AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has copped it from footy fans after an embarrassing gaffe during Sunday night's Brownlow Medal ceremony.
Carlton captain Patrick Cripps took out the AFL's highest individual honour in a thrilling count on Sunday night, claiming the lead from Brisbane Lions superstar Lachie Neale by polling three votes in the Blues' heartbreaking final round defeat.
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However, it was a pronunciation blunder from McLachlan that saw the AFL CEO come under fire earlier in the evening.
McLachlan was part of the panel reading out the votes to those gathered at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium, when it came to a game involving Melbourne's Christian Petracca.
The AFL boss inexplicably pronounced the premiership winner's name wrong, much to the clear annoyance of the player himself.
Petracca - last year's Norm Smith Medallist and a three-time All-Australian - could be seen mouthing his frustration as McLachlan botched the pronunciation of his surname.
“It’s Petracca for f***s sake,” the player could be seen mouthing as cameras flashed to the table where the Demons star was sitting.
The incident didn't go unnoticed, with fans taking to social media to call out McLachlan for the blunder.
— Basil Zoccali (@BasilZoccali) September 18, 2022
Imagine not learning how to say Petracca in 7 years?
— Polly 😎✌️ (@PollyPorridge) September 18, 2022
Looks like Petracca doesn’t like Gil calling him Petracka 😂 #Brownlow
— Damien Ractliffe (@DamienRactliffe) September 18, 2022
Cripps' Brownlow Medal victory - the first of his career - came after the Blues captain had an early season ban that would have ruled him out of contention - overturned on appeal.
Cripps received a two-match ban for an incident that concussed Lions utility Callum Ah Chee at the Gabba in round 21.
The star midfielder was unsuccessful at overturning the rough conduct suspension at the AFL tribunal, but had better luck when he fronted the appeals board two days later.
During a marathon hearing that almost ran into Friday morning, the 27-year-old was freed to play in the Blues' crunch clash with Melbourne.
"I always prepared like I was going to play, no matter what situation unfolded," he said on Sunday night after becoming Carlton's first Brownlow medallist since Chris Judd in 2010.
"Just prepare yourself like you're going to play and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, but if it does, you go out and perform.
I'm a big one that once you cross that white line you put yourself out there and you're prepared to play your best."
Cripps would not have polled the most votes if the suspension had stood, but the incident did evoke memories of Brownlow Medal counts in the 1990s.
Crippa goes BANG 💥
Is Patty Cripps in trouble with this hit on Callum Ah Chee? pic.twitter.com/xWPrJkXAZh
— 7AFL (@7AFL) August 7, 2022
North Melbourne premiership hero Corey McKernan (1996) and Western Bulldogs legend Chris Grant (1997) were famously denied Brownlow Medal wins when they polled the most votes but were ruled out due to suspension.
Patrick Cripps one of six Carlton players to win Brownlow
But Cripps' suspension being overturned allowed him to join an exclusive list of Carlton greats - Bert Deacon (1947), John James (1961), Gordon Collis (1964), Greg Williams (1994) and Judd to have won the medal.
"As a kid, I watched the Brownlow and I loved it," Cripps said.
"This won't sink in for a long time. It's a pretty special moment."
The crucial round 23 game against Collingwood that allowed him to win the Brownlow Medal will always be tinged with sadness for Cripps though.
The Blues skipper was named best-on-ground by the umpires for his 35-disposal, 12 clearance performance, but the one-point loss to the Magpies meant Carlton dropped out of the top-eight to be denied their first finals berth in nine years.
After being drafted in 2013, Cripps has played 159 games for the Blues but is yet to play in a final.
"I had a few beers with (previous Brownlow winners) Lachie Neale and Tom Mitchell before the count," Cripps said.
"They said they would give anything to win a premiership.
"They'd have zero touches to win a prelim final, a grand final and I'd do the same.
"In 20 years, as much as I'll cherish (the Brownlow), what you want to achieve in 20 years time is you're sitting around with 22 blokes and the coach that you won a grand final with.
"Every year you can sit around and say we won a flag."
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