Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines has won his club’s first AFL Brownlow Medal.
In a pulsating count on Sunday night, Wines polled 36 votes to finish three clear of Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli.
The Bulldogs star had led since round 12, but did not poll after round 19.
Wines hit the lead with one vote in round 22 and another two in round 23 against the Bulldogs.
Melbourne onballer Clayton Oliver was third on 31 and Carlton young gun Sam Walsh was fourth on 30 – the first time four players have polled 30 or more in seasons where the umpires awarded one set of 3-2-1 votes.
Wines, 26, polled in 16 games – a Brownlow record and his tally of 36 equals Richmond star Dustin Martin’s record total in 2017.
He also polled in 11 of the last 12 games.
Their first Brownlow is some small consolation for Power after the Bulldogs humiliated it in the preliminary final, winning through to Saturday night’s grand final against the Demons.
After round 18, with five games left, the count was down to five players – Bontempell on 30, with Walsh and Wines on 27, Oliver on 26 and Darcy Parish with 24.
As the tension built, there was an amusing circuit breaker at the end of the round 19 votes.
The Seven Network started the audio for round 20 before AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan had read out the votes for the crucial Bulldogs v Melbourne match.
“It’s kind of important,” McLachlan said.
Sure enough, Bontempelli polled three votes to retain the lead.
It was thought that Oliver might have too much competition from teammates and that was highlighted in round 20 when he polled one vote.
Christian Petracca took the three votes and captain Max Gawn polled two.
For the second year, COVID-19 impacted heavily on the award.
The Demons and Bulldogs were at Optus Stadium, but watched the count in separate rooms away from the main function.
There was also a function in Brisbane and other players in Melbourne were shown on video links during the count.
In his welcome speech, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan urged everyone to be vaccinated “so we can united as one”.
That was greeted with warm applause in the main function room.
Twenty years after Jim Stynes won the Brownlow, tribute was paid to the Melbourne great.
His children Matisse and Tiernan announced Port Adelaide veteran Travis Boak as this year’s winner of the Jim Synes Community Award.
Fallen AFL star Ben Cousins, the 2005 Brownlow winner, attended his first count since the West Coast and Richmond player retired in 2010.
Since being released from prison late last year, Cousins has found work and is playing local football again.
Also on Sunday night, Fremantle’s Caleb Serong won goal of the year and Richmond star Shai Bolton was awarded mark of the year.