Finally a solution to end all pub arguments…

…Or maybe a way to start a lot more (arguments).

 

 

1965…

 

The average cost for a new house was $13,600. The cost for a new Car was $2,650. Australia joined the Vietnam War and the Voting Rights Act was brought in so African American citizens could vote. Rhodesia declared Unilateral Independence From Great Britain and became Zimbabwe.

 

1965 was also the first time VFL/AFL statistics were reported in the newspaper from all teams. Prior to this only ‘blockbuster’ matches were statistically recorded. The next 53 years these statistics have given the footballing public a rare insight into the game and led to the birth of Champion Data, Dream Team and SuperCoach.

 

From researching on AFL Tables it’s time to end all pub arguments which have bubbled since the beginning of Aussie Rules. Great players have always been compartmentalised by questions like “Who is the greatest forward”, “Who is the greatest midfielder”, “Pick one, Ablett or Carey”. These questions have been debated more than a million times over a few pots at the local watering hole.

 

With the help of my two mates Michael Phyland and Robbie Swan, players since 1965 have been ‘shone under the same light’. Whilst spending many hours on AFL Tables and Excel, we created a system where we can compare great players from the past with greats of the present and everyone inbetween. Some of the stats such as ‘inside 50s’ ‘contested possessions’ and ‘metres gained’ were dropped to create an even playing field. We used only the core statistics.

 

These core statistics are:

 

  • (KI) Kicks x3 points
  • (MK) Marks x3 points
  • (HB) Handballs x2 points
  • (GL) Goals x6 points
  • (BH) Behinds x1 points
  • (FF) Free Kick For x1 points
  • (FA) Free Kick Against x(-1) points

 

With the help of these core ‘stats’ every player who has played an VFL/ AFL match from round 1 1965 have finally been compared with stats instead of arguments and opinions. Fortunately some all time greats of the game, like triple Brownlow Medalist Bob Skilton were recorded because he played 98 games after Round 1 1965.

 

‘Most Points in a Completed Season’, ‘Highest Average Points in a Season’, ‘Highest Career Average 50 or more games’, ‘Most Points in a Players Career’ and the ‘Highest Score by a Player in a Match’ are all here to quench your curiosity. Some of these figures and averages are quiet astounding, with many previously unheralded players featuring.

 

Dane Swan, known for his partying ways, is also one of the greatest midfielders to have played the game. Swan appears not once but four times in the top 20 for ‘Most Points in a Season’. These four seasons were consecutively; he averaged a remarkable 31 touches a match in the 98 matches he played and averaged 106 points a match.

 

The ’70s also feature prominently, especially 1971, when three players (Wayne Richardson, David Thorpe and Peter Hudson) all finished with a season average of 105 or more. This is an amazing stat because the player season average for the year was only 55.

 

Kevin Bartlett was a prolific on-baller during his 403 game, 19 season career with the Tigers. Bartlett, over his long career, accumulated 35373 points at a remarkably high average of 87. Fitzroy’s gutsy rover Garry Wilson, often compared with the likes of Bartlett and Leigh Matthews as the greatest rover, averaged 95 points over his 268 games. It is outrageous to compare Wilson with modern day superstar Dustin Martin. Martin averages just over 85 points over his 178 game career. Obviously, Martin’s career is still growing year by year, however Wilson must have been a freak.

 

Lance Franklin’s 13 goal game against North Melbourne in 2012 is regarded as one of the greatest performances during this decade. Franklin scored 184 points for the match; this pales in comparison with Jason Dunstall’s 1992 season which saw him pass the double ton three times. This included a VFL/AFL record of 247 points from his 17 goal, 18 mark, 29 disposals performance against Richmond in Round 7.

 

Dunstall passed the 200 mark twice more in round 20 and 22, when he kicked 12 goals 8 behinds from 24 touches against Essendon and two rounds against Richmond again kicking 12 goals 6 behinds from 27 touches.

 

Unbelievably, from all the highest scores where a player scored 175 points or more in a match, three players with the surname ‘Richardson’ appear, yet none of them are related. Wayne Richardson and Matthew Richardson appear twice, while Michael Richardson appears once.

 

One of the greatest players of all time was triple Brownlow Medalist Haydn Bunton Snr. Bunton was known to average over 30 touches a game during his 119 game 207 goal career. From reading Chris Donald’s book Haydn Bunton- Best and Fairest I read that university students followed him to every match throughout the 1935 season recording his statistics. Bunton kicked 41 goals from 17 matches over the season spending all his time in the midfield. He finished with 598 disposals at an unbelievable average of 35. Bunton also averaged 28 kicks and 8 marks a match.

 

Bunton’s season average of 142.70 points a game is remarkable considering the highest average since 1965 is 123 by Wayne Richardson. Bunton had 40 or more kicks in four matches. The little champ had a day out in round one  picking up 43 kicks kicking five goals against St Kilda. He also had 45 kicks in round 3 against Footscray and backed it up the next week with a 44 kick, four goal performance against North Melbourne. Bunton  recorded another 40 kicks in round 14 with 42 kicks against Footscray, the previous week Bunton kicked eight goals against Collingwood at Victoria Park roving all day. Amazingly the superstar was presented the match ball after the game.  Bunton polled 25 Brownlow votes from 17 matches on his way to his third Brownlow in only five years.

 

Player   TM   GM   Year Pts Ave KI   MK   HB   DI   GL   BH   FF   FA
H. Bunton Snr FI 17 1935 2426 142.7 486 147 112 598 41 29 71 43

 

 

My statistics explain that Leigh Matthews, Garry Wilson and Wayne Richardson were some of the greatest players to play the game since 1965. The unheralded Richardson only polled 88 Brownlow Votes in 272 matches for the black and white yet accumulated 20 kicks or more in a game 171 times. Richardson only polled more than 10 Brownlow votes once in a season finishing fifth in 1973 with 19 votes.

 

Unrecognized footballers such as David Clarke and David Thorpe produced seasons that rank higher than superstars such as Gary Ablett Jnr, Simon Black and Nathan Buckley. Clarke won Geelong’s Best and Fairest (Carji Greeves Medal) three times. His first was in his first season at only 19 years of age. The next year Clarke was named to play for Victoria. Thorpe made his debut for Footscray at only 17, and had one of the finest seasons in 1971. Whilst competing with the likes of Ian Stewart, John Murphy and Greg Wells, Thorpe averaged 26 kicks a match including 30 kicks or more in a match seven times. Thorpe’s season average of 112 pales Patrick Dangerfield’s 2016 Brownlow average of 102. Thorpe’s partner in crime in the Bulldogs midfield was George Bisset. A ‘nuggety’ rover at 168cm tall, Bisset averaged 92 throughout his career winning the Bulldogs leading goal-kicking award five times.

 

John Greening was on the verge of football super stardom when he was crudely king hit by Saints defender Jim O’Dea. Greening was comatose for 24 hours  and didn’t regain full consciousness until a few days later.  He made his comeback two years later but was never the same player and retired at a relatively young age of 26. Greening up until the incident was in career best form. He was averaging 92 points a game and had polled 14 Brownlow Votes up until round 13. In round nine and ten Greening produced remarkable scores of 197 and 202, with 46 disposals, 10 marks, 6 goals; and 45 disposals, 18 marks, 4 goals, respectively. Greening also scored 180 in the prior year 1971. His statistics from the match against Geelong included 30 kicks 16 marks and 20 handballs. Collingwood’s former superstar full-forward Peter McKenna who kicked 874 goals across 12 seasons with the Pies and Carlton described Greening as brilliant, “He was probably the most talented player I ever played with.”

 

Amazingly Greening appears on the ‘Highest score in a Match’ list three times. These three scores of 175 or more were recorded before Greening was 21! He joins revered company with Jason Dunstall four times, Peter Hudson three times and Gary Ablett Snr three times as the only players to pass 175 three times or more in a match. More remarkably, Greening only played 106 matches. It’s an indictment that no one really saw what Greening could’ve been if it weren’t for a cruel twist in fate.

 

With players such as Greening, Clarke, Bisset and Richardson, this template has given us the ability to compare champions of past with the champions of the present and even champions of the future. More surprisingly it’s unveiled a whole host of past stars that the younger generation would never have appreciated.

 

 

  • Most Points in a Season:
Player   TM   GM   Year Pts Ave KI   MK   HB   DI   GL   BH   FF   FA 
L. Matthews HW 24 1977 2845 118 514 133 144 658 91 57 74 61
W. Richardson CW 23 1971 2842 123 621 139 134 755 37 33 92 53
D. Swan CW 26 2010 2763 106 505 146 315 820 24 23 24 11
P. Hudson HW 24 1971 2648 110 346 180 41 387 150 72 57 41
K. Bartlett RI 23 1977 2628 114 585 111 80 665 55 33 49 32
G. Wilson FI 24 1979 2626 109 454 139 236 690 46 50 90 41
D. Swan CW 25 2009 2600 104 444 161 325 769 18 25 12 10
D. Swan CW 24 2011 2599 108 472 129 288 760 32 23 22 17
L. Matthews HW 23 1978 2560 111 463 147 123 586 71 58 66 66
J. Dunstall HW 24 1989 2549 106 306 207 54 360 138 76 21 23
J. Dunstall HW 23 1992 2523 109 284 199 59 343 145 84 22 20
D. Martin RI 25 2017 2520 100 479 103 265 744 37 29 37 44
T. Wallace HW 25 1983 2518 100 599 81 166 765 19 19 61 48
G. Buckenara HW 25 1986 2515 100 405 179 184 589 55 53 38 26
D. Swan CW 21 2012 2482 118 442 138 283 725 25 22 16 12
B. Goddard SK 25 2010 2480 99 367 172 351 718 24 9 33 25
G. Wilson FI 22 1978 2470 112 453 134 193 646 41 38 80 41
P. Dangerfield GE 24 2016 2461 102 387 122 375 762 24 24 46 30
G. Ablett Jnr GE 24 2010 2454 102 338 106 418 756 44 26 22 26
W. Carey NM 25 1998 2447 97 368 193 121 489 80 49 27 34
W. Carey NM 25 1996 2442 97 332 200 154 486 82 55 27 36
  • Highest Average Points in a Season:
Player   TM   GM   Year Pts Ave KI   MK   HB   DI   GL   BH   FF   FA
W. Richardson CW 23 1971 2842 123 621 139 134 755 37 33 92 53
L. Matthews HW 24 1977 2845 118 514 133 144 658 91 57 74 61
D. Swan CW 21 2012 2482 118 442 138 283 725 25 22 16 12
B. Skilton SM 17 1968 2006 118 425 78 119 544 35 17 48 16
K. Bartlett RI 23 1977 2628 114 585 111 80 665 55 33 49 32
D. Thorpe FO 21 1971 2369 112 551 126 109 660 9 19 112 65
G. Wilson FI 22 1978 2470 112 453 134 193 646 41 38 80 41
D. Clarke GE 19 1973 2131 112 441 136 36 477 45 29 69 40
L. Matthews HW 23 1978 2560 111 463 147 123 586 71 58 66 66
P. Hudson HW 24 1971 2648 110 346 180 41 387 150 72 57 41
J. Dunstall HW 23 1992 2523 109 284 199 59 343 145 84 22 20
G. Wilson FI 24 1979 2626 109 454 139 236 690 46 50 90 41
G. Ablett Snr GE 17 1993 1857 109 233 111 13 246 124 60 34 39
T. Lockett SK 17 1991 1856 109 190 140 33 223 127 51 19 32
J. Murphy FI 13 1975 1416 109 291 69 68 359 27 26 52 40
N. Buckley CW 21 2000 2287 109 457 123 163 620 29 34 30 17
P. Hudson HW 19 1968 2068 108 274 113 31 305 125 62 43 10
J. Murphy FI 21 1971 2283 108 517 102 34 551 47 36 107 67
K.  Bartlett RI 22 1974 2390 108 607 48 40 647 47 50 62 49
D. Swan CW 24 2011 2599 108 472 129 288 760 32 23 22 17
  • Highest Career Average 50 or more games:

 

Player

Team Pts Ave GM  KI MK HB GL BH FF FA
B. Skilton SY 9664 98.6 98 2101 397 508 139 124 350 154
G. Wilson FI 25575 95.4 268 4564 1349 2145 452 398 907 471
J. Murphy FI SY  NM 23356 95 246 5276 1006 774 374 372 985 639
L. Matthews HW 31345 94.4 332 6017 1505 1357 915 722 793 940
P. Hudson HW 12167 94.3 129 1578 782 176 727 330 216 173
D. Swan CW 24202 93.9 258 4242 1526 2686 211 196 185 121
G. Bisset FO/CW 15662 92.1 170 3399 651 702 297 217 469 360
N. Buckley BB CW 25114 89.7 280 5075 1408 1812 284 262 336

261

B. Goggin GE 12529 88.9 141 2980 418 634 153 153 282 286
D. Clarke GE/CA 18627 88.3 211 3969 1109 536 319 265 547 405
M. Bairstow GE 12749 87.3 146 2613 494 1137 172 146 213 237
A. Gallagher CA/FO/NM 18844 87.2 216 4453 827 462 270 264 652 456
N.    Riewoldt SK 29125 86.7 336 4051 2944 1562 718 455 414 161
J. Birt ES 4650 86.1 54 1162 119 99 83 61 120 70
G. Wells ME/CA 22968 86 267 4890 1238 1181 275 331 784 543
D. Martin RI 15074 85.2 177 2837 713 1634 185 139 157 250
  • Most Points in a Career

 

Player TM Pts* Ave GM  KI MK HB GL BH FF FA
K. Bartlett RI 35373 87.8 403 8293 1086 858 778 777 931 856
B. Harvey NM 32745 75.8 432 5687 1689 3526 518 334 394 271
L.  Matthews HW 31345 94.4 332 6017 1505 1357 915 722 793 940
R. Harvey SK 31077 81.1 383 5648 1514 4008 215 200 352 267
B. Johnson WB 29627 81.4 364 5121 2153 2051 558 355 275 275
C. Bradley CA 29171 77.8 375 5876 1317 2900 247 192 521 403
M. Tuck HW 29159 68.4 426 6353 1222 2070 320 325 956 907
N. Riewoldt SK 29125 86.7 336 4051 2944 1562 718 455 414 161
B. Quinlan WB/FI 28418 77.6 366 4849 2025 1200 817 612 599 717
M. Pavlich FR 27128 76.8 353 4132 2046 1977 700 435 342 337
P. Roos FI/ SY 27115 76.2 356 4588 2140 2409 289 216 518 355
S. Mitchell HW/WC 26327 80 329 4532 1296 4155 71 63 464 420
A. Goodes SY 26259 70.6 372 4351 2038 2039 464 284 356 410
I. Nankervis GE 25815 79.4 325 5540 1248 1739 203 199 1081 525
G. Wilson FI 25575 95.4 268 4564 1349 2145 452 398 907 471
B. Goddard SK/ ES 25217 81 312 4062 1966 3054 157 111 245 273
N. Buckley BB/ CW 25114 89.7 280 5075 1408 1812 284 262 336 261
G. Dempsey WB/NM 24995 76 329 3997 2906 1563 144 140 923 767
W. Richardson CW 24981 90.2 277 5829 1208 721 323 364 813 687
G. Ablett Jnr GE/ GC 24963 82.7 302 4009 954 3674 386 296 418 304
S. West WB 24816 76.6 324 4129 1057 4093 104 105 584 241
S. Loewe SK 24503 76.3 321 3366 2503 1493 594 410 493 557
T. Shaw CW 24348 77.8 313 4587 1121 3045 157 141 600 549
J. Bartel GE 24298 79.7 305 3966 1678 2990 202 130 354 310
C. Enright GE 24233 73 332 4238 1836 2845 66 46 151 272
D. Swan CW 24202 94 258 4242 1526 2686 211 196 185 121
  • Highest Score in a Match:

 

Player TM Pts KI MK HB GL BH FF FA Game
J. Dunstall HW 247 25 18 4 17 5 5 2 v RI, 1992
K. Templeton FO 222 25 16 15 9 3 3 v SK, 1978
L. Matthews HW 220 38 9 3 11 3 6 2 v ES, 1973
P. McKenna CW 213 22 15 1 16 4 1 1 v SM, 1969
P. Hudson HW 213 27 12 16 1 1 v ME, 1969
G. Ablett Snr GE 213 26 14 4 14 2 1 2 v RI, 1989
W. Richardson CW 210 38 15 9 5 5 2 v SM, 1970
T. Lockett SK 207 20 18 15 4 1 v SY, 1992
G. Ablett Snr GE 206 25 12 14 7 6 2 v ES, 1993
J. Dunstall HW 204 22 16 5 12 6 2 v RI, 1992
J. Dunstall HW 202 21 17 3 12 8 3 1 v ES, 1992
J. Greening CW 202 32 18 13 4 1 3 2 v SM, 1972
J. Dunstall HW 200 19 16 4 14 2 2 1 v FO, 1996
P. Hudson HW 199 22 15 4 13 2 2 2 v SM, 1970
J. Longmire NM 199 22 18 1 12 5 1 1 v RI, 1990
M. Lloyd ES 198 22 14 4 13 4 v SY, 1999
W. Carey NM 198 22 15 9 11 2 1 v ME, 1996
P. Featherby GE 198 40 11 8 4 5 1 1 v ME, 1981
P. McKenna CW 197 22 18 1 12 5 1 3 v ES, 1970
J. Greening CW 197 35 10 11 6 3 3 2 v GE, 1972
D. Wade GE 195 21 13 4 13 7 5 5 v SM, 1967
N. Riewoldt SK 195 24 21 2 9 1 1 v BL, 2016
T. Lockett SY 194 18 12 3 16 4 2 v FI, 1995
P. Hudson HW 190 20 17 1 13 2 3 v SM, 1969
B. Brownless GE 189 23 14 4 11 4 2 2 v BB, 1991
Ma. Richardson RI 189 24 21 4 7 5 2 3 v FI, 1996
Mi.  Richardson CW 189 24 15 15 7 1 3 4 v SK, 1983
G. Smith SY 188 29 12 15 5 4 2 1 v SK, 1982
W. Richardson CW 187 40 7 5 5 1 6 1 v CA, 1971
B. Skilton SM 187 44 10 2 3 2 2 1 v SK, 1967
G. Ablett Snr GE 185 20 11 1 14 5 2 1 v SY, 1994
T. Modra AD 185 23 10 1 13 4 4 2 v RI, 1993
P. Salmon ES 185 22 15 11 4 4 v RI, 1986
D. Wade GE 185 22 14 2 11 6 3 2 v FO, 1969
Ma. Richardson RI 185 21 19 3 9 5 v ES, 2006
B. Skilton SM 185 36 7 6 7 1 1 v SK, 1968
G. Williams SY 185 25 5 28 6 1 2 v SK, 1989
L. Franklin HW 184 22 11 1 13 4 3 2 v NM, 2012
D. Tuddenham CW 184 29 7 11 9 1 2 3 v FO, 1971
B. Lake WB 184 35 22 6 1 v NM, 2010
S. Cummings WC 183 17 15 1 14 1 1 1 v AD, 2000
B. Ryan GE 183 24 18 4 8 5 1 5 v FO, 1971
B. Ryan GE 183 26 18 6 7 0 3 6 v NM, 1971
G. Parke ME 182 28 24 9 1 2 v ES, 1970
G. Wells ME 181 35 16 13 1 1
v FI, 1980
L. Matthews HW 180 30 9 8 7 5 5 5 v GE, 1977
J. Greening CW 180 30 16 20 0 0 4 2 v GE, 1971
J. Bowden RI 180 32 23 7 1 v PA, 2008
P. Dangerfield GE 177 27 13 21 2 1 3 1 v NM, 2016
L. Montagna SK 177 34 12 13 2 1 v FR, 2013
J. Longmire NM 176 17 11 3 14 2 1 1 v ME, 1990
H. McAuliffe SM 175 34 6 3 7 2 7 2 v ME, 1969
D. Tuddenham CW 175 27 14 13 4 2 1 1 v ESS, 1971
 Read more stories at www.footyalmanac.com.au

About Sam Harvey

To celebrate the stars, skills, stats and stories of the past that have been long forgotten. ‘Bell at a GOAT’ is inspired by my Papa’s great skill at butchering the English language. We believe he was trying to say bull at a gate!

Comments

  1. Tour deforce de excel !!

  2. Magnificent.
    No surprise re: D Swan.

    Miss you, swanny.
    http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/miss-you-dane-swan/

  3. The fullbacks ignored again. How good was Geoff Southby?

    However, this is a brilliant exercise.

  4. Dave Brown says:

    Very interesting, great work team! Have you had a look at trying to control for the era in which the footy was played? For example, the first game of Round 1 of 1975 saw a total of 555 disposals and 75 free kicks paid. The first game of Round 1 2017 saw 700 disposals and 37 free kicks. If this was to be true across the season (I have no idea whether it is) it could be argued that a disposal in 2017 is worth substantially less than a disposal in 1975 and a free kick substantially more.

  5. Stainless says:

    A bold attempt but measuring greatness by numbers is always problematic and there are a few obvious flaws with this system. It clearly favours big goalkickers and high possession winners and, as Dips points out, ignores great defenders who typically are neither. I also think it’s debatable to ascribe 2 points for handballs consistently over an era when handball has changed from being a tactic of last resort to being a lethal offensive weapon. It’s hard to argue about the standing of most of those heading the overall points tally except to say it obviously favours those with extreme longevity in the game. It’s good to see there are at least a couple of defenders on this list but, consistency and durability aside, Ian Nankervis and Corey Enright are hardly the first names that spring to mind when thinking of the greatest defenders of the last 50 years. Above all, numerical ranking systems never take into account that ephemeral quality of “influence”, which often has nothing to do with measurable things like kicks and goals. So under this system, we see Jason Dunstall figure 4 times in the “greatest individual games” list, yet his great partner in crime Dermott Brereton doesn’t get a look in. Or we have Wayne Richardson figuring prominently over a long distinguished career, but as part of a Collingwood side that routinely failed its biggest tests, while masterful Carlton defenders of the same era – Doull, Southby etc – are ignored. And if Dustin Martin’s 2017 season is only the 12th best by total points score and not even on the list by average points per game, words fail me….

  6. DBalassone says:

    Great work guys. This proves what I’ve always suspected – nothing comes close to Lethal’s season in ’77. 658 possessions and 91 goals as a midfielder/forward. Wow!

  7. This is sensational stuff. Well done to all.

    But I do agree with Dips: what value the defender?

  8. Peter Flynn says:

    Wasn’t Featherby’s game 43 kicks and 8 handballs?

    Modelling exercises are based on assumptions.

    As Dave Brown alludes to, this one is a good starter but needs to take into account many more nuances.

    Having said that, what does this preliminary exercise show in finals?

  9. The thing with Feathers Flynny, is that you have to decide whether punting the ball 3 metres with your foot is a kick. I mean clearly it is but the stats man at Subi told my dad once he had stopped counting the ones that went less than 10 feet.

  10. Chris Daley says:

    Great stuff Sam & co

Leave a Comment

*