Joel Selwood of Geelong in action, during the Second Semi-Final AFL match between the Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos at the MCG in Melbourne, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.
Joel Selwood of Geelong in action, during the Second Semi-Final AFL match between the Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos at the MCG in Melbourne, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. AAP Image - Joe Castro

How tonight's Brownlow Medal looks to shake out

LANCE Franklin's start to his time in Sydney was like a car crash. A couple in fact.

Remember the incident in April when 'Buddy' pranged into four parked cars in the suburb of Rose Bay while driving girlfriend Jesinta Campbell's Jeep?

Of course, the $405 fine for negligent driving would not have made a big dent in his bank account, which will balloon out by $10 million over the next nine years.

But, his reputation was going to require a fair amount of panel beating when you added in the fact he was being seen as having a destabilising effect on Swans teammates, both on and off the field.

He was said to be guiding Dan Hannebery off the rails after the young star had been involved in his own car accident ... which just happened to be in his new best Bud's Mercedes Benz.

And the now Franklin-centric attack was failing to deliver the goods, the star recruit contributing just seven goals in the first four rounds of the season, as the Swans floundered, suffering three defeats.

The former Hawk had, at that stage, been "wondering if I'd made the right decision" in relocating to Sin City.

But, five months on, bling is what is on Franklin's mind, not bingles, with everything now going according to plan for he and his new club.

The Swans are now laughing all the way to the bank, with membership breaking the 40,000 barrier for the first time and home crowds at their highest in seven years.

Don't expect him to be winning the Australian of the Year title any time soon, like teammate Adam Goodes, but the renowned party boy could be celebrating like no other in the game's history this week.

Even Port Adelaide and North Melbourne supporters would have to agree it's a promoter's dream to have Buddy taking on his old mates in the premiership-decider.

While he secured the Coleman Medal last month, if you fancy a punt on Franklin adding the never-before-achieved Brownlow Medal-Norm Smith Medal double, the $111 on offer looks juicy.

Counting against him taking home 'Charlie' tonight - in a taxi, of course - is the fact only two key forwards, Tony Lockett (1987) and Kelvin Templeton (1980), have won the league's highest individual honour.

It promises to be a enthralling count tonight however, to see if Gary Ablett can hold on and win a third Brownlow - despite suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in round 16 - from a host of challengers.

Highlighting just what a close count we could be in for, the AFL commissioned an unprecedented eight medals - five for Melbourne and three for Sydney.

FAVOURITES FOR TONIGHT'S BROWNLOW MEDAL COUNT

JOEL SELWOOD (GEEL) $2.75
22 games, 21 goals. Ave 25 disposals (13 contested), 6 clearances, 6 tackles.
The inspirational skipper topped 30 disposals a career-high seven times, and won't have Steve Johnson taking so many votes off him this season.

GARY ABLETT (GC) $4.25
15 games, 24 goals. Ave 32 disposals (17 contested), 6 tackles, 8 clearances.
Racked up at least 30 disposals eight times, and was best on ground (or close to) in seven of the eight wins he was a part of. Has never been harder at the ball, achieving career-highs in tackles and clearances.

ROBBIE GRAY (PA) $6.50
22 games, 34 goals. Ave 25 disposals (12 contested), 6 clearances, 3 tackles.
This season's most improved player hasn't polled a vote since 2011. Was the only player to top 500 disposals and kick more than 30 goals. Claimed the 20-disposals- multiple-goals double eight times.

JOSH KENNEDY (SYD) $10
20 games, 12 goals. Ave 28 disposals (16 contested), 6.5 clearances, 6 tackles.
Still a clearance beast, but not a noted vote-winner. Had a better season in 2012 when he regularly got forward and kicked goals (29), but still only got 19 votes.

JORDAN LEWIS (HAW) $11
21 games, 17 goals. Ave 27 disposals (10.5 contested), 5 clearances, 4 tackles.
Has taken over from Sam Mitchell as the main launchpad into attack, and will replace Mitchell as Hawthorn's chief vote-winner after picking up just 35 in nine previous counts.

LANCE FRANKLIN (SYD) $16
19 games, 67 goals. Ave 16.5 disposals (7 contested), 6 marks, 3 tackles.
Could only collect 20 votes when he booted 100 goals in 2008, but had a major impact in at least 10 of the Swans' wins this season, when topping four goals or more.
 
Others: Matt Priddis (WC) $12; Dyson Heppell (Ess) $14, Scott Pendlebury (Coll) $15, Trent Cotchin (Rich) $34, Travis Boak (AP) $41.
Roughie: Luke Parker (SYD) $101.
Ineligible: Nathan Fyfe (Fre), Brent Harvey (NM), Tom Rockliff (BL).



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