Lachie Neale in heartbreaking scenes as Brownlow debate re-ignited in AFL grand final

The Brisbane co-captain was shattered after losing his second grand final.

Lachie Neale, pictured here in tears the AFL grand final.
Lachie Neale was in tears after the Lions went down in agonising fashion in the AFL grand final. Image: Getty

Lachie Neale was a broken man amid devastating scenes inside the Brisbane Lions dressing rooms after their four-point loss to Collingwood in the AFL grand final. The Magpies won their 16th premiership and first since 2010 after a pulsating 12.18 (90) to 13.8 (86) victory in front of 100,000 fans at the MCG.

It marked an agonising near-miss for Neale and the Lions, with the 30-year-old now suffering two grand final losses 10 years apart. The Lions co-captain also played in the 2013 decider as a 20-year-old with Fremantle.

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Neale is a two-time Brownlow medallist, three-time All-Australian, five-time club best-and-fairest and a winner of both the AFL coaches' and players' associations player-of-the-year awards. But for all the individual accolades, the 254-game veteran is still without a premiership.

It all became too much for Neale as he wept into his wife's arms in the Brisbane rooms after the games. A number of other Lions players were in tears as they were consoled by family and friends after the crushing loss.

Dayne Zorko, pictured here after Brisbane's loss in the AFL grand final.
Dayne Zorko is consoled by his family after Brisbane's loss in the AFL grand final. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

But for Collingwood fans it came as some vindication after Neale's controversial Brownlow victory on Monday night. Neale won with 31 votes ahead of Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli (29) and Collingwood young gun Nick Daicos (28).

Lachie Neale, pictured here with wife Jules after Brisbane's loss to Collingwood in the AFL grand final.
Lachie Neale with wife Jules after Brisbane's loss to Collingwood in the AFL grand final. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Pies fans thought Daicos was robbed of the medal after he didn't receive any votes for games in which he had 38 disposals and two goals (in round four against Brisbane) and 42 disposals (in round nine against GWS). Many also questioned how Neale was awarded three votes in round six against GWS despite a number of other players appearing to outshine him.

Collingwood fans still hadn't gotten over the controversy at Friday's grand final parade, loudly booing the Brisbane co-captain. And it was once again a big talking point as Neale finished with just nine kicks and 21 disposals in the grand final. Daicos had a game-high 29 disposals, including 17 kicks and 12 handballs.

Chris Fagan adamant Lions premiership window still open

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan was full of pride for his beaten players, but insisted there isn't any reason why they can't go one better next year. Saturday's grand final was the Lions' first in 19 years.

"We're well and truly in the window," said the 62-year-old after becoming the oldest grand final coach in VFL/AFL history. "I think we've only just moved into the widow.

"Maybe because we've been in finals the last five years, the banter has been that maybe we'll miss our window. I think we're still moving into it. We've got to make sure we handle this loss well."

Harris Andrews, pictured here in the Brisbane rooms.
Harris Andrews was shattered after Brisbane's loss to Collingwood in the AFL grand final. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Fagan said he believes Brisbane can join Geelong, Hawthorn and West Coast as teams to have successfully bounced back from grand final losses to win the next year. The Cats won in 2009 and losing in 2008, the Hawks turned their 2012 loss into a three-peat from 2013 to 2015, while the Eagles did it in 2006 after heartbreak in 2005.

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"There's lots of teams in the history of the game that have lost close grand finals that have gone on to win premierships in the ensuing years," Fagan said. "That will be my attitude, what can we learn from today to make us a better team next year.

"There's plenty of history around to say grand final losses don't have to define you or destroy you, they can make you. That's what we'll be looking to do."

with AAP

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