Best individual home-and-away performances

1. Gary Ablett Snr, round 6 1993

Essendon 23.18 (156) v Geelong 19.18 (132)

Richmond players had every reason to cringe at the sight of Gary Ablett, whose prolific scoring against the Tigers is the stuff of legend. Ablett’s best haul against the Yellow and Black was 14 goals at the MCG in 1989. As legend would have it, The Great Man kicked these goals from a wing and half-forward. But, really, did he? This detail has always smacked of legend outstripping truth. In any case, Richmond was hopeless in those days (insert cheap shot here) and it surprised few that Ablett was able to outscore the Tigers on his own. Without doubt, he gave a superior performance when he kicked 14 goals against the young Essendon tyros in the famous shootout at the MCG in 1993. Arguably, it was Ablett’s greatest match. Given his reputation as the best footballer in the history of the game (timely pause) on his day, it stands to reason that it was also the best performance in a home-and-away game. Ablett kicked a few goals from leads and a couple from free-kicks. But to increase the style quotient, he nailed a banana on the run from a tight angle and booted a goal during the tense last quarter after taking a mark of inconceivable strength. With three Essendon opponents trying to retard him, Ablett leapt straight up and gripped the footy so fast that it almost exploded (well, maybe not). In all, he saw off three opponents—Chris Daniher, Derek Kickett and a youthful James Hird—on his way to kicking 14.7. At the other end, Paul Salmon kicked 10.6 before limping off in the last quarter with a hamstring injury, having shown the Bombers the way to victory. Geelong’s loss in the face of Ablett’s heroics prompted Malcolm Blight into one of his philosophical asides. “It’s almost unfair,” he said.

2. Leigh Matthews, round 3, 1973

Hawthorn 27.8 (170) v Essendon 15.12 (102)

As much as it should be doubted that Ablett demolished Richmond with 14 goals from a half-back flank (see how legends grow with time), it is apparently almost certifiably true that Leigh Matthews kicked 11 goals as a rover against the Bombers at Waverley in 1973. The fact that he might have snagged a couple while resting in a forward pocket (cue the nostalgic music) fails to detract from a performance of brutal artistry. Kicking 11 goals from anywhere but full-forward is the type of performance normally recorded by schoolboys in the local park. Wonder if Lethal dodged a few imaginary swings and slides just to get into the spirit of things.

3. Phil Carman, round 20, 1975

St Kilda 20.17 (137) v Collingwood 24.12 (156)

During his extraordinary debut season for Collingwood after crossing from Norwood at the age of 24, “Fabulous” Phil Carman sizzled early in 1975 as a ruck-rover or a key forward. After breaking his foot and missing eight matches, he returned in round 19 wearing white boots. In his second match in white boots, against St Kilda at Moorabbin, he reached his apogee as a league footballer by kicking 11 goals and giving several away in a performance described as almost perfect. In the dying minutes, he led Collingwood on a six-goal burst to steal victory.

4. Fred Fanning, round 19, 1947

St Kilda 10.18 (78) v Melbourne 27.9 (171)

As the record-holder for the most goals in a game, Fred Fanning deserves to be included here, even if he bagged his 18 goals against St Kilda. In those days, the Saints were more hopeless than Richmond in 1989, leading to legitimate speculation whether Gary Ablett would have kicked 14 goals from full-back (the answer is: of course). But take nothing away from Fanning, who kicked 18.1 to overhaul Gordon Coventry’s record of 17 against Fitzroy in 1930. The Demons spearhead broke the record at the Junction Oval before a paltry crowd of 6,000. There would have been more people at nearby Luna Park.

5. Alec Duncan, round 9, 1927

Collingwood 13.5 (83) v Carlton 14.11 (95)

There was no fear of former Carlton champion Alec Duncan playing his best game before a scanty crowd. The high-leaping centre half-back saved his best for a packed house at Victoria Park, where he took 33 marks to lead the Blues to a narrow victory. Duncan’s performance was so good that Magpie fans refrained from spitting on him, as was their way with opposition players, and clapped him from the field. Collingwood officials then presented him with the ball.

6. Ron Clegg, round 9, 1951

Fitzroy 12.13 (85) v South Melbourne 12.13 (85)

This match became known as Clegg’s Match after Ron Clegg, the South Melbourne centre half-back, took 32 marks in this drawn match at the Brunswick Street Oval. His tackle on Fitzroy’s Don Hart in the dying seconds gave the Bloods a chance to steal the game.

7. Peter Featherby, round 16, 1981

Melbourne 12.7 (79) v Geelong 22.35 (167)

Not one to go flying for marks, Peter Featherby was more of an accomplished accumulator at ground level. In this match for Geelong at the MCG, he had 43 kicks and eight handballs. He also took 13 marks. His performance was likened to those of Bob Skilton—or Triple Brownlow Medallist Bob Skilton, to use his full name—during the 1960s. High praise, indeed, but it failed to earn Featherby an automatic prefix like Skilton.

8. Tony Liberatore, round 9, 1992

Brisbane 6.6 (42) v Footscray 11.18 (84)

Tony Liberatore reaped one of his great possession hauls on the Gold Coast just 24 hours after being at the Melbourne bedside of his wife, Jane, during the birth of their son, Thomas. In the wet at Carrara, Libba picked up 41 possessions. A few weeks previously, Fitzroy midfielder Brendan McCormack had picked up 44 possessions to lead the Lions to victory over Adelaide at Princes Park.

9. Greg Williams, round 10, 1993

Carlton 17.26 (128) v Melbourne 11.8 (74)

While Libba was rewarded with a Brownlow Medal after his stellar season in 1992, Greg Williams was left empty-handed amid controversy the next season. The match that was considered to have lost him the medal was this clash against Melbourne at Princes Park. Williams picked up 44 possessions but failed to gain a vote from umpires John Russo and Murray Bird. Gavin Wanganeen later won the Brownlow Medal with 18 votes. Williams was second with 17. “Perhaps I should have shaved my head,” he said. Williams’s best performance in terms of figures was his game against St Kilda in 1989 in which he picked up 53 possessions.

10. Bob Chitty, round 15, 1943

Carlton 15.23 (113) v North Melbourne 7.5 (47)

While this performance from rugged Carlton star Bob Chitty wasn’t among the most dominant, it was certainly among the most impressive under duress. Chitty played in the centre during the Blues’ victory at Princes Park just days after losing the top of a finger in an accident during work at a munitions factory. Doctors sewed up the injury and Chitty took the field. “Such is life,” he might have said, suggesting a reason to cast him as Ned Kelly in a film when his Carlton career was over. While Libba’s effort in 1992 was exceptional, with a distinctly modern touch in that he was at the birth of his child, Chitty’s effort reminds us that, during the harsh social conditions of a few generations ago, just getting on to the field was occasionally a triumph in itself.

This article was originally published in The Sunday Age on 13 June 2004.

Comments

  1. smokie88 says:

    Daff
    At the risk of letting my bias show, the greatest individual home & away performance I witnessed was presented by one W. Carey. It was in the premiership year of 1996, against Melbourne. He kicked 11 goals, but also had loads of possessions. He was 25 then, just approaching the peak of his powers, and I remember thinking “How fortunate are we North supporters…..”

  2. Daff – love these sorts of articles. I remember Ablett, Carmen and Featherby. I tell my kids that Ablett senior kicked 14 goals one day and Geelong still lost. They can’t believe that a player could possibly kick 14 in one game, given the way footy is played today.

    I know it was in a final but Bartlett’s demolition of the Pies in the 1980 Grand Final was also magnificent.

    I reckon Bosustow had a few incredible home and away games. I’m sure Blues supporters will tell us in detail.

  3. Tony Robb says:

    Dips I concur with you on some of young Carey’s individual performance. He WAS Friday night footie. Kouta had a ipper at Princess Pak in 95′ I think in one of the truely great individual performance. Peter Hudson’ fly in fly out
    game at Waverly were he kicked a bag.
    Daff you ve referece to Diesal still hurts, UnortunatleyWilliams’ mouth cost him many a vote

  4. pauldaffey says:

    Tony,

    The Kouta game was against the Eagles at Princes Park in 1996. I don’t know how many possessions he had, but it was one of those days where he took the ball at half-back, went for a run, got the ball back a few times, and had a shot for goal. Schoolboy stuff.

    Diesel’s mouth is exactly the reason he didn’t get a vote in the 1993 game. When the umps were considering their votes, John Russo said to a callow Murray Bird of Diesel: “Did he make your job any easier today?”

    “Er, no,” said Murray.

    So they left him out.

  5. Damian Watson says:

    Great work Daff,

    Thankfully justice prevailed when Williams was awarded his second Brownlow the following year.

    It was quite humerous when Gary jnr was marvelling at his father’s 1993 performance on the weekend before the Essendon match on the big screen at Etihad Stadium.

    I think Bosustow booted 8 at the Lake Oval against South in the early 80’s, I believe Lou Richards gave Jack Dyer an earful that afternoon following Dyer’s description of Bosustow as being a ‘good,ordinary player”.

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Great list Daff,

    although Daicos’ 13 goals against Brisbane at Carrara in 1991 must rate highly. Poor old John Gastev was on him for most of the game. Apparently Daics apologized to him after soccering one through from the boundary!

  7. Mic Rees says:

    Paul.

    What about KT’s 15.9 effort against the Saints at the Western Oval on July 1 1978. Great start to the new financial year by Don McKenzie’s Dogs.

    Not often you can include Great, Financial & The Dogs (Footscray)in the one sentence.

  8. Stephen George says:

    Right with you Smokie88 – Carey’s performance that night was 10.2 and the 2 behinds were posters from about 50m out.

    I remember he had about 4 or 5 opponents (probably all at once) and beat them all convincingly – including David Nietz.

    Unfortunately for footy supporters in general the game was played right in the middle of the Olympic Games and the focus for channel 7 was on that telecast.

    A joy to remember for us Shinboners!

  9. Peter Flynn says:

    Great list Daff and great suggestions by others.

    I am particularly pleased to see Ron Clegg’s 32 mark magnum opus in the list.

    I reckon Gary Ablett’s second best home-and-away game was against West Coast at Subiaco in 1992.

    Playing a rare game in the centre, he had the following stats:

    27 kicks
    8 marks
    9 handballs
    kicked 5.1
    2 hitouts

    Think of all the usual tricks/skills and they were on show.

    I remember Bobby Davis saying at the time that he’d never seen a Geelong player play a better game.

    It’d be great to have a list of the best quarters played by an individual.

    Fred Wooller was a player who could set a quarter alight. On 5 occasions, he kicked 5 goals in a quarter. There will be others with a better record than this.

  10. Great suggestions by everyone. The Wayne Carey game is clearly a glaring omission.

    Funny you should mention Fred Wooller’s five-goal quarters, Flynny. I watched Jack Riewoldt kick five in the first quarter last Sunday and struggled to think of another player who’d done it.

    Mic, didn’t Kelvin Templeton kick seven or eight in the last quarter against the Saints that day?

    I tend to think “blow-out” last quarter goals are worth less, though.

  11. Peter Flynn says:

    Templeton kicked 8(?) goals in the last quarter of that 1978 game.

  12. John Butler says:

    That Kouta game mentioned was the one where he took 18 marks starting on a wing. His last mark was a saving defensive grab. The Blues got up by a point.

    It was the game where Diesel conned the goal umpire into believing he soccered a goal when it came off Tony Evans’ boot.

    One of the great H & A games.

  13. Peter Flynn says:

    Nice call JB.

    Kouta had 4-5 stellar games where he recorded 20-odd contested possessions. Hate the terms contested possessions and contested ball.

  14. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    The revelation that Freddy Wooller – a centre half-forward – kicked 5 goals in a quarter five times is most revealing. This was the era of the tough, close checking defender (think Bluey Shelton) and of wet, muddy grounds, and of course, no free for out-of-bounds on the full. Its an outstanding effort. Fred was pretty elusive – a beautiful torpedo punt kick for goal, arguably more accurate than his full forward Doug Wade.

  15. Hi all,

    Here’s some of the feedback I got on that original article. Check out the Stephen Smith to Robbie Flower stuff at the bottom.

    Graham Teasdale, Round 10, 1977, Collingwood v South Melbourne

    In a season where you could have picked another seven games from Teaser as “great”, this match at Victoria Park, which the Swans won by 26 points, was by far his best. He marked everything (the majority spectacularly), rucked brilliantly (leaping a body length higher than his opponent, Len Thompson), kicked goals and was just outstanding. I’ve been watching Swans games for 35 years and it was by far the best individual effort I have seen.

    Tony Lockett Round 19, 1996, Fitzroy v Sydney

    Plugger kicked a lazy 16.0 in this match against the hapless Lions at the Western Oval. (He should have kicked 17 but Darren Kappler marked a shot at goal on his own on the goal-line). While I know others have kicked more in an AFL/VFL game, his goals were from all over the ground (on the angle, in front, 50 metres out, 25 metres out) and what the scoreline doesn’t show is that it was as windy as all hell.

    Bob Skilton, Round 2, 1968, Hawthorn v South Melbourne

    I only ever saw Bobby in his last few years of his career, after his achilles tendon had ruptured, so I can only repeat the stories of those around me, but this drawn match at Glenferrie Oval must rank among his best—he kicked five goals after being concussed. Another of his great games was a 50-plus possession game against Melbourne in the early 1960s. I believe his tally is still the highest ever possession game recorded in AFL/VFL football.

    Laurie Nash, Victoria v South Australia, 1934

    Not a home and away game, but Nash’s effort in kicking 18 goals against South Australia at the MCG after being moved from centre half-back to full-forward at quarter-time must rate a mention. He claimed he would have kicked more if his teammates had kicked it to him.

    Luke Travers, Williamstown

    How could you ever forget the classic match from Graeme “Nice Jacket” Teasdale at Victoria Park in 1977? It was the first time that Lou Richards gave 10 out of 10 in the SunScore.

    If I remember correctly, Teasdale had 25 kicks, 19 marks, 12 handballs, a couple of goals and, most importantly, the perfect score from a Collingwood legend. And this was against Lou’s beloved Pies!

    Teasdale went on to win the Brownlow by a record margin, polling 59 votes to defeat Kevin Bartlett by 14. All the media knew he was going to win and still he wore THAT jacket!

    While we’re at it, what about the game at Waverley in 1992 in which Jason “Tuft” Dunstall kicked 17 goals against Richmond? He had opportunities to break Fred Fanning’s record, but he was always a team player, passing the ball in the dying minutes to deny himself the record. Silly boy.

    David Rooke, Fairfield

    An old hero of mine, Peter McKenna, kicked 16 of Collingwood’s 19 goals against South Melbourne at Victoria Park in round 19, 1969. A fair effort, you would probably agree!! The Pies won 19.15 (129) to 6.22 (58).

    Steve Castersen, East Bentleigh

    In round 6, 1981, Peter Daicos kicked six goals in the second quarter against Carlton at Princes Park. As Collingwood supporters, it was quite a day watching Diacs cut sick! Both teams were undefeated before the Pies won that match. Alas, the flag wasn’t ours AGAIN that year.

    Terry McCarthy, Vermont

    AFL statistician Col Hutchinson writes:

    Graham Teasdale did have a big day at Victoria Park in 1977 but his stats should read 25 kicks, 14 marks, two handpasses and no goals. He also earned eight free-kicks and 20 hitouts. In both the second and third quarters he had nine kicks.

    Peter Daicos scored seven goals at Princes Park in 1981 but he did not score six in the second quarter. His kick tallies quarter-by-quarter were four, four, three and three.

    Not sure of the exact round (round 13), sure you can check it out, but it was in 1983 V Richmond. Flower had close to 40 possessions which included 15 marks.

    I think if you check your archives, I recall an article in a Melbourne paper summarising the game on the Monday saying that Stephen Smith, the then full back, kicked out to Flower, by memory, 18 times and he got the kickout all but one time.

    I didn’t see the game, but I would imagine, after the first 10 or so, surely he was double-teamed, but he still got it. Amazing.

  16. Mic Rees says:

    Paul #10 & Peter #11

    7 goal last quarter for Templeton – some from “questionable” marks.

  17. Mic,

    Did the umpires get into the spirit of the occasion?

  18. Dan Crane says:

    Nice work Daff – to tony robb, you’re right tony — Wayne Carey was to Friday night footy just as Drew Morphett was to Sunday footy back in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

  19. What is the higest number of goals kicked in a match by two individuals on opossing teams? I’m guessing its G.Abblett: Geelong (14 goals) and P.Salmon: Essendon (10 goals) in 1993.

  20. pauldaffey says:

    I suspect you’re right, Tracey.

    Might check up to see whether a St Kilda player kicked a few in the final round in 1947, when Fred Fanning kicked 18 for Melbourne.

  21. pauldaffey says:

    Tracey,

    This is from the AFL web site. It seems unlikely that a St Kilda player kicked six.

    Memorable match
    Round 19, 1947, Melbourne 27.9 (171) d St Kilda 10.18 (78), Junction Oval

    One of its most memorable matches came at Junction Oval – at the time St Kilda’s home ground and until recently Melbourne’s football depertment base. It was 63 years ago when burly forward Fred Fanning kicked 18.1, which to this day, remains the most goals kicked in one VFL/AFL match. Fanning’s effort also helped Melbourne to a 93-point win. He also kicked ten goals against the Saints earlier that year, when Melbourne won by 62 points.

  22. Peter Flynn says:

    Daff and Tracey,

    From AFL Tables:

    The Saints goalkickers on Fanning’s big day were as follows:

    Peter Bennett 2
    Ron McLeod 2
    Tom Meehan 2
    Kem Mulhall 1
    Danny Murnane 1
    Des Nisbet 1
    Tony Richardson 1

    After a bit of a search (not definitive because I got bored), I’ve found the following:
    1992 Dunstall (Haw) 17 and Griffiths (Rich) 3 for a total of 20.
    1969 Hudson (Haw) 16 and Aitken (Melb) 4 for a total of 20.
    1930 Coventry (Coll) 17 and Mackie (Fitz) 3 for a total of 20.
    1992 Lockett (St K) 15 and Strooper (Syd) 5 for a total of 20.
    1934 Pratt (SM) 15 and Forbes (Ess) 5 for a total of 20.

    I found a few 19’s. The most evenly distributed being Carman (Coll) 11 and G Young (St K) 8 for a total of 19. This was a famous match played in 1975.

  23. Flynny,

    Who was Griffiths? I don’t remember him at all. But then he did play in a nondescript Richmond era when the backline (Leys, Manton, Laffy) was magnificently eccentric.

    That 1975 match at Moorabbin must have been huge. Didn’t realise George Young kicked eight in the same match.

  24. Peter Flynn says:

    Daff,

    I had no idea so I had to look this up.

    Stuart Griffiths played 17 games (1989-1992) and wore number 52.

    The 1975 match:

    St Kilda 9.5 13.8 16.15 20.17 137
    Collingwood 5.2 11.5 13.9 24.12 156

    From a recent Geelong Addy by Simon Townley:

    Carman almost single-handedly kept them in the match with five goals from centre half-forward but saved the best until last.

    In an extraordinary final quarter, Collingwood kicked 11 goals – Carman six of them and made Barry Lawrence, one of the best defenders of the time, look second rate.

    That really was the last we saw of the best of Carman.

    Contemporary Floreat Picas would have some stories to tell.

  25. Pete #9

    One of Gary Senior’s games that will always remain with me. If I remember correctly, he was still finding his feet after an injury I think.

    I remember Greg Williams getting 51 (?) possessions and kicking 6 goals from the centre for Sydney.

    In finals, Gary Ablett played some of the best games I have seen, but for sheer influence and leadership, Wayne Carey in 1997 in a very wet night final single handedly got the 7th placed Kangas over the line against the 2nd placed Cats with 7 goals and 3 direct assists, kicking one from a set shot 60 metres out with a heavy ball. Broke our hearts, and sent us to Adelaide and ‘Colbert-gate’.

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