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From ‘bush pig’ to Brownlow Medallist – how Patrick Cripps won the AFL’s greatest honour

For the very best a part of the final decade, former gamers, followers and pundits alike have been proclaiming Carlton star Patrick Cripps as a future Brownlow Medallist.

After a tumultuous rely, becoming for such a fascinating season, the phrase “future” can now be eliminated.

Regardless of a season the place his Blues missed finals by the closest of margins, the Carlton captain capped a stellar particular person 12 months — his most interesting up to now.

Cripps is the archetype of the fashionable footballer, combining measurement with a willingness to do the soiled work to win the ball.

That is how Patrick Cripps lastly turned a Brownlow Medallist, and his journey to soccer’s highest particular person honour.

It began in Ram nation

Identical to the Nice Dividing Vary defines the south-east coast of this huge nation, the Wheatbelt defines the panorama within the west.

Farmland dominates the western seaboard, spitting up between the coast, wildflowers and desert.

Proper on the northern fringe of the agricultural area sits Northampton, a mere 5 hours drive from Perth. Slightly below a thousand folks name Northampton dwelling.

Past the wheat, sheep and canola that the city produces, it additionally breeds footy gamers in spades.

On the primary road on the town lies a metallic sculpture with 9 of the city’s AFL gamers up to now.

Names like Kennedy, Hasleby and Taylor are wealthy within the lore of the city, and have additionally dominated on the nationwide stage.

Like so many locations throughout this windswept continent, footy supplies a part of the spine of the city, with acquainted names shared throughout membership honour boards and retailer names.

The native membership, the Rams, have received six flags and are determined for just a few extra.

Cripps thrived within the bush, loving the approach to life there. When he was drafted in 2013, his dad Brad informed of his affection for the place.

“We name him our little bush pig, or massive bush pig. He loves his farming and wild pig looking. He’ll miss that as a result of he loves coming dwelling and doing that,” he mentioned.

That is to not say life is simple on the farm. As Cripps famous throughout his speech on the Brownlow:

“Farming is hard, you’ve gotten your up years and down years. I spoke to my dad concerning the drought, and it gave me an thought of what they went via.

“I did not realise how robust that point was as a result of my mother and father simply confirmed up day by day. I look again now and have much more appreciation for what they did.”

Cripps and his household had been a little bit footy mad. They lived via the native membership, and relished occasions just like the Brownlow.

His dad mentioned that making the AFL was past his goals, however this 12 months he has taken that dream to the subsequent degree.

Regardless of the bevy of expertise from Northampton, Cripps is perhaps the best product up to now.

Dimension and pace – Cripps the very best of each worlds

Carlton's AFL captain, Patrick Cripps, walks up the race past fans onto a smoky MCG with his team following behind.
Patrick Cripps’ captain’s effort in Carlton’s spherical 23 loss to Collingwood earned the three votes that clinched his Brownlow Medal win.(Getty Photos: Daniel Pockett)

It is laborious to overlook Cripps in the course of a contest. Few midfielders are as massive because the Carlton stalwart, and even fewer are as sturdy.

Cripps’s measurement defines a lot of his sport, however it hasn’t all the time been the case.

When Cripps first emerged from Northampton, he was a really completely different participant to what he’s at the moment.

Within the under-15 WA state workforce, Cripps was the smallest participant within the workforce.

By the point he hit the draft, the teenager had grown over 20cm, with a stuffed out body as well.

Smaller gamers typically should work smarter and tougher to win the ball, to beat any bodily variations encountered.

One among Cripps’ key benefits is how he combines these abilities together with his giant body, making the very best of each worlds.

Cripps was a late riser within the draft course of consequently, sitting outdoors that high echelon of mentioned expertise for the 12 months.

Regardless of this his means to win the toughest of ball cleanly was clear even again then.


Cripps’ sport is constructed off a base of managed energy, working in the direction of the ball whatever the consideration given his method by opponents.

Cripps hunts the leather-based all throughout the sector, chasing relentlessly and infrequently leaving opposition gamers in his wake.

A map of an AFL ground with light blue dots marking the locations of Patrick Cripps first possessions at stoppages.
Having extra midfield assist has given Patrick Cripps the prospect to be extra damaging together with his alternatives on the ball in 2022.(Provided: Cody Atkinson and Sean Lawson)

This 12 months, the additions of Adam Cerra and George Hewett, and the event of Carlton’s youthful midfielders, have afforded Cripps the power to choose his spots a bit higher, and be a bit extra damaging together with his alternatives with the ball.

The Blues have been in a position to foster probably the most common connection between two gamers this 12 months, with Cripps and younger star Sam Walsh being probably the most prolific handball mixture this 12 months.

The 2 additionally do a variety of harm once they get the ball together, with solely Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca combining for extra factors collectively this 12 months.


The deeper midfield has additionally afforded Cripps the power so as to add a string to his bow — the power to impression the video games as a ahead. This additional ingredient is what has remodeled his sport into being this 12 months’s Brownlow Medallist.

Cripps has repeatedly hit the scoreboard this 12 months, giving the Blues one other goal up ahead once they want it.

His means to affect up ahead additional stretches defences, and creates additional area for Coleman Medallists Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay to work.

Cripps has a measurement benefit over any midfielders who path him up ahead. Any defenders who comply with him into the center are sometimes discovered wanting.


This improved means up ahead allowed Cripps to impression video games in a special dimension.

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