It was one of the most exciting Brownlow Medal counts in recent history on Sunday night, and when it came down to the final round, the nation was on the edge of its seats.
Cripps started the season in stunning fashion and would lead the Brownlow tally after the opening six rounds, with 10 overall votes to his name.
At the time, he was widely touted as the favourite for the medal, and his hot start to the season showed why. During this period, Cripps had accumulated maximum votes in matches against the Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, and Fremantle, respectively.
Cripps’ hot form continued through to the mid-season bye, taking his votes tally to 17, which would allow him to hold a one-vote advantage over Brisbane’s Lachie Neale after 11 rounds of action.
After some patchy form ahead of the final month of the season, Cripps would be on 23 votes and find himself sitting in third place with four rounds to play.
The Carlton captain collected three votes on the back of a 41 disposal outing against Adelaide and, after overturning a controversial suspension in the round 21 defeat against Brisbane, found himself one vote behind Neale ahead of the Round 23 match with Collingwood.
Having put together a strong showing against the Magpies, amassing 35 disposals, 12 clearances, and eight inside 50s, Cripps was the hot favourite to claim the coveted three votes.
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This would be confirmed by AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan, and Cripps would win the award by a solitary vote on the final vote of the count.
Reflecting on the victory on Monday, Cripps mentioned how nervous he was heading into the final round of voting.
“I knew I played alright in the last game, I’d picked up the medal, and I knew I was a chance for three votes,” he told reporters.
“I was hoping it was a tie, to be honest, I am good mates with Lachie Neale, so that would’ve been awesome.
“When it got called out, you can’t really believe it’s all happening, and then you’re up on stage getting interviewed and you sort of just take it all in.
“It’s just a moment I’ll look back on, and it’s great to have that experience, and I’ll always cherish the moment.”
Cripps also spoke about how winning the medal is continuing to drive the team forward and how it can positively push the club towards a premiership.
“To be honest, I’d have loved to be sober last night and play in the last game of September, it’s what you play for,” he said.
“I’m so envious of Geelong and Sydney this weekend, and I’ve got a lot of respect for both of those clubs.
“You definitely don’t get there with luck, you have to earn it, and it’s something we’re continuing to work towards.”
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