Shall we call it the postmodern Brownlow? So progressive it doesn’t yet have a name.
Much will be familiar at a dinner event on the Tuesday after the first AFL women’s grand final: a black-tie dress code, a vote count and a guest list of top footy players.
But much more promises to be different: the count will be a sprint not a marathon, women will be award winners, and traditional plus-ones will have a progressive face. AFLW footballers in same-sex relationships will see to that.
Wives and girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends, come on down.
The AFL hoped the first AFLW awards night would be telecast but, as of Thursday, that appeared unlikely.
Planning, however, is under way for red carpet arrival-style coverage on the broadcasters of the first women’s season – Channel Seven and Fox Sports – with Fox looking to set up its nightly AFL 360 show at the awards night venue.
Announced on the night will be the first AFLW All-Australian team, the season’s best young player – a NAB Rising Star who wins $20,000 – the competition’s top goalkicker, which Carlton’s Darcy Vescio looks to have sealed, mark of the season, goal of the season and the main event: the best and fairest player.
“We hope it will have a different feel. Fresh and exciting. Not your traditional sit down for three hours-type situation,” AFL executive Simon Lethlean, who has taken AFLW across to his new football operations post, told Fairfax Media on Thursday.
“It’s being finalised, but I think it will be pre-dinner drinks, into a formal hour or so sitting down for the count and awards, before getting out and having some fun. It won’t be like a Brownlow marathon.”
Traditionalists, fear not. The AFL CEO will still have the honour of reading a roll call of three-, two- and one-vote-winners, round by round, as awarded by AFLW umpires through the inaugural seven-week season before the grand final on week eight.
Whether Gillon McLachlan can imprint himself on this event like his predecessor did at the AFL Brownlow, through pronunciation of player surnames and deft use of dramatic pause, remains to be seen.
“The vote count will be done in an official manner,” Lethlean said. “But it will be pretty quick given 28 games is like doing three rounds of men’s footy.”
As it is for the men’s Brownlow, the guest list for the AFLW awards night will be exclusive.
Best performers from the 27-woman lists at the eight clubs will be hand-picked and invited with a partner. The fourteen Rising Star nominees will also be invited, along with mark and goal of the season contenders, club presidents, CEOs, AFL bosses and commissioners.
Brownlow night has traditionally been a Monday night affair that kicks off AFL grand final week. A media hit and magnet for glossy magazine snappers, the occasion has featured any number of bells and whistles, ranging from multicoloured entrance carpets to revolving wheels for outfit parading and a diamante-studded G-string feature on one particularly memorable gown.
The first gathering to award the as-yet-unnamed highest individual prize in the AFLW is on a Tuesday. After the grand final is won and done. Writing a fresh script already.
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