PORT Adelaide wrecking ball Ollie Wines capped his extraordinary career revival by taking out the Brownlow Medal on Sunday night.
The man who started the season as an $81 long shot claimed the game’s top individual honour, polling 36 votes to pip Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli (33) and Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver (31) in a thrilling count in Perth.
Wines’ 36 votes equals Richmond’s Dustin Martin’s 2017 record for most votes.
But it came down to the last game as Wines starred with 34 possessions and polled two more votes to seal the Brownlow in the Power’s comeback win against Western Bulldogs.
It was a remarkable night as the main Brownlow fancies dominated the count – three players racked up more than 30 votes for the first time under the current 3-2-1 system.
And a new generation of star midfielders emerged as Carlton’s Sam Walsh (30) and Essendon’s Darcy Parish (26) finished top five alongside Saint Jack Steele (26).
Wines, 26, made his move in the back end of the season, reeling in Bontempelli, who led by four votes at round 15 and three votes after round 19.
But as Bontempelli cooled in the final month of the season the Echuca product, who was sounded out by Carlton in the trade period two years ago, continued his midfield demolition job in 2021.
In all, Port’s clearance king polled in 16 games, and 11 of the last 12 of the season.
Wines, who was pilloried for dislocating his shoulder in a waterskiing slip-up in the 2019 pre-season, averaged 32 possessions a game this year to reestablish himself as one of the game’s premier ballwinners.
He endured a tough year in 2019 when there was speculation about his position in the team and whether he would head home to Victoria after playing 12 games for six Brownlow votes that year.
But while the Blues admitted they held some interest, Wines made the call to stay and remained keen to lead the team to a flag after bowing out in a preliminary final thrashing from the Bulldogs this year.
Oliver, who will spearhead the Demons’ premiership bid against the Bulldogs on Saturday, threatened throughout the count, but polled in only one of the last three games of the home-and-away season.
Wines was taken with pick No.7 to Port Adelaide in the 2012 draft and on Sunday night became the Power’s first Brownlow medallist.
He said he was honoured to win the award in a career-best year after battling homesickness early in his AFL journey.
Wines said it was tough moving to South Australia.
“I didn’t expect to go to Port Adelaide or go interstate from Victoria; I am a very home-oriented person and I had a really good upbringing with my family and I was a little bit shocked to go to Port Adelaide,” Wines said.
“There was a few tears from Mum and Dad and myself on the night but it has only strengthened me to become the person I am today and to be honest it is the best decision the club could have made for me.
“Us as a human rather than a footballer is what is most important and I think that (move) helped develop me into the man I am today and I am very proud of that.”