The dust has not settled from Brownlow Medal night just yet, with the Footy Classified panel ripping into the “contentious” Mark of the Year selection at the ceremony.
Carlton young gun Sam Walsh was awarded the honour for his round seven grab against Port Adelaide. To take the mark he ran back with the flight of the ball, and collided with the pack including towering Power forward Charlie Dixon. While it was no doubt a brave mark, many AFL fans and media were critical of the decision to give the award to Walsh.
“I think that’s one of the worst Marks of the Year we’ve ever had,” former AFL star Kane Cornes said on Nine’s Footy Classified.
“If that there is the best mark we’ve seen over 17 rounds of footy, I’d be extremely surprised. I think Jeremy Howe takes 15 of those a year and it’s one of the great highlights of our game, and that is the best exposure of the high mark this year?
“It was a very good courageous mark, but [Matthew] Lloyd would have taken one of those every fortnight. It’s the best part of our game and that’s been judged the Mark of the Year?
“Maybe we’ve got to take the vote off the fans.”
AFL insider Caroline Wilson agreed with Cornes and was also not convinced that Collingwood’s Josh Daicos was the right choice for Goal of the Year over Carlton’s Jack Newnes’ after-the-siren heroics in round 10.
“You’re absolutely right, Kane. What about Jack Newnes not winning Goal of the Year? I mean, how is that not Goal of the Year? The Daicos goal was good but for heaven’s sake,” she said.
“I’m with Kane – I thought it was the wrong mark and the wrong goal.”
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Cornes gave his tips on who he thought might have been a better Mark of the Year recipient, and suggested that speckie-taking legend Tony Modra would also not have approved of Walsh’s selection.
“I thought Bobby Hill [GWS Giants], that one from Charlie Cameron [Brisbane Lions], I thought Easton Wood [Western Bulldogs] took a really good mark,” Cornes said.
“I thought Fischer McAsey, a young player from the Crows running back with the flight was equally courageous as Walsh.
“There wasn’t a massive standout as Mark of the Year, but what would Tony Modra think watching that [Walsh grab] and saying that’s the Mark of the Year – he wouldn’t cop that.”
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On a night full of bizarre firsts with the Brownlow Medal held remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic rather than in Melbourne in one location, panellist Craig Hutchison questioned whether the method of selecting “contentious” winners for some awards needed to be revised, and the power taken from the fans.
“How in all seriousness can an award of this integrity be voted for by the public? That’s not on. The public are going to vote with the people they like,” he said.
“There’s been controversies before with the committees who have been involved in [voting for Mark and Goal of the Year],” Wilson added.
“I think they need to fix that one up.”