Neale knew he was the raging favorite, however had been in a position to sideline the depend forward of Saturday evening’s sport. I believe final 12 months [when he polled equal third] I realized from that have that I can’t management what’s going to occur tonight.”
However as he shot out to an nearly unassailable lead, polling the utmost three votes in six of the primary 9 video games, he knew he was an opportunity. By round 12, he was on 25 and all but untouchable.
That sport was towards North Melbourne, a match through which he hadn’t anticipated to ballot. “That’s after I thought, I is perhaps a giant likelihood right here.”
Neale hoped to return to his boyhood dwelling base in South Australia’s south east through the off season, the place he performed junior footy within the tiny group of Kybybolite. After being drafted to Fremantle in 2011, he has missed seeing his youthful brother and sisters develop up.
He mentioned was conscious of the impression of Covid on grassroots footy. “I can solely speak for Kyby and my native city, however they needed to mix the leagues this 12 months, so there was solely about eight to 10 groups from across the south-east, there’s often about 4 leagues.
“So loads of golf equipment didn’t play senior footy this 12 months … I really feel for these youngsters and communities which have missed out on a 12 months of footy, as a result of I understand how a lot it could have killed me to not play.”
As a baby, Neale mentioned, it was footy or bust. “It was simply one thing that I wished so badly that I nearly willed it to occur, in a approach. That was my dream, and I’m very lucky that that’s come to life.
“I don’t think about what I do work, I really like coaching, I really like taking part in, and I really like the surroundings of a footy membership. It’s one of the best office you can have, I might have thought.”
Requested what it meant to him to win the award, Neale confirmed his solely trace of discomfort. “I’m so humbled, it’s an unbelievable award, it’s one thing ever since I used to be a child I’ve regarded as much as. My dad, I believe, can reel off the final 40 Brownlow medallists.
“I believe individuals bear in mind Brownlow medallists and what they obtain. For me to be in that class now doesn’t actually sit properly with me, as a result of I simply admire so many gamers which have gained them. They’re greats of the sport.”
Now, whether or not he feels he belongs or not, he has joined them.