The AFL had their blushes saved when Hawthorn midfielder Sam Mitchell yet again fell just short of winning his first Brownlow Medal, finishing third behind Fremantle star Nat Fyfe and 2014 winner Matt Priddis.
In what could have been a massive blunder, the AFL website earlier in the evening jumped the gun and released an image and product description that pointed to Mitchell winning the coveted award, while the count was in its early stages.
A Hawthorn playing strip titled “Sam Mitchell 2015 Brownlow Medalist Signed Guernsey” and marked as for `concept purposes only’ was unveiled on the AFL’s online store before being taken down by site administrators.
Once made aware of the imagery AFL media relations manager Patrick Keane later moved to calm the storm that exploded across social media, tweeting the following: “Epic fail on website.
“AFL had six Brownlow memorabilia options ready to go 4 when winner named. Human error went live with no result known.”
“AFL apologises without reservation to all fans/supporters who have been misled as count continues to proceed live in Melbourne.”
While the piece of memorabilia will no longer be going on sale the AFL were quick to list a signed Fyfe guernsey on the site to celebrate his Brownlow success.
If Mitchell actually had have won the Brownlow, the guernsey and its appearance on the site could have had many permutations such as gambling markets and also the belief that the Brownlow Medal votes are kept under lock and key until the night.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan revealed on the red carpet before the count that he already knew the identity of the winner.
Fyfe became the first Fremantle player to win the Brownlow with 31 votes with Priddis on 28 and Mitchell on 26.