AFL Club awards: Brown and Black lead Lions back into contention

Josh Barnstable reviews the Merrett-Murray Medal

A big rejuvenated Lion outfit made a welcomed return to the finals since 2004 on the back of a great year spearheaded by the usual heads of Jonathan Brown, Simon Black and Daniel Bradshaw. After a stirring comeback in the first week of the finals against Carlton, ignited by Bradshaw, the Lions stumbled against the Western Bulldogs in the Semi Final but that won’t discourage the young Lions. They have shot up in premiership favourtism after a hectic trade week that saw the Lions net Brendan Fevola, Brent Staker, Amon Buchanan, Andrew Raines and Xavier Clarke. That’s a couple of Rising Stars, two premiership players and a double Coleman Medallist. Next year’s Best and Fairest may look a bit different with those players now a Lion, but here’s the 10 players who performed in 2009.

1. Jonathan Brown

The skipper had an outstanding year, booting 85.52 and was a pivotal part in the Lions’ resurgence. He was also handy getting some touches, averaging 16 a game. He played all 24 games for the year, and averaged 8.5 marks a game, taking a total of 204 for the year. He was rewarded with his year by being selected in the Forward Pocket in the All-Australian team. His outstanding year in front of goals was highlighted by eight goals against North Melbourne in Round 17, five against Collingwood, Melbourne, Hawthorn and Essendon in Rounds 18, 13, 12 and 6. Also booted four against Sydney, Richmond, Carlton, Geelong, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Carlton in Rounds 3, 7, 11, 15, 16, 21 and the Elimination Final. Went goal-less just once, against Essendon in Round 19 where he booted 0.5 in the draw. He came equal fourth in the Brownlow Medal with…

2. Simon Black

Black, long time performer for the Lions, capped off a great season with an equal-fourth placing in the Brownlow Medal. The 2002 Brownlow Medallist averaged 25.4 possessions a game, he also laid 4.9 tackles in his 23 matches. Kicked 10.7, with a best of two against Geelong in Round 15. His best game would be against the Western Bulldogs in Round 20, where he collected 37 disposals in the 18-point loss. His Round 15 match against Geelong would rival fairly closely though, he picked up 33 touches and booted two goals.

3. Mitch Clark

One of the surprises of the year was Clark’s development after being thrown into the ruck in Round 3 after Jamie Charman and Matthew Leuenberger were struck with injuries. Clark performed admirably in the ruck, averaging 16.2 disposals a game and 22 hitouts. He played every game, a first for him, and booted 7.7. His best game was in the draw against Essendon in Round 19. He had 28 disposals, 11 marks and 31 hitouts.

4. Luke Power

The consistent midfielder put in another stellar year, averaging 25.6 possessions and five tackles per game. One of the last two remaining of the famous “Fab Five”, he put in some magnificent performances over the year, none better than his 36 possession, eight marks and 10 tackles display against Hawthorn in Round 12. He kicked 6.6, with a best of 3 against Essendon in Round 6.

5. Justin Sherman

Perhaps seen as the whipping boy at Brisbane, he responded well to new coach Michael Voss, averaging 20.8 disposals a game and kicked a career-high 30.22 for the year in his 24 matches. Also laid four tackles a game, his best game was against Adelaide in Round 8, where Sherman picked up 35 touches and booted three goals.

6. Daniel Rich

BAM-BAM! The effect Rich made when he burst onto the scene in Round 1 against West Coast was much like that, quickly fitting into the Lions’ midfield and becoming a major player in the Brisbane team, with his long, raking left-foot kick the most impressive aspect of his game. Winning the NAB Rising Star Award after being nominated for his performance in the opening round of the season, he continued with the stellar displays in a season where he didn’t miss a game. His best game would have been against a battered Geelong outfit in Round 15, where he picked up 32 disposals in the 43-point win. He was also handy in front of goals, booting 14.17. Expect a Brownlow Medal around his neck in a few years.

7. Ash McGrath

The former goalsneak put in a great year after a switch to the backline, where he averaged 16.8 touches in his 24 games. He also took 5.8 marks a match. His best game of the season came in Round 15 against Geelong, where he picked up 30 touches, took 14 marks and laid four tackles. Booted 7.5 for the year, with a best of two against Sydney in Round 22.

8. Joel Patfull

Patfull, like McGrath, was transformed from a leading forward into a nullifying backman. He averaged 13 touches a game, and took 4.2 marks. Standing only 190cm tall, he isn’t as tall as most defenders but shows plenty of pace and can fight above his height and weight level. Didn’t trouble the scoreboard for the season, but picked up a career-best 21 touches against West Coast in Round 1.

9. Jared Brennan

The silky skilled utility played more of a defenders role in 2009, averaging 18.4 touches a game and taking 4.7 marks. He kicked just 10.11, down on previous years, but still proved he can boot a bag, with four coming against Carlton in Round 11, along with 24 disposals. He also played in the Ruck on occasions, with his best game of they year coming in the final round against the Swans where he picked up 18 possessions, took five marks, laid four tackles, had 16 hitouts and kicked a goal in the eight-point win. Has finally got some consistency into his game.

10. Josh Drummond

The Lions’ half-back runner had a productive season where he averaged 18 possessions a game and 5.4 marks. Equalled a career-best 30 touches against Carlton in Round 2, and kicked three of his four goals of the season against the Western Bulldogs in Round 20, where he also picked up 18 touches, six marks and four tackles. His long kicking is the highlight of his game.

The Lions are well placed to have a tilt at the flag in the coming years, with the arrival of Brendan Fevola, Amon Buchanan, Brent Staker, Xavier Clarke and Andrew Raines for the departures of Bradd Dalziell, Daniel Bradshaw and Lachlan Henderson. Rhan Hooper, Jason Roe, Joel Macdonald and Scott Harding were the main delistings from the Lions list, but with the class players they acquired in the trade-week, the Lions should be able to cover the positions lost. The forward line will be a daunting thought for the backlines of the other 15 teams, with Jonathon Brown and Fevola now the main targets in the forward 50. Buchanan can be a goalsneak, Clarke can be put forward and Staker has been a noted goalkicker, so the forward line for the Lions will be looking to kick 20+ goals next season. We shall see the mighty Lions roar again.


  1. fresh start anyone? lol

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