Patrick Dangerfield is a red-hot AFL Brownlow Medal favourite in a very grey mood.
The star Geelong midfielder is one of the shortest-priced favourites in history ahead of Monday night’s count.
But the devastating preliminary final loss to Sydney last Friday night has taken the gloss off the function for Dangerfield, whatever happens.
In a Sunday newspaper column, Dangerfield wrote extensively of his emotions after the Swans loss.
At the end of his piece, he briefly mentioned the Brownlow and specifically the players who leave the function as quickly as possible because they are playing in the grand final the following Saturday.
“(It) is obviously a great award, but it doesn’t bring with it what we’re all striving for – team success,” Dangerfield wrote in the Sunday Herald Sun.
“Every year I have been envious of those players who you see get up as soon as the count finished and head straight out the door because they have bigger things happening.
“I desperately wanted to be one of them this year.”
The 26-year-old has had a dream season after his high-profile move from Adelaide to the Cats late last year under free agency.
He made an immediate impact, starring against Hawthorn in round one, and has not let up since.
Dangerfield was also high among Geelong’s best in the preliminary final loss.
The onballer has won every major player award this season.
He dominated the AFL players association award – voted on by his peers – much the same as last year’s Brownlow winner Nat Fyfe.
It would be one of the biggest shocks in Brownlow history if Dangerfield does not win outright or share first place.
As always, the potential problem is a teammate robbing Dangerfield of votes and there is an obvious candidate.
Cats captain Joel Selwood and Dangerfield have been so prominent for Geelong this season, they are nicknamed Dangerwood.
Other players with strong claims included Richmond’s Dustin Martin, Western Bulldogs young gun Marcus Bontempelli and Hawthorn’s perennial contender Sam Mitchell.
As a non-Victorian grand final team, Sydney players will not come to Melbourne for the count.
They will instead attend a club function in their home city.
Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery are all favourites.
There are precedents for a grand final team full of medal contenders to snare the Brownlow.
Jimmy Bartel caused a boilover when he won the medal in 2007, the year Geelong broke their premiership drought, ahead of teammate Gary Ablett.
Jason Akermanis (2001) and Simon Black (2002) were members of the Brisbane Fab Four midfield who won the Brownlow in the Lions’ premiership three-peat era.