Ah, the Brownlow Medal night.
Football’s night of nights, where the AFL’s brightest stars shine (feel free to insert your own cliché here).
Carlton captain, Chris Judd, has been the unbackable favourite all season, with his proven pedigree only strengthening his favouritism.
However, being the popular choice at the start of the night doesn’t necessarily mean the result is a foregone conclusion.
Sydney’s Adam Goodes looms as Judd’s main threat, followed closely by Collingwood maestro Scott Pendlebury and Carlton team-mate Marc Murphy.
Despite all the hype around Judd, Dane Swan is my pick to win the coveted award. The tattooed midfielder has had a brilliant 2011, with the second half of his season being particularly impressive.
The following is a running diary of how the events of the night unfolded, covering everything from the blue carpet arrivals, to the announcement of the winner.
7:31 – The telecast starts, bright lights, shiny objects. Surely Matthew Richardson isn’t used to working this late into September.
7:37 – The players are clearly thrilled by the red, sorry, blue carpet arrival procedure.
7:43 – Matthew Pavlich seems to know a lot about fashion; maybe he can help Ross Lyon work some purple into his wardrobe?
7:45 – Dane Swan, at least pretend to look like you’re happy to be there.
7:48 – Brynne Edelsten, who are you?
7:51 – Andrew Demetriou clearly looks distracted. Must be focused on correctly pronouncing Paul Puopolo.
7:55 – Waiting for Channel 7 to bring out the ‘blue carpet Megawall’.
7:59 – Nathan Buckley appears to be in better shape than Dane Swan.
8:15 – The Brownlow count set to get underway; sounds like Channel 7 think it’s a dual between Chris Judd and Adam Goodes.
8:21 – Leigh Matthews is introduced as the greatest of all time, hard to argue with that.
8:23 – Strong start for the favourites. Swan, Dal Santo, Pendlebury, Cox and Murphy get early votes. No Judd as of yet. Are Carlton fans worried?
8:24 – Two rounds in, Judd stuck on zero…
8:26 – When did Channel 7 declare open season on Richo jokes? He takes a ribbing well, definitely mellowed with age.
8:36 – Four rounds in, Swan and Pendlebury leading the way. By the way, Judd still stuck on zero…
8:38 – Strange round. Judd finally gets off the mark; Ablett receives a round of sympathetic applause, while Pendlebury moves further into the lead.
8:46 –A quarter of the way in. Swan, Cox and Judd pick up votes. Demetriou has his first pause for dramatic effect. S…Sidebottom.
8:49 – Jobe Watson in the lead, shame he missed so much of the season. More ticks on Swan and Pendlebury’s projected timeline than the Heart Foundation packaging.
8:52 – Mick Malthouse and Chris Scott – the AFL equivalent of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.
9:01 –Swan continuing to tally votes, maybe the umpires are trying to make up for last year? Matthew Boyd is also starting to make a move.
9:03 – Perfect example of why the league will miss Rodney ‘Rocket’ Eade, ‘I’ve already answered that question champ’.
9:10 – Footage of Karmichael Hunt’s first goal in AFL appears. Surely the goal alone has to be worth three votes?
9:11 – If Lance Franklin could go through an entire year without getting suspended he’d have a great chance to win a Brownlow. Shame that’s never going to happen.
9:24 –Pendlebury is still in the lead halfway through the count. Franklin an ineligible second, followed closely by Swan and Boyd. Pre-count favourites Judd and Goodes struggling, but both should finish strongly.
9:36 –Swan picks up two votes in his first post-Arizona game, the start of a massive purple-patch.
9:40 – Only eight rounds to go. Swan on top with 20 votes, Priddis second with 17 and Boyd one behind on 16. Shame for the ineligible Sam Mitchell, great player, looks like he could be in for a night of heartache.
9:58 – Despite being in the lead Swan still manages to find time to mock Nick Maxwell.
10:01 – Ablett receives another three votes, tying for second. Swan extends his lead with one vote; Judd gets three votes in a losing performance – still in with a shot.
10:04 – Judd picks up another three votes, moving onto 16, still five behind Swan. Pendlebury and Dal Santo having a fantastic run, however with Swan’s terrific form in the latter half of the year, you’d think the Brownlow is his to lose.
10:11 – Big moment as Judd only gets the one vote in Round 19. Priddis, Pendlebury, Ablett and Boyd are right in the hunt. Dal Santo gets three votes to move into outright second behind Swan, who is rewarded with three votes for a monster performance against Essendon.
10:14 – Channel 7 cuts the onscreen leader board to four names, the count is getting serious now.
10:16 – Demetriou has some fun with Tendai Mzungu.
On a serious note, Swan and Dal Santo both pick up two votes, keeping Swan one vote ahead of the pack.
10:25 – Round 21: Much to the surprise of everyone Judd receives three votes.
Mitchell gets three, taking his tally to 30. Let’s hope he stops getting votes from here onwards. Swan is awarded another three votes, pushing him clear of Nick Dal Santo.
10:26 – Only the three rounds to go, looks like Swan has it in the bag. Dal Santo the only real challenger.
10:30 – Dal Santo is overlooked in the votes against Sydney, and Swan gets three against Brisbane.
He’s home now. Dane Swan will win the Brownlow Medal, probably a year late though.
10:38 – Swan is a deserved winner. He’s been sensational all year.
10:40 – Demetriou hits the accelerator pedal, it’s all over now, Malthouse looks like a proud father.
10:42 – Swan has received the highest amount of votes under the current voting system, an amazing feat.
10:54 – A magnificent story. On the verge of being delisted in his early days, Swan has now become one of the top tier players in the competition.
By the way, I made my prediction at the start of the night…I promise.