It’s a big thing for any AFL player to poll in the Brownlow Medal. Two or three times in a row? That’s massive. But six games in a row? That’s off the charts, or Ablett-like.

In Round 12 2013 the incomparable Gary Ablett completed a stunning streak in which he polled a club record 16 votes in six games. He went 3-3-3-2-3-2 from Rounds 7-12 as the SUNS went W-W-L-L-W-L.

His possession count in those games against Melbourne (MCG), Bulldogs (home), Hawthorn (MCG), Geelong (Kardinia Park), North (home) and Essendon (Docklands) was 38-31-37-34-33-36 and after going goalless in the first two games of his streak he kicked 3-2-2-1.

It was an extraordinary run, and, with a detailed look at the SUNS history in the Brownlow, is the headline story for the Round 12 flashback.

The Ablett streak, which began in his 239th game as a 29-year-old, included interstate trips in games 1-3-4-6. It was far and away a SUNS best until Noah Anderson polled in five consecutive games last year, going 3-3-3-2-2 from Round 5.

Ablett also had a five-game voting streak in 2012, and a four-game streak in 2014, while the only other four-game streak belongs to Tom Lynch in 2016.

Three-game voting streaks have been more common – Ablett in 2012-13-15, Harley Bennell in 2013, Aaron Hall in 2016, Touk Miller in 2022 and Matt Rowell in 2020.

Ablett’s three three-vote rankings in a row to begin his six-game streak is one of five in SUNS history. He also was best afield three times in a row in 2012, while Anderson did likewise last year after Hall picked up a three-vote hat-trick in 2016 and Rowell in 2020 in his 2nd-3rd-4th games.

The Hall ‘triple’ came in Rounds 1-2-3 in 2016, leaving him at the top of the Round 3 leaderboard before he polled just once more that year – two votes in Round 15.

Oddly, Tom Lynch polled 2-2-2 in the same three games, while Sydney’s Luke Parker (3-3-2) and Lance Franklin (1-1-1), Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray (3-1-3) and Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell (1-2-1) also polled in each of the first three rounds.

The Ablett blitz came in the year in which he won the Brownlow the for the second time in 2013, having also done so at Geelong in 2009. He also polled six games in a row in 2010, five times in a row in 2009, and four times in a row twice in 2017 and once in 2008.

The SUNS’ inaugural signing is the AFL’s all-time leading vote-getter with 262, heading a list of nine players beyond 200 that includes Patrick Dangerfield (248), Sam Mitchell (227), Scott Pendlebury (221), Gary Dempsey (218.5), Robert Harvey (215), Joel Selwood (2014), Dustin Martin(212) and Chris Judd (210).

Dempsey, the former Footscray and North Melbourne ruckman who finished his career at Southport, had a half vote because he played in 1976-77, when two field umpires each voted 3-2-1 in each game. An AFL Hall of Famer and a member of the Bulldogs Team of the Century, he polled 28 votes to finish equal fourth in 1976 and 27 votes for equal eighth in ’77. For comparison purposes, votes received in those years are halved.

Ablett polled 12 times in his 2013 medal win with the SUNS. Astonishingly, that is three short of the most times any player has polled in one season since the club joined the AFL.

Ollie Wines polled an unthinkable 16 times in his win in 2021, including 11 times in the last 12 games, and finished with 36 votes to equal the League’s all-time best in one season set by Martin in 2017. Dangerfield polled 35 in 2016, Swan 34 in 2011 and Nat Fyfe 33 in 2019.

Dangerfield polled 15 times in 2016, including the last eight games of the season, while Dane Swan polled 14 times in 2011, Jobe Watson polled 14 times when he topped the vote in 2012 only to be ruled ineligible due to the Essendon supplements saga, and Dustin Martin polled 14 times in 2017.

Ablett heads the all-time SUNS vote with 122 from Touk Miller (61), Anderson (44), Lynch (32), Hall (27), Bennell (26), Rowell and David Swallow (25), Dion Prestia (23), Brayden Fiorini (17), Jack Lukosius (13), Steven May (13), Hugh Greenwood (11), Ben King (11), Charlie Dixon (10), Brandon Ellis (10), Jarrod Harbrow (10), Lachie Weller (10) and Jarrod Witts (10).

Ablett’s 27 three-vote ratings is a runaway club best from Anderson (11), Miller (10), Rowell (6), Hall (5), Bennell (5), Lynch (4), Fiorini (3), Prestia (3), Greenwood (3) and Dixon (3).

Other SUNS to poll in the medal, with their votes total and three-voters in brackets if applicable, are:-

9 – Brandon Matera (1), Michael Rischitelli (1)
8 – Jarryd Lyons (2)
6 – Jack Martin (1)
5 – Sam Day, Jaeger O’Meara
4 – Jared Brennan (1), Zac Smith, Adam Saad
3 – Charlie Ballard, Ben Ainsworth, Alex Sexton, Nathan Bock, Mabior Chol (1), Izak Rankine, Peter Wright (1)
2 – Connor Budarick, Sam Collins, Michael Barlow, Pearce Hanley, Luke Russell, Rory Thompson, Aaron Young
1 – Sam Flanders, Campbell Brown, Josh Corbett, Sam Iles, Tom Nicholls, Matt Shaw, Jeremy Sharp.

Among the club’s AFL debutants, Izak Rankine is the only player to poll in the medal on debut, picking up one vote after he had 12 possessions and kicked three goals in a 17-point loss to Melbourne in 2020 played at GWS’ Sydney Showgrounds due to Covid restrictions.

Rowell and Brandon Fiorini polled in their second game, from Matera (4), Saad (5), Smith (6), Jeremy Sharp (6), Hall (8). Jaeger O’Meara (8) and Tom Nicholls (8), while quickest to poll for the SUNS among imports have been Ablett (3), Pearce Hanley (3), Michael Rischitelli (4), Greenwood (5), Jared Brennan (6), Witts (7), Michael Barlow (7), Harbrow (8) and Chol (9).

Rowell’s three-vote game in his second AFL outing against West Coast, when he had 26 disposals (14 contested), 5 clearances and 2 goals, is the quickest among all SUNS players to be recognised as best afield in red and yellow.

Ablett polled three votes in his third SUNS game and Brennan three votes in his sixth – the first Q-Clash in 2011 in which he had 30 possessions (16 contested), a career-best 14 tackles and a goal as the SUNS posted the sweetest of victories by eight points.

Overall, Round 12 hasn’t been kind to the SUNS. It’s delivered a 3-8 record, with two byes … and the two of the three wins have come in the last two years in Darwin.

2012 – An Ablett Special

Gary Ablett produced one of his very best games for the club in Round 12 2012 when North Melbourne beat Gold Coast by seven points to spoil the 150th game celebrations of Jared Brennan. The master had 42 possessions and kicked four goals for three Brownlow votes as a stirring finish from the home side fell just short. Brandon Matera and then Harley Bennell cut the margin to four points in the latter stages, and although the North managed only three behinds in the last three minutes it was enough.

2017 – A Milestone Win for Matera

The SUNS made their 12th visit to the MCG to play Hawthorn in Round 12 2017. It was 12th v 13th as Brandon Matera became the sixth player to 100 games for the club after Jarrod Harbrow, Michael Rischitelli, Tom Lynch, Matt Shaw and Gary Ablett. After leading by 15 points at halftime the visitors blew the margin out to 42 points and still lead by 32 points at the last change. Jack Gunston kicked three final quarter goals to give the Hawks a sniff, but late goals from Ben Ainsworth and Peter Wright saw the SUNS home by 16 points. Gary Ablett, with 37 possessions and two goals, polled three votes and Steven May  had 24 possessions down back for one vote. Matera was busy in his milestone game with XX but kicked 2-4. Only three times in club history has a played kicked more than four behinds in a game – Lynch kicked 1-5 against GWS in 2015 and 3-5 against Geelong in 2-17, and Alex Sexton kicked 4-5 against Fremantle in 2019.

2020 – The First Monday Game

Ordinarily you’d associate a Monday game with a public holiday, but not during the crazy Covid times of 2020. By the time the SUNS headed to the Gabba to play Richmond in Round 12 on 17 August for the first Monday game in club history they’d already played twice on a Thursday and once on a Wednesday in the past month as, true to the words said many times that year by then-CEO Gill McLachlan, the League had to be ‘flexible and agile’ to get the season done.

The SUNS were coming off a Round 11 draw with Essendon and were pretty much ‘done’, sitting 12th with a 4-1-6 record in the 17-game season, but they produced a brave effort against the 2017-19 premiers, who on 24 October would beat Geelong in the 2020 grand final at the Gabba.

The SUNS led by 10 points at halftime after scores were level at the first change and should have been further in front, having kicked 3-6 to 2-2. But they could manage only one goal after the five-minute mark of the second term and went down 4-8 (32) to 8-5 (53). Brandon Ellis had 17 possessions and kicked the SUNS only second half goal in his first meeting with his former club, while Jack Lukosius was the star with 27 possessions to pick up three votes.

2022 – Darwin Double – #1

The SUNS completed their first double-win trip to Darwin in Round 12 2022. Having beaten Hawthorn by 67 points the week before, they accounted for North Melbourne by 62 points – after trailing by 17 points at quarter time. It was Touk Miller’s 150th game, and after kicking 7-7 to 0-0 in the second term they never looked threatened. The man of the moment had 32 possessions for three votes, while Connor Budarick got into the medal count for the first time, polling two votes for what is still a career-best 25 possessions. Matt Rowell had 25 possessions and a goal for one vote.

2023 – Darwin Double – #2

Jack Lukosius confirmed his standing as the ‘King of Darwin’ as the SUNS came from behind again to beat Adelaide by 25 points. They were 34 points down nine minutes into the second term before Lukosius kicked a steadier. He added two goals in the third quarter and two in the last for back-to-back bags of five after he’d kicked five against the Bulldogs a week earlier. It was enough to earn him one Brownlow vote, but not enough to cover the supreme performance of Noah Anderson. He had 28 possessions and kicked two votes for three votes.