Thursday, April 4, 2013

'We're baaack for 2013! It's Brownlow Talk, but just not as you know it!'

As another season rolls around, so too does the opportunity for one player to eclipse the rest of the competition, and be recognised alongside a bevy of esteemed legends of the game by winning the AFL’s highest individual honour; the Brownlow Medal.

Last year saw Jobe Watson become the 64th player to win the game’s most prestigious award, thereby cementing his place in footballing folklore after a stellar season. But it didn’t come without solid competition.

Richmond maestro Trent Cotchin charged home with a hot run of form in the latter part of the season, only to finish runner-up alongside Sam Mitchell, who surprised many by how close he came to claiming ‘Charlie’. It was little surprise, however, that Ablett looked to be in the running throughout the entire season, only to come up short of snatching his second Brownlow from Watson’s grasp.

Whilst we're back for 2013, Brownlow Talk will be taking on a new venture; joining forces with the fastly growing AFL news site Bound for Glory News.

Even though we will have a new location for our weekly posts, it promises to provide greater analysis and deeper insight into all things Brownlow!

The first instalment of our analysis has been posted today for Round 1 on Bound for Glory News, and can be found here:

From here on in, subsequent articles throughout the season will be posted every Wednesday following the conclusion of each round.

Thanks for your continued support, and hope to see you make the jump across to Bound for Glory News with me, and check out my work throughout Season 2013.


WTS (AKA. Damon Jackman)




Sunday, September 23, 2012

Walker's 2012 Phantom Brownlow Predictions!

'Twas the night before the Brownlow, when all through AFL house
Demetriou was busy riciting difficult names, such as Luke Dahlhaus.'

We're only 1 sleep away from glory. So close to finding out whose neck this years Brownlow Medal will be draped around. Could it be:

Jobe Watson - The no fuss Essendon captain, and sound favourite all year - that is until the last month of the H&A season when his team's lacklustre performances could rob him of a Brownlow Medal. Since then he has somewhat faded into obscurity, and clouded his ripping early season form. But it is this form during the first part of the season that should catapult him to the lead at the mid-way point of the season. The question is; will he be able to maintain his polling thereafter that point?

Trent Cotchin - The 22 year old young gun, and end of season bolter. His consistent performances throughout the year caught the eye of a few, but it wasn't until the latter half of the season that the media and wider AFL community began to take notice of his ripping form. Could he take out the Medal and officially stamp himself as one of the 'next generation' of superstars on the AFL's night of nights?

Gary Ablett - Arguably the best player in the competition playing in one of the AFL's biggest struggling sides. He remarkably polled 23 votes last year in a side that won 3 games, and conversely lost quite a few by margins that pushed 50+ points. Can Gazza defy the odds and poll enough votes to become a dual Brownlow Medallist?

Scott Thompson - He has averaged 14.2 votes over the past 5 seasons, with a high of 18. That indicates that whilst he has been consistent in polling, he just doesn't have the history of polling anywhere near the mark required to be a realistic chance at winning. Statistically he is nearly identical to 2011, when he only polled 12 votes. Granted, Adelaide have won many more games than what they did in many of the past 5 seasons, meaning he'll have a higher chance of polling in a greater number of games, but he will have to defy his polling history to win.

Patrick Dangerfield - Dangerfield's season in 2012 can be described as one of the best 'break-out seasons' this year. His ability to win the ball in close, kick booming goals on the run, and shrug tackles on a regular basis is a recipe for attracting the umpires eyes. Like Thompson, he will have a higher chance at polling more regularly this year compared to previous years given the Crows only lost 7 games. But whether he can go from polling 7 votes last year to near the 30 required to win this year is the biggest question mark over him.

Dane Swan - Last year's Brownlow Medallist began hitting his straps from Rounds 11 - 19, but it all came to a screeching halt when he was handed a club imposed suspension for breaking team rules that forbid any player from drinking during the season. Can he poll enough during that hot patch to take out back-to-back Brownlows?

Or perhaps other outside chances such as Sam Mitchell, Scott Pendlebury, or another smokey, can snatch the Medal from the shadows.

Anyone of these contenders have a realistic chance at winning, and each have their own individual reasons to stake claim to taking up the mantle of 2012's Fairest & Best player of the competition, as judged by the umpires. 

As many would know, in the process of analysing the playing performances of every player, round by round, I compile a Phantom Brownlow Count that I use to help determine who is the greatest chance to win the Brownlow. Of course I am not Nostrodamus, so it is not 100% foolproof, but it helps give me a strong indication as to is a realistic chance at the Medal. As such, I do not endorse anyone to use my analysis for betting purposes, and treat it as somewhat of a guide only and my own personal opinion.

The following is my Phantom Top 10 as per the 3, 2, 1 votes I have distributed for each game throughout the season:

29 - T. Cotchin
28 - G. Ablett
28 - S. Thompson
27 - J. Watson
25 - P. Dangerfield
23 - S. Mitchell
23 - J. Kennedy
22 - D. Swan
22 - J. Selwood
22 - K. Jack

As we can see I have Cotchin winning, but not without close competition from Ablett, Thompson and Watson. Whilst my analysis could easily stop right there, since the conclusion of the H&A season I have gone back over and analysed the season once more to help further shape my leaderboard. In doing so, I have factored in a few other ideas and expectations as to what may hinder or help the chances of particular players, thus slightly altering the initial leaderboard I drafted on the back of my votes alone.

As a result, my new revised Top 3 stands at:

1st - Watson
2nd - Cotchin
3rd - Ablett.

The reason behind the elevation of Watson into the winners seat is founded upon his promising polling history and overall polling ability. Last year he polled 11 votes in 8 games, and before he got injured his projected polling tally stood at around the high 30's mark - which would have rivalled that of Dane Swan last year. Prior to that, in 2010 he polled a modest 16 votes. The key here is that he has a solid enough polling record to suggest he is noticed by the umpires, and thus could take the next step and poll quite highly after an injury free season.

If we look at his early season form this year, he was neck and neck with Stanton, who was also in ripping form. The question is can Watson steal votes from Stanton, because if he does - like I expect him to - it will be a key indicator to suggest very early on if Watson will win the medal.

In the first 7 games I have Watson polling a total of 14 votes from 6 of the first 7 games, whilst I have Stanton polling 13 votes in 5 of those games. But with Stanton's polling history being quite unfavourable in comparison to Watson's, it is quite conceivable to say in those matches where I have Stanton polling 1 more vote than Watson (Rounds 1, 4, 6), it's possible the roles could be reversed and we could see Watson poll 1 more vote ahead of Stanton in one, two, or all three of those matches. The more games in which he steals votes, the closer he will come to being crowned the 2012 Brownlow Medallist.

As for Cotchin, I expect him to underpoll slightly, and fall ever so short of the medal this year. The reason behind this is that I see Cotchin in a similar situation to Marc Murphy last season, when he polled '1 votes' in 8 out of the total 12 games he polled in. Many of these games were those where many expected him to poll closer to 2 or 3 votes, but instead he was lobbed the 1 vote, and the higher votes went to his more esteemed and highly recognised teammate in Chris Judd. I make this comparison between the two players because they're seasons mirror each other in the sense that they are seasons in which both players had 'break-out seasons'. My theory is that it is only after a player has had a break-out season, they will then begin to poll more regularly and rightfully command 2 or 3 votes from the umpires in games where they rightfully deserve them. Thus, I could see Cotchin losing votes to Deledio or Tuck, although his saving grace may be that both of those players don't have favourable polling histories. If he can avoid this, and command votes where my original Phantom Brownlow Count has him polling, then he will win, no doubt.

Unfortunately for Ablett, I believe his chances are the slimmest of the 3. Without sounding like a broken record on the issue, the fact he plays for a bottom-two side says to me he is up the proverbial creek with no paddle when it comes to trying to command votes. He did poll 23 votes in 2011, but because it is such a close and competitive year, I think he will need to poll much closer to 30 votes to be a chance of winning. Whilst I have him polling 28 votes on my Phantom Brownlow Count, I can see the umpires opting to give out votes to other players on the opposition, particularly in those matches where the Suns got smashed by 50+ points and I have given him votes.

In closing, either one of Watson or Cotchin are my predicted winners, and aside from who wins it's going to be a ripper count, and one i'm looking forward to immensely.

And lastly, below is my coveted Most Team Votes leaderboard for each team.

Bring on tomorrow night!


Adelaide: 28 Thompson, 25 Dangerfield.

Brisbane: 13 Rockliff, 9 Redden, 7 Black.

Carlton: 17 Murphy, 14 Judd.

Collingwood: 22 Swan, 20 Beams, 19 Pendlebury.

Essendon: 27 Watson, 15 Stanton.

Fremantle: 16 Pavlich, 13 Hill.

Geelong: 22 Selwood, 14 Hawkins.

Gold Coast: 28 Ablett.

GWS: 6 Greene, 5 Giles, 3 Ward, 3 Coniglio.

Hawthorn: 23 Mitchell, 13 Franklin, 12 Sewell.

Melbourne: 10 Jones.

North Melbourne: 17 Harvey, 13 Swallow.

Port Adelaide: 7 Boak, 6 Hartlett, 5 Ebert.

Richmond: 29 Cotchin, 18 Deledio, 10 Tuck.

St. Kilda: 21 Hayes, 17 Dal Santo.

Sydney: 23 Kennedy, 22 Jack.

West Coast: 18 S. Selwood, 17 Priddis, 14 Kerr, 13 Shuey.

Western Bulldogs: 17 Boyd, 11 Griffen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will the real Brownlow Medallist please stand up: Gary Ablett.

Candidate #3: Gary Ablett. 

Heading into that illustrious night on September 24th, it’s a little surprising to see Ablett is the outright favourite to claim his second Brownlow Medal according to most betting agencies. I say this out of no disrespect to his season, as he’s clearly been in the top echelon of players in 2012, but considering the Suns won equally as many games as they did last year (3), it will surely be a difficult task to poll more than the 24 votes he polled last season in such a poor performing side.

The big query - as it was going into last years count - is whether Ablett can poll in many of the Suns losses, as that is what is seemingly the only obstacle standing between the great man and him becoming a dual Brownlow Medallist. As mentioned, with the Suns having a horror season to mirror that of last year, we can use his polling performance in losses in 2011 to guesstimate how he’ll possibly fare in 2012.

In total, Ablett polled in a total 10 matches, only 2 of which were wins. Alas, it’s no surprise he has polled in more losses than wins, but most important to Gazza’s Charlie aspirations this year is his ability to poll 2 -3 votes on a consistent basis, so we must ponder how regularly he can do this. Furthermore, at what point do the umpires begin to factor in the margin before they decide to downgrade his votes or look towards other players?

Of the 5 games he polled the full 3 votes in, 3 of those were in losses; margins of 50, 57 and 9 points respectively. 
What this shows is that, granted the margin isn’t a blowout and doesn’t extend beyond 60 points, the umpires will not shy away from awarding him the top votes if he is by far the best man on the ground.

So with these stats in mind, how could one expect he’ll poll this year?

Compared to last season where they averaged a losing margin of 64.1, this year the Suns have averaged a losing margin of 53.5, which indicates they have performed better – albeit marginally – in 2012. This can only bode well for Ablett’s chances of polling more votes in each of their losses this season.

One major factor, and perhaps the biggest one to favour any player’s Brownlow chances, is that there are no direct competitors in the Suns team to leech votes off Ablett. Perhaps the only exception will be in Round 22 when Harley Bennell performed considerably better than the bald dynamo, who had a somewhat modest game by his standards.

Statistically he is having a slightly better year than in 2011. But the one stat that sticks out is that Ablett has kicked 28 goals, compared to 18 last year; which suggests that he is having a greater influence on the Suns’ scoring potential, and thus having a greater impact overall. Whether that can be interpreted as him being given more votes is something only the umpires know, and for us to wait and find out come the 24th.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Will the real Brownlow Medallist please stand up: Trent Cotchin.

Candidate #2: Trent Cotchin.

Not since Adam Cooney took home the Charlie in 2008 has a player won the Brownlow at 22 years of age or younger. Prior to that, Chris Judd did likewise back in 2004, as a 20 year old, winning the medal in remarkably only his third season in the system. Could another 22 year old in Trent Cotchin join the likes of the two aforementioned players by claiming the Brownlow in 2012?

Since being selected as the number 2 draft pick in 2007, Cotchin’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of extraordinary. After battling a spate of different injuries in his first couple of seasons, he was finally able to string together a full season last year and show the footballing world why he was taken so high in the draft. That was further exemplified by his performance on Brownlow night, where he accumulated a total 15 votes and took out the honour as the highest polling Richmond player for 2011 ahead of his much more fancied, and equally as exciting teammate Dustin Martin.

In 2012, he’s averaged an impressive 27.5 possessions as game, and was most recently awarded the 2012 AFL Coaches' Association Champion Player of the Year ahead of Dayne Beams, Gary Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield. Last night he also added to his trophy collection by winning the 2012 Richmond Best & Fairest Award.

The question is, can he go from polling 15 votes in one season, to needing to poll 30+ votes to command a winning position come Brownlow night in 2012?

The one thing working against him is related to one theory I am a firm believer of, which is that traditionally it takes a player at least one decent breakout season before they are a chance to win the medal. Take a look at Marc Murphy last season, for example; he played arguably his best season to date and had a breakout season to boot. What this did was thrust him into the spotlight and into the minds of umpires; an effect that is carried into future seasons, but one that is rarely seen to pay immediate dividends in the form of a high % of votes in the initial breakout season.

Whilst many punters and media outlets were touting him as an outside medal chance in 2011, and predicting he’d poll 25+ votes on the night, in reality he polled an underwhelming 19 votes. The reason behind such underpolling can be narrowed down to those games where many thought he’d poll 3 votes, but instead was given 1 or 2. Going by my own phantom Brownlow count from last year, this occurred on 3 occasions, and accounts for 6 lost votes alone. In 2 out of 3 of those matches, the top votes went to the more seasoned, experienced veteran in Chris Judd.

What this indicates is that the umpires will instead opt to give the top votes to the more experienced players with a track record for receiving Brownlow votes, and exemplifies why I abide by the aforementioned ‘breakout season’ theory. What does work in Cotchin’s favour, however, is the fact that neither of his direct competition for votes at Richmond, and more experienced teammates  – Tuck and Deledio – have a favorable polling history. Both players have failed to poll over 10 votes in any one season, and to highlight how low their polling proficiency is, take a look at this; Deledio is averaging 4.57 votes a season across his past 7 seasons, whilst Tuck is even worse with an average of 3.12 votes a season in the past 8. It’d be a fair assumption, though, to assume Deledio will finally break that 10 vote barrier for the first time in his career, after being given a more commanding role in the midfield this year as opposed to languishing off half-back or in the forward line like seasons past.

If Cotchin can command the top votes where he’s expected to get them, and doesn’t have them stolen away by the likes of Deledio and Tuck, it’ll go some way towards deciding whether he too can match the feats of Cooney and Judd of recent years.




Sunday, September 9, 2012

Will the real Brownlow Medallist please stand up: Jobe Watson.

It’s always a joy when September swings around. Sure, general excitement rises as the season builds to a crescendo with the commencement of finals, but for me personally, having followed and analysed the Brownlow Medal quite closely since 2010, I’m like a boy on Christmas when that prestigious occasion rolls around on September 24th – the Brownlow Medal.

This will be the first in a series of articles dedicated towards analysing the main Brownlow contenders, and evaluating their chances of taking home ‘Charlie’ in 2012.

Candidate #1: Jobe Watson.

Ever since assuming the captaincy in 2009, Watson has come on in leaps and bounds as not only a leader, but in terms of improving his overall game to become one of the games elite midfielders. Much maligned for his lack of kicking prowess, he is now recognised as one of the most damaging players in the competition.

After polling a career high 16 votes in 2010, he maintained this consistency by backing it up with 15 votes in what was an injury riddled season in 2011. On face value, it would seem as though he performed quite similarly in both seasons, but look a little closer and it’s evident that there are signs to suggest that he made significant inroads in his polling performance, and will become a perennial Brownlow poller in 2012.

In the first 8 games of the season, up until he went on to miss 3 games through injury, Watson polled 11 votes. In other words, he polled 73% of his total votes in 8 games; a period in which he averaged 29 possessions and 1.6 goals a game. That in itself is a massive achievement, especially considering he polled 16 votes in 21 games in season 2010.

Upon returning from injury in Round 12, he played a further 3 games before again being struck down with a hamstring injury where he missed a further 4 games. Taking into account his early season form prior to injury, if you were to play devils advocate and say that if he had an injury free season and played all 23 games in 2011, it’s not unreasonable to guesstimate he’d have polled over 30 votes and gone close to winning the Brownlow ahead of Swan.

So what of his season this year?

With a game remaining, Watson is averaging 29 possessions, and scoring 0.9 goals a game. Those stats sound eerily familiar, don’t they?

In my opinion, I am very confident Watson will finish Top 3, and with him enjoying arguably his best season to date, he’ll come very close to having the Brownlow draped around his neck on that illustrious night. The only factor that could prevent him from taking the Charlie home this year will be the late season form of Essendon, which could undermine his ability to nab votes in losses that were quite sizable. And with the Bombers having faced Collingwood in Round 23 – a club that he has only polled once against in 13 matches – it doesn’t bode well for his chances of finishing the season with an extra vote or two under his belt. But as to how much of a detrimental impact the team’s performance has had on Jobe’s Brownlow aspirations - if at all - remains to be seen.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

'Who will be first past the post?' - Round 23, 2012 Wrap.

Well, there we have it!

We've come to the conclusion of the 2012 H&A season, and all that's left to do is go over our phantom counts, step up our analysis and try and narrow down the contenders.

What I will reveal for you from my count is that anyone of Cotchin/Watson/Ablett/Thompson can snatch the win. I think this year is going to be that close it may very well come down to the last round before we know who is going to take home the Charlie. This is the one year out of the past 3 that I have been closely following and analysing the Brownlow where I have a strong feeling there may be a tie.

Of those in the hunt coming into the last round, Thompson, Dangerfield and Ablett are vying for votes. The perennial Brownlow pest, Dane Swan, is wrestling with Cloke for top votes in their sides win over Essendon, whilst Watson's chances of a vote may be compromised by his sides lacklustre performance in the second half of the match. Meanwhile, a late second half blitz by young-gun Trent Cotchin sees him in contention for 3 votes, which may very well prove crucial as to whether he wins the medal.

Over the couple of weeks leading into the count on September 24th I will be writing up several articles on some of the top contenders, and giving an insight into where I think they could finish and analysing their overall chance of taking home Charlie.

The countdown is on!

Below is a list of those who I thought were 'KEY PLAYERS' in each match. Take note that I am deliberately randomising the list, and in no way does the order I list them in reflect who I think will get the 3, 2, 1's.


Hawthorn vs. West Coast:

Possible Votes: S. Mitchell, S. Selwood, B. Sewell

GWS vs. North Melbourne:

Possible Votes: S. Thompson, T. Greene, B. Cunnington

Geelong vs. Sydney:

Possible Votes: J. Selwood, J. Kelly, P. Chapman

Adelaide vs. Gold Coast:

Possible Votes: S. Thompson, P. Dangerfield, G. Ablett

Essendon vs. Collingwood:

Possible Votes: D. Swan, T. Cloke, D. Beams

Fremantle vs. Melbourne:

Possible Votes: D. Mundy, N. Fyfe, A. Sandilands

Brisbane vs. Western Bulldogs:

Possible Votes: D. Rich, P. Hanley, J. Brown, S. Black, J. Redden

Carlton vs. St. Kilda:

Possible Votes: B. Mclean, J. Waite, D. Armitage, J. Gram, J. Steven

Richmond vs. Port Adelaide:

Possible Votes: J. Riewoldt, T. Cotchin, Brad Ebert.