Carlton captain Patrick Cripps has clinched the Brownlow Medal in a heart-stopping count, polling three votes in the final round to steal the lead from Lachie Neale of the Brisbane Lions.
Neale led the count for the majority of the night and headed into round 23 leading with 26 votes, but the Brisbane ace polled just one vote and Cripps hauled in three.
Carlton hearts were shattered as the Magpies edged the Blues by one point in round 23 to destroy their finals dream, but Cripps registered 35 touches (27 contested) in a monstrous end to the season.
Cripps sat in third on the cusp of the final round, behind Neale and Gold Coast’s Touk Miller, before his maximum finish captured victory.
“The first sort of seven, eight years of my Carlton journey have been really tough,” Cripps said on the Seven coverage.
“I’m big on optimism and hope and always finding a way forward.
“This year it was my first time in my career we’ve actually been ahead of the (win-loss) ledger.
“I just love winning games of footy, I love playing with my mates and this is just a bit of reward for effort.
“But there is a lot of other people that to win this award had to help you out, so there are a lot of people I need to thank.”
Cripps averaged 28 disposals, 15 contested possessions and five clearances per match in 2022, and kicked a career-high 20 goals.
The gun on-baller from Perth drew three votes on seven occasions and polled in 13 of the 22 games he played.
Cripps became Carlton’s sixth Brownlow Medallist in history, joining Bert Deacon (1947), John James (1961), Gordon Collis (1964), Greg Williams (1994) and Chris Judd (2010).
Carlton coach Michael Voss, who shared the 1996 Brownlow Medal honours with Essendon legend James Hird, had towering words for Cripps.
“Patrick embodies all the values we look for in a leader and I speak on behalf of the whole club in congratulating our captain on this honour,” Voss said.
“He is the ultimate team player and leads not just the midfield but the entire team with incredible passion and is determined to achieve team success.
“He stepped up as standalone skipper this season and has been at the forefront of instilling change, driving high standards and embracing a new environment at the club.”