Who will top the Swans vote in the 2021 Brownlow Medal? Who will join AFL Brownlow royalty? Which Swans are to set to poll for the first time in the game’s highest individual honour? And could a young Swan poll on debut?

All will be unveiled on Sunday night, September 19 (5:30pm AWST / 7:30pm AEST) when the votes will be counted remotely for the second year in a row amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voting in the Bob Skilton Medal suggests Luke Parker might pick up most medal votes for the Swans after he was crowned club champion for the third time this year, polling 543 votes to beat Jake Lloyd (504), Jordan Dawson (502), Tom Papley (481), Callum Mills (475), Isaac Heeney (444) and Tom Hickey (437).

The All-Australian selectors rated Team of the Year choice Papley ahead of squad members Parker, Mills and Lance Franklin, while aggregate voting in the AFL Coaches Award favors Parker (52) over Mills (42), Heeney (41) and Hickey (37).

And votes in the ‘Coachlow Medal’ point to Parker from Heeney, Mills and Franklin. 

The Coachlow? It is what you get if you convert the 5-4-3-2-1 votes of each coach after each game into notional 3-2-1 Brownlow votes, with split votes in the event of ties.

For example, in Round 23 when the Swans beat the Gold Coast Suns the coaches collectively voted Franklin (9), Lloyd (7), Dawson (5), Heeney (4), Parker (3), Papley (1) with one vote to the Suns’ Touk Miller.

So the ‘Coachlow’ votes would be Franklin 3, Lloyd 2, Dawson 1.

In Round 22 against North, when Hayward (8), Parker (8) and Harry Cunningham (5) headed the coaches votes the ‘Coachlow’ votes would be Hayward (2.5), Parker (2.5), Cunningham (1).

On the fictitious ‘Coachlow’ leaderboard the Swans vote would be headed by Parker (11.33), Heeney (10.0), Mills (8.83), Franklin (7.83), Papley (7), Hickey (5) and Dawson (4.5).

The prospect of a player picking up medal votes on debut isn’t as unlikely as it might seem. Indeed, four Swans players have done so since game-by-game votes have been revealed, including two in the same game.

In Round 1, 1985 when Sydney beat St.Kilda by 110 points at Moorabbin in John Northey’s first game as coach 19-year-old Darren McAsey and 24-year-old John Ironmonger were among four debutants. Bernie Evans had 26 possessions and kicked nine goals to collect three votes, while Ironmonger’s 12 possessions and 16 hit-outs earned him two votes and McAsey’s 10 possessions was worth one vote despite the fact that only five players had fewer possessions.

In Round 1, 2003 Adam Schneider had 14 possessions and two goals for one vote in a 74-point win over Carlton at Stadium Australia, and in Round 1 2006 Heath Grundy, playing forward, had 15 possessions and kicked a career-best three goals or one vote in a 48-point SCG win over Richmond.

Swans Brownlow Medallist Greg Williams also picked up three votes in his AFL debut with Geelong in 1984, when he had 38 possessions and a goal in a 49-point win over Fitzroy in which football showman Mark Jackson kicked nine goals and didn’t poll.

Errol Gulden, who had 19 possessions and kicked three goals on debut, could join this club in the first game of the season.

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Other first-time vote-getters? Looking through an optimistic lens, as many as eight Swans could poll for the first time. There’s Gulden and fellow first-year players Braeden Campbell and Chad Warner, who were the Rounds 1-2-3 nominations for the NAB AFL Rising Star Award, fifth-year forward Will Hayward, fourth-year forward turned defender Tom McCartin, second-year goalsneak Sam Wicks and third-year defensive find Justin McInerney, who finished eighth in the Skilton Medal.

And there will be plenty hoping Cunningham, 10 years and 151 games a Swans stalwart, will finally get his first vote to put to the prospect of challenging the all-time AFL record of 211 games without a vote held by his ex-teammate Nick Smith.

Josh Kennedy? He’s polled in the medal 10 years in a row for a career total of 138 votes to rank third on the Swans all-time vote list behind Bob Skilton (180) and Adam Goodes (163). Can he figure again?

Lance Franklin ranks 20th in all-time career votes with 170 – 88 for the Swans and 82 for Hawthorn. Eight votes, possible according to the ‘Coachlow’, would take him past Essendon’s Bill Hutchison (172), Western Bulldogs’ Scott West (175), Collingwood’s Nathan Buckley (178) and Fitzroy’s Kevin Murray (178) to 16th all-time, and within striking distance of the incomparable Skilton (180).

And Parker? In the shortened 2020 season, he polled 15 votes to become the eighth Swan to top 100, going past Paul Kelly (103), Dan Hannebery (106) to reach 109. Within reach for him this year are 1940 winner Herbie Matthews (117) and 1949 winner Ron Clegg (121), which would leave only Kennedy, Goodes and Skilton ahead of him.

Parker, too, has another special honour on his radar. He has led the Swans vote-count three times in 2016-19-20. A fourth this year would see him join Greg Williams, Barry Round and Ron Clegg at this level, leaving only Kelly (5), Matthews (5), Goodes (7) and Skilton (10) ahead of him.

Swans Leading Vote-Getter - Brownlow Medal
Player Times Years
Bob Skilton 10 1958-59-60, 1962-63-64-65-66-67-68
Adam Goodes 7 2003, 2006-07-08-09-10-11
Paul Kelly 5 1993-94-95-96-98
Herbie Matthews 5 1936-37-39-40-41
Ron Clegg 4 1948-49-52-53
Greg Williams 4 1986-87-89-90
Barry Round 4 1976-79-81-82
Luke Parker 3 2016-19-20
Peter Reville 3 1929-30-33

So who will top the Swans vote in the 2021 Brownlow Medal? Who will join AFL Brownlow royalty? Which Swans are to set to poll for the first time in the game’s highest individual honour? And could a young Swan poll on debut?

Keep an eye out for our 2021 Brownlow Medal round-by-round guide to the vote count, published on www.sydneyswans.com.au later this week.