While everyone who follows Australian Rules Football wants to know who will ultimately win the Premiership, it is important to note that medals for other achievements of the game can be bestowed on any deserving player, whether they are part of the Grand Final or not. Here is some information on the four medals that are given out to deserving players and why.
The Brownlow Medal is named after Charles “Chas” Brownlow, who played for the Geelong Football Club in the 1880s and was administrator of the team until his death in 1924. The medal is awarded to the player who is considered the best and fairest on the ground throughout the season. The decision is made by the field umpires using a 3-2-1 system of voting. The words ‘Chas Brownlow Trophy’ are engraved on the medal which was first awarded in 1924 to Edward Greeves Jr. who played for Geelong. The latest winner is Ollie Wines from Port Adelaide in 2021.
There have been several multiple winners over the years including Gary Ablett Jr. in 2009 and 2013, who played for Geelong, Robert Harvey from St Kilda in 1997 and 1998, and Keith Greig from North Melbourne in 1973 and 1974. There have been only four 3-time winners of the award which were Haydn Bunton Sr. who played for Fitzroy, Dick Reynolds who played for Essendon, Bob Skilton who played for South Melbourne, and Ian Stewart who played for St Kilda and Richmond.
Norm Smith Medal
The Norm Smith Medal was first awarded in 1979 and is given to the player who is deemed best on the ground in the Grand Final. It was named after VFL player Norm Smith who helped win 4 premierships for the Melbourne Demons between 1939 and 1948 as well as coaching teams to 6 premierships between 1955 and 1964. The most recent recipient of this award was Christian Petracca of the Melbourne Demons in 2021.
The Coleman Medal is awarded to the player who kicks the most goals during the season. First awarded in 1981, it is named after John Coleman who played for Essendon and kicked 537 goals in 98 games. Interestingly, the AFL decided that the award should be bestowed to all previous top goal kickers going back to 1897, with John Coleman himself winning 5 times between 1949 and 1953. The most recent recipient is Harry McKay, who plays for Carlton and kicked 58 goals in 2021.
The Coleman Medal predictions for 2022 are hard to make since it is early in the season, and those on the leaderboard are all close for the moment. Only time will tell who will end up kicking the most goals during the 2022 season but at the time of writing, Nick Larkey who plays for North Melbourne is on top with 10 goals.
Dick Lee who played for the Collingwood Magpies between 1906 and 1922 has the most wins with 7. It is a valid medal to be awarded and gives players something to strive for aside from a Premiership win.
Jock McHale Medal
First awarded in 2001, this medal is given to the coach of the winning premiership team. The medal is named after Jock McHale who has coached the most premiership-winning teams with 8 wins. Much like the Coleman Medal, it was decided to be awarded to previous coaches, but from 1950 onwards, the year after McHale retired from coaching. Notable multi-winning coaches include Kevin Sheedy, Leigh Matthews, Ron Barassi, David Parkin, and Mick Malthouse.