King Nick … almost

By Peter Blucher.

Nick Riewoldt is one good game away from de-throning Michael Voss as the Queensland King of the Brownlow Medal.

At the tender age of 33 Riewoldt polled a career-best 19 votes in the 2016 Brownlow Medal on Monday night to take his career vote tally in the game’s highest individual honor to 149.

He is now one vote behind Voss, who heads the all-time Queensland vote with 150.

It was an extraordinary performance by Riewoldt which slid under the radar in a count dominated by the record-breaking win of Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield.

In his 16th AFL season Riewoldt tied for 9th behind on the leaderboard and 10th in the overall vote count, which included the ineligible Adelaide ace Rory Sloan on 24.

Dangerfield polled a record 35 votes to win from Sydney’s Luke Parker (26), Richmond’s Dusty Martin (25), Sloan (24), Sydney‘s Dan Hanneberry, West Coast’s Andrew Gaff and Collingwood’s Adam Treloar (21), Western Bulldog’s Marcus Bontempelli and Fremantle’s Lachie Neale (20).

Riewoldt shared next spot on the list with 19 votes with Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray and Essendon’s Zac Merrett.

It was the seventh double-figure haul of Riewoldt’s career, his sixth top 20 finish, and his third top 10 finish after he was equal 7th in 2004 and equal 9th in 2009.

It is the eighth time he has led the Queensland count in the medal – only Jason Dunstall (10 times) has done so more often.

And it was the fourth time he has topped the St.Kilda vote count and the ninth time he has ranked in the Saints’ top three vote-getters.

Only three weeks short of his 34th birthday, Riewoldt has defied his mounting years to add to an already phenomenal football CV.

He polled in nine of his 21 games in 2016 to match his best effort of nine voting games in 2009.

He collected three votes four times against Melbourne (Round 6), North Melbourne (Round 7), Western Bulldogs (Round 18) and Brisbane Lions (Round 23), when he had 26 possessions and a career-best nine goals.

It’s the first time in his career he’s been judged best afield four times in one season.

He also polled against finalists Hawthorn, GWS and Geelong, plus Fremantle and Carlton.

His 19-vote tally is equal third best ever by a Queenslander and best by a Queenslander not to win the medal. Only Jason Akermanis, who won in 2001 with 23 votes, and Voss, who won with 21 votes in 1996, have polled more votes, while Voss (twice) and Dayne Beams have also polled 19 votes in a season.

Riewoldt was far and away the most prominent Queenslander in the vote count. In fact he polled more than half the Queensland total of 37 votes.

St.Kilda teammate David Armitage was next best with six votes. He polled two votes three times against Hawthorn in Round 4 (35 possessions, one goal), Fremantle in Round 10 (28 possessions, one goal) and Brisbane in Round 23 (30 possessions, one goal).

to take his career tally to 39 behind only Voss (150), Riewoldt (149), Jason Dunstall (129), Akermanis (107) and Beams (53) on the Queensland all-time vote list.

Brisbane vice-captain Dayne Zorko polled five votes in three games against the Bulldogs in Round 4 (21 possessions, two goals), Sydney in Round 6 (33 possessions, one goal) and Carlton in Round 21 (27 possessions, three goals).

This takes Zorko’s career tally to 27. He is now 7th on the all-time list behind Armitage and ahead of Gavin Crosisca (24), Kurt Tippett (22) and Scott McIvor (22).

St.Kilda’s Tom Hickey polled in the Brownlow Medal for the first time when he collected one vote against Essendon in Round 16, when he had 46 ruck hitouts, 13 possessions and eight tackles.

But oddly he did not poll in Round 1 against Port Adelaide, when he had a career-best 56 hitouts and 20 possessions, or in Rounds 6 or 17, when he twice got the better of Melbourne’s All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn and finished in the coach’s votes.

Fremantle’s Lachie Weller scored his first two votes when rewarded for 22 possessions and four goals against the Lions at the Gabba in Round 12.

Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow collected two votes for his season-high 27 possessions against Brisbane at Metricon Stadium in Round 16, and Port Adelaide’s Charlie Dixon earned two votes for his five-goal haul against Melbourne in Round 10.

At the two Queensland clubs, Tom Rockliff (9) led the Brisbane count from Zorko (5), Pearce Hanley (3) and Mitch Robinson (3), and Aaron Hall (11) and Tom Lynch (11) shared top billing at the Gold Coast from Gary Ablett (6), Michael Rischitelli (3), Peter Wright (3), Harbrow (2), Touk Miller (2), Sam Day (1), Brayden Fiorini (1) and Steven May (1).

Ablett’s six votes and Sam Mitchell’s 16 votes for Hawthorn saw them take their career vote tally to 220 and jump to the top of the all-time vote list.

Ablett moved ahead of previous leader Gary Dempsey (218.5 votes) and second-placed Robert Harvey (215).

Dempsey’s overall tally of 246 is weighted down to 218.5 owing to the double-counting of votes in the 1976 and 1977 seasons, when two field umpires voted 3-2-1 independently.

Mitchell started the night in fifth place but also jumped over Chris Judd (210).

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