1. High polling top four

This was only the fourth time under the usual 3-2-1 system that multiple players have reached 30 or more votes in a season, and the first year that more than two players have polled so well. Ollie Wines (36) and Marcus Bontempelli (33) matched the top-two from 2017 when Dustin Martin (36) and Patrick Dangerfield (33) polled record votes for a winner and runner-up. Clayton Oliver (31) and Sam Walsh (30) joined the Power and Bulldog midfielders as high-pollers this season. Des Fothergill and Herbie Matthews were the first players to reach the mark when they tied on 32 in 1940, then it took until 2011 for Dane Swan (34) and Sam Mitchell (30) to also pass the figure as a pair. 

Port Adelaide's 2021 Brownlow medallist, Ollie Wines. Picture: Getty Images

2. What was in Jack's mug?

It was always going to be another unusual Brownlow Medal count with players in multiple rooms in Perth and scattered all over the country as COVID-19 restrictions again took hold of the game's showpiece awards night. The players weren't letting that slow down their fun, though. The camera cut to Jack Riewoldt as he received one vote in round two for his four goals against Hawthorn, right in time for the veteran Tiger to slowly, and deliberately, raise a china mug to his lips as a celebratory drink. What was in that mug, Jack?

3. Luke Dunstan's wild ride

He started the season out of St Kilda's team and finished it out, but what Luke Dunstan did in between was quite incredible. The out-of-favour and out-of-contract unrestricted free agent polled 11 votes from his 12 games to trail only skipper Jack Steele among his teammates. In 116 games prior to this season, the 26-year-old had polled six total votes. Anyone need a ball-gathering, vote-getting inside midfielder?

4. Mundy like a fine wine

David Mundy reached his highest Brownlow tally in his 17th season with 20 votes surpassing his previous personal best of 19 in 2015. It’s the highest total from someone 36 years or older and came in the same season as Mundy became the Dockers’ record-games holder and passed 350 matches. Mundy polled in nine matches with three best-on-grounds, including in round two when he collected 35 touches against Greater Western Sydney and in round six for 30 disposals and three goals against North Melbourne.

David Mundy with Sally at the 2021 Brownlow Medal. Picture: AFL Photos

5. Movement on the all-time votes list

It wasn't as prolific as he's accustomed to, but 2016 winner Patrick Dangerfield continued to make history, marching up into second place overall on the Brownlow Medal all-time vote tally. Dangerfield (230) passed Sam Mitchell (227 votes) to now trail only dual winner Gary Ablett (262). Dangerfield wasn't the only one to climb the ladder, with Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury (213) earning six votes to move past Chris Judd (210) into sixth place, while Joel Selwood's nine votes pushed him past Leigh Matthews and alongside Judd in seventh on 210.

6. Ruckmen rise again

For a position that has polled so poorly for so long, ruckmen certainly caught the umpires' attention – and it started from the opening round. Sydney recruit Tom Hickey burst from the blocks, polling in the opening three rounds, and he had plenty of tall timber following his lead. Essendon's Sam Draper nabbed three votes in round one against Hawthorn, while Reilly O'Brien, Toby Nankervis and Sean Darcy also polled early, along with big names Brodie Grundy and Nic Naitanui. Therabody AFL All-Australian captain Max Gawn was the star, finishing with 16 votes.

Nic Naitanui and partner Brittany Brown ahead of the 2021 Brownlow Medal. Picture: AFL Photos

7. Ohhh Errol, what a dazzling debut

The last player to earn two Brownlow votes on debut was Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver back in 2016. But Errol Gulden matched that in round one this year for his 19 disposals, three goals and three goal assists against Brisbane that also earned the Sydney small forward the NAB Rising Star nomination. The umpires haven’t judged a debutant best on ground since Richmond’s Dean Polo in the Dreamtime at the 'G game against Essendon in 2006 for 28 disposals and three goals. Polo failed to top either his disposal or goal counts in a 77-game career that added only two more Brownlow votes.

8. Close, but not quite for Oliver and Parish

Not only were the overall vote tallies through the roof, but a number of players got on extraordinary runs of votes throughout the night. Clayton Oliver (rounds eight to 11) and Darcy Parish (rounds nine to 12) both strung together three-vote performances in four straight games, while Marcus Bontempelli had a stretch of three straight. They weren't good enough to take the record though. Justin Madden (1985), Brent Harvey (2007) and Chris Judd (2010) were all voted best-on-ground by the umpires in a remarkable five consecutive matches.

Darcy Parish looks on during the 2021 Brownlow Medal function in Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos

9. From the SANFL to scoring a vote

Cooper Sharman started his season playing for Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL before St Kilda selected him with the 21st pick in the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft. The 193cm key forward was given a debut by coach Brett Ratten in round 19 against West Coast and didn't look back. Over the final five games of the season the 21-year-old kicked 10 goals, including four in the final round against Fremantle – enough to catch the eye of the umpires and get his first Brownlow Medal vote.

10. Love from the coaches, but not the umpires

It's always interesting to see how coaches view the game compared to the umpires – and Brownlow Medal night is the perfect case steady. Thanks to Twitter stats guru Sirswampthing we found out that 11 players scored the perfect 10 votes in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year voting, yet got zero for the corresponding matches in the Brownlow count. Previous winners Tom Mitchell (round one) and Patrick Dangerfield (round 22) were among those to miss out, as was prolific Sun Touk Miller (round six) and All-Australians Steven May (round 15) and Aliir Aliir (round 22). On the flipside, Sam Draper (round one), Josh P Kennedy (round two), Scott Pendlebury (round three), Tarryn Thomas (round nine), Jack Macrae (round nine) and Luke Parker (round 12) all polled three Brownlow votes and zero coaches' votes.