Team success in the AFL rarely equates to individual honours, at least not on a league-wide basis, and no stronger evidence supports this than the history of the Brownlow Medal.
South Melbourne, perennial spooners for so much of their VFL/AFL existence and only resurrected relatively recently by relocating to Sydney, have 14 Brownlow winners, four more than any other team.
Until winning this year’s premiership, the Western Bulldogs, another side with poor outcomes, had 10 Brownlows, tied for second with the lowly St. Kilda Saints.
On the other hand, 13-time premiership winners Hawthorn were at the bottom of the list of the teams that have been around the longest, their five Brownlows tying them with the Carlton Blues.
Those five Brownlows to which Hawthorn can now lay claim, however, only came about as a decision by the league to retroactively award the 2012 Brownlow Medal to Sam Mitchell. The last Brownlow awarded to a Hawks player was back in 1999, when Shane Crawford took the nod following a 10 – 1 – 11 season where the side did not make the finals.
After 307 games with Hawthorn, Mitchell, at nearly 34 years of age, will play his trade for the West Coast Eagles, having been traded for draft picks. He left the Hawks behind whilst ranked third for appearances all-time and having won the best and fairest Peter Crimmins Medal for the fifth time following the 2016 AFL season.