The AFL has shown in recent times that “tradition” doesn’t necessarily count for much when it makes big decisions. So here’s one we’d like to toss up: its time to move the Brownlow out of Grand Final week.

One of the possibly unexpected complications of the truly national league is that many stars with every chance of winning the League’s best and fairest award, the Brownlow Medal, also happen to play for teams that reside outside of Victoria and more often than not these days contest the grand final.

So for the umpteenth year in a row, we head into the Brownlow count, knowing before it starts that two of the players generally agreed to be in the running, Eagle Chris Judd and Swan Adam Goodes, won’t be in the room because they’re resting up for next weekend.

If any Swans or Eagles player wins, a huge crowd of unfashionably dressed footballers (thanks to the AFL edict that all men must wear plain old black tie without variation) and their partners, who will enjoy more creative freedom in choosing their outfits, will have turned up to watch television as the medal is handed out.

Channel Ten has spent weeks trying to work out the logistics of satellite hookups, actual medals to be on site at interstate venues and other such headaches because it was always likely that one or more of the interstate teams would be in the grand final and therefore unlikely to send a key player to a Melbourne p-ss-up on the Monday night.

Why not switch the Brownlow to the first week of the finals, when the stakes are high but not this high for the interstate teams? It always feels strange to me anyway that on the Monday when everybody is naturally looking ahead to Saturday’s premiership match, we suddenly get jolted back to who played well in some meaningless games back in April.

Moving the Brownlow to the Monday immediately following Round 22 would give a natural end to the home and away season, celebrate all those who played (before the unpalatable player culls begin) and then set the stage for the finals series. And Chris Judd might even get to turn up in person.

Peter Fray

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