From Barbecue Shapes to the Brownlow Medal
THE AFL's greatest ever accumulator of the football was on Monday night bestowed with the league's greatest individual honour.
Hawthorn's Tom Mitchell was crowned the winner of the 2018 Brownlow Medal, with the prolific onballer polling 28 votes to hold off a surprise challenger in Collingwood's Steele Sidebottom (24 votes).
Mitchell became the third Hawk in 19 years to win the award behind Sam Mitchell in 2012 and Shane Crawford in 1999.
Sidebottom, who entered the night a $51 chance with Ladbrokes, held the outright lead in the count in Round 13 with 17 votes. But it was Mitchell who finished the better of the pair in what became a two-horse race.
The son of 1991 Sydney best-and-fairest Barry Mitchell, the Hawk recorded 14 votes in the final 10 rounds, with the triumph coming as little surprise after he won the AFL Player's Association MVP award and earned All-Australian selection for a second season.
Mitchell broke the VFL/AFL record for most disposals in a single game with 54 touches against Collingwood in Round 1. He finished the home and away season with 786 disposals - 119 more than any other player - at an average of 35.7 a game while also averaging 7.9 clearances and kicking 12 goals.
Mitchell thanked Todd Goldstein during his acceptance speech after an errant elbow on the North Melbourne ruckman in Round 5 threatened to rub the Hawk out of Brownlow Medal contention.
"I do remember the incident. I think Goldy actually looked after me a bit in the post-game as well," Mitchell said.
"I don't reckon there was a lot in the incident from memory, I think it probably didn't look great on the vision but I don't think there was a lot of contact in it.
"To be honest I had no idea that I'd been cited until someone mentioned it to me after the game and I was sort of, 'What was that for?'
"It was lucky for me that I didn't get suspended."
Mitchell also spoke about how a change in diet helped bring about a change in his game, largely thanks to partner Hannah.
"In summary my diet wasn't too flash," Mitchell said.
"Pre-game routine consisted of a box of Barbecue Shapes and Kit Kats. I am now on a strict salmon diet."
After polling a record 36 votes to win last year's Brownlow Medal, Richmond's Dustin Martin managed just 19 votes while last year's runner-up and 2016 winner Patrick Dangerfield finished equal 10th with 17 votes.
The Brownlow drought for ruckmen was extended to 26 years, when Footscray's Scott Wynd won, with highly-fancied duo Max Gawn (Melbourne) and Brodie Grundy (Collingwood) both falling short of expectations.
Both received more recognition from the umpires in the back half of the season but Gawn finished equal fourth on 20 votes and Grundy equal 10th on 17.