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Dusty opens up, high-flying Pie shocked, unloved Cat

The moment Dusty won the Brownlow Richmond's Dustin Martin polls 36 votes to win the 2017 Brownlow Medal

1. The speech
It was the moment so many people were waiting for. Dustin Martin is such a compelling character, not only because of his brilliance on the field, but also because he's such a private character off it. His shyness means he likes to stay away from talking publicly, but there was no avoiding it on Brownlow night. Despite the lack of practice, Martin did a great job, drawing laughs by mentioning a friend wrote the speech for him, with Dusty just hoping he could read the handwriting. Speaking through the camera to his father Shane in New Zealand, Martin spoke of his love for his dad and said his manager Ralph Carr was "like family to me", bringing everyone outside Richmond a little further into the character of the new Brownlow medallist. 

2. Martin's surge avoids awkward finish
Considering the build-up to the night, with Dustin Martin expected to not only win but dominate the field, it was a strange feeling when reigning Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield still led at by four votes at the end of round 17. Of course, the Cat couldn't win after being suspended for the tackle that left Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer concussed in round 19. Martin had pulled into the lead by the end of that round but there were more twists and turns to come. Dangerfield polled two more votes in the final round to join Martin on 33 before the Tigers' round 23 votes were revealed. However, Martin was considered best on ground against St Kilda to finally put a gap between the pair.

3. Mark of the year shock
It was an extraordinary result that saw Jeremy Howe not win Mark of the Year for his huge leap, sit and spring off the shoulders of Melbourne defender Tom McDonald. However, the 52.7 per cent of fans who voted for the Essendon key forward wouldn't have been surprised. There's no doubt the Bomber took a great mark, sitting on the shoulders of the 203cm St Kilda defender Jake Carlisle, but Howe's grab was out of this world. Daniher's win brought back memories of Carlton high-flyer Andrew Walker missing out on the award in 2011, pipped by Collingwood's Andrew Krakouer.

 

4. Dusty's record-breaking night
Martin finished with 36 votes, one ahead of Dangerfield's record tally last season. That doesn't include 1976 and 1977, when both field umpires (there were only two at the time) each awarded their own 3-2-1. Furthermore, he was considered best-on-ground in a massive 11 games, half of his matches this year. That tally convincingly broke the previous record of nine, achieved by Carlton's Greg Williams (1994), Fremantle's Nat Fyfe (2015) and Dangerfield (2016).

Brownlow by the numbers: The player who went 2877 day between votes

5. Dangerfield first to poll 30 in consecutive years
It wasn't just Martin who broke records. After polling 35 votes last year to win the Brownlow, the ineligible Dangerfield picked up 33 this season, even though he missed a match. At just 27 and still very much in the prime of his career, it seems Dangerfield could repeat the effort in 2018, although if Gary Ablett and Jake Stringer are traded to Geelong next season, they could pinch votes from him. West Coast and Carlton great Chris Judd was the only other player to pull it off twice in their career – a pointer to how dominant Dangerfield has been.

6. How did Danger miss out on three?
Just about everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Martin overtook Dangerfield in the final round to claim the medal as the highest-polling player. However, it shouldn't be forgotten that Dangerfield didn't receive any votes in round 22 against in the 11-point win against Collingwood. Consider these stats: 32 disposals, 12 clearances and two goals. It was a supreme performance and the AFL.com.au Brownlow predictor had him best on ground. Instead, the umpires gave three votes to Mitch Duncan, two to Sam Menegola and one to Magpie Taylor Adams. If Dangerfield picked up three, as he easily could have, he would have equalled Martin on 36.

Dangerfield celebrates a goal during his game against the Pies. Picture: AFL Photos

7. Ablett moves up the standings
Gold Coast superstar Gary Ablett entered the night equal-second for career votes, alongside West Coast's Sam Mitchell on 220. In round three, Ablett was considered best-on-ground by the umpires against Hawthorn, to pull him into outright second. Only Gary Dempsey stands in front of Ablett's career tally of 234, well ahead on 246. However, if Ablett can play another four years, as suggested by his manager Liam Pickering last week, the record could eventually be his.

8. Lonergan retires with an unwanted record
Geelong defender Tom Lonergan has shown immense courage by playing most of his career with just one kidney, impressing football watchers everywhere. However, in his 209-game career, he never once picked up a vote. It's the most matches anyone has lined up in without polling. He starred as a defender for so many years but backmen don't receive much love come awards season, especially in the Brownlow. Having retired after Geelong's preliminary final loss to Adelaide last Friday, the Cat will have to wait until some other full-back plays enough games and goes similarly unrecognised to shed himself of that unwanted place in the record books.

9. Umps pick Mitchell over Pendlebury
The issue of Tom Mitchell being allowed to run free against Collingwood in round nine caused plenty of controversy. Mitchell racked up 50 disposals as the Hawks pulled away to a 43-point lead, with Magpies coach Nathan Buckley opting not to tag the prolific ball-winner. Many observers considered Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury best-on-ground for his 36-disposal performance, with pundits saying he had more impact. However, the umpires didn't see it that way, giving Mitchell the three votes. Pendlebury was awarded two while fellow Magpie Taylor Adams was given one.

10. No one has polled against every team
Another year and still no player has picked up votes against all 17 other sides. Dangerfield and Mitchell were the two main candidates this year. Dangerfield needed to poll against St Kilda in round five, and after an outstanding final term, he seemed a decent chance, but alas, no votes. An ankle injury kept Mitchell out of West Coast's only clash with Hawthorn this season, and with the 2012 Brownlow medallist having now retired, he won't have a chance to claim that statistical honour.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs