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Brownlow shock: West Coast long-shot Matt Priddis sweeps to win in thrilling count

Inside Matt Priddis' Brownlow celebrations Matt Thompson wraps up Brownlow night
Matt Priddis of the Eagles wins the Charles Brownlow medal during the 2014 Brownlow Medal count at the Crown Palladium, Melbourne on September 22, 2014 (Photo: David Callow/AFL Media)
West Coast star Matt Priddis at Monday night's Brownlow Medal count
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WEST Coast midfielder Matt Priddis has won the 2014 Brownlow Medal, capping a fairytale story of persistence for the former mature-age rookie who was overlooked in four drafts.
 
Priddis, who missed selection in the 2014 All Australian team, polled 26 votes and had the medal secured after 22 rounds, polling two votes in the final round to overtake ineligible Fremantle star Nat Fyfe.

Fyfe, who was suspended twice through the season, polled 25 votes and led the vote tally between rounds 20 and 22.   
 
Priddis, 29, won a Sandover Medal with WAFL club Subiaco in 2006 and he joins past Eagles Ben Cousins (2005) and Chris Judd (2004) in winning the AFL's highest individual honour. 
 
The 29-year-old, who was recruited by West Coast as a rookie in 2006, led the AFL for handballs and total disposals in 2014, ranking No.2 for clearances and No.3 for tackles in an outstanding campaign.
 
He polled votes in 13 games to edge out Port Adelaide captain Travis Boak and Adelaide star Patrick Dangerfield, who entered the final round as medal chances on 21 votes each, but failed to poll. 
 
Sydney Swans star Lance Franklin and Gold Coast champion Gary Ablett finished equal second on 22 votes, but neither played in the final round of the season.
 
"This doesn’t sit too well with me, I'm a pretty shy kind of guy," Priddis said after accepting the award.
 
"I don’t see myself with the likes of some of the Brownlow medallists of the past, so it's a little bit daunting, but something I'm obviously very proud of.
 
"My family have been absolutely super … I would not be standing here without their love and support. They've been absolutely amazing."   

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Priddis said his phone had been running hot on Monday night, with former Subiaco teammates celebrating Sunday’s WAFL premiership in Perth.
 
The former wall and floor tiler, who is revered at West Coast for his meticulous preparation, rated his 2014 season clearly above his eight others.
 
"I was able to kick a few more goals this year (10) and just have more impact on games," he said. 
 
"I think that helps, and I think my leadership has improved as the season's gone on.
 
"I've really enjoyed that part of the game and that has really helped me."
 
Matt Priddis enjoys a sip of champagne after being awarded this year's Brownlow Medal. Picture: AFL Media 


Priddis is in the mix to take over the West Coast captaincy from retired defender Darren Glass in 2015, with coach Adam Simpson praising the onballer's leadership.
 
Simpson was also bemused his most consistent player in 2014 had been left out of the All Australian team after earning selection in the 40-man squad.     
 
"I thought he might have been a bit stiff, along with (Eric) Mackenzie but it's not something we think deeply about," he said.  
 
"It's something as a player you hold in high regard when your career finishes, but I reckon this might sit on top of that one.
 
"It's just reward, not just for this year but the years before and we're just so proud of him as a club.
 
"It’s not just a year out of the blue, it's 10-plus years of continuous effort."
 
Monday night's count at Crown Palladium was a thriller, with 2013 winner Ablett and Geelong captain Joel Selwood making the early running.
 
Ablett burst out of the blocks and polled the maximum three votes in three of his first five games to sit on 17 votes after 11 rounds.
 
The Suns star finished on 22 votes when a shoulder injury ended his season. Selwood, who was the pre-count favourite, finished equal fourth on 21 votes.  
 
In other awards announced on the night, Port Adelaide speedster Matt White won goal of the year for his exhilarating running goal against his former club Richmond in round 17.
 
Power teammate Chad Wingard won mark of the year for his high-flying grab against St Kilda in round 12.
 
West Coast hard man Beau Waters was awarded the Jim Stynes Community Leadership award for his work with the Cancer Council.