Shane Crawford after winning the 1999 Brownlow Medal.
Shane Crawford after winning the 1999 Brownlow Medal.

Crawford: The cheeky Brownlow Medal survival guide

It's footy's night of nights, but it can be a tough gig for those who don't go into it with a strategy.

Trust me, I know. We've all made mistakes.

It's hard to believe it is 20 years since I won the Brownlow Medal, but I've been fortunate enough to have attended many other counts as a player, captain or past winner.

This year could be one of the most even in recent years with the possibility of multiple winners. The AFL might want to have a couple of extra medals available just in case.

Here's my guide for the invitees, particularly the first-timers, for surviving footy's most prestigious but dangerous night.

THE DO'S

1. Appreciate the history. The award is nearly 100 years old (it started in 1924) and we've had a live telecast since Peter Bedford won it in 1970. Someone's life will change because of this night.

2. Acknowledge the time and effort the wives, girlfriends and significant others have put into their outfits. Who could forget Tania Buckley's silver G-string? Or Rachel McLeod's No. 23 on her back in honour of her husband Andrew? Or the dress that launched Bec Judd? And a special message to all the trolls out there - back off the partners.

3. Be adventurous if you are an invitee. Josh Gibson said recently, "Leave the dressing-up to the women". I couldn't disagree more. I want players expressing themselves, like Graham Teasdale in his brown velour suit in 1977. C'mon guys, time to have a crack.

This is the edgy fashion I like.
This is the edgy fashion I like.

4. It's a long night, so each table needs a sweep or a sort of game (I'm hesitant to call this a drinking game). It could be as simple as a skol every time Brodie Grundy polls a vote or every time Gill McLachlan stumbles over a name.

5. Seek out the top hopes for a pre-count photo. You won't get anywhere near the winner at the end of the night, and they won't want a bar of you for your Instagram post.

6. Prepare a speech just in case. That is unless you have no legitimate chance. Make sure you thank your mum.

7. Take your toilet breaks strategically. When I was involved in a close finish in 2003, I desperately needed to "go" when the count was in the final round. I lost by a vote to the three winners, Nathan Buckley, Adam Goodes and Mark Ricciuto, and had to sit and listen to their victory speeches. If I hadn't, it would have looked like I was walking out in frustration.

8. And when the count is long gone and the free drinks have dried up, don't forget your teammate's room number if he is staying at Crown, so you can charge the next round back to his room. Not that I've ever done that …

Mark Ricciuto, Nathan Buckley and Adam Goodes after winning the Brownlow Medal.
Mark Ricciuto, Nathan Buckley and Adam Goodes after winning the Brownlow Medal.

 

THE DON'TS

1. Take a first date as your partner. That's just setting the bar too high.

2. If you are on Mad Monday, it might be wise to be a late withdrawal. You can't front up with a skin full - Brendan Fevola would attest to that. Stay home if you are on a bender, as Dane Swan (aka Spider-Man) did in 2007 when he was a bolter.

3. Don't bet on the outcome. I shouldn't have to tell you, but after what happened with Jaidyn Stephenson this year, it might be worth a refresher. Still, I'm sure your partner, or your mum, or your best mate might be interested in a little wager - from their accounts.

4. Don't forget to take your hired suit back tomorrow. And do the dry cleaners a favour by giving it a little clean beforehand as a show of respect. You might even get your deposit back.

5. Don't heckle Hamish McLachlan. He's taken over the hosting role from Bruce McAvaney, which is a bit like replacing Gary Ablett. But we know ''Hammer'' will do a magnificent job.

6. If you are staying in the same hotel as the AFL's CEO, don't call him at 4am to say hello, as a mate of mine did in 1999. Sorry, Wayne Jackson!

7. Don't grimace when you've been robbed of a three-vote certainty. The cameras capture everything. Smile through gritted teeth.

8. And don't believe the AFL and Channel 7 when they tell you the medal count will be shorter and more condensed this year. That's like telling us Toby Greene has finally learnt his lesson and won't get in any more hot water.

News Corp Australia


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