Carlton star Patrick Cripps won the 2022 Brownlow Medal, beating bookmakers’ favorite Lachie Neale to the prestigious award by a single vote.
The Blues skipper received 29 votes, one more than Neale, to become the first Carlton player to receive the Brownlow Medal since Chris Judd in 2010 and sixth in club history.
In an epic finish, Cripps secured three votes in the final game of the season, allowing him to hit Neale on the post, with the star midfielder earning just one vote.
Neale, the 2020 winner, was the bookmakers’ favorite and has been in contention for the double Brownlow Medal since Fremantle star Nat Fyfe won the award in 2015 and 2019.
The Lions gun would also have become the first player to win two ‘Charlies’ in three years – or better – since St Kilda legend Robert Harvey won back-to-back Brownlow medals in 1997 and 1998.
Gold Coast star Touk Miller finished third with 27 votes, while Dockers star Andrew Brayshaw and Melbourne cannon Clayton Oliver finished fourth with 25 votes each.
“I actually don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said Cripps, who has 20 goals in 21 games this season and averaged 28.1 goals per game, in his acceptance speech.
“I loved footy growing up as a kid and I remember going to boarding school in Western Australia and I would say mum could you always sign me up for Brownlow Night because I loved it too see.
“I can’t put it into words, it’s an absolute honor. To be honest, just winning a few games is nice. The first seven to eight years of my journey at Carlton were tough, but I was always an optimist […] This year we are ahead of the ledger for the first time.
“I love to play football, I love to play with my buddies.”
Cripps led the vote count after round eight with 16 and regained the lead after accumulating three votes in round 20 for his performance in Carlton’s loss to Adelaide.
The 27-year-old finished third at the 2019 Brownlow Medal and looked set to make the finals with 26 votes, one behind Miller and Neale.
However, he secured maximum votes in Round 23 when he scored 35 dispositions, including 27 contested possessions in Carlton’s heartbreaking loss to Collingwood in the final game of the home-away season.
The Blues’ 11.9 (75) to 10.14 (74) loss to their arch-rivals extended the losing streak in the finals to nine years.
On a personal level, however, the three points were enough to give Cripps the lead, as Neale earned just one point after the Lions were hammered by Melbourne and Miller missed a vote in the Suns’ 67-point-23 win over North.
Overall, Cripps has polled in 13 games, receiving the maximum three votes seven times.
He could have added a few more votes to his tally, but only got one for his three goals and 30 losses against Richmond in Round 1. The Blues skipper also almost didn’t qualify for the award after being suspended after the round 21 for a bump that left Brisbane’s Callum Ah Chee with a concussion.
However, the AFL tribunal eventually overturned the suspension.