The Hairdressers’ Medal?


The West Coast Eagles’ Matt Priddis did well and is a deserving Brownlow Medallist as the stats gurus from Champion Data to Bruce McAvaney will remind us.


But the Brownlow is more than a medal for running players, especially midfielders.


It is the Hairdressers’ Medal as well as the Midfielders’ Medal, as Tom Wolfe would have written had he known Australia and footy as we do.


Perhaps ‘how you prepare for the game’ is almost as important as how you play the game…both make an impact for the eyes at the game and those ‘glued’ to TV screens.


One Canberra friend, a Byronic Magpie supporter (a contradiction perhaps), often exulted in ‘René the Hairdresser’ when watching games on TV. Hairdressers matter, it seems even aside from René Kink, whose double life began with an acute accent on the ‘e’ and was then transformed into his other identity as the ‘Incredible Hulk’.


The Brownlow has become a follicular story with exceptions.


It is ‘all about the hair’, and that mainly means blonde or absent.


As in the Elle McFeast (Libbi Gorr) 1990s song ‘The Only Brunette at the Brownlow’, there haven’t been many. In recent years we have had a Ben Cousins one, and an Adam Goodes, a Jimmy Bartel and even a Roo (Mark Ricciuto) one.


But the blonde or blonded list is much longer – Shane Woewodin, James Hird, Jason ‘Faking It’ Akermanis, even a hint with Nathan Buckley, and the Ginger Meggs of footy, Michael Voss. Then there is the redhead factor – Brad Hardie. And Keith Greig?


Not to mention the follicularly challenged – Chris Judd and young Gary Ablett. That’s a lot of hairy and non-hairy medals.


Now ‘Dermie’ Brereton didn’t do well, even if the semi-surfie style has served him better on the box. Perhaps he had more rapport with his hairdresser than with the umpies. So too ‘Big Carl’ Ditterich at St Kilda and Melbourne.

Do we need a new category in the Priddis victory era – curls – ? Or a new equation: hair + speed moving forward – Chris Judd, Matt Priddis, Gary Ablett?


And a special category – Tattoogenic players, who get attention and then votes from their tats – stand tall Dane Swan and Buddy Franklin.


Priddis did well – the stats experts will tell us how many 3 votes go to winning teams!


Perhaps it is a shame that the less ‘colourful’ heads of Scott Pendlebury and Joel Selwood did not do quite as well.


Are there any other factors in this game played 90% above the shoulders?


Have we left out any hairy realities?


Or players who stand out in other visual ways? (Or just find a special place for the number 23 from the Saints’ Under 19s, ‘Warnie’, Shane Warne, who’s added regeneration as well as highlights?)


Or have we added any foils by mistake? (Bucks perhaps?)


Let the hairdressers’ battle continue!


For how you prepare for the game is almost as important as how you play the game…even if it was really all about ‘keeping to our structures’ and following ‘team processes….’



*   Steve Alomes’ on-field and off-field account of that great festival of spring, the finals, and of its height, that combination of tradition, event marketing and orchestration, Grand Final Week, and ‘The One Day in September’ is in

Australian Football The People’s Game 1958-2058, available from


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Can’t believe you’ve left out J Platten

  2. Apols for my long and curly error!

  3. Love to meet those hairdressers, I could learn tips from them. Congrats!

  4. I must confess to a diminishing need in this regard, however mine is a former female jockey and a fellow artist, so we compare other notes.

    Jumping back a little Verdun Howell as runner up had natural, but shorter, curls in a pre-Beatles era (later received a medal, as he had lost on a countback).

    It was unusual for a full back to be up there when it came to votes.

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