The 5 stories you might not have heard about past Brownlow Medallists

Are you not entertained!?

FIRST off, congratulations Paddy Dangerfield.

While our petition to change the name of the Princes Highway to Highway to the Dangerzone didn’t get the support it deserved (it’s still signable:, Paddy got the support he deserved from the umpires at the Brownlow  – we assume.

If not, next week we’ll do an article titled “The 1 player who deserved a Brownlow and was robbed blind – you won’t believe Number 1 on the list!”.

But let’s be honest, Paddy’s story is boring. Yeah he dominated the league, and yeah he put Joel Selwood on his shoulders who in-turn had the rest of the club on his back. But it’s all a little ho-hum.

Did Paddy fight in two world wars? Did Paddy survive a bushfire? Did Paddy do a Brad Hardie and give hope to redheads the world over that they don’t have to suffer in their God-given mediocrity?

No. Paddy did not.

But we still love him.

Back to the Fuschias II


IVOR, I came, I conquered.

Everything Warne-Smith did with his life was badass.

Winning two Brownlow Medals, the Melbourne captain-coach fought in two world wars before the world said “woah, hey, we’ll cut it with the global discord if you just have a spell mate.”

And they did.

Enlisting for World War I in 1915 as a 17-year-old, Warne-Smith fought at Gallipoli and the Western Front – tragically losing two of his three brothers in battle.

35-odd years later, the Ivor World Tour of All-Inclusive Antagonism took him to the Middle-East, New Guinea and Borneo.

When Warne-Smith wasn’t injecting fear into the hearts of his enemies, he worked as an orchardist, a journalist, an oil executive, and chairman of selectors for Melbourne FC throughout the club’s most successful period in its long history.

Gary’s disdain for other people touching him didn’t stop the well-wishers.


GARY Dempsey was told he might not survive.

Horrifically burned in a bushfire in 1969 at Truganina, the Footscray ruckman stayed in hospital for a month and a half as doctors said there was a chance he’d never play footy again.

With about 50% of his body badly burned – most of it on his back – he took to the long process of returning to footy like he took to his footy; with complete professionalism and a willingness to do whatever it took.

The bushfires happened on January 8. He was back on the field on August 23.

Playing 329 games for the Bulldogs, Dempsey would go on to win the Brownlow in 1975.

Shit…did I turn the oven off?


NOT only was Judkins tiny (166cm, 61kg), the Tigers didn’t think he was good enough to play in their team in the same season he won the Brownlow.

After injury in 1929, Judkins burst out of the blocks in 1930 but soon faded worse than a Campbell sister at the Olympics.

Five rounds out from the finals, Richmond dropped him to seconds and he would stay there until the semi-final against Collingwood.

At the same time, the league counted the Brownlow votes and found Judkins had tied with Collingwood’s Harry Collier and Footscray’s Allan Hopkins on four votes.

With no official tie-breaker rule, the umpires board decided the Brownlow wouldn’t be awarded, while the VFL decided the player who had played the least games would be the official winner.

So Judkins’ rubbish form – at least in the eyes of the Tigers (bababammmmm) – would essentially win him the league’s highest individual honour.

Retrospective Brownlow’s would eventually be given to Hopkins and Collier, however there was a rumour that one voting card in 1930 simply said “Collier”, and given there were two of them in the Magpies team at the time, the umpires decided to not award a vote to either of them.

Harry Collier was robbed I tells ya.

Colin could do nothing but look on as the camera tripod tumbled to his right.


IMAGINE if Paddy Dangerfield won the Brownlow, then woke up tomorrow and said “sod it, I’m gonna play with Lorne next season.”

That’s what happened with St Kilda’s Colin Watson in 1926, probably right down to the “sod it” part.

Having been recognised as the best player in the VFL in 1925, Watson accepted a job as Stawell’s captain-coach for the 1926 season.

Rightly peeved, the Saints refused to clear him to the country team and Watson decided sitting out of footy for the year was the best course of action.

The next year, Watson headed to Maryborough in the Ballarat Football League – still without a clearance from the Saints – resulting in the club being disqualified for the 1927 season.

Watson would stick with Maryborough for a few seasons, before moving to South Warrnambool, then – proving he wasn’t one to hold a grudge – back to St Kilda as captain-coach in 1934.

Expected to fill that role again in 1935, Watson lasted one game in the big smoke before he packed up his rucksack for the final time and buggered off to the bush for good.

Des Fothergill, blissfully unaware of what his beloved Collingwood would one day become.


EVER heard of the Australian rules football schism?

It’s almost a forgotten chapter of our game, when the VFL and VFA went in different directions from 1938 to 1949 in a sort of World Series-like dispute.

The VFA, tired of matches being bogged down, decided to change several rules to make the game more attractive.

On top of law changes that have influenced our game today – like a penalty for dropping the ball when tackled and a 15-yard penalty for breaking the rules after a mark was taken – the VFA also introduced a controversial throw-pass rule.

Allowing players to throw the ball, the VFA contended, would make the game faster and more fun to watch.

Some fans and players agreed.

Stars of the VFL like Bob Pratt, Laurie Nash, and Des Fothergill left the league to join clubs like Coburg, Camberwell and Williamstown in the VFA.

Fothergill, a star half-forward for Collingwood, won the Brownlow in 1940 before moving to the VFA the very next season. Signed to Williamstown until 1944, he would only play one season for them as the league was suspended due to World War II.

With the popularity of the throw-pass game on the wane, Fothergill rejoined the Magpies in 1946, retiring in 1947 due to a leg injury.

The throw-pass era of the VFA would die in 1949, as crowds lost interest and the best players continued to flock to the VFL.




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