- Neale also won the league’s best and fairest title in 2020
- Took the honor with a vote from Marcus Bontempelli
- Reach the top of the voting for the final round of the regular season
Brisbane’s Lachie Neale has won his second Brownlow Medal as the AFL’s best and fairest, in a thrilling count that saw him finish just two votes ahead of Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli.
The Lions midfielder secured victory at the death when he received the maximum number of three votes in his team’s Round 24 win over Collingwood, giving him a total of 31 votes.
That brought him home just above a crowded field in which the Magpies’ Nick Daicos finished with 28 votes, despite being out of action since breaking his leg against Hawthorn in round 21.
Neale has secured footy’s top individual honor for the second time (pictured) after defeating his first Brownlow in 2020
The Brisbane star (pictured with his wife Julie) returned to the top of the leaderboard when he secured the maximum number of three votes in the very final round of the home and away season
Port Adelaide’s Zak Butters and Sydney surprise package Errol Gulden were next with 27 votes, while Demons star Christian Petracca – one of the favorites for the honor – was one vote behind with 26 votes.
Neale, who will face Collingwood in Saturday’s decider, averaged 27.4 disposals, 8.1 clearances and 13.9 contested possessions, becoming the first two-time winner since his former Fremantle teammate Nat Fyfe in 2015 and 2019.
Many fans will point to the controversial vote for the Lions’ victory over GWS in the sixth round, in which Neale received three votes despite recording just seven kicks and 13 handballs.
Josh Kelly had 41 disposals and Stephen Coniglio recorded 38, which on paper were far better performances than Neale’s.
The Lions co-captain was stunned after his second Brownlow win in four seasons.
“It’s not looking particularly good at the moment,” he said after the vote was completed.
“I’m sure it will come to fruition at a later date.” To be honest, I’m pretty unsettled, so I apologize if this doesn’t go well.
“I didn’t expect that and to be one of the names that have won two is incredible.”
Neale told his fellow players and guests that he was excited to be able to watch the vote from Brisbane as he and his teammates prepare for the grand finale – and that he was “on the water” and looking forward to an early evening.
He was drafted with pick 58 in 2011, which looks like an absolute steal today – but at the time, even those closest to him had doubts about how far he would go in the game.
‘[I was told] “Don’t worry about those external things like draft camp and things like that I wasn’t invited to and I just tried to put my head down at the end of my draft year and play some good footy play,” he said.
“But yeah, even as I was sitting on the couch watching the draft that year, after I picked about 40, my mom came up to me and said, ‘There’s always the rookie draft.’
“She wasn’t very confident either.”
Neale’s second Brownlow puts him in competition with double medalists Gary Ablett Jr, Greg Williams, Adam Goodes, Robert Harvey and Chris Judd – with the Lions’ lynchpin still needing a medal win to become one of the only players to do so have won the award three times: Ian Steward, Bob Skilton, Haydn Bunton Sr. and Dick Reynolds.
There’s more to come…