- Neale also won league’s best and fairest in 2020
- Took the honour by one vote from Marcus Bontempelli
- Hit the front in voting for the last round of the regular season
The Lions midfielder secured the win right at the death when he polled the maximum three votes from his team’s round 24 win over Collingwood, taking him to a total of 31.
That just got him home over a tightly packed field that saw the Magpies’ Nick Daicos finish on 28 votes despite being out of action since breaking his leg against Hawthorn in round 21.
Neale has snared footy’s highest individual honour for the second time (pictured) after taking out his first Brownlow in 2020
The Brisbane star (pictured with wife Julie) returned to the top of the leader board when he scored the maximum three votes from the very last round of the home-and-away season
Neale, who will play Collingwood in Saturday’s decider, averaged 27.4 disposals, 8.1 clearances and 13.9 contested possessions to become the first two-time winner since former Fremantle teammate Nat Fyfe in 2015 and 2019.
Many fans will point to the controversial voting on the round six Lions victory over GWS, which saw Neale get three votes despite only registering seven kicks and 13 handballs.
Josh Kelly had 41 disposals and Stephen Coniglio registered 38 in what, on paper, were far superior efforts to Neale’s.
The Lions co-captain was left stunned after his second Brownlow win in four seasons.
‘It doesn’t sit very well at the moment,’ he said after the voting wrapped up.
‘I’m sure it will sink in at a later date. I’m pretty rattled, to be honest, so apologies if this doesn’t go too well.
‘I did not expect this, and to be amongst some of those names that have won two is unbelievable.’
Neale told his fellow players and guests he was happy to be watching the voting from Brisbane as he and his teammates prepare for the grand final – and was ‘on the waters’ as he looked forward to having an early night.
He was drafted with pick 58 in 2011 in what now looks like an absolute steal – but at the time even those closest to him had their doubts about how far he’d go in the game.
‘[I was told] don’t worry about those external things like draft camp and things like that, which I didn’t get invited to, and I just tried to put my head down and play some good footy at the back end of my draft year,’ he said.
‘But yeah, even sitting on the couch watching the draft that year, Mum came up to me after about pick 40 or something and said, “There’s always the rookie draft.”
‘She wasn’t very confident either.’
Neale’s second Brownlow puts him up their with two-time medallists Gary Ablett Jr, Greg Williams, Adam Goodes, Robert Harvey and Chris Judd – with the Lions lynchpin needing one more medal victory to join the only players to have taken out the award three times: Ian Steward, Bob Skilton, Haydn Bunton Sr and Dick Reynolds.
More to come…