Isaac Heeney during Sydney's clash against St Kilda in round 17, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ISAAC Heeney has 11 weeks to wait and see if he will join an unwanted club.

With one of the Brownlow Medal favourites unable (pending an appeal) to win the award after copping a one-game ban on Monday, footy's famous 'Ineligibles' group could expand to four.

After a stunning 2024 campaign so far, Heeney is projected to have polled 22 Brownlow votes through the first 17 rounds of the season, giving him the equal lead in's Brownlow Predictor, which last year correctly tipped Lachie Neale to win the award.

But pending a successful Tribunal appeal this week, his ban for a stray arm that clocked St Kilda's Jimmy Webster means he will be ineligible for the award.

Assuming Heeney's ban stands and he polls the most votes on the Monday of Grand Final week, he would become just the fourth player after Corey McKernan, Chris Grant and Jobe Watson to win a Brownlow count but not the award.

North Melbourne ruck McKernan and Western Bulldogs forward Grant won the count in consecutive years in 1996 and 1997, but both were ineligible due to a one-game ban earlier in the season. McKernan polled 21 votes in 1996, equal with joint winners Michael Voss and James Hird, while Grant finished one vote clear of Robert Harvey 12 months later, with the Saints star claiming the award instead.


Watson won the 2012 count by four votes and claimed the medal on the night, but he was later stripped of the award due to the Essendon supplements scandal, meaning Trent Cotchin and Sam Mitchell were crowned joint winners.

While the group currently includes just three players, a host of others have entered the Brownlow count with a sense of dread that they could join the club.

Patrick Dangerfield famously polled a whopping 33 votes in the 2017 count, but the fact he was ineligible became irrelevant when Dustin Martin charged to 36 votes to win the award outright.

Sam Mitchell (30 votes in 2011) and Nat Fyfe (25 in 2014) both finished second in the years they were ineligible, falling short of Dane Swan and Matt Priddis respectively.


While Heeney and the Swans might be tempted to accept his ban and move on, Carlton star Patrick Cripps can testify to the value of a successful appeal.

The Blues skipper was banned in round 21 of the 2022 season for a hit on Brisbane's Callum Ah Chee and despite the club's initial appeal failing, the Blues took the matter to the AFL Appeals Board, where the ban was thrown out.

Some seven weeks later, he was crowned the Brownlow medallist, avoiding the same fate Heeney will be hoping to avoid on Brownlow night this year. 

The Ineligibles

Players to top Brownlow Medal count while ineligible

1996 - Corey McKernan
Finished on 21 votes, equal with Michael Voss and James Hird, but was ineligible due to a one-week ban early in the season for kneeing Geelong's John Barnes in the back of the head.

1997 - Chris Grant
Finished one clear of Robert Harvey in the count, but did not win the award due to a controversial one-week ban for an open-handed slap on Hawthorn's Nick Holland.

2012 - Jobe Watson
Finished four votes clear of Trent Cotchin and Sam Mitchell to become the first Essendon player in 16 years to win the award. However, four years later, the AFL Commission ruled Watson retrospectively ineligible for the award due to the Essendon supplements saga.

Jobe Watson celebrates his 2012 Brownlow Medal win. Picture: AFL Photos

Most Brownlow votes polled by ineligible players

33 votes - Patrick Dangerfield (2017)
30 votes - Sam Mitchell (2011)
30 votes - Jobe Watson (2012)*
27 votes - Chris Grant (1997)*
25 votes - Steve Johnson (2013)
25 votes - Nat Fyfe (2014)
24 votes - Caleb Serong (2023)
24 votes - Rory Sloane (2016)
23 votes - Dustin Martin (2019)
22 votes - Daniel Kerr (2007)
22 votes - Daniel Kerr (2006) Brownlow Predictor (after R17)

Isaac Heeney - 22 votes
Patrick Cripps - 22
Lachie Neale - 20
Nick Daicos - 19
Zach Merrett - 19
Marcus Bontempelli - 18
Errol Gulden - 18
Chad Warner - 17