1. Absentee Brayshaw's barnstorming finish
Melbourne's best hope was expected to be a duel between Max Gawn and All Australian midfielder Clayton Oliver, but both were upstaged by Angus Brayshaw. The onballer – who incredibly spent the first three games of the year in the VFL and wasn't even invited to the count – polled eight votes in his final four games to roar past his two teammates, which included two consecutive best-on-ground efforts to end the season against the Eagles in Perth and the Giants at the MCG. Gawn (20 votes) and Oliver (13) rounded out the Demons' top three. More incredibly, it was Brayshaw's first ever Brownlow votes.
2. Gazza's record-breaking night
Two-time winner Gary Ablett is now the all-time leading vote-getter after his haul of 14 in 2018. He started the night with 234 votes for his incredible career, and when he earned himself two against Hawthorn in round 22, he passed Footscray and North Melbourne legend Gary Dempsey (246). Ablett also became the first player to poll votes against 18 clubs when his 37 possessions and three goals against his former side Gold Coast in round 11 earned him the three. Patrick Dangerfield (against St Kilda) missed the chance to beat his teammate to the feat when he didn't attract the umpire's attention in round four. Adelaide's Bryce Gibbs joined Dangerfield when he polled two votes against Greater Western Sydney in round 11, and now only needs votes against his old side Carlton to get his own clean sweep.
3. Mitchell's win a first for the Hawks
The star midfielder was crowned Hawthorn's sixth Brownlow medallist, but incredibly, Mitchell is the first Hawk to ever win the medal outright in Melbourne. In 1949, Col Austen lost on a countback and only received his medal retrospectively 40 years later when a rule change allowed for joint winners. Robert DiPierdomenico (1986) tied with Sydney's Greg Williams, while John Platten shared his win with St Kilda's Tony Lockett 12 months later. In 1999, Shane Crawford topped the count, but it was held in Sydney, while Sam Mitchell received his 2012 medal retrospectively five years later when former Essendon skipper Jobe Watson handed his medal back after the club's drugs saga. Sam Mitchell shared his award with Richmond gun Trent Cotchin.
Congratulations to the 2018 Brownlow Medallist, Tom Mitchell. pic.twitter.com/KCnoghvajA— AFL (@AFL) September 24, 2018
4. Cripps bucks the trend
His team struggled and won just two games for the year, so many thought the outstanding season of Carlton jet Patrick Cripps might suffer when the votes were read, but the hard nut polled 20 votes to finish equal fourth. The tough midfielder gathered more than the rest of his club combined, with Kade Simpson (six), Ed Curnow (four), Charlie Curnow (three), Marc Murphy (two), Matthew Kruezer (one) and Sam Petrevski-Seton (one) the only others to bother the scorers. There's little doubt that Cripps is the next captain of the Blues and could be in the job next year, and while fans haven't had much to cheer about of late, the fact that he's tied to the club until at least the end of 2021 is enough to get them through even the hardest of times.
WINNERS ARE GRINNERS Star Hawk claims maiden Brownlow
5. Joel still polls but comes up short again
Geelong skipper Joel Selwood started the night in 10th spot on the all-time vote-getters list, and while his tally of 14 took him up to seventh, it also made him the highest vote-getter – adjusted for the two-umpire system – to never win a Brownlow Medal. Selwood finished runner-up to then Gold Coast superstar Ablett in 2013 by one vote and has reached double figures in each of his past 10 seasons, a remarkable effort, but hasn't been able to take home the game's highest individual honour.
6. Nat's night went downhill fast
Fremantle captain and 2015 Brownlow winner Nat Fyfe went into the count with no expectations given he copped a one-match ban for striking Collingwood's Levi Greenwood in round 11. Despite being ineligible to take home his second 'Charlie', the star Docker's quality was there for all to see when he led after 10 rounds with 14 votes, but there wasn't much joy for Fyfe's season after that. The 27-year-old suffered a serious hamstring injury against Brisbane in round 15 which saw him miss the next six matches. He finished the count with 16 votes, and tied with crosstown rival, West Coast's Andrew Gaff. The Eagles wingman had his own high-profile suspension to deal with after his crude strike on Fyfe's teammate Andrew Brayshaw in the Western Derby in round 20.
7. Ruckmen are back on Brownlow night
We have to go back to Bulldog Scott Wynd in 1992 to find a winner representing the ruck brigade, with Melbourne legend Jim Stynes saluting the season before. But All Australian big men Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy flew the flag for their craft this season and were rightfully recognised on the leaderboard. Gawn was a powerhouse for the Demons and finished equal-fourth with 20 votes, while Grundy was three votes back in equal-10th, and will be a massive player for the Pies against West Coast in Saturday's Grand Final.
8. Rischitelli not done yet
As part of Channel Seven's coverage, the host broadcaster showed a touching video montage of retired players midway through the night, and Gold Coast's Michael Rischitelli featured among the group. The only problem is, the Suns midfielder hasn't retired. Rischitelli was delisted by Gold Coast at the end of the season but the club has committed to re-drafting the veteran as a rookie later this year. Let's hope the former Lion didn't fall off his couch while watching his own premature send-off.
Just to clarify Michael Rischitelli has not retired and will play on in 2019. https://t.co/tIxWQeX24Q— Gold Coast Suns (@GoldCoastSUNS) September 24, 2018
9. Kennedy's double-figure run ends
Sydney captain Josh Kennedy averaged 25.4 possessions and six clearances per game in 2018 but those numbers were down on his usually elite standards, and he registered single-figure votes first the time since he polled three in 2011. Kennedy had polled 116 votes across his previous six years, and finished with 20+ totals on three occasions, so it was a rare sight to not see the 30-year-old pick up just six votes for the year and not be among the leaders.
10. Even Marley wouldn't have picked it
Heading into the count North Melbourne defender Marley Williams had never polled a vote, and he would have had a chuckle when he bagged all three in round two against St Kilda, even if he was solid with 14 possessions and three marks. Jarrad Waite got the two votes for his 24 disposals, 13 marks, 13 insides 50s and a goal, while Saint Jake Carlisle's 17 possessions and 11 marks earned him the one. Williams' teammate Ben Brown booted six goals in the Kangaroos' 52-point win but couldn't get a mention, showing just how hard the big forwards do it on Brownlow night.
11. Dour Swan edges closer to outright record
He's one of John Longmire's most reliable players and is an All Australian defender, but Nick Smith's talents as a lockdown specialist don't earn him much love from the umpires. After another night with a duck egg in his vote column, the Sydney backman joined former Geelong defender Tom Lonergan at the top of the list for most games played without a Brownlow vote. The pair are locked on 191 home and away appearances without hearing their names read out, with Lonergan retired on 209 matches overall, including finals, and Smith (211) continuing his career next season.