Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale has nabbed this year’s Brownlow Medal, making him the 2020 season’s best and fairest player.
Neale racked up 31 votes, blitzing the runners up Travis Boak (Port Adelaide), Christian Petracca (Melbourne) and Jack Steele (St Kilda).
“This award is really for the club and the playing group,” Neal said in his acceptance speech.
“I thank my teammates tremendously for all their work, I love playing with them and they’re a great bunch of guys.”
Neale had long been the favourite to take out the award, and said that it was lowkey relieving to live up to the huge expectations.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) October 18, 2020
In true 2020 style, Freemantle player Nat Fyfe announced the winner via video link. Neal then had to put the medal on himself.
“We’ve been teammates, we’ve been opponents. We’re always gonna be great mates,” Fyfe said to Neal.
“I wish I was there to give you a big hug.”
The 27-year-old midfielder’s had a stellar season, helping catapult Brisbane to their first finals victory in over a decade.
To get there, Neale kicked 11 goals in this season and averaged 27.5 disposals, 12.5 contested possessions and 5.3 clearances per game.
Neale also thanked his wife Julie Neale for her support throughout his whole footy career
“Not many people know but she owned a salon over in Perth before we decided to more to Brisbane,” he said.
“She had to sell that to come over hear and follow my dreams.
“She always puts me ahead of herself when she shouldn’t have to, and she’s the most selfless person I know and my biggest support.”
The win was somewhat dampened by the fact his team was knocked out in a preliminary final against the Geelong Cats, with Neal even admitting he felt “pretty flat” earlier in the night.
“To all our Brisbane Lions fans, apologies for last night, we didn’t play our best footy and we were beaten by a better side,” he said during his speech.
“But I feel like we’re on the right track and we’re heading to bigger and greater things, so stick with us.”
Given the chaos the pandemic has unleashed upon the season, Neal’s triumph is no easy feat and makes the win all the more sweeter.
Neale also snagged this year’s Leigh Matthews Trophy for most valuable player and the AFL Coaches’ Association player of the year award.
The man’s practically got accolades comin’ out of his wahzoo. Good on him.Image: Getty Images / Quinn Rooney