HE WENT in as the raging hot favourite and Fremantle's Nat Fyfe has held off reigning champ Matt Priddis to win his first Brownlow Medal.
As expected Fyfe bolted to a huge lead in the middle of the season – as much as 10 votes at one stage - and had to withstand a relentless challenge from the Eagles’ midfielder.
Fyfe finished with 31 votes, three clear of Priddis (28).
Hawk Sam Mitchell (26) and Swans pair Josh Kennedy (25) and Dan Hannebery (24) rounded out the top five.
Fyfe is the first Docker to win the game's most coveted individual award and did so despite missing four games.
He finished second to Priddis last year, but was ineligible through suspension.
Incredibly Fyfe had 29 votes through 14 rounds, when he had his biggest lead, which would ultimately prove enough to win.
He led by four ahead of the final round.
One of the pre-count favourites, Patrick Dangerfield, finished sixth on 22 votes in his last season as a Crow.
No surprise Fyfe collected all three votes with his 38-disposal and three goal masterclass against Geelong to get off the mark. Priddis also got going with two votes in a big win over Carlton.
Fyfe kept rolling with his second best on ground, this time against the Swans where Hannebery also nabbed two votes. The leaderboard was clogged early, with six players locked together in the lead, including the above pair, Marcus Bontempelli, Nathan Jones, Brad Ebert and Jobe Watson.
The big guns got cracking here, whether their teams won or lost. Fyfe collected another three votes against Melbourne, while Hannebery (37 touches) and Dangerfield (36) also grabbed the maximum despite being on losing sides. Fyfe and Hannebery jumped to the lead on nine votes each.
Priddis and Hannebery kept the pressure on the runaway leader with another two votes each, but Fyfe created his own little piece of history with another best on ground against North Melbourne. His 37 disposals and three votes vaulted the Docker to 17 votes after eight rounds – something no other player had done in the history of the Medal.
The head-to-head battle between Dangerfield and Fyfe at Adelaide Oval went the Docker's way. Fyfe had 40 disposals (26 contested) and 14 clearances, against Dangerfield's 38 (29 contested) and nine clearances.
Mitchell makes his charge with 35 touches in a big win over St Kilda, good enough for his third straight ‘three-voter’. The prolific Hawk jumped to 15 votes, trailing Fyfe (20), Hannebery (16) and Priddis (16).
Fyfe grabs a huge lead with three straight runs of three votes either side of the bye. He filled up against Gold Coast, Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions to bolt to 29 votes and a whopping 10 clear of Priddis and 12 in front of Mitchell and Hannebery.
Fyfe has nine best on grounds, which equals Greg Williams' record from 1994.
Fyfe keeps his 10-vote buffer with two votes in Fremantle's last-minute win over Richmond at the MCG. He had 25 disposals, 10 tackles and a goal. Priddis' 34 touches and two votes against the Swans kept him in second.
The gap narrowed to six as Priddis earned two votes in successive matches. He had 28 touches in a 14-point loss against Hawthorn that was inspired by Sam Mitchell, whose 36 disposals earned him three votes. Mitchell moved to equal third – nine votes adrift of Fyfe – and bumped him to the rare air of 200 career Brownlow votes.
It's now a two-horse race as Fyfe goes without a vote in his final home and away game of the season against North Melbourne, but maintains a lead of four. Priddis picks up another two to move to 27 votes.
It's Fyfe's medal. With the Eagles being belted by Adelaide, Priddis misses out on the votes, leaving Fyfe four clear with one round to go. With nine best on grounds, the Docker star is a deserving winner.
It's a formality now, but Kennedy completed a storming finish to the season with his 31 touches and two goals against the Suns winning him another three votes. He scored 11 votes in the final four rounds to charge into fourth.