It’s 90 years ago today (September 26, 1930) since Stan Judkins became Richmond’s first Brownlow Medallist. Tony Greenberg reflects on what was a peculiar, history-making achievement by Judkins with the Tigers.

Stan Judkins was recruited to Richmond from VFA club Northcote and quickly became a senior regular in his 1928 debut season at 20 years of age.

The diminutive wingman starred in the Tigers’ 1928 semi-final victory over Carlton but was relatively quiet three weeks later in the team’s Grand Final loss to Collingwood.

Judkins missed Richmond’s 1929 finals campaign because of injury, however he started the 1930 season in brilliant touch.

With his lightning pace, fine ball-handling skills, slick disposal, and clever evasive ability, Judkins set the Tigers alight during the first half of that season.

As the year wore on, though, Judkins’ form dropped right away and, in the last month of the season, he found himself battling away in the seconds, trying to regain his place in the senior side, oblivious to the fact that he was about to create league football history.

The Brownlow Medal for the Fairest and Best player in the then VFL competition had been introduced in 1924 and the original voting system saw the field umpire award one vote per game to the player deemed best on ground.

Back then, there was no fuss or fanfare surrounding the Brownlow Medal count. A gala Brownlow presentation dinner was still many decades away.   

After the final home-and-away round of the 1930 season, the votes were tallied and Judkins, who polled four votes, had tied with Collingwood’s Harold Collier and Footscray’s Albert Hopkins.

Two nights after the count, the VFL umpires’ board, which administered the award, recommended that no Brownlow Medal be given that year because there was no provision for a tied result.

A week later, however, Judkins was at home when his father showed him a newspaper article stating that he had won the Brownlow. Judkins subsequently was notified by the VFL to come and collect his award . . .

The VFL administration of the day had over-ruled the umpires’ board and decided, in the event of a Brownlow tie, the medal should be awarded to the player who had played the least number of senior games in that season.

Because Judkins had played 12 games, compared to Hopkins 15, and Collier 18, he became the 1930 Brownlow Medallist.

In effect, Judkins’ omission from Richmond’s senior side, into the seconds for the last four rounds of the season, enabled him to win the Brownlow.

Interestingly, 1930 was to be the last year of the Brownlow Medal’s one-vote per game system, with the VFL adopting the 3-2-1 voting system in 1931.

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Judkins went on to figure prominently in the 1931 and 1932 Brownlow counts, finishing equal fifth in both years.

He formed part of a famous Richmond centreline, with Alan Geddes and Eric Zschech, and was a valuable member of the Tigers’ 1932 and 1934 premiership sides.

Many years later, Judkins’ son, Noel, played for Richmond’s under 19s, and later became the Club’s football manager, before embarking on a successful career as recruiting manager at both Essendon and Collingwood.

Stan Judkins, apart from being the Tigers’ inaugural winner of the Brownlow Medal, holds several other league football records, as winner of the game’s most prestigious individual award.

At just 166cm and 61kg, Judkins is the smallest and lightest Brownlow Medallist.

The four votes Judkins polled in 1930 is the lowest-ever winning total in the Brownlow’s history.

And, to this day, Judkins remains the only Brownlow Medallist to have been dropped to the reserves in the same year he won the Brownlow.

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