1) The right man won
Despite the amount of zeros on the end of the cheque, it was a huge call for Gary Ablett Jr to accept the offer from the Gold Coast and move away from an unfinished Geelong dynasty at the end of 2010. To cop the resultant flak and still maintain such a remarkable personal output since underlines his class. Ablett, whose awkwardness is all the more endearing for the mounting decorations, was "shattered" he didn't poll two votes in the final round and share the medal with his former Cats teammate Joel Selwood. Like most of what comes out of Ablett's mouth, it was a genuine and heartfelt sentiment.
To be adjudged the best player on the ground in seven games was actually a minor understatement of the season he's had. Through all of this he's effortlessly stepped out of his famous Dad's shadow, but paid tribute to senior: "In my opinion my old man's the best player who ever played the game." Ablett added that he'd give this second medal to his father so they both had one. Coach Guy McKenna was full of praise for the champion's professionalism and leadership at Gold Coast, lavishing the star with praise for his work in helping nurture the young talent on the Suns list. "To be a champion you've got to mimic one and I think they've got one amongst them," noted McKenna.
2) The best of the rest
At first glance Joel Selwood was the hard luck story in having the medal snatched away by one vote in the final round, but Steve Johnson provided ample fuel to the fire of the Geelong supporters still livid that the latter was ignored for All-Australian honours. Though ineligible the Cats star polled 25 votes to finish fourth, having missed six games through injury and suspension. That he could be adjudged in the best two players on ground in 10 games by the umpires but ignored by the All-Australian panel will look genuinely odd in the history books in years to come. Can we get a recount on that one?
The fact that Patrick Dangerfield was adjudged best on ground in only one fewer game than Ablett indicated the patches of brilliance he showed in Adelaide's disappointing year. Early leader Dan Hannebery took a huge dip after charging out to an early lead with his best on ground performance in Round 17 his only vote-getting game of the last half of the season.
Hannebery's fade mirrored that of the Swans in the late stages of the year. The real bolter though was Tom Rockliff; the young Lions midfielder polled maximum votes in five of the last eight games of the season to finish equal sixth with Hannebery and Pie Scott Pendlebury.
3) The red carpet special wasn't a good look for anyone
When red carpet co-host Melanie Vallejo opened proceedings by noting that, "the players will be on the sidelines, because it's all about the ladies," it was fair to assume that Seven had something special in store. Wrong. In a series of cringeworthy interviews with Giaan Rooney and league enforcer Campbell Brown viewers were left to ponder the merits of paying someone of such modest vocabulary as Brown to utter questions like, "has many people trodden on it?" when he spotted an ostentatious train on a dress.
Reminded over and over by Melanie that it was all about the Wags, it actually kind of turned into the Campbell Brown Show. He butchered the pronunciation of dress designer names and basic adjectives alike. Brown drew all sorts of puzzled glares from opposition players either scarred by his on-field tough love or nervous that Brown was standing so close to their partners. Rory Sloane hammed it up, appraising partner Belinda Riverso's dress up by noting there was, "a bit for me to look at." Brown loved that, unsurprisingly.
None of that compared to the awkward glare Hamish McLachlan received off league CEO Andrew Demetriou in welcoming the AFL boss's wife with: "Behind every dictator there's a great woman." Brynne Edelsten did well to coordinate both her dress and husband Geoffrey's Weekend at Bernies trolley in time to get down the red carpet, but even their novelty appearance now seems like a bit of a chore. Hugo Boss also decided that they haven't had enough bad press in the past few week and hijacked proceedings in a puzzling makeover montage with Tigers captain Trent Cotchin and Seven commentator Matthew Richardson. Like so many moments on the night you wondered what anyone was thinking.
"Her skulls look better than mine," said hobo chic veteran Dane Swan of his partner's jewelry. Anything was a better look than this half-hour debacle.
4) The ceremony was all over the shop
Seven are always on a hiding to nothing with this kind of thing, but the ceremony production was underwhelming to say the least. Having past Brownlow winners introduce the highlights of each round probably sounded great on paper, but had viewers either scratching their heads or searching for the subtitles button. Missy Higgins and Mark Seymour's rendition of Throw Your Arms Around Me had a few of us wishing they'd been thrown off stage, but Seymour will be back on grand final day belting out Holy Grail for the eight billionth time.
Even at the best of times the Brownlow count is basically a club best and fairest night with all of the good bits removed, but there were at least a few sozzled players who managed to get their heads on screen. The sight of Dustin Martin being fed by his date Aaron Edwards was pleasingly bizarre. A series of tenuously linked highlight introductions from the likes of Harry Kewell, Andre Agassi and Andrew Bogut just keep hitting us like random pot shots, while a special feature on the guy who makes the medal was about as exciting as it sounds. My highlight of the broadcast was the old footage of Garry Hocking falling off the back of a hot dog truck, which probably says something about the whole shebang.
5) Demetriou remains a pantomime villain
There is a special skill to playing the part of villainous overlord of a sports league and Demetriou is getting close to understanding how it all works. Like long-time NBA commissioner David Stern, who revels in and encourages the pantomime boos of supporters, Demetriou is well aware of what he's doing when he peppers the closing rounds of the count with dramatic pauses. To be honest though it's veering into farce when he employs the dramatic device for games that don't even contain medal contenders.
One of the great unintentional moments of comedy was when Demetriou began his opening monologue at the start of the night, the impact of which was to render the room a funeral scene in which players sat ashen-faced and bored. It lent the room the air of a stuffy school formal in which the kids wanted the principal to get off the mic and let them have some fun.
Demetriou's best moment wasn't even his own doing, Seven's Cameron Ling interrupted his vote count mid-count, jumping his cue to interview Selwood. That's the thing about the Brownlow count, it's only ever entertaining by accident.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk