Gary Ablett Jnr won his second Brownlow Medal (or Midfielders Award) last night and although it was a great achievement on his part, the story remains the same: rucks, defenders and forwards have a slim chance of winning a Brownlow Medal. Instead of focusing on Ablett Jnr's success, let's look at the rucks, defenders and forwards who polled well.
Matthew Leuenberger from the Brisbane Lions was the best polling ruckman in the Brownlow. He received eight votes and he came equal second with Pearce Hanley for the most votes polled by a Lion in this year's count.
Leuenberger, more often than not, has to carry the workload in the Brisbane ruck and he can score a few goals when he takes a rest in the forward line. If he can improve his kicking, he can be a more imposing player.
Even if Brisbane win more games in 2014 and Leuenberger's performances improve, would he receive more Brownlow votes? Very unlikely because he is a ruckman. He's not the only ruckman to get a small tally of votes. Dean Cox and Matthew Kreuzer only got six votes each, Shane Mumford received five votes and Will Minson in career-best form just got two votes.
No ruckman has won the Brownlow Medal since Footscray's Scott Wynd won in 1992 and aside from him, the Bulldogs have rucks such as John Schultz and Gary Dempsey win the prestigious medal. Minson might improve on his 2013 form but the preference that the umpires have for midfielders means that Minson probably won't join Wynd and co.
Defenders receive little recognition too. Fred Goldsmith was the first full-back to have won the Brownlow Medal, receiving it in 1955. St Kilda's Verdun Howell was the second one to win it, tying with Bob Skilton in 1959. The likes of David Dench, Stephen Silvagni, Matthew Scarlett and Dustin Fletcher never won the award.
Centre half-backs don't much recognition either. St Kilda's Neil Roberts won the Brownlow in 1958 and North Melbourne's Ross Glendinning won in 1983 but the likes of Ted Whitten Snr, Chris Mew and Glen Jakovich never won it.
Out of the current crop, West Coast full-back received four votes last night and remarkably got three of them in one match. Jordan Henderson from Carlton also got four votes and that was really as good as it got for key defenders.
Running defenders don't get much love either. Richmond's Bachar Houli received five votes in this year's count and the likes of Dyson Heppell and Brendon Goddard from Essendon got good tallies because they can play in the midfield. If James Hird played them only as half back-flankers, would they have got the votes that they did? It seems that the next Bernie Smith, Brad Hardie or Gavin Wanganeen won't arrive soon.
Last but not least, there are the forwards. For many years they were the ones kicking the bags of goals but now there is even spread of goalkickers in AFL teams and some key forwards can have some rather woeful kicking.
Adelaide's Tom Lynch scored 10 goals when the Crows thrashed GWS but he only received two votes. The Giants' Jeremy Cameron scored seven goals in his team's loss to Collingwood but he only got two votes as well. Mind you, we should expect that because Kelvin Templeton, Bernie Quinlan and Tony Lockett are rare examples of key forwards winning the Brownlow.
The likes of Gordon Coventry, Jason Dunstall, Wayne Carey and Gary Ablett Snr never won the Brownlow Medal and in recent times, the likes of Lance Franklin, Nick Riewoldt and Matthew Richardson came close but they didn't get the cigar.
Steve Johnson polled the best out of the forwards this year but one could argue that he has the attributes of a midfielder and could play outside of the forward 50. He is in a similar situation to that of Essendon defenders Heppell and Goddard.
Out of the pure forwards, Hawthorn's Jarryd Roughead was the best voted-getter last night with 13 votes and North Melbourne's Drew Petrie received 10. Other than that, it was another uneventful night for forwards.
Hayden Ballantyne from Fremantle was the most impressive small forward in the count. Despite his reputation as a pest, he still polled eight votes. The Cats' Matthew Stokes and the Doggies' Luke Dahlhaus got seven votes each and the latter's votes were more remarkable because he plays in a weaker side than Stokes.
These days the Brownlow has become predominantly a midfielder's award and anyone else has slim chances of winning the medal. Non-midfielders deserve recognition for their efforts and skills but if the umpires don't keep an eye on them, the Brownlow Medal might as well be called "The Midfielders Award".