The Brownlow medal is awarded to the best & fairest player as judged by the officiating field umpires during the home and away season.
It is the biggest player award in football. Despite AFLPA awards, various media and club awards the Brownlow remains the most prestigious individual AFL award.
Recent seasons however has seen the award dominated by midfielders. And ruckman in particular have not fared particularly well in Brownlow polling. Scott Wynd the last ruckman to win the medal back in 1992.
Last season Paddy Ryder was the All-Australian ruckman. While he was ineligible to win due to suspension, Ryder only managed six votes, 29 behind winner Dustin Martin. The Power star also had five of his teammates score more votes in the Brownlow count.
With outcomes such as the above, it is understandable many feel the role and value of a ruckman is undervalued in the game by umpires and often the wider football community.
As we approach the business end of the season, the odds for Max Gawn to win the award have shortened. He is now one of the favourites in betting markets behind Tom Mitchell.
The Melbourne ruckman certainly has a fan in commentator Gerard Whateley who can certainly see the benefits of someone other than a midfielder winning the medal.
“It would be a triumph for the umpires if he did win it. You would say that they can actually see the game in its totality. Max Gawn is the best ruckman in the competition and I sincerely hope he gets the Brownlow.”
Max Gawn in Brownlow form
While 2017 was not a brilliant year for Gawn due to injury, he was the All-Australian ruck in 2016. And despite Melbourne only winning seven games, he managed to pick up 16 votes. This included four games in which he picked up maximum votes.
Statistically the 26 year-old is having a career best season in 2018. Averaging 16.4 disposals, 4.6 marks and 47 hitouts per match. Not surprisingly Max Gawn ranks #1 for hitouts and is only behind Jeremy McGovern for total contested marks in the competition.
The Melbourne midfield has flourished with the 26 year-old in ruck. Gawn has provided his team silver service with the Demons ranked 3rd for clearances and rightfully considered one of the best teams around stoppages.
Last week against Adelaide the Melbourne ruckman was absolutely superb in a best on ground performance. He was rightly voted best by both coaches in the voting for the AFLCA.
Gawn is now leading the AFL Coaches Award ahead of Tom Mitchell and Patrick Cripps.
There is plenty of examples of ruckman enjoying outstanding individual seasons who have been nowhere to be seen on the Brownlow leaderboard.
Many will expect history to repeat this year and a midfielder to win it again. But records are made to be broken and Max Gawn would a very popular and deserving winner.