After the title ricocheted from Zak Butters to Patrick Cripps, to Marcus Bontempelli, to Stephen Coniglio in three consecutive weeks, things have settled. Errol Gulden is now in possession of the Mongrel Midfield Championship belt and has three successful defences to his name heading into September footy
The young Swans seems destined for greatness, picking up his maiden All-Australian blazer on the back of a startling run of form, as he drifts between the midfield and the wing.
As we approach finals, he is now set to face Patrick Cripps; a man that didn’t get the chance to defend his title due to injury and had it stripped from him in Round 20.
Can Gulden hold on to make it defence number four, or will Crippa reclaim the title he never genuinely lost?
The Mongrel Punt Midfield Championship is – let’s be honest – a bit of fun. It adds a little bit of interest to each and every game the champ competes in. Who, if anyone can beat the champ?
Each week, the champ defends his title in this system. In order to unseat him, firstly, the challenging team has to win. Like in Pro Wrestling, the title cannot change hands on a disqualification, so if you have a great performance, but your team loses, you cannot win the title. You have to beat the champ in a win. You have to outperform the champ in a win to take the title off him.
The individual win has to be comprehensive. If a challenger has 26 touches and a goal and the champ has something similar, we call it a draw and the champ gets the benefit of the doubt to retain the title. You either win decisively, or you don’t win at all. That’s the champion’s advantage.
So, who will dominate the midfield in the 2023 finals and turn back challengers week after week? Who will reign like Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair? And who will be an interim champ… like Kane, or the Iron Sheik?
Let’s jump in and find out.
MONGREL PUNT MIDFIELDER BELT 2023 LIST OF CHAMPS
CHAD WARNER – TWO SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
CLAYTON OLIVER – SIX SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
ZAK BUTTERS – SEVEN SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
PATRICK CRIPPS – ZERO SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
MARCUS BONTEMPELLI – ZERO SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
STEPHEN CONIGLIO – ZERO SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
ERROL GULDEN – THREE SUCCESSFUL DEFENCES
As I said, a bit of fun, but a nice little way to keep track of the title, week to week and add a little more interest to the season, As always, at The Mongrel, we try to look at things a little differently and hope you take this in the way it’s intended.
This will be updated weekly as we track the Midfielder Championship belt right through the 2023 season.
I’ll just continue updating. This has been great fun. Cheers – HB
ROUND ONE – CHAD WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
Touk Miller and the Suns are the first to throw their hat in the ring, but it is Warner leading all players for disposals with 30. t makes it nigh-on impossible to unseat him, even if the Suns could have got near the Swans. Warner is also on the verge of a huge game, but is wayward in front of goal, notching 0.3
ROUND TWO – CHAD WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
A very quiet game for the champ, notching just 15 disposals, but with his Swans destroying the Hawks to the tune of 81 points, a big game was not required. Will Day is best for the Hawks, with 26 touches, but it matters not, as the Swans take the foot off the gas late in the piece.
ROUND THREE – NEW CHAMPION – CLAYTON OLIVER WINS THE TITLE
The Dees ain’t mucking around in 2023, and they flexed their muscles against the Swans at the MCG, running out 50-point winners.
Oliver has 25 touches and two goals to get the better of Chad Warner, who is disappointing, notching just 19 disposals, dropping the belt in the process.
All hail, King Clarrie!
ROUND FOUR – OLIVER RETAINS V WCE
A spirited challenge from the oft-maligned Eagle, Tim Kelly (36 touches and two goals) was for naught, as his team were whacked by 63 points by the Dees.
This is where the Champion’s advantage could really come into play for Oliver, as he could of sat back and rode this one out, comfortable that the game was in hand and the title was safe.
He didn’t, however – it is not in his nature.
He finished with 34 touches and ten tackles. A standard day at work for the champ.
ROUND FIVE – OLIVER RETAINS IN A LOSS AGAINST ESSENDON
Did Clarrie just lift to save the title?
I reckon he reads The Mongrel – haha.
With the Bombers all over the Dees, en route to at 27-point win, Oliver’s title was in grave danger at three-quarter time. Strugglign to overcome the attention (defensive attention, not amorous advances) of Will Setterfield, Oliver had 21 touches and looked shaky.
Fast forward to the end of the game, and the champ rallied to save his own skin, with 20 possessions in the final quarter, making him the most prolific midfielder on the park.
41 touches and 25 contested possessions – he can retain the title, despite a strong challenge from Zach Merrett (35 disposals and nine inside 50s), who was attempting to become the first-ever three-time champion.
ROUND SIX – OLIVER RETAINS RICHMOND
Tim Taranto has wasted no time establishing himself as the number one man in the midfield at Punt Road, but his 33 touches and ten tackles were not enough to unseat the champ, who collected 31 disposals and six clearances as the Demons put the Tigers away.
Taranto was the man to end Scott Pendlebury’s nine-defence reign back a few years ago, and the former champ was looking at becoming a two-time champ in this one, but when the Dees are winning, Oliver is safe.
ROUND SEVEN – OLIVER RETAINS IN A DESTRUCTION OF NORTH MELBOURNE
A brutal beat down by the Dees saw Oliver have his way in the midfield, with the Kangaroos having absolutely no answer for either him, or the former champ, Christian Petracca.
Oliver had a game-high 37 touches, with Ben Cunnington’s 27 disposals and a goal the only conceivable challenge… assuming North weren’t being pummelled by 15 goals, that is.
ROUND EIGHT – OLIVER RETAINS V GOLD COAST
Noah Anderson threw everything he had at Coliver and the Dees, but with Gold Coast failing to get the job done in a cracking game of footy, Oliver’s title remained safe, but for one kick, Anderson’s 37 touches and one goal could have ended the Oliver reign.
ROUND NINE – OLIVER RETAINS V HAWTHORN
The Dees were expected to belt the Hawks, and they did, with a huge first half rendering anything Hawhtorn could conjure in the third quarter inconsequential. Oliver cruised to 34 touches as the standout mid on the park, with Will Day his only real threat in brown and gold, with 29 touches.
ROUND TEN – NEW CHAMPION – ZAK BUTTERS WINS THE MONGREL MIDFIELD TITLE
The Power are back and they’re being led by a combative beast in a silky smooth package named Zak Butters.
I’m not sure Butters realises that he is on the small size, because he attacks the contest like a madman, and that is what pushed Port over the line against the Dees. His 41 touches were a career-high, but if that wasn’t enough, he added ten clearances and two goals. Oliver fought hard, with 30 touches of his own, but even with a quality performance like that to defend his title, the extent of Butters’ influence was too great.
Oliver ended the game injured, and will be out for a while with hamstring issues, leaving Zak Butters as the second Port Adelaide Midfield Champion, behind Ollie Wines.
Long may he reign.
ROUND 11 – BUTTERS RETAINS V RICHMOND
Tim Taranto went for it, notching 33 touches and a mammoth four goals in a best on ground performance. However, his team could not get the job done for him, falling ten points short of helping him claim his second midfield title.
Of course, Zak Butters was not going down without a fight had his tram fallen over. The champ had 32 touches of his own and snagged a goal as he retained his title.
ROUND 12 – BUTTERS RETAINS V HAWTHORN
Another week, another Port win to aid their champ retain the belt.
James Worpel starred for the Hawks with 35 touches and six clearances, but the champ had 26 and a goal in his team’s win. Worpel was in with a real chance, but when your team loses, you cannot win the title.
ROUND 13 – BUTTERS RETAINS V WESTERN BULLDOGS
Midfielders at the Whitten Oval often dominate possession, and that always makes them dangerous to the champ. Three of them had 30+ disposal games in this one – Lubba, Treloar, and the Bont.
But so did Zak Butters. And, he did it in a win. He added six clearances and 11 score involvements in another stellar outing to retain the title.
ROUND 14 – BUTTERS RETAINS V GEELONG
With 23 touches and a goal, you could be forgiven for thinking Butters was vulnerable in this game, but the nature of the contest did not see midfielders dominate disposals.
Geelong’s best was Max Holmes with 24 touches. He is going to be an excellent long term player, but if you want to wear the title, big performances are required. And in a win, Butters’ numbers were good enough to keep the title around his waist for another week.
ROUND 15 – BYE
ROUND 16 – BUTTERS RETAINS V ESSENDON
So close, Zach Merrett… so close!
Port pinched the win by four points over the Bombers and in the process, cost Merrett a legit chance at taking the title. He had 31 touches to power the Bombers’ midfield and in response, Butters registered 25 and a goal.
It was touch and go, but Port’s victory made sure a tough decision was not necessary.
ROUND 17 – BUTTERS RETAINS V GOLD COAST
Is Butters starting to look shaky? With 22 touches, he is more relying on the qin streak of Port to retain his title at the moment.
Noah Anderson made a strong challenge in an attempt to become Gold Coast’s first midfield champ, but was thwarted by his team’s loss. He had 29 touches and six tackles, but the numbers are never enough win the win does not accompany them.
ROUND 18 – NEW MONGREL MIDFIELD CHAMPION – PATRICK CRIPPS WINS THE TITLE
It had to happen. The Blues have too many midfield stars to have no champions. And the Power were due for a loss.
The Carlton captain stood up after quarter time, notching 24 touches, ten clearances, and 11 score involvements to aid his team’s biggest win of the year.
Butters spent the majority of the last quarter on the bench, watching his team’s streak and his own reign come to an end.
We haven’t quite smelt what the Blues are cooking in recent years, but FINALLY… the Mongrel Midfield Championship Belt is around the waist of a Bagger!
ROUND 19 – PATRICK CRIPPS STRIPPED OF TITLE – NEW MONGREL MIDFIELD CHAMPION – MARCUS BONTEMPELLI
With Cripps not making the trip to Optus Stadium to face the Eagles, the title was vacated and was to be awarded to the best midfielder on a winning team in Round 19.
And in the end, it came down to two Bulldogs to fight it out.
This was a toss-up between Bont and Libba – the two of them have long been the backbone of the Bulldogs, with one getting more recognition than the other.
And that was the case again, here. Libba was great – he always is, farming out contested disposals at will, but two goals from Bont to go with his 29 touches… tipped him over the edge. It is the factor that separates Bont from Libba, isn’t it? Bont hits the scoreboard.
And the scoreboard impact secures him his second championship.
ROUND 20 – NEW MONGREL MIDFIELD CHAMPION – STEPHEN CONIGLIO
For the second time, Marcus Bontempelli has lost the Mongrel Midfield title without making a successful defence..
But enough about the vanquished. This is time to recognise the contribution of Stephen Coniglio in 2023.
Averaging a career-high in disposals, his is one name I have not heard bandied about when discussion of potential All-Australian players arises. I wonder why not? Out of sight, out of mind? It’s crap attitudes like that which see players look for the spotlight elsewhere.
Alas, Cogs was excellent in the Giants’ win over the Dogs, notching 34 touches and seven clearances in another stellar performance. Toby Greene gets a lot of the credit, but Cogs’ year has been magnificent.
ROUND 21 – NEW MONGREL MIDFIELD CHAMPION – ERROL GULDEN
Oh… that didn’t last long – the third champion in a row to register zero title defences.
Errol Gulden starred for the Swans an, in the process, unseated Stephen Coniglio before he had a chance to notch a single defence.
Gulden was brilliant, as he has been all season, and strengthened his claims on an All-Australian berth with two goals to go along with his 32 possessions. Coniglio battled hard (25 touches), but as the Swans picked up the win, Gulden was their star, and a deserving Mongrel Midfield Champion after 21 rounds.
ROUND 22 – GULDEN RETAINS THE TITLE AGAINST THE SUNS
This was a danger game for the Swans, as the Suns had a great recent record at the SCG. Sydney, however, were able to turn the tables here, notching an important win on home soil.
The win saved Gulden’s bacon, with the young star copping plenty of attention from Touk Miller. That limited him to just 19 disposals, but with the Swans emerging victorious, it robbed Gold Coast of their first champion.
Them’s the rules, baby.
ROUND 23 – GULDEN RETAINS THE TITLE AGAINST THE CROWS
Wow… what can you say about that travesty of a game that won’t have been said a thousand times before I publish another title update?
I suppose the good news is that win, lose, or draw, Errol Gulden’s return of 30 touches and four clearances would have been enough to retain the title even if the Swans had lost.
His biggest challenge came from Rory Laird, who finished with 31 touches, but with a goal umpiring decision falling the Swans’ way, it was a moot point. Two defences in a row from the Swans’ golden child.
ROUND 24 – GULDEN RETAINS THE TITLE AGAINST THE DEES IN A LOSS
Wow again… a Swans loss at the SCG to finish the home and away season saw the Demons with a chance to snatch the title away heading into September.
Christian Petracca looked likely, with 29 touches and a goal, but unfortunately for him, the champ was more than up to the task of defending the title.
Gulden was brilliant for the Swans, picking up 42 touches to go with two goals as he made a rare successful defence in a loss. He now carries the title into the finals, where we will see him face Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, and the Blues in the first week.
MIDFIELDER CHAMPIONSHIP BELT TITLE HISTORY 2017-21
With 34 disposals and three goals in the 2016 Grand Final, Josh Kennedy was the first Midfield Champion. It was up to him to defend in R1 of the 2017 season
ROUND ONE – KENNEDY RETAINS OVER OLLIE WINES/TRAV BOAK.
Despite a loss, Kennedy has 28 touches and 19 contested disposals to hold of his challengers
ROUND TWO – MARCUS BONTEMPELLI WINS THE TITLE
The Dogs beat the Swans and Bont stars, with 30 touches and two goals to Kennedy’s 24 touches. A new champ is crowned
ROUND THREE – NAT FYFE WINS THE TITLE
In his first defence, Bont posts 24 touches and a goal, but it is Fyfe, with 33 disposals and 17 contested touches that lifts the belt.
ROUND FOUR – FYFE RETAINS
Fyfe notches 25 touches and a goal to hold off Clayton Oliver (26 touches) and Dom Tyson, believe it or not.
ROUND FIVE – FYFE RETAINS
26 touches in a win is enough to keep the strap around the waist of Fyfe. Cunnington was a red-hot chance to take the title, but his 29 touches and a goal come in a loss.
ROUND SIX – MATT PRIDDIS CLAIMS THE TITLE
In a scenario the Dockers may have to get used to, the Eagles whack them in the Derby, and it is Priddis with 32 touches, a goal and nine tackles that gets the nod as champ. Fyfe returned 19 touches in the loss
ROUND SEVEN – PRIDDIS RETAINS
You cannot lose the title in a win, so despite having 26 touches and just three tackles, Priddis holds off the charge of Chad Wingard (34 touches and a goal) and Brad Ebert (30 touches and a goal) with his Eagles prevailing over the Dockers.
ROUND EIGHT – PRIDDIS RETAINS
The Bont gets a rematch, but his Dogs are unable to pull out the win and a quiet Priddis gets to retain his title. He is a bit like mid-late 80s Ric Flair, here – picking up wins despite not being the best man involved. Macrae’s 32 touches were the main threat.
ROUND NINE – ZACH MERRETT WINS THE TITLE
The Bombers smash the Eagles by 61 points, and Merrett’s 37 disposals (31 uncontested – get someone on him!) are a big reason. Priddis has 22 touches as he drops the strap.
ROUND TEN – DUSTIN MARTIN WINS THE TITLE
No title defences for Merrett as the Tigers get over the Bombers and Dusty’s 30 touches and a goal are good enough to lift the title from Merrett.
ROUND 11 – MARTIN RETAINS
Dusty did not even need the win here. His 38 touches and two goals are dominant as the Tigers get the Roos by 35 points. Nobody in blue and white gets close in this one.
ROUND 12 – BYE
ROUND 13 – MARTIN RETAINS
Despite dropping this one to the Swans, no Sydney midfielder stands out. Zak Jones has 26, but Martin’s 23 and two goals are more than enough for him to escape with the title intact.
ROUND 14 – MARTIN RETAINS
His impressive streak continues, here. Martin’s 30 touches are the highest number for the game against the Blues, with Bryce Gibbs matching him in a loss.
ROUND 15 – MARTIN RETAINS
Another Tiger win helps Dusty (36 disposals) hold off the charge of Chad Wingard (39 touches) and Port Adelaide.
ROUND 16 – SEB ROSS WINS THE TITLE
The Saints punish the Tigers by 67 points as Martin is well-held (19 touches) and both Ross and Jack Steven run riot. Leigh Montagna is also great, but Ross’ two goal assists and ten score involvements earn him the title.
ROUND 17 – ZACH MERRETT WINS THE TITLE
Zach’s back, and as the Bombers give the Saints a ten-goal hiding, he slots in with 37 touches to take the title for a second time. In his first defence, Ross manages just 20 touches.
ROUND 18 – MERRETT RETAINS
The Bombers get over the Kangaroos and Merrett collects 33 touches to be the most potent mid on the park. Trent Dumont has 28 and a goal, but it is in a loss.
ROUND 19 – MERRETT RETAINS
A rare retention in a loss. Merrett has 23 disposals, but Jack Macrae is the most impressive Dog with just 25 touches – not a comprehensive win and, therefore, not a title switch.
ROUND 20 – MERRETT RETAINS
Another Bomber win secures the strap around Merrett’s waist for at least another week, with Marc Murphy missing out with 32 touches in the loss.
ROUND 21 – MATT CROUCH WINS THE TITLE
Merrett is injured for this clash and forfeits the belt – any player from either team can win it. The Crows triumph and Matt Crouch picks up 35 disposals to take the title.
ROUND 22 – CROUCH RETAINS
The Crows drop a tight one to the Swans, with Josh Kennedy the star (31 touches, 18 contested and a goal) but Crouch matches his output with 34 touches and a goal to retain the title.
ROUND 23 – CROUCH RETAINS
The Eagles swoop in and pick up a win over the Crows on the eve of finals, and it is old man Sam Mitchell with 34 touches leading the way. However, Crouch turns in a 45 disposal effort to go with his one goal to retain the belt.
FINALS WEEK ONE – CROUCH RETAINS
31 disposals in a win are enough for Crouch to retain the title, despite 33 touches from Josh Kelly and 32 and a goal from Cal Ward. The Crows move on and the title stays with Crouch.
FINALS WEEK TWO – BYE
FINALS WEEK THREE – CROUCH RETAINS
Despite 34 touches and a goal from Joel Selwood, Crouch’s output is excellent, and he notches 31 disposals and a goal of his own to retain the strap again.
2017 GRAND FINAL – MATT CROUCH RETAINS
Yes, Dusty was great with 29 touches and two goals, but Crouch, in a losing side, notched 37 disposals for the game. Yes, Dusty won the Norm Smith – winners are grinners – but this had to be a comprehensive win, and Crouch did enough to hold onto the title.
ROUND ONE – MATT CROUCH RETAINS
This is some run from Crouch. Despite a loss, he picks up 41 disposals to retain the title over a 35-touch effort from Dyson Heppell and 35 of his own from David Zaharakis.
ROUND TWO – CROUCH RETAINS
By hook, or by crook, Matt Crouch finds a way to hold onto the title. He is injured in this one and returns just 13 touches, but his team beats the Tigers, and he therefore staves off the challenge of Dustin Martin (again), who has 25 and five lazy goals. Winning on technicalities.
ROUND THREE – BRYCE GIBBS WINS THE TITLE
Oh man… Matt Crouch is out of this game – the title goes to whichever player is best in the midfield. Rory Laird has 32 touches, but is playing in defence. Gibbs is in the guts, and despite Seb Ross picking up 32, Gibbs’ 26 and a goal in a winning team take the chocolates.
ROUND FOUR – GIBBS RETAINS
Steele Sidebottom is dominant in the Pies’ win over the Crows. He has 43 touches and looks like the best on ground… but here is old Gibbsy, sneaking in with 27 touches and two goals. The snags make a bit of a difference, here, and they are enough to make the contest close enough that I cannot award the belt to Steele. Sorry Sidey.
ROUND FIVE – GIBBS RETAINS
Holy crap… this is like the Honky Tonk Man winning the Intercontinental title in 1987…
The Crows win again, stretching Gibbs’ reign despite 27 and a goal fro Zak Jones, and 26 touches from Jarrad McVeigh.
ROUND SIX – GIBBS RETAINS
The Crows win again, but Gibbs is definitely no passenger. I kind of forgot how good he was in 2018. He has 31 touches in the win to stave off the challenge of David Swallow’s 32 and three goals.
ROUND SEVEN – GIBBS RETAINS
Matt Crouch is back and the Crows are still winning. Gibbs has 21 touches and a goal, but it’s in a win and that’s all he needs to do to retain the belt. Ed Curnow has 26 touches and a goal in the loss as the main threat.
ROUND EIGHT – TOM ROCKLIFF WINS THE TITLE
31 touches and nine tackles is just enough to list the title from Gibbs and end his reign of terror in the Showdown. Rockliff pinched the game for the Power in the dying seconds, robbing Gibbs of yet another successful defence. He had 24 touches in the loss.
ROUND NINE – ROCKLIFF RETAINS
26 touches and a goal against the Suns is enough to give Rocky his first successful defence. Aaron Hall has 29 touches as the main threat, but in a 40-point win, Rockliff was always going to be safe.
ROUND TEN – BYE
ROUND 11 – TOM MITCHELL WINS THE TITLE
Rockliff has a stinker (ten touches) as the Power fall to the Hawks, and Tom Mitchell racks up 28 touches and two goals to claim his first midfielder championship belt.
ROUND 12 – BYE
ROUND 13 – MITCHELL RETAINS
Both Bryce Gibbs and Matt Crouch have their chance to regain the belt, but a 56-point win to the Hawks, and 40 touches from Mitchell ensure the belt remains around his waist.
ROUND 14 – MITCHELL RETAINS
The Suns get another shot (their third this season) but cannot wrest the title away. Mitchell has the standard 31 touches in the win, whilst Jarryd Lyons is the best for the Suns, with 29 disposals.
ROUND 15 – MITCHELL RETAINS
Callan Ward throws his hat into the ring with 32 touches and two goals in a GWS, however, it is Mitchell who rolls out the lazy 50-possession game to hold onto the title another week,
ROUND 16 – MITCHELL RETAINS
The Hawks smash the Dogs by 63 points, leaving no doubt as to the result of the title battle. Mitchell has 27 touches in the win, whilst Lachie Hunter has 26 and two goals in the loss.
ROUND 17 – MITCHELL RETAINS
The Hawks drop a game, and it is Dayne Beams starring for the Lions with 33 touches. That said, Mitchell quietly compiles 43 touches and a goal in the loss to hang on to the belt again.
ROUND 18 – MITCHELL RETAINS
A 70-point belting of Carlton allows the Hawks star to hold onto the title without doing to much… but this is 2018 Tom Mitchell.
He had 46 touches and two goals to be the best player on the ground. Marc Murphy had 35 touches, whilst Patrick Cripps had 30 and two goals in the loss.
ROUND 19 – MITCHELL RETAINS
Another Hawthorn win coincides with 42 touches and two goals from Mitchell as his team sees off the challenge of Lachie Neale (36 touches) and David Mundy (34 and a goal).
ROUND 20 – MITCHELL RETAINS
The Hawks get a four-point win over Essendon, with Mitchell’s 43 touches just enough to hold off former champ, Zach Merrett and his 43-disposal game. That is now eight successful defences for Mitchell.
ROUND 21 – MITCHELL RETAINS
The Hawks outlast the Cats by 11 points, meaning that Patrick Dangerfield’s 39-disposal game counts for nought. Mitchell has 32 touches, but it is the team win that seals it for him. Nine defences.
ROUND 22 – MITCHELL RETAINS
Another close win sees Mitchell retain. The challenge in the four-point triumph comes from Seb Ross, looking for his second reign. He has 34 disposals to Mitchell’s 33.
ROUND 23 – MITCHELL RETAINS
Defence number 11 sees Mitchell have just 24 points, but with the Hawks beating the Swans by nine points, the only competition in the midfield is George Hewett’s 24 touches.
FINALS WEEK ONE – MITCHELL RETAINS
The Tigers win, but Mitchell’s 39 are good enough to squeeze out of the clash with the title intact. Dustin Martin is hungry for a second reign, and has 29 touches and a goal, but it is not comprehensive enough… this time.
FINALS WEEK TWO – MITCHELL RETAINS
Not via his class or skill, not via a win, but by the absence of a dominant counterpart to take the title from him. He has 24 touches to match the output of the best Demon, Jack Viney, who has 27.
*NOTE – Hawthorn were eliminated from contention with the loss to Melbourne. The title forfeits to the best midfielder in week three of the finals.
FINALS WEEK THREE – STEELE SIDEBOTTOM WINS THE TITLE
Denied an opportunity earlier in the season, Sidebottom’s 41 disposals in Collingwood’s upset win over Richmond deliver him his first reign as champ. Other contenders were Taylor Adams (36 touches), and Jack Redden (31 touches and a goal).
2018 GRAND FINAL – LUKE SHUEY WINS THE TITLE
Luke Shuey owes Mark Hutchings a beer.
Hutchings kept Sidebottom under wraps as Shuey went out and collected both the Norm Smith Medal for best afield, and the Mongrel’s midfield championship belt with 34 touches and a goal. He will carry the title into 2019.
ROUND ONE – SHUEY RETAINS
The Eagles lose, but Shuey shows up with his work boots on, picking up 26 touches and eight clearances. Despite rolling the Eagles, Lachie Neale’s 29 touches and a goal are not a comprehensive enough victory to unseat the champ.
ROUND TWO – SHUEY RETAINS
The Eagles square the ledger and Shuey stars, with 28 touches and two goals, batting back the challenge of the Giants and Lachie Whitfield, who notches 33 touches in the loss.
ROUND THREE – SHUEY RETAINS
The Eagles win again and champ notches an average day at the office with 24 disposals. The challenges come thick and fast from Taylor Adams (26 disposals) and Dayne Beams (26 touches and a goal) but the title can only change hands in a loss.
ROUND FOUR – SHUEY RETAINS
It’s a Derby… of course he retains. 24 disposals in the Eagles’ win over the Dockers is enough to offset the 36 touches from the evergreen David Mundy.
ROUND FIVE – OLLIE WINES WINS THE TITLE
The bull from Alberton shines in the Power’s win over West Coast, notching 35 touches, seven clearances and a goal. Shuey finishes the game with 27 disposals and two clearances, but it is not enough to stave off the assault from Wines.
ROUND SIX – WINES RETAINS
The Power win, so the title is safe, but Wines (26 disposals) should count himself lucky, as North Melbourne’s own bull, Ben Cunnington, has a monster game, with 35 touches, 21 contested possessions and a massive 13 clearances. Wines was seen after the game thanking me for the rule about only losing the title in losses*
* May not have happened.
ROUND SEVEN – SCOTT PENDLEBURY WINS THE TITLE
A little bit of controversy, as Wines’ 26 disposals and six clearances could have been enough to hold onto the belt, but Pendlebury lifted the title with a vintage 36 disposals punctuated by 11 inside 50 deliveries. Pendles… he would wear the title with pride.
ROUND EIGHT – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
26 disposals in a win is enough to hold off the rampaging Patrick Cripps, who clocks in with 35 touches, a goal and 14 clearances. If only his team would come to the party before he burns out with these efforts…
ROUND NINE – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
27 touches ina win against the Saints sees Pendles fend off the challenges from Luke Dunstan (30 disposals) and Jack Billings (29 touches)
ROUND TEN – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
Another win for the Pies sees their captain notch 29 touches and cap off his performance with a goal. This dispels the attempt of Luke Parker (28 touches) to pinch the strap from the champ.
ROUND 11 – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
A strong challenge from Nat Fyfe (32 touches and six clearances) is deemed not enough to offset the game of Pendles, who registers 29 disposals and two goals for the Pies, despite a loss to the Dockers. This was a narrow escape.
ROUND 12 – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
Pendles has only 24 touches, but in a win, it is impossible to knock him off. Clayton Oliver has 33 touches for the Dees, and James Harmes goes nuts for 35 disposals, but rules are rules, and the Collingwood champ retains.
ROUND 13 – BYE
ROUND 14 – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
The man is incredible. The Pies knock over the Dogs, which allows an easy defence for Pendlebury. He has only 20 touches, and is dwarfed in stats by Jack Macrae (41 touches) and Josh Dunkley (35), but the title stays with the man.
ROUND 15 – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
What a reign for Pendles. The Pies take another loss here, but their captain stands up, recording 33 touches, six clearances and seven inside 50s to hold onto the title against Ben Cunnington, who has 37 touches and seven clearances. This is the second time this season Cunnington has made a huge run at the title, only to be denied.
ROUND 16 – PENDLEBURY RETAINS
Another successful defence – that’s eight defences now. The Pies lose again, but the Hawks have no dominant mid to give them the clear win for the title. Isaac Smith has 25 touches and Jaeger O’Meara has 23 and a goal, but Pendles has 25 disposals of his own and holds onto the title.
ROUND 17 – PENDLEBURY DEFENDS
Another week, another Pendles title defence. This time, the Pies notch a win over the Eagles, and the champ has 32 disposals in the process. As does his main challenger, Andrew Gaff, but with the Pies in front at the final siren, title dreams end for the West Coast running man.
ROUND 18 – TIM TARANTO WINS THE TITLE
The young Giant upsets the champ and takes home the belt, with 32 disposals and a huge 14 tackles in the win over the Pies. Pendles is not disgraced, and completes a stunning reign with a 23 disposal and two goal game.
ROUND 19 – TARANTO RETAINS
A one point win for the Giants perhaps saves Taranto’s bacon, as Travis Boak tops 40 touches for Port Adelaide as he makes a strong challenge for the title. Taranto is no slouch in opposition, registering 31 disposals to retain the title.
ROUND 20 – TARANTO RETAINS
25 touches for Taranto sees the Giants knock over the Swans and hold off the challenge of Ollie Florent (28 touches).
ROUND 21 – JAMES WORPEL WINS THE TITLE
In an upset, the young Hawk lifts the belt from Taranto, but not without controversy. Taranto’s 25 touches and four clearances are deemed by some to be worthy of title retention… or so the voices in my head tell me. However, Worpel’s 31 disposals and eight clearances are good enough for me to switch the championship to the Hawk.
ROUND 22 – WORPEL RETAINS
The Hawks win, assuring Worpel of retaining the belt, but he shows up with 34 disposals and two goals to stave off the challenge of Touk Miller and his 30 touches.
ROUND 23 – WORPEL RETAINS
Uh oh… last game of the season and a bloke who holds the title will be unable to defend it in the finals. Worpel’s Hawks beat the Eagles and secure the title around his waist at the end of the home and away season. He has 20 touches as Gaff (37 disposals) and Shuey (27 touches) miss the chance to snatch the title… for now.
*Note – with Hawthorn out, the title goes to the best mid on the park in the first week of the finals. Must be from a winning team.*
FINALS WEEK ONE – LUKE SHUEY WINS THE TITLE
Making up for his R23 disappointment, Shuey lifts the title, beating out Steele Sidebottom (33 touches, 15 marks), Lachie Whitfield (30 touches) and Dion Prestia (32 touches, eight clearances and ten tackles) with his 35 disposal, eight clearance, and three goal assists to get him over the line… barely.
This marks Shuey’s second reign of 2019 after commencing the season as champ.
FINALS WEEK TWO – CAM GUTHRIE WINS THE TITLE
Well, that didn’t last long. Guthrie and his Cats upset Shuey with 33 touches and eight clearance to outdistance Shuey’s 26 touches and four clearances.
FINALS WEEK THREE – DION PRESTIA WINS THE TITLE
Perhaps robbed earlier in the finals, Prestia responds with a wonderful performance, registering 28 touches and two goals to obliterate Guthrie’s 12 disposals.
GRAND FINAL – PRESTIA RETAINS
The Tigers win and redeem themselves after 2018, and Prestia walks away with the title intact. Yes, all the plaudits go to Dusty for his second Norm Smith Medal, but the midfielder championship belt rests around the waist of Dion Prestia as he has 22 touches to hold off the 30 touches from Tim Taranto in another Tiger triumph.
2020 (Reduced game times will mean reduced stat numbers)
ROUND ONE – PRESTIA RETAINS
It’s Round One and Richmond v Carlton. Prestia was bound to retain. The Tigers win and Prestia has 25 disposals and a goal to hold off Patrick Cripps’ 31 touches.
ROUND TWO – PENDLEBURY WINS THE…. NO! PRESTIA RETAINS
The Pies and Tigers battle to a draw, and just as it looks as though Scott Pendlebury’s 32 touches are enough to award him the title, the Old Mongrel strides out and tells everyone that the title can only change hands in a loss. The Tigers did not lose, therefore, Prestia’s 20 touches are enough to see him hold onto the title over Pendles’ 32 disposals.
The crowd riots, The Mongrel goes back to reading a book, and all is well after the 48-second news cycle moves onto something else. Covid… or some shit.
ROUND THREE – ISAAC SMITH WINS THE TITLE
I did not see this coming… this is like Leaping Lanny Poffo winning the title.
Smith records 29 touches and a goal as Prestia and his Tigers have a poor day at the office. He records 17 touches to drop the title
ROUND FOUR – SMITH RETAINS THE TITLE
Lanny Poffo retains the title as his team wins. His paltry 16 touches is enough in this situation to hold off the challenge of Shaun Higgins, who has 30 touches.
ROUND FIVE – JOSH KELLY WINS THE TITLE
With 30 touches and 12 marks, Kelly is the best mid on the ground to take the title from Smith. The two play on each other for a while, with Kelly the better man. Smith finished 19 touches.
ROUND SIX – KELLY RETAINS
A weird one. Kelly has 16 touches, the Giants lose to Port… and no one on the Power team has a game worthy of earning the strap. Powell-Pepper has 22 touches and a goal… I’m not writing home about that one, and Wines has 20, but that is nowhere near enough to win the title.
ROUND SEVEN – KELLY RETAINS
Another loss for the Giants, but Kelly notches 21 touches and a goal, and despite dominating earlier rounds, Lachie Neale is quieter in this win, with 20 touches and a goal. Kelly sneaks away with the belt again.
ROUND EIGHT – KELLY RETAINS
The Giant is making a nice run, here. With 26 touches and a goal in the win, he is able to stave off the challenge from a hungry Dustin Martin, who has 23 and two goals.
ROUND NINE – KELLY RETAINS
Kelly retains again as the Giants do away with the Suns. No one from the Gold Coast mounts anything even remotely resembling a decent challenge here, with Brandon Ellis the best of a bad bunch, with 16 disposals.
ROUND TEN – KELLY RETAINS
The Giants notch a win over the Bombers, which halts a serious challenge from Zach Merrett. The Bomber star has 33 touches to Kelly’s 22, but the rules protect the title change.
ROUND 11 – BYE
ROUND 12 – KELLY RETAINS
The Giants’ loss puts Kelly’s reign in danger, but the man, himself, steps up with 31 disposals to prevent Luke Parker (29 touches) getting his hands on the title.
ROUND 13 – KELLY RETAINS
The Giants drop another one, leaving the door open for a title switch, but Kelly is up to the challenge, notching 26 touches and a goal to hold back Andrew Gaff’s 21 disposals and a goal.
ROUND 14 – KELLY RETAINS
During another successful defence (Giants win) Kelly goes down hurt. Registering just 11 disposals, he is able to hold onto the title in the win, but the future of his reign now looks bleak. Cerra and Brayshaw have 24 touches apiece for the Dockers.
ROUND 15 – TOBY GREENE WINS THE TITLE!!!
My man, Toby switches into the middle against the Blues, notches 19 touches and a goal and takes home the vacant title. With the Giants winning, the numbers of Sam Walsh are made redundant (23 and a goal) with the injured Kelly forfeiting the title.
ROUND 16 – BRAD CROUCH WINS THE TITLE
Oh Toby… you went and played forward!
Crouch swoops in as the Crows find a bit of form, and racks up (pardon the pun) 31 touches to take him the title.
ROUND 17 – CROUCH RETAINS
Another challenge from Sam Walsh, but his team lets him down again. He has 23 touches, but Crouch’s 18 disposals and a goal in the win are enough to offset it.
ROUND 18 – CROUCH RETAINS
Uh oh… again. Crouch holds the title but will be unable to defend it in finals. His 26 touches are enough to hold off Dusty Martin’s 28 touches and a goal, but with finals looming, his reign is now at an end.
*As per 2019, when a champion’s team does not qualify for finals, the title goes to the best mid of the first week of finals on a winning team*
FINALS WEEK ONE – TAYLOR ADAMS WINS THE TITLE
Incredibly close call. Adams gets the nod over Jarryd Lyons (24 touches), Ollie Wines (24 touches) and Hugh McCluggage (20 touches and a goal). His 25 touches and a goal for the Pies in their upset win over the Eagles is a huge result.
FINALS WEEK TWO – PATRICK DANGERFIELD WINS THE TITLE
Danger gets his first run with the title, knocking over Adams as the Cats advance. He has 19 touches and four goals to send the Cats to week three, and the Pies home. Adams has 17 touches in the loss.
FINALS WEEK THREE – DANGERFIELD RETAINS
An average performance from danger (17 disposals) is saved by the Cats, who put paid to the Lions’ premiership hopes. Lachie Neale has 24 touches and two goals in Brisbane’s loss.
GRAND FINAL – DUSTIN MARTIN WINS THE TITLE
With 21 disposals and four goals, the best finals player I’ve seen marches into the 2021 season with the midfield championship title around his waist. He demoralises Dangerfield in the final moments, bu=rushing aside the Cat as he kicked his fourth goal, won his third Norm Smith, third premiership, and secured Midfield Championship reign number two.
DUSTIN MARTIN RETAINS TITLE
With 31 touches and two goals against the Blues, Dusty holds off the challenges of Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh. Richmond win, so it was impossible for him to lose the title, but he puts on a show, anyway, with a near-best on ground performance.
DUSTIN MARTIN RETAINS TITLE
28 touches and a goal sees Martin with a second successful title defence, knocking over Tom Mitchell, despite a 37-disposal performance from the Hawk.
NEW CHAMPION – CALLUM MILLS!!!
Mills records 31 touches, eight clearances and 11 score involvements to dethrone the champ, as the Tigers fall to the Swans. Dusty fights on for 20 touches and four clearances, but cannot hold on against the rampant Swans.
A clear win, and a new champ is born.
CALLUM MILLS RETAINS
A successful defence for Mills, with 25 touches and a goal against a spirited Essendon, and their outside runner, Zach Merrett. Swans win, so Mills automatically retains, but he does enough to feature in the coaches’ votes.
Should we allow teammates to compete for the title? If so, Luke Parker would now be the champ. However, this is not mate v mate. Not yet, anyway.
NEW CHAMPION – JACOB HOPPER!
The Swans fall in a hole, and Mills cannot stand up to the fast-finishing Giants, with Hopper recording 26 disposals and six clearances to lift the title from Mills.
Not the most dominant performance from a challenger, but with GWS winning, and Hopper the best of the GWS mids, the title switches to the Giant.
NEW CHAMPION – JACK MACRAE
Macrae lifts the title as Hopper and his Giants cannot stand the heat the Dogs apply in the last quarter. Macrae’s 40 touches, six clearances, six tackles and eight inside 50s put Hopper out of his misery in his first failed defence. He battles on as one of the best Giants, with 26 touches and a goal, but this is a clean win.
JACK MACRAE RETAINS THE TITLE
The first successful defence for Macrae was made a little easier when Dustin Martin was ruled out for the match with the lingering effects of concussion. This left Macrae to defend against the likes of Cotchin, Graham and Edwards – all fantastic mids but lacking the overall star-power of the three-time Norm Smith Medallist.
The result saw Macrae gather his standard 30 touches, five clearances and nine marks, with Trent Cotchin’s 24 touches and seven clearances just not enough to wrestle the title away from the champ.
JACK MACRAE RETAINS
The challengers fell short, both on the scoreboard, and in their individual performances. Macrae would have retained regardless of the score, but with the Dogs overrunning the Blues, he was guaranteed a win.
That said, his 32 touches and 11 inside 50s made up for his ten turnovers. His challengers – Sam, Walsh, was good, with 24 touches, Ed Curnow was strong with 27 disposals and Patrick Cripps stunk it right up.
JACK MACRAE RETAINS
There was a bit of chatter amongst my fellow Mongrels when, during the second quarter, the Power stormed back into the game and looked as though they may run over the Dogs. Leading the way was Ollie Wines, but as the Dogs settled, so too did the champ.
Macrae finished with his ninth-straight game of 30+ disposals to start the season; a feat that had never been accomplished… until the champ arrived!
Wines made the strongest challenge yet, with 32 touches and a goal to go along with eight tackles. Boak also would have made a worthy successor, notching 30 touches and seven tackles, but in the end, Macrae’s 32 touches and a Bulldogs win was enough for him to retain the title.
Quite the nice little reign he’s putting together, here. Three successive defences.
JACK MACRAE RETAINS
The Saints had no chance. None… nada… zero… ZILCH!!!
And as they floundered, so did their midfield in a beatdwon by Jack Macrae and the Dogs.
The champ piled on 41 touches, including 14 score involvements, and added nine tackles in a complete midfielder’s game to turn back the weak challeges of Seb Ross (23 disposals), Jack Steele (25 touches), and Brad Crouch (21).
That’s four successive defences now for Macrae, with a marquee matchup incoming.
JACK MACRAE RETAINS
The Dees threw down the challenge, and whilst the Bulldogs fell to pieces, one player stood up.
Yes, Clayton Oliver was good, and yes his team got the win, paving the way for him to take the title, but you must have a convincing one-on-one win to take the title, and with Macrae matching Oliver for disposals and bettering him in tackles, it was always going to be tough for the red menace of Melbourne to knock over the champ.
Macrae had his 11th straight game of 30+ disposals, which is now getting ridiculous and with a strong Freo midfield upcoming, maybe they’ll be the ones to put a stop to it?
JACK MACRAE RETAINS
The Dogs see off the challenge of the Dockers, and by default, Macrae sees off the challenges of the plethora of Fremantle challengers.
David Mundy (30 touches) and Andrew Brayshaw (27 touches and a goal) do their best, but Macrae, with yet another 35 touches, will not relent and retains the title for the sixth-straight week.
MACRAE RETAINS THE TITLE
Man, this guy is a machine, and he is starting to close in on the second-most title defences of all-time, (Pendlebury with nine). At this stage, he could make a run at Tom Mitchell’s record 13-week reign.
Despite the loss to the Cats, Macrae was still the most prolific midfielder on the park, collecting 35 touches to hold off the challenge from Isaac Smith, who had his best game for the Cats.
Joel Selwood (29 touches) and Sam Menegola (not Menengola, BT) with 27 and two goals were two others who could have pinched the title, but in the end, Macrae was just too good yet again.
MACRAE RETAINS THE TITLE
Macrae moves to eight defences with yet another 30+ disposal game. This time, matched up against a West Coast midfield that were down on the day as a whole, Macrae and his Dogs ran rampant through the guts, despite a ruck disadvantage.
Macrae and his band of marauding Dogs mids tore shreds of the Eagles as the belt remained around the waist of the champ, yet again.
MACRAE RETAINS THE TITLE
Bang! Nine defences for the champ, and he holds off Ben Cunnington in the process.
Macrae’s team gets the win, so it defeats the efforts of Cunnington, who was very solid with 26 touches and two goals in a close-to best on ground performance, but even in a Dogs loss, I am not sure Cunnington would have done enough to overcome 31 touches from Macrae.
The win has to be convincing, and with the Dogs’ best ball-winner going over 30 touches again, it is going to take something special to knock him over. Bad luck, Cunners.
CALLUM MILLS WINS THE TITLE
Oh, controversy… what about Jordan Dawson???
I know, I know, Dawson was awesome running off the wing, but given the choice between the two young Sydney stars, I went with the bloke who was actually competing with Macrae head-t-head more often than the winger.
I was also swayed by the fact that Mills has had a stellar season, whereas Dawson has played half back for a lot of the year and only recently switched to the wing.
Mills had 31 touches and nine marks as he went about his business in his quiet, unassuming manner. All steak, no sizzle.
Macrae finished with 25 touches, down on his expected performance enough that it cost him the title he has held for the better part of three months.
LUKE PARKER WINS THE TITLE
Oh yes… more controversy.
With Callum Mills out of the game due to an AFL ruling about exposing himself… to covid (settle down, ladies) the title was deemed forfeit, and a new champ had to be crowned.
Harsh, but very fair.
With 31 touches, nine clearances and a goal, Luke Parker edged teammate, and inaugural champion, Josh Kennedy, to get his hands on the belt.
Mills should be considered very unlucky, perhaps on par with Tom Mitchell, who had the title stripped from him when his Hawks failed to make the third week of the finals, but hey… you read the intro – this is not a charity. Mills didn’t even get the chance to defend, and his teammate swooped in and snatched up the title.
LUKE PARKER RETAINS THE TITLE
The scoreboard put the Dockers out of the running to lift the belt, but a string challenge from Andrew Brayshaw (34 touches) was the closest to challenging Parker. Adam Cerra had 30 touches and two goals, mimicking the output of Parker, but unlike the Swans champ, Cerra collected 40% of his touches, and both goals when the game was dead.
The game was alive at the start of the third quarter, and that’s when the Swans dropped the hammer. They did it behind 12 touches and two goals from Parker – the champ was the catalyst for the Sydney run.
LUKE PARKER RETAINS THE TITLE
A ripping game between the Swans and Bombers deserved a crowd to witness it. Such are the time we live in…
The dual assault from Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish came with a flurry, as expected, but the Bombers fell to the Swans, rendering their efforts of 35 disposals and two goals, and 34 touches respectively, obsolete.
Parker snagged a couple of goals of his own as his excellent third quarter, and 26 touches became vital to the Swans hanging on to win a beauty.
LUKE PARKER RETAINS THE TITLE
A shock loss to Sydney put Parker’s title in danger, but whilst Jack Steele threw down the gauntlet with 34 touches and a goal, Parker did more than enough to retain the title.
He notched 30 touches and 18 contested possessions as the Swans’ best performer for the game, and held onto his title in a loss.
LUKE PARKER RETAINS THE TITLE
The Swans faced a North Melbourne midfield missing Ben Cunnington. As such, it was left to Jy Simpkin and Luke Davies-Uniacke to carry the load.
They were unable to do so.
Whilst their 22 and 24 touches respectively are fine contributions, even if the Roos had won, Parker’s 25 touches and a goal would have been enough to carry him to a win.
LUKE PARKER RETAINS THE TITLE
The Swans romped this one in, nailing the Suns by 87-points, which assured a retention for Parker again.
Touk Miller tried his guts out for the Swans, but his 37 touches were in yet another losing effort. Meanwhile, Parker did what he had to do, part of the Sydney midfield machine that were just too string for Gold Coast.
Parker’s 23 touches were nothing to write home about, but when you’re winning by the much, you can afford to cruise a little.
FINALS WEEK ONE
LUKE PARKER RETAINS THE TITLE
In a heartbreaking loss to their crosstown rivals, our champion managed to rack up a game-high 34 touches as he willed his Swans back into the game.
In the end, the Giants would triumph by a solitary behind, but the efforts of Parker were the best of any midfielder on the ground. As such, he retains the title for a last time. With his Swans no longer in the hunt, Parker’s reign will be ended by the end of the second week of finals.
FINALS WEEK TWO
JACK MACRAE WINS THE TITLE
Parker is out and the title goes to the best midfielder on the winning team in week two of the finals.
With the Cats overcoming the Giants, Sam Menegola put his hand up with 29 touches and two goals, but the effort of our old pal, Jack Macrae, with 39 disposals and a goal is simply too much to ignore.
After a title reign consisting of nine defences earlier in the season, Macrae takes back what he believes was rightfully his, and commences a second reign late in the season.
JACK MACRAE RETAINS THE TITLE
With his Bulldogs destroying the Power, Macrae was on-song again, notching 36 disposals in a virtuoso performance out of the middle. Despite a spirited 38 disposal, one-goal performance from Ollie Wines, Port struggled to fire a shot as the Dogs suffocated them.
Macrae picks up where he left off in reign one with a solid first defence, and now looks to the Grand Final, and a date with the Dees.
CHRISTAIN PETRACCA WINS THE TITLE
One of the greatest Grand Final performances from a midfielder in the history of the game, Christian Petracca powered his way to his first Mongrel Midfield Championship, spearheading the onslaught of the Demons as they demolished the Dogs in a frantic 35-minute blast of brilliant football.
Petracca’s 39 touches and two goals snatched the title belt away from Jack Macrae, who had 26 touches but could not stop the red and blue wave as it washed over him and his team
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
In close to a replication of his 2021 AFL Grand Final performance, Christian Petracca didn’t just retain the title against the Dogs, he put on a dominant midfield display, racking up 38 touches, 14 score involvements, two goals of his own, and 11 inside 50s.
He received strong competition from former two-time champ, Jack Macrae, who finished with 39 disposals and 11 clearances, but as the Demons pulled away, Macrae’s chances of being the first-ever three-time champ evaporated in a red and blue haze.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
The Suns hit the Dees with everything, but despite the huge efforts of Touk Miller, with 38 disposals and nine clearances, the Dees ran out winners, ensuring Trac retained the title.
Not that he needed to be bailed out by his team – he racked up the lazy 40 touches, added six clearances and carried the footy for 780 metres. To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man, and I doubt anyone beats Petracca when he is in this form.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
A 29-point win the Dees is enough to once again keep the title around the waist of the champ. A quieter game for Petracca in this one – 21 touches and a goal may have left him somewhat vulnerable had the Bombers been a little more competitive.
For the challengers, Dylan Shiel and Darcy Parish combined for 49 touches but neither would have put on a good enough performance had the Bombers got up.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
With this loss, Port sneak ahead of Carlton have the most unsuccessful title challenges in the history of he Mongrel Punt Midfield Championship Belt.
Travis Boak stars, with 35 touches and five clearances, doing enough to win the title, all things being equal.
But all things are not equal. With the Dees picking up the win, Petracca retains with 24 disposals and five tackles.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
A complete Dee-struction of the Giants negates the efforts of their midfielders. Sure, Tom Green was awesome with 34 touches, and yes, Callan Ward turned back the clock to record 34 as well, but the Dees ran out 67-point winners over the Giants.
For his trouble, Christian Petracca picked up 30 touches, snagged two goals, and had he lazy 12 score involvements in a dominant display. Had the Dees dropped this game, Petracca would have retained.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
The Tigers push hard for three quarters, attempting to capitalise on the inaccurate Demons, but it is the Premiers that run out 22-pont winners.
You know what that means, right?
Yep, a sixth-straight title defence for Petracca.
He has a quieter game, notching 25 touches and a goal. Oh, he also has ten score involvements, which is second only to Alex Neal-Bullen for the game. Across from him, Dion Prestia has 27 touches, but the real star is teammate Clayton Oliver, with 241 disposals and 22 contested touches.
And no… a teammate cannot win the title from Christian Petracca. Sorry Clarry.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
The Dees are pushed by the Hawks, but record their seventh win of the season, and with that comes Petracca’s seventh title defence.
Whilst everyone was expecting the challenge to come from Tom Mitchell, it was Dylan Moore moving to a wing and collecting 33 touches that put a scare into the Dees. They composed themselves, however, and Trac’s 31 touches and a goal were enough to keep him at the top of the heap, win, lose, or draw.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
A tough challenge from Jack Steele and Brad Crouch, but a very solid first half of footy set the Dees up for the win, and enabled Christian Petracca to cruise to a 36-disposal game. This was +7 on his closest rival, Steele.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
This could have been a monster game for the champ, with Petracca finishing with two goals and four behinds in a powerful display.
Connor West (29 disposals) and Tim Kelly (32) worked hard for West Cast, but with the Dees winning yet again, and the sublime Petracca notching 28 touches, the title was never in danger.
PETRACCA RETAINS THE TITLE
One cellar dweller one week – another the next.
30 touches for Trac secured him his tenth title defence of the season, hardly bothered by the efforts of the Kangaroos, who were led by Luke Davies-Uniacke (27 touches) in the guts.
Though North was surprisingly competitive, the result was never truly in doubt, and Petracca became the second-longest reigning champion (behind Tom Mitchell in 2018) of all-time.
WILL BRODIE WINS THE TITLE
Stunning, in more ways than one.
Not only did Will Brodie play a belter of a game against some of the best midfield opposition in the game, but he also had an incredibly close tussle with his own teammate to grab the title.
Andrew Brayshaw was neck and neck with Brodie as the Dockers took over the game and handed Melbourne their first loss of the season, but the stellar clearance work of the former Sun pushed him over the line.
Petracca struggled, playing forward and unable to get into the game. Brodie was +18 in disposals and +7 in clearances, meaning this was a clear-cut win.
New champ – Will Brodie
BRODIE RETAINS THE TITLE
You felt going in that this could be a danger game for the new champ, with Lachie Neale the main danger. Truth be told, he was pretty damn good, racking up 31 touches, but by his own admission, lacked presence at the contest.
The champ had 25 touches but was +5 on Neale in contested possessions, and was the only player in double figures for clearances. Neale, usually a clearance specialist, had just four.
The first defence is done and Brodie avoids being one of those champs to lose the title at the first opportunity.
BRODIE RETAINS THE TITLE
The Hawks gave it a red-hot go out west, but the Dockers ensured the title was going nowhere, with a hard-fought 13-point win.
The best mid on the park was Andrew Brayshaw and the concern for the Dockers was that Brodie seemed to defer a bit to Nat Fyfe, amassing just 22 touches and the solitary clearance as he made adjustments to his game to accommodate the dual Brownlow Medallist.
For now, the title remains at Freo, but without Brodie playing a more significant role in the guts, all it will take is a loss to see it make a home elsewhere.
ROUND 14 – BYE
ROUND 15 – BRODIE RETAINS TITLE
Carlton fans thought they had it. They got the win over Freo and they had a young superstar produce a 40-disposal game.
Sam Walsh came so close to snatching the title from Brodie, but as Walsh amassed 40 touches, Brodie stayed close enough to escape with the belt, with 36 touches of his own.
There would be some that would argue Walsh was robbed; to me a narrow victory is not good enough to win the title. You have to be a hell of a lot better to unseat the champ, and this was too close to make a switch.
Better luck next time, Sam. I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities for you.
ROUND 16 – BRODIE RETAINS TITLE
Port pushed hard. Ollie Wines, with 39 touches, pushed particularly hard, but in the end the Dockers got over the line by eight points, ensuring that their champion retained his title.
Brodie had 27 touches and nine tackles for the game, but had the result been nine points different, we could have very well seen Wines with a midfield title belt to match his Brownlow.
ROUND 17 – BRODIE RETAINS TITLE
The Saints are making a habit of blowing things this season. After an 8-3 start, the wheels have fallen off, and they blew this chance to secure the midfield title, losing to the Dockers by 41 points.
Even in a loss, Brodie would have retained in this one. His 29 touches and two goals were once again one of the standout performances for his club.
ROUND 18 – CHAD WARNER WINS THE TITLE!
From one unlikely champ to another.
Chad Warner put on a clinic against the Dockers, bursting from the centre with some scintillating pieces of play, whilst also performing an admirable shutdown role on Andrew Brayshaw, nullifying his significant influence.
Warner had 35 disposals, seven clearances, 11 score involvements, and a goal as he ran riot through the guts. In defence, Brodie managed 24 touches and five clearances, but with the Swans winning the game, it left Brodie vulnerable, and a new champ was crowned.
ROUND 19 – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
I’d like to say it was a knock-down, drag-out affair, but the only players being knocked down in the first quarter belonged to the Crows, as Sydney jumped them and pounded them so convincingly, you could have almost put a line through them at quarter time.
Though Adelaide fought back, the game felt over early, with Warner notching 25 touches and a goal to successfully defend his newly-won title.
The best for the Crows was once again Rory Laird, who finished with 38 disposals in a losing effort.
ROUND 20 – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
The Swans gave the Giants a shellacking, beating them in all aspects of the game. So bad was the GWS performance that their coach named just eight players he thought put in on the day. That was damning.
As such, it was cruise control for the champ, with Warner picking up 20 touches, knowing full well that the dominant Swans performance was going to ensure he held onto the title for another week.
ROUND 21 – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
North gave this one a red hot go, with both Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin throwing down string challenges to Warner’s crown.
However, Warner responded in the way he has all season when challenged. He often finds the best form of defence is a good offence and his three goals would have ensured he retained the title, win, lose, or draw.
And this was a win.
ROUND 22 – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
The Pies loomed as a huge threat, riding a big win-streak into the game against the Swans, and possessing a midfield capable of dethroning the champ.
However, the Swans were right up for the challenge, putting the Pies in their place with a stellar defensive effort, whilst running hard the other way and denying the Pies the corridor.
Warner was one of the reasons. His 25 touches included five clearances and six inside 50 deliveries as he comfortably saw off the challenge of Scott Pendlebury (26 disposals)
ROUND 23 – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
How amazing would it have been had Dan Hannebery pinched the title in his last game, and against his old club?
As good as Hanners was for the Saints, it counted for little, as the Swans rolled over St Kilda, making his efforts redundant. He finished with 30 touches and seven clearances, turning the clock back.
Warner had an average game by his increasing standard, racking up 20 touches and a goal, but when the Swans win, he wins. He is still the champ.
FINALS WEEK ONE – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
There is a bit of Ric Flair about Chad Warner in this one, with his team having his back and ensuring he wasn’t losing the title this week, despite him being beaten.
The Swans knocked over the Dees, securing the titlre retention for Warner, as Clayton Oliver (29 disposals, two goals) was the clear best mid on the park. Warner managed just 13 touches for the game and should be thankful his team was on fire in this contest, lest he become the most recent former champion.
FINALS WEEK TWO – BYE FOR SYDNEY
FINALS WEEK THREE – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
After a week on the sidelines, the Swans and Pies locked horns in a classic, with the Swans managing to pull out a one-point victory, saving Warner’s title in the process.
This is the second game in a row Warner has escaped with his title due to the Swans’ overall brilliance, but on an individual level, Jack Crisp was the best midfielder out there. He returned 29 touches (20 contested), 11 clearances, and ten inside 50s.
Warner was no slouch, with 22 disposals and a goal, but had Collingwood got over the line, it is pretty safe to say we would have had a new champ.
2022 GRAND FINAL – WARNER RETAINS THE TITLE
Sydney were smashed.
Completely hammered by the Cats.
Alas, there was one man in the middle standing up for the Swans, and a late flurry (12 touches and two goals in the last quarter) managed to see Chad Warner hold onto the title by the skin of his teeth.
Warner battled hard for 29 touches and two goals, but he was challenged by Patrick Dangerfield, who almost added a Mongrel Midfield Title reign to his Gary Ayres Medal, and Joel Selwood, both of whom would have made worthy champs.
But hang on, what about Isaac Smith?
Yes, well… I would have liked to hand the title to Smith, but considering he played the wing all day, it is difficult to say he BEAT Chad Warner. The champ battled Danger, Selwood, and Cam Guthrie for the most part – they were the challengers, and he did just enough to hold them off.
So, there’s the history of the belt. I could have gone back a bit further, but I was starting to waver.
In the wash up, a full list of champions from the beginning of 2017. Number of successful defences in parenthesis.
JOSH KENNEDY (0)
MARCUS BONTEMPELLI (0)
NAT FYFE (2)
MATT PRIDDIS (2)
ZACH MERRETT (0)
DUSTIN MARTIN (4)
SEB ROSS (0)
ZACH MERRET X 2 (3)
MATT CROUCH (7)
BRYCE GIBBS (4)
TOM ROCKLIFF (1)
TOM MITCHELL (13)
STEELE SIDEBOTTOM (0)
LUKE SHUEY (4)
OLLIE WINES (1)
SCOTT PENDLEBURY (9)
TIM TARANTO (2)
JAMES WORPEL (2)
LUKE SHUEY X 2 (0)
CAM GUTHRIE (0)
DION PRESTIA (3)
ISAAC SMITH (1)
JOSH KELLY (8)
TOBY GREENE (0)
BRAD CROUCH (2)
TAYLOR ADAMS (0)
PATRICK DANGERFIELD (1)
DUSTIN MARTIN x 2 (2)
CALLUM MILLS (1)
JACOB HOPPER (0)
JACK MACRAE (9)
CALLUM MILLS X2 (0)
LUKE PARKER (6)
JACK MACRAE X 2 (1)
CHRISTIAN PETRACCA (10)
WILL BRODIE (5)
CHAD WARNER (10)
CLAYTON OLIVER (6)
ZAK BUTTERS (7)
PATRICK CRIPPS (0)
MARCUS BONTEMPELLI X 2 (0)
STEPHEN CONIGLIO (0)
ERROL GULDEN (3)
The only multiple title-winners are Zach Merrett (2), Dustin Martin (2), Luke Shuey (2), Callum Mills (2), Marcus Bontempelli (2), and Jack Macrae (2)
As promised, a quick list of the teams who have received the most title shots… and failed.
11 failed attempts – Port Adelaide, North Melbourne
10 – Carlton, Richmond, Gold Coast
8 – GWS, Essendon
7 – Sydney, Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs, West Coast
6 – Fremantle, Brisbane, St Kilda, Melbourne
5 – Collingwood
4 – Geelong
3 – Adelaide
Interestingly, the Crows have had two champs, but have had only two other shots in the entire time. Luck of the draw? Probably Vic Bias, right?
Three teams have recorded no champs – Gold Coast, Brisbane, and North Melbourne. The Lions are a bit if a shick, huh?
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