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AFL awards Brownlows to Cotchin, Mitchell

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016

Sam Mitchell felt like he was at a wedding - his family and friends on one side of the room, with Trent Cotchin's invited guests on the other.

It was a curious observation about Tuesday's unprecedented AFL function, but far from the weirdest comment to come out of the Essendon supplements debacle.

That long-running saga had closure at the simple lunchtime ceremony, where Cotchin and Mitchell were retrospectively awarded their 2012 Brownlow Medals.

In front of about 150 family, friends, AFL figures and media, two of the modern game's best midfielders were presented with their first Brownlows.

Richmond's 1971 Brownlow medallist Ian Stewart hung the medal around Cotchin's neck and Shane Crawford, the last Hawthorn winner in 1999, did the honours for Mitchell.

Cotchin and Mitchell had finished four votes behind Essendon captain Jobe Watson in the 2012 count.

But once Watson became one of 34 Essendon players, banned for doping offences stemming from the supplements scandal, the pressure mounted for the popular winner to be stripped of his Brownlow.

Watson pre-empted an AFL Commission decision last month when he announced he would give up his medal, adding he had mixed feelings.

The dramatic circumstances heightened the emotion that always surrounds a Brownlow win.

Cotchin and Mitchell had their families in the front row and repeatedly referred to them in their acceptance speeches.

While worthy winners, Watson was the elephant in the room.

Asked about Watson, Mitchell's "I'm going to leave that" reply made it clear it was the one topic he would not discuss at his Brownlow presentation.

Cotchin was similarly reticent, but said he had contacted the Bombers' star.

"Obviously, there's a lot of emotion involved with that as well," Cotchin said of the circumstances behind their Brownlows.

"You feel for people and it's been going on for so long but, hopefully, we can all take a step forward now."

"I've tried to be really humble in the whole thing and, obviously, the decisions have been out of our hands.

"We just went with the flow."

But the overriding emotions for Cotchin and Mitchell at Tuesday's ceremony were pride and gratitude.

Cotchin celebrated his medal with wife Brooke and their two young daughters Harper and Mackenzie.

Similarly, Mitchell flew his family over from Perth, where he is now at West Coast after his stunning trade deal at the end of this season.

His wife Lyndall sat with their son Smith and twin daughters Emmerson and Scarlett.

"You dream about a lot of things when you're a kid, but you wouldn't even dream of this," Mitchell said.

While Mitchell admitted he would not have knocked back winning a Brownlow the traditional way, Tuesday's intimate function was perfect.

"You're bringing joy to all the people closest to you, in a way, that you would very rarely get to do.

"It's a beautiful way to do it."

Cotchin enjoyed Mitchell's wedding analogy and had a retort for his fellow Brownlow medallist's suggestion about who was who in the marriage.

"He suggested I was the bride - he's older and shorter, so I suppose I will go with that," Cotchin joked.

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