @ $1.25 to collect $7,500 {September 10}

$5250 @ $1.25 to collect $6,562.50 {Today}

$1250 @ $5 to collect $6,250 {June 30}

$4000 @ $1.25 to collect $5,000 {Today}  ** five separate bets **

$1600 @ $2.75 to collect $4,400 {July 8}

$3200 @ $1.25 to collect $4,000 {October 17}

$500 @ $8 to collect $4,000 {June 20}

$14,780 @ $2.03 [collect $30,003.40] on Brisbane Lions v Collingwood (AFL Round 15 – Brisbane Lions won by 8 points) | Lachie Neale {September 4}

$100 @ $265.42 [collect $26,011] on Startrade (won Northam Race 1 on August 13) | Jet Propulsion (won Newcastle Race 5 on August 13) | Highclass Harry to place (won Geelong Race 8 on August 14) | Ourkhani (won Morphettville Race 4 on August 15) | Lachie Neale {August 13}

$9000 @ $2.05 [collect $18,450] on West Coast +34.5 v St Kilda (AFL Round 17 – West Coast won by 15 points) | Port Adelaide v Essendon (AFL Round 17 – Port Adelaide won by 50 points) | Collingwood v Gold Coast (AFL Round 17 – Collingwood won by 22 points) | Lachie Neale {September 10}

$9000 @ $2.02 [collect $18,180] on West Coast v North Melbourne (AFL Round 18 – West Coast won by 15 points) | Richmond v Adelaide (AFL Round 18 – Richmond won by 44 points) | Brisbane Lions v Carlton (AFL Round 18 – Brisbane Lions won by 17 points) | Lachie Neale {September 15}

$10,000 @ $1.74 [collect $17,400] on Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast (AFL Round 16 – Brisbane Lions won by 45 points) | Lachie Neale {September 9}

TAB SHORTEST-PRICED BROWNLOW MEDAL FAVOURITES AT START OF COUNT

$1.05     Dustin Martin in 2017                     Martin won

$1.16     Patrick Dangerfield in 2016           Dangerfield won

$1.25     Lachie Neale in 2020                       Neale won

$1.45     Tom Mitchell in 2018                      Mitchell won

$1.50     Shane Crawford in 1999                 Crawford won

$1.65     Gary Ablett in 2013                          Ablett won

$2           Nat Fyfe in 2015                                Fyfe won

$2           Dane Swan in 2010                           Chris Judd won ($15)

$2.10     Chris Judd in 2011                            Dane Swan won ($7)

$2.10     Ben Cousins in 2005                         Cousins won

TAB BROWNLOW MEDAL HISTORY

Year       Favourite                                            Winner

1998       Wayne Carey ($2.50)                       Robert Harvey ($2.85)

1999       Shane Crawford ($1.50)                 Crawford

2000       Anthony Koutoufides ($2.75)      Shane Woewodin ($13)

2001       Andrew McLeod ($2.35)                Jason Akermanis ($15)

2002       Luke Darcy ($3.25)                           Simon Black ($10)

2003       Nathan Buckley ($3)                        Buckley/Adam Goodes ($8.50)/Mark Ricciuto ($8.50)

2004       Warren Tredrea ($3)                       Chris Judd ($4.50)

2005       Ben Cousins ($2.10)                         Cousins

2006       Adam Goodes ($2.70)                     Goodes

2007       Gary Ablett ($2.30)                          Jimmy Bartel ($10)

2008       Gary Ablett ($3)                                Adam Cooney ($13)

2009       Gary Ablett ($3)                                Ablett

2010       Dane Swan ($2)                                 Chris Judd ($15)

2011       Chris Judd ($2.10)                             Dane Swan ($7)

2012       Jobe Watson ($4.50)                       Watson [Trent Cotchin ($6)/Sam Mitchell ($7])

2013       Gary Ablett ($1.65)                          Ablett

2014       Joel Selwood ($2.50)                       Matt Priddis ($41)

2015       Nat Fyfe ($2)                                      Fyfe

2016       Patrick Dangerfield ($1.16)           Dangerfield

2017       Dustin Martin ($1.05)                     Martin

2018       Tom Mitchell ($1.45)                       Mitchell

2019       Patrick Dangerfield ($2.40)           Nat Fyfe ($7)

2020       Lachie Neale ($1.25)                        Neale





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Who polled the most Brownlow Medal votes from your team?


The 2020 Brownlow Medal count is over, with Brisbane midfielder Lachie Neale taking out this year’s award.

But who polled the most votes from your team?

See how all 18 teams fared below:

  1. Rory Laird – 4 votes

  2. Reilly O’Brien – 4 votes

  3. Matt Crouch – 3 votes

  4. Lachlan Sholl – 3 votes

  5. Rory Sloane – 3 votes

Brisbane club banner

  1. Lachie Neale – 31 votes

  2. Jarryd Lyons – 9 votes

  3. Jarrod Berry – 8 votes

Carlton club banner

  1. Patrick Cripps – 10 votes

  2. Sam Walsh – 8 votes

  3. Ed Curnow – 5 votes

Collingwood club banner

  1. Scott Pendlebury – 13 votes

  2. Taylor Adams – 11 votes

  3. Brodie Grundy – 6 votes

  4. Darcy Moore – 6 votes

  5. Steele Sidebottom – 6 votes

Essendon club banner

  1. Zach Merrett – 13 votes

  2. Andrew McGrath – 7 votes

  3. Dylan Shiel – 6 votes

Fremantle club banner

  1. Nat Fyfe – 10 votes

  2. Andrew Brayshaw – 9 votes

  3. Michael Walters – 8 votes

Geelong club banner

  1. Patrick Dangerfield – 15 votes

  2. Cameron Guthrie – 14 votes

  3. Tom Hawkins – 11 votes

Gold Coast club banner

  1. Hugh Greenwood – 11 votes

  2. Matt Rowell – 9 votes

  3. Jack Lukosius – 3 votes

  4. Touk Miller – 3 votes

GWS Giants club banner

  1. Toby Greene – 12 votes

  2. Josh Kelly – 8 votes

Hawthorn club banner

  1. Tom Mitchell – 10 votes

  2. Chad Wingard – 6 votes

  3. Jack Gunston – 5 votes

Melbourne club banner

  1. Christian Petracca – 20 votes

  2. Clayton Oliver – 14 votes

  3. Max Gawn – 13 votes

North Melbourne club banner

  1. Jy Simpkin – 8 votes

  2. Todd Goldstein – 5 votes

  3. Jed Anderson – 3 votes

  4. Ben Cunnington – 3 votes

Port Adelaide club banner

  1. Travis Boak – 21 votes

  2. Tom Rockliff – 10 votes

  3. Ollie Wines – 10 votes

Richmond club banner

  1. Dustin Martin – 15 votes

  2. Shai Bolton – 9 votes

  3. Kane Lambert – 6 votes

St Kilda club banner

  1. Jack Steele – 20 votes

  2. Dan Butler – 8 votes

  3. Rowan Marshall – 8 votes

Sydney club banner

  1. Luke Parker – 15 votes

  2. Tom Papley – 6 votes

  3. Isaac Heeney – 5 votes

West Coast club banner

  1. Tim Kelly – 11 votes

  2. Dom Sheed – 11 votes

  3. Andrew Gaff – 8 votes

  4. Elliot Yeo – 8 votes

Western Bulldogs banner

  1. Jack Macrae – 15 votes

  2. Marcus Bontempelli – 10 votes

  3. Bailey Smith – 7 votes






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Lachie Neale’s Brownlow Medal win completes Kybybolite kid’s evolution into the AFL’s best player


Australians love to travel, to explore this wide brown land of ours. It’s fair to say that the 2020 lockdown has changed our travelling habits.

Instead of soaking in the rays on the beach and the plains inland, most Australians have had to explore the outside world in their screens and in books.

Instead of visiting Lake Grace (population 507), you can look at the small streets and three footy ovals, or read up on its history. Instead of rolling through Moggs Creek (population 89) on the way to the Twelve Apostles, you can look at the satellite view of the town.

Almost everywhere in the world, from Aachen to Zuwarah is at your fingertips, but not under your feet. For now, the closest that most people can get to visiting a place is through an illuminated screen.

To that extent, welcome to Kybybolite, South Australia (just).

Just a two-by-two block, footy oval and some netball courts. If you don’t zoom in on it enough, it sort of disappears. If it took three hours to do all 97 kilometres of streets in Brighton, Karen, it’ll take you about 10 minutes to finish Kyby.

Just 102 people lived in Kybybolite in 2016, with an average age of 42. Mostly farming and agricultural, and best known for a research farm in town.

And the products of the mid-2000s crop of the Kyby Tigers under-14s side.

The productive crop

Most small towns, even footy-mad small towns, rarely boast elite footy players. It’s a product of Australia’s disparate landscape. Lake Grace may lay claim to Nat Fyfe, and Lance Franklin is a proud product of Dowerin, but they usually are one-offs.

That junior side, from little Kyby in the borderlands, can lay claim to three AFL players. It places the town as one of the most productive per capita places for elite footballers in recent history.

Only Osborne in NSW (the “club without a town”) and Kalkee in the Wimmera can claim per capita bragging rights over Kybybolite, but Kyby is unique in producing three AFL players from the same generation, even the same junior sides.

The first was a sure pick to be a star — Jack Trengove. Trengove got nabbed by Melbourne at pick number two in the 2009 draft, and became the youngest captain in VFL/AFL history by age 20.

When he played, he was good. But it took time to get back out there. Trengove finished up his career at Port, with 89 games under his belt. A good career for any player, despite the hype.

After Trengove came Alex Forster, a mid-sized defender who had gained attention through his draft year. Forster made the Under-18 All Australian Team, and played league football for Glenelg as well. Forster profiled as a good ball user out of defence who could also stick with opponents, but like Trengove, injuries changed his trajectory.

The former number 29 draft pick managed only one game in his two years on an AFL list, but he has gone on to be a solid player at SANFL and country levels since.

And then at pick 58 there was Lachie.

Why did Neale fall?

Despite playing local senior footy from the age of 16, being selected in the midfield of the SA under-18 side and getting senior SANFL games while still being under-18 eligible, Neale was a fringe prospect as a junior.

He literally slipped under the radar.

Neale has certainly proved height doesn’t matter.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

As the AFL evolved into a more professional sport, emphasis was increasingly placed on finding the right body types to fill roles, and moulding players to fill them.

As legendary NBA coach Red Auerbach (allegedly) said, “you can’t teach height”. You can teach tall players to do different things, but you can’t grow shorter players to be taller.

Coming into his draft year, Neale was small. At 174 centimetres, only a handful of players had been taken fresh in the national draft at that height or below between 1999 and 2010, and just four in the top 50.

In more recent years, the trend away from shorter players has changed. Perhaps the realisation hit that for as much of the game known in the northern states as aerial ping-pong is played above the head, a lot of the important bits are played at ground level.

Neale himself put it best, when interviewed before the draft:

As Neale entered his draft year, two things broke his way. First, he grew about an inch, which may have been enough in the eyes of some recruiters. It is hard to believe that such a minor factor can change opinions, but footy is often a game of small margins.

Second, and far more importantly, Neale played so well that he couldn’t be refused. He racked up touches at the Under-18 Championships, in schoolboy footy and at local level.

He also proved that he could compete against bigger bodies in senior footy. Neale enhanced his reputation the same way former Kyby teammate Trengove did — he stood out in a senior SANFL final.

While none of the ardent draft watchers placed Neale in their Phantom Drafts and there was no sizzle reel online for him, Neale was picked up by Fremantle in the third round of the draft at pick 58 — one round later than his other former Kyby teammate, Forster.

It was late, but Neale had the same opportunity as the number one pick.

The evolution of Neale

Lachie Neale handballs a football while being tackled by a Western Bulldogs player.
Fremantle’s peak years unfortunately didn’t coincide with Neale’s.(AAP: Tony McDonough)

Neale started at Freo as a small forward, like many draftees. Playing senior footy almost immediately post draft, it didn’t take long for him to find a place in a strong Dockers outfit. His first year was almost unrecognisable from the player we know today.

For a player who averaged more than seven clearances per game last year, he only earnt seven in his entire first season.

Over time, Neale was added to an already potent Dockers midfield mix, floating between Fyfe, Mundy, Barlow and Co. Once he proved height didn’t matter when the ball was on the deck, he was able to truly show what he could do.

It took until 2016 until Neale locked his spot up in the Fremantle inner core — after the peak years of the Dockers had ebbed away.

How Neale stood out this year

Before 2020, everyone knew Neale could win the hard ball and ensure his team would keep it. This year, he introduced the most dangerous element of all for a modern player — risk.

With a better set defensive structure behind him, Neale was willing to try to do more with the ball and live with the consequences that it occasionally wouldn’t come off.

A turnover in the forward line for the Lions is usually just another chance for its stellar intercept markers to create another attacking opportunity, and lock the ball in their forward half.

Neale’s disposal efficiency sank this year, and his turnovers rose, but so did his score involvements and metres gained (when adjusted for shorter games). Instead of being a ball accumulator, he became a super aggressive weapon.

Neale also has the most shots on goal per game of any season in his career to date — better than even when he was playing as a forward. While Brisbane seems to encourage more risky shots on goal, Neale is also finding space to get those shots off.

In modern footy, that extra split second is what separates a good player from a great one.

The arrival of Jarryd Lyons and development of young players like Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage, has allowed Neale to further evolve his role. Even in the accumulation of individual awards, the team is paramount in footy.

Playing in a good team helps of course (just four of 23 Brownlow winners since 2000 played for sides that missed finals) but one player can only do so much.

On Saturday night, Neale dominated in the clinches and was arguably the best on ground for the Lions. Sometimes the other team is just better on the day.

Neale led the Lions for clearances, score involvements, effective disposals and was second for metres gained, marks and inside 50s in the Lions’ comprehensive loss to Geelong.

Sometimes even the best efforts of one player can’t lift a team of 22, especially when facing a dominant side.

While he doesn’t leave the 2020 season with a premiership medallion around his neck, Neale does have a Brownlow Medal and a place in the conversation for the best player in the game.

There might have to be a new sign in Kyby too:

Welcome to Kybybolite — Home of 2020 Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale.



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Profile of 2020 Brownlow medallist Neale


PROFILE OF BROWNLOW MEDAL WINNER LACHIE NEALE

Age: 27

Club: Brisbane

AFL games: 178

Drafted: By Fremantle with the 58th overall selection in 2011 national draft

Traded: To Brisbane in 2018 (along with pick No.30) in exchange for picks No.6, No.19 and No.55

Debut: 2012

HONOURS

Brownlow Medal: 2020

AFL Players’ Association MVP (Leigh Matthews trophy): 2020

AFL Coaches’ Association champion player of the year: 2020

Club best and fairest: 2016, 2018 (Fremantle), 2019 (Brisbane)

All-Australian: 2019, 2020

BRISBANE PLAYERS TO WIN BROWNLOW MEDAL

* Michael Voss (1996)

* Jason Akermanis (2001)

* Simon Black (2002)

* Lachie Neale (2020)





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Brownlow Medal 2020 | Brisbane Lion Lachie Neale reflects on journey, now that his name won’t be forgotten


Neale knew he was the raging favourite, but had been able to sideline the count ahead of Saturday night’s game. I think last year [when he polled equal third] I learned from that experience that I can’t control what’s going to happen tonight.”

But as he shot out to an almost unassailable lead, polling the maximum three votes in six of the first nine games, he knew he was a chance. By round 12, he was on 25 and all but untouchable.

That game was against North Melbourne, a match in which he hadn’t expected to poll. “That’s when I thought, I might be a big chance here.”

Neale hoped to return to his boyhood home base in South Australia’s south east during the off season, where he played junior footy in the tiny community of Kybybolite. After being drafted to Fremantle in 2011, he has missed seeing his younger brother and sisters grow up.

He said was aware of the impact of Covid on grassroots footy. “I can only talk for Kyby and my local town, but they had to combine the leagues this year, so there was only about eight to 10 teams from around the south-east, there’s usually about four leagues.

“So a lot of clubs didn’t play senior footy this year … I feel for those kids and communities that have missed out on a year of footy, because I know how much it would have killed me not to play.”

As a child, Neale said, it was footy or bust. “It was just something that I wanted so badly that I almost willed it to happen, in a way. That was my dream, and I’m very fortunate that that’s come to life.

“I don’t consider what I do work, I love training, I love playing, and I love the environment of a footy club. It’s the best workplace you could have, I would have thought.”

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Asked what it meant to him to win the award, Neale showed his only hint of discomfort. “I’m so humbled, it’s an incredible award, it’s something ever since I was a kid I’ve looked up to. My dad, I think, can reel off the last 40 Brownlow medallists.

“I think people remember Brownlow medallists and what they achieve. For me to be in that category now doesn’t really sit well with me, because I just admire so many players that have won them. They’re greats of the game.”

Now, whether he feels he belongs or not, he has joined them.

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AFL 2020: Mark of the Year, Brownlow Medal, Sam Walsh Port Adelaide mark, Kane Cornes, best marks


Carlton young gun Sam Walsh has taken home the Mark of the Year award in just his second AFL season.

The Blues’ Round 7 loss to Port Adelaide was a heartbreaker, with Robbie Gray sealing the win for the Power after the siren.

Still, Walsh’s mark was a lasting highlight, as he ran back with the flight and launched himself into a pack of players, which included monster Power forward Charlie Dixon.

Catch Fox Footy’s Grand Final Week coverage on Kayo. Stream all the latest news and insight right up until first bounce plus half-time and full-time analysis from the Fox Footy commentary team. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Grand Final

Courageous Walsh wins MOTY

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