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Kybybolite roars as former Tiger Lachie Neale wins Brownlow Medal with Lions


Growing up in the tiny farming town of Kybybolite, near South Australia’s border with Victoria, the young Lachie Neale was “always a little sports-mad boy”.

“He was very young when he pulled on his first pair of boots,” his mum Amanda Taylor said.

“He was certainly kicking the football or bouncing the basketball or bowling the cricket ball around the house and the garden.”

His dad Robbie Neale remembers his son “was never much help in the sheep yard”.

“He’s had a footy in his hand for quite a while.”

A Brisbane Lions AFL player runs with the ball in both hands in front of his teammates against the Adelaide Crows.
Lachie Neale (centre) in action against the Adelaide Crows in June.(AAP: Darren England)

Last night, Neale was honoured with the AFL’s top individual honour, the Brownlow Medal — much to the delight of the Kybybolite community.

The Brisbane Lions midfielder played junior football for the Kybybolite Tigers, winning a premiership in 2004, and about 100 locals watched last night’s count together at the clubrooms.

“I did say, at the end of the count, once Lachie was crowned the Brownlow Medallist, that everyone in the room would remember where they were on October 18 to celebrate that little bit of history,” club president Jamie Tidy said.

A sign next to a gate opening onto a football oval reads "Welcome to Kybybolite Memorial Sports Club, home of the Kyby Tigers"
The Kyby Tigers are hoping Neale’s success can expire them to a long-awaited premiership.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

“Our club has had some rough times but that’s up there with some of the more special things that can happen at a little country footy club.

‘They’d all love to have him home’

Ms Taylor said her son was lucky to be in a job he loved, but had worked hard to get there.

“It’s his passion and he’s always wanted to play football in the AFL,” she said.

An older man and woman hugging a young man wearing a suit and tie on a deck
Lachie Neale with stepfather Brett Shepherd and mother Amanda Taylor at last year’s Brisbane Lions best and fairest awards.(Supplied)

She said she was closely watching the Brownlow count, but became less stressed towards the end.

“I was doing the maths around [round] 10 onwards trying to work out, so about round 14–15 I was quietly confident, as long as he polled in one more game.”

Ms Taylor has received messages of support from Kybybolite locals wishing Neale well over the past couple of weeks.

Lachie Neale smiles while holding up his Brownlow Medal
Lachie Neale holds up the coveted Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

Mr Tidy said the club had been lucky with its juniors, with five junior colt premierships in a row when Neale was in the team, alongside former AFL footballers Jack Trengove and Alex Forster.

“We’ve got a very long and proud history of good coaches and good juniors,” he said.

He said he hoped Neale’s win would inspire the club to make a little bit more history.

“Unfortunately, it’s been 46 years since our last A-grade [premiership], which I believe is the longest premiership drought in South Australian country football,” he said.



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Brownlow Medal live: Lachie Neale the favourite, AFL players and partners gather for different ceremony


The 2020 Brownlow Medal is here — but not as you know it.

Follow all the glamour and drama of the night, with Brisbane’s Lachie Neale the favourite to take home the medal.

Live updates

By Dean Bilton

What do we know about tonight? 

 

While much of how tonight will work is a mystery, there are a few things we know for sure. We know that players will be gathering in little mini-Brownlow events all over the country, so as to stay in line with coronavirus restrictions. We know that Lachie Neale is the favourite. That’s about it.

  

By Dean Bilton

A Brownlow Medal night with a difference 

 

Hello one and all and welcome, on this fine Sunday night in mid-October, to the 2020 Brownlow Medal. A strange season in a strange year has tossed up a strange Brownlow night, with so many of the event’s traditions made impossible by the rona and whatnot.

 

And so we are left with… whatever this is. A rearranged and rescheduled digital ceremony that, if nothing else, should at least allow us to crown and celebrate the best player of this AFL season.

 

How will it work? Not really sure! Will everyone still be wearing the fancy clothes? Don’t know! Can anyone stop Lachie Neale from winning? Probably not! But we’re going to have some fun finding out. Stick around for the night as we navigate this peculiar COVID Brownlow together.



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When is the Brownlow Medal 2020, how can I watch and why is Lachie Neale the favourite


As you are no doubt aware, things have been a little bit different across all walks of life in 2020, and the Brownlow Medal has not been spared.

Usually it’s a lavish ceremony in Melbourne, where all the game’s best and brightest gather with their partners and key AFL dignitaries to celebrate the season and name the best individual player.

This year, for reasons so obvious they need not be named, that can’t happen. But the show, in some form, must go on and the 2020 Brownlow will be one like no other before.

Here’s how it will work, how you can watch it and who is (probably) going to win it.

When is the 2020 Brownlow Medal?

Sunday night, October 18 at 7:00pm AEDT.

Yes, it’s on a Sunday night this year instead of a Monday, just to keep the changes coming.

The winner is set to be officially crowned (medalled?) at 9:30pm AEDT.

A tight head shot of Nat Fyfe holding up the Brownlow Medal near his face.
Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe won the award last year.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Where is it being held?

All over the country. The Brownlow this year will be a made-for-TV digital event, with socially distanced functions set to be held at six separate venues across the country.

The invited players will either be at Channel Seven studios in Melbourne or Sydney, Perth Stadium, Carrara Stadium or Adelaide Oval.

Will there be a red carpet this year?

Not as such, no, but you can bet that players and partners will be dressed to the nines for their respective events regardless.

Clayton Oliver leans down to lift the trail of his partner's dress on the Brownlow Medal red carpet
The traditional Brownlow red carpet won’t go ahead, but players and partners will certainly still be dressing up.(AAP: Julian Smith)

In fact, given the change in format, players have reportedly been told they don’t need to follow a strict black tie dress code and might get a little creative with their suit options.

How can I watch the Brownlow?

It will be on Channel Seven and its affiliate channel 7Mate from 7:00pm AEDT.

You can also follow along in our live blog, which will have all the pseudo-red carpet colour and drama of the count, from 4:30pm AEDT.

Who is going to win it?

Lachie Neale, more than likely.

A Brisbane Lions AFL player holds the ball in both hands during a match against Fremantle at the Gabba.
Lachie Neale is the runaway favourite for this year’s medal.(AAP: Darren England)

The Brisbane Lions midfielder has been the favourite for most of the season, and his sensational and awfully consistent play has deserved it.

Most predictors have Neale coming out on top by a good few votes, but don’t discount a run from Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak or Melbourne’s Christian Petracca.

How is the Brownlow decided?

After every home and away game, the umpires select their three best players from the match, with three votes going to the player they judge to have been the best, two to the next and so on.

Those votes are kept secret until the night of the Brownlow ceremony, where they are read out and a winner is crowned.



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Patrick Dangerfield named AFL’s All-Australian captain, Lachie Neale wins AFLPA Most Valuable Player award


Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield has made a record-equalling eighth appearance in the All-Australian team and been selected as captain for the first time.

He was joined in the All-Australian line-up by Brisbane’s Lachie Neale, who claimed the AFL Players’ Association’s (AFLPA) Most Valuable Player and AFL Coaches Association’s (AFLCA) Champion Player of the Year awards.

In the other awards announced on Thursday night, Fremantle midfielder Caleb Serong won the Rising Star and Geelong’s Tom Hawkins collected the Coleman Medal following his 42-goal season.

Dangerfield continued his perfect streak of being named in the AFL’s best 22 every year since his high-profile move to the Cats from Adelaide in 2016.

He joins elite company with Robert Harvey (St Kilda), Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide), Gary Ablett Snr, Gary Ablett Jnr (Geelong) and Lance Franklin (Sydney) as the only other players to have earned eight All-Australian blazers.

Port Adelaide midfielder Travis Boak was handed the vice-captaincy, with the 32-year-old named in the team for the third time in his career.

Boak is joined in the midfield by Neale, Melbourne ace Christian Petracca and West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui, whose second All-Australian appearance comes eight years after his first.

Explosive Demon Petracca is one of 12 debutants in the team, with the entire half-back line all first-timers.

Collingwood’s Darcy Moore was slotted into centre half-back, while GWS’ Nick Haynes and the Power’s Darcy Byrne-Jones are on either side of the Magpies tall.

Eleven clubs are represented with Geelong, Port Adelaide, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs leading the selections with three players each.

Despite Richmond having three players included in the 40-man squad on Tuesday, selectors decided to only pick superstar Dustin Martin from the reigning premiers after the dual Norm Smith medallist’s shock omission last year.

If it was not for the 2019 snub, this would have been Martin’s fifth-straight selection after being one of the first players picked from 2016 to 2018.

Neale firms as Brownlow Medal favourite

Neale, who is the red-hot favourite to take home the Brownlow Medal, was a clear MVP winner with 1,120 votes from his peers.

Boak (419) and Petracca (398) filled out the podium.

“It’s an award that I’m super proud to have won, to be voted by those who I play with and against makes it a really special award,” Neale said.

“I really respect the opinion of the other players and to be voted by them this year is something that I will look back on and be really proud of.

Neale, who earned his second All-Australian selection, led the AFL for disposals in 2020 and ranked in the top five for clearances and contested possessions.

A Brisbane Lions AFL player holds the ball in both hands during a match against Fremantle at the Gabba.
Lachie Neale is considered the outright favourite to win the Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

He will be crucial to Brisbane’s premiership chances, starting with next week’s qualifying final against Richmond.

“There’s no guarantees that we get to that last game but we’ve set up the season really well and hopefully we can get there,” Neale said.

“There’s a lot of hard work to do before then and some great teams in our way.

“But I’m really confident in our playing group and our coaching group that we can get there.”

Neale won the AFLCA award with 93 votes, ahead of Petracca (78) and Boak (77).

Serong named Rising Star

Serong became the Dockers’ third Rising Star winner after edging out Gold Coast’s Noah Anderson.

The number eight pick in last year’s draft polled 48 votes to finish nine clear of Anderson, who was selected second by the Suns.

The 19-year-old is the Dockers’ first Rising Star winner since Rhys Palmer in 2008, with Paul Hasleby taking it out in 2000.

A Fremantle Dockers AFL player handballs to his right against Gold Coast Suns.
Caleb Serong enjoyed an outstanding debut season with the Dockers.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

He received the maximum five votes from eight of the 10 judges, with Kevin Bartlett and Chris Johnson giving their top honours to Anderson.

Serong shot to prominence in round eight after capturing 22 possessions and kicking a goal in a head-to-head duel with Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield.

Most of the Rising Star hype until that point had been around Gold Coast midfielder Matthew Rowell, but last year’s number one draft pick played just five matches after requiring shoulder surgery.

Serong averaged 16.8 disposals and 3.4 clearances across his 14 matches, combining with fellow young on-ballers Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw to give support to dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe.

AAP/ABC



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