The 2013 Rhyce Shaw Medal

NOT your Rhyce Shaw medallist. Amazingly, not your Norm Smith medallist either.

This was not your grand-daddy’s Rhyce Shaw Medal count.

This was not a ‘contest’, in the traditional sense of the word.

It was a one-sided, show-ponying parade of incompetence. A single-handed, virtuoso performance that at times defied logic and the laws of football. A Usain Bolt-esque thrashing that left competitors staggering and reeling at the sheer horror that left them in the dust.

Our winner received a staggering ninety-three votes. The rest of the field? Only 112 BETWEEN THEM.

He also had:

  • A horrific 42.9% disposal efficiency.
  • 0.2 from his shots on goal, not counting the one that shanked horribly across the face and stayed in field.
  • As many marks as clangers (3).

More importantly, selfish, poor decision-making – particularly in the big moments.

Hayden Ballantyne is your 2013 Rhyce Shaw Medallist.

Ballantyne is the president of the Fremantle Australian Institute of Losing, or FAIL for short.
Ballantyne is the president of the Fremantle Australian Institute of Losing, or FAIL for short.

He was followed by daylight, daylight, daylight, daylight and then a long way back Danyle Pearce (17), Zac Dawson (15), Sam Mitchell (12) and Zac Clarke (11).

Most medallists and contenders fight tooth and nail not to be in the running.

Take Dane Swan, for example.
The 2011 Brownlow Medallist polled 3rd in the 2011 Grand Final, but managed over 20 touches. He tried. He played a solid game of footy, that was simply ineffective and well below his standards.

But this? This was something else. This was a man staring in the face of the hurricane, then turning and kicking the ball out on the full on purpose. This was a man deliberately turning his back on team-mates so he could be covered in liquid lava. This was a man intentionally urinating at a crowd of opposing fans, ignorant of the breeze blowing the stream firmly back into his face.

As my buddy J-Meas said in the fourth quarter after yet another bad miss by Ballantyne: He already had the Medal sown up. This is just a victory lap.

Ballantyne. Even while handballing, he's irritating SOMEBODY.
Ballantyne. Even while handballing, he’s irritating SOMEBODY.


Hayden Ballantyne polled a truly staggering 90 votes to dominate RS Medal proceedings. Out of the 35 voters, 27 picked him first. 3 second. 3 third. Only 2 left him off the ballot. It’s as close to a unanimous selection as we’ve ever seen in RS Medal history. 90 out of a possible 105 votes. Historically speaking, the Medal has seen some dominant performances, but you expect that with fewer voters. Over the last few years the voting numbers have moved up into the 20’s and 30’s – increasing numerically every year – and so you would expect that naturally the adjusted total would decrease, not increase.

Adjusted total, you say? Yeah. Advanced metrics for the Rhyce Shaw Medal, baby. #sloaneconference

Adjusted total (AT) is the score that a player would have got if there had been 100 voters, extrapolated from their original score. Came into play in 2012. This year the new advanced metric is voting percentage (VP). A player’s VP is percentage of the maximum votes they could have obtained. For example: 2007: Daniel Motlop wins with 13 votes. That would have got him fifth place in 2011 – to be expected. But his AT is 186 and his VP 61.9.

Let’s draw out the full top ten of each, excluding 2013:

RS Medal AM

Bold names are ones who did not win the medal, but still held a large AT and VP. 2008 was clearly a strange year, with Stokes and Mooney hogging all the votes between them. But only 9 people voted. So statistical anomalies are more likely.

But this year? With 36 voters?

Wouldn’t you expect less anomalies? A lower percentage as the vote spread gets wider?

But lo and behold –

RS Medal AM Ballantyne

Truly astonishing.

Hayden Ballantyne is so dominant at failure that he overcomes statistical anomaly.

The Herald Sun spoke the voters language perfectly when it said:

There is nowhere to hide in a Grand Final and it can be a cruel stage for small forwards – just ask Leon Davis.

Well put, sirs. That’s a double-Shaw reference.

The curse of the little man

The other key discovery from the 2013 Rhyce ShawMedal was this: cocky small forwards are amongst the most unpopular in the AFL.

Who knew, right?

In the last 7 years, 6 of them have been won by small forwards – though Rioli may be a stretch there. The only anomaly was in 2010, when both the drawn match and the replay were not won by small forwards…but rather by key forwards (Riewoldt, Cloke) and a midfielder (Ball).

Perhaps, much like the Brownlow is the ‘midfielders medal’, the Rhyce Shaw is the ‘small forwards medal‘?

The man himself is our counter-argument to this. Would Rhyce Shaw stand for that notion?

No. He’d probably slip, fall over and concede a goal at a crucial moment.

So in that spirit, regardless of the leanings of the voters we shall carry on. Every voter has the right to deride a small forward. Or a tall forward. Or a ruckman, defender, coach, umpire, runner or Meatloaf. Take your pick, friends. This is not a cheerocracy.

So next year, I look forward to hearing the votes of each and every one of you, dear readers.

First AFL Grand Final? Doesn’t matter.

Can’t tell the difference between Lance Franklin and Gary Ablett? Don’t care.

Plan to go streaking at a Collingwood game? All the best to you.

Vote for who you like friends. Because the cream will always rise to the top.

And apparently Ballantyne will sink to the bottom.

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