Goalkicking Immortality

-Bell at a GOAT

No matter how you look at it, footy is about kicking goals.

The Goal-kicker is the rock star of the AFL World.

I have always marveled at great goal-kicking feats, but we are on the horns of a dilemma. Since 2000 only 11 players have kicked 10 or more goals in a match. Josh Kennedy has done it three times whilst Scott Cummings, Matthew Lloyd, Jack Riewoldt, Fraser Gehrig and Lance Franklin have done it twice. I have only ever witnessed a player kick 10 or more goals in a match once in my life. That was the day Stephen Milne pulverized my Lions kicking 11 straight for the Saints on their way to a 139 point win.

What about footballers kicking 100 goals in a season?

Since Lance Franklin’s brilliant 113 goal season in 2008 only 5 players have kicked over 80 goals in a season in the last 9 years. In 2012 Jack Riewoldt won the Coleman Medal with only 65 goals. With zones and defensive structures, with highly paid and motivated specialist coaches and with an 18 man flood, I doubt we will ever see a player kick 100 goals in a season again.

It’s amazing to think that in the 1937 WAFL season and the 1939 VFA Season, five players kicked 100 or more goals. The 5 centurions in the 1937 WAFL season were George Doig from East Fremantle with 144, Ted Tyson from West Perth with 124, Frank Hopkins from Claremont with 120, Ted Holdsworth from Swan Districts with 109 and Albert Gook from Perth with 107. The 5 centurions in the 1939 VFA season were George Hawkins from Prahran with 164, Former Carlton Great Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence from Williamstown with 133, Lance Collins from Coburg with 109, Harold Jones from Brunswick with 104 and former South Melbourne Champion Laurie Nash from Camberwell with 100.

Even throughout the 80s and 90s the Football public was gifted with wonderful forwards such as Gary Ablett Snr, Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett, Jason Dunstall, Wayne Carey and Tony Modra (just to name a few) the days when these talented sportsmen graced football grounds are well and truly gone; what I’d give to travel back in time and witness these goal-kicking immortals.

A rare feat for any footballer in Australia would be to kick 100 goals for the season, it is quite exceptional for a player to kick 200 goals in a season. A feat only 12 players have achieved since the first match was played in 1859, 158 years ago.

William Pearson was the first footballer to do it, kicking 220 goals all the way back in 1934 for Old Scotch Football Club playing in the Victorian Amateurs Football Association. Amazingly Pearson also holds the record for most goals kicked in a season to come second overall. The year before in 1933 Pearson finished the season with 168 goals from 20 matches, he remarkably finished second to future Melbourne Premiership captain and champion centreman Allan La Fontaine who kicked 197 goals for the season. (Can you believe La Fontaine in his second game for Melbourne kicked 9 goals and barely played at full-forward again). Pearson’s 220 goals in the 1934 season included a 24 goal haul against University Blacks in Round 9 and a mammoth 30 goal haul against Brunswick in round 15. Pearson reached the century after 11 matches, and only needed another 8 games to reach the double century kicking a remarkable 83 goals from round 14 to round 18. Pearson bags included 15, 30, 10, 11 and 17. Pearson finished his career with Old Scotch in 1937 kicking 1022 goals from only 136 games at a remarkably high average of 7.51 a game, this included an unbelievable 10 goal bag every 3 games. Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett averaged 4.84 goals a game over his 281 game 1360 goal career that lasted 18 seasons. Many people would say they would have ‘Plugger’ kicking for their life. In my opinion I’d have William Pearson kicking for mine. Further adding to Pearson’s outstanding resume, he also played 14 First Class Cricket matches for Victoria between 1936 and 1938 accumulating 494 runs at an average of 29.18 and 26 wickets at an average of 28.03 bowling tight mediums.

Since Pearson’s feat in 1934, eleven more footballers have reached the double century.

Former VFA Goal-kicking Legend Jim ‘Frosty’ Miller and former Fitzroy/Carlton Forward Peter Ruscuklic were the next after Pearson to reach the double century kicking 201 and 213 goals respectably. ‘Frosty’ Miller after pilling up 885 goals in 185 games over 11 seasons with Dandenong FC retired in 1977 and kicked 201 goals in the next season playing for Berwick FC in the South West Gippsland FL in 1978. Ruscuklic’s goal-kicking reign at

Alex Ruscuklic- illustration copyright Harv

East Sydney FC saw him kick 501 goals in only 3 seasons. After kicking 136 and 156 goals in 1979 and 1980, his season in 1981 was most memorable as Ruscuklic kicked 213 goals from 21 games. Even more remarkable Ruscuklic missed three matches in the season; He raced to 82 goals from 8 matches after back-to-back 22 and 24 goal hauls, and 6 weeks later Ruscuklic reached the century in round 14. He then proceeded to kick 109 goals in the next 10 rounds, which included a purple patch of 59 goals in 4 rounds to reach the magical double century.

Unusually the next year in 1982, goal-kicking legend Trevor Sutton playing for Deniliquin Rams Football Club in the Murray Football League passed the double century as well. Sutton went one better breaking Pearson’s 58 year old record posting an astonishing 249 goals from 22 matches at an average of 11.32 goals a game. Like Pearson, Sutton kicked 10 goals or more on 13 occasions during the season. Sutton reached the 50 mark in round 5 slotting 24 goals and breaking Graham Bland’s 21 goal record for the Murray Football League against cellar dwellers Coleambally FC who eventually became defunct. Sutton was also reported to arrogantly kick the ball over his head when only 20m out, imagine seeing that now in 2017.

In Round 9 Sutton passed the century for the season against Nathalia Purples to become the first player ever in the Murray FL’s 51 year history to kick 100 goals in the home and away season, this amazing feat only took Sutton 9 rounds to complete. The next 10 rounds Sutton hit his straps kicking hauls of 12, 14, 16, 3, 19, 20, 13, 17, 11 and 10 to kick 125 goals and pass the double century. Sutton led the Rams into the Grand Final, but they were defeated by the Finley Cats, Sutton kicked 7 goals to finish the season with the Australian wide record of 249 goals.

Although Sutton averaged 11.30 goals a match in his mammoth 249 goal season, this pales into insignificance when compared to Killarney Vale Bombers 194cm Giant Mick Smith. Playing in the NSW Central Coast Football League now known as the Black Diamond Valley Football League, Smith arrived to the Bombers 6 matches into the season. Smith clearly left his mark averaging an implausible 14.50 goals a match over the next 16 rounds to finish the season with a remarkable 232 goals to his name. Smith’s season bags included hauls of 24, 21 and 20; and yet this doesn’t compare to his 39 goal haul in the Bombers 498 point win over Wyong. The Bombers kicked an unbelievable score of 78-31-499.

Remarkably the Bombers finished the 20 game season undefeated finishing with an amazing percentage of 530.71, they kicked 4713 points for at an average of 235 points a match and a winning margin of 191 points a game! Smith is also second on the Killarney Vale FC career goals with 339 in only 35 matches for the bombers at an average of 9.68 a game.

After Smith’s 234 goal season, two other footballers from Queensland kicked the double century, both remarkably from the same Football League 3 years apart. Anthony Baker a state high-jump champion arrived at Baker’s Creek FC from Hobart where he teached PE. An accurate kick Baker played normally as an on-baller until the coach threw him full-forward, this saw Baker the following season kick 216 goals, his record only lasted a season; when in 1991 Peter Harris playing for North Mackay FC kicked 228 putting him 21 goals behind Sutton and third on the list at the time.

Over in Country Victoria playing for the Waaia Bombers FC in the Picola District Football League a goal-kicking colossus named Danny (Hart) Irwin (changed his surname to Hart to honour his deceased step-son) standing at 195cm and weighing 125kg was already tormenting full-backs for the Bombers and was in hot form after kicking 120 goals in 18 games in 1989 and kicked 124 goals in 18 games in 1990, both seasons were Premiership wins for the Bombers. Irwin started the 1992 season off with 7 consecutive 10 or more goal hauls in the first 7 rounds to pass the century 9 rounds in and passed the double century in the last round of the home and away season with a 13 goal haul in round 18. Irwin eventually played in the Bombers Premiership to finish the season with 215 goals in 20 matches. Remarkably consistent Irwin surprisingly didn’t kick more than 20 goals in a match yet kicked 10 or more goals in 12 of the 20 matches he played in the season. Irwin finished his career with the Bombers in 1994, winning 4 premierships and kicking 530 goals in only 69 matches at an average of 7.68.

Rod Tregenza played over 300 games and kicked 1815 goals for 6 different clubs across 3 states over 19 seasons. A goal-kicking immortal in Western Australian footy folklore, amazingly Tregenza only started playing football at 17 years of age; this was due to a chronic knee condition. Recruited to Peel Thunder in 1997 Tregenza only kicked 5 goals from 4 games, he also played a few games for WA in the Under 18s Carnival. Tregenza moved back to South Mandurah Falcons in 1998 kicking 168 goals for the season (A League record at the time). He returned to the WAFL via East Fremantle in 1999 and won the Bernie Naylor Medal (WA League Goal-kicking award) in his first season with 57 goals. Tregenza won back-to-back Naylor Medals in 2000 kicking a career high 86 goals for the season, this included 10 goals in a state match against Tasmania. From East Fremantle Tregenza was recruited by the Kangaroos (North Melbourne FC) in 2002. A Knee reconstruction stalled is 2001 season and a 52 goal season for the Kangaroos Reserves saw Tregenza surprisingly delisted. Tregenza then played another 2 seasons over in South Australia with South Adelaide in the SANFL, he kicked 120 goals from 2 seasons yet decided to move back to WA playing a further 7 games for East Fremantle. Tregenza moved back to South Mandurah in 2006 annihilating back men on his way to 197 goals from only 16 games at an average of 12.31.

Tregenza kicked another century in 2007 kicking 120 goals this proved to be minuscule compared to his 2008 season which saw him well on track to breaking Sutton’s record of 249 goals. After two 4 goal hauls in round 1 and 2, Tregenza kicked 98 goals in the next 7 rounds including a Peel Football League record of 27 goals 7 behinds against Harvey Football Club. Later in the season Tregenza raced from the 150 mark to the double century in only 4 weeks kicking bags of 12, 16, 21 and 22 reaching the double century in round 17. Unluckily the Peel Football League season finished after round 18 so Tregenza finished the season with 238 goals in only 20 matches, this didn’t dampen the Falcons success as they won their second flag in 3 years. Tregenza would pass the century in the next four more seasons with hauls of 132, 100, 122 and 130 to place his name in the top tier of goal-kicking immortals Australia has ever produced.

Aaron Purcell- illustration copyright Harv

In 2013 Aaron Purcell playing for Jerilderie Football Club also in the Picola & District Football League used his bulking frame to smash his way to the double century. Purcell remarkably kicked more than 10 goals in a game THIRTEEN times during the 18 round season and in the last round before finals against 3rd place Deniliquin Rovers Purcell reached the magical double century. Purcell needed 12 for the 200 and finished the game with 23 as Jerilderie won the match 34-8-212 to 6-5-41. Similar to Irwin and Tregenza Jerilderie only played 18 home and away matches so Purcell needed 38 goals in 2 finals, he broke Danny Irwin’s 1992 goal-kicking record of 215 in the first semi-final kicking 10 goals against Strathmerton in their 17 point win, incredibly Purcell only kicked 1 goal in Jerilderie’s Grand Final two weeks later, but they still won defeating Strathmerton again by 48 points. After Purcell’s 222 goal season he kicked 136 goals from 16 games in 2014 and kicked 123 goals from 20 games in 2015. A club legend for Jerliderie Purcell has played in 7 Premierships with the Demons and has played in nearly 15 Grand Finals for the Demons. Purcell debuted for the demons at only 15 years of age and is still playing for the demons at 37 with more than 300 games under his belt.

Just recently Rohan Baldock playing for South Burnie Football Club as captain-coach in the Darwin Football Association passed the double century in flying colours. A 20 and 21 goal haul in round 3 and round 6 helped Baldock pass the ton only 9 matches into the season. Baldock then went on an incredible goal kicking spree kicking 66 goals in the next 4 matches to have 174 goals from only 14 games at an extraordinary average of 12.43. With the Darwin FA season finishing after 19 rounds, Baldock would have the chance to go for the 249 record set by Sutton 34 years prior. A 9 goal haul in the Preliminary Final saw Baldock needing 13 in the Grand Final to reach the 250 mark. Baldock was kept to a season low haul of 4 as South Burnie ran away to a 20-22-142 to 12-6-78 win over Natone Football Club. Baldock finished the season with the second greatest tally in history with 241 goals from 21 matches.

These men are truly goal-kicking immortals, they have been the rockstars of their clubs and their leagues, and they have broken records many would think is untouchable. Just like the Brownlow Medal, these players who have kicked the double century will be remembered for many more years to come.

Rohan Baldock- illustration copyright Harv

Comments

  1. Harvs97 huge amount of respect for the research involved I suggest sending the article on to the respective leagues where the huge tallies occurred

  2. This is brilliant. Love the illustrations. Aaron Purcell looks a lot like Justin Leppitsch.

    Imagine kicking 14 goals a game, week-in, week-out? That would beat all of Ross Lyon’s teams on its own.

  3. In the Bendigo Footy League, Carlton’s rich recruiting zone in the late 20th century, Colbinabbin farmer Grant Weeks holds the league record.
    It’s 164 goals booted in the 2012 season. Weeks kicked his 4th and final grand final goal in Golden Square’s 5-point win over Gisborne to give him his BFL record.
    It eclipsed Frank Crapper’s extraordinary 163 majors snared in 1933 for Eaglehawk.
    Crapper’s record had stood for 79 years.
    Highest individual totals in the BFL are shared by two full-forwards: it’s 24 goals.
    Eaglehawk’s Harry Morgan landed 24 in the 1953 season. Forty years earlier in 1913 Bendigo City’s Dave Mahoney had shot 24 goals through the Upper Reserve big sticks for 24, also.
    Mahoney had played 2 VFL games for Richmond in 1911 before landing back in Bendigo.

  4. Great article. Love these yarns.

    78-31-499? Hope they bought the goal umpires a beer! That’s a power of flag waving.

  5. I dips me lid Harvs, that’s a phenomenal piece that deserves a paid mainstream feature.

    As phenomenal as many of those feats are I can’t help but think how phenomenally mismatched and boring a lot of those games must have been.

  6. Did the former Footscray full forward Shane Loveless ever manage a double ton ?

    After his few seasons at Western Oval he traveled far and wide, playing footy, kicking goals, across a range of rural leagues. I’m wondering what his best tally was ?

    Glen!

  7. Richard Jones says:

    Any yarns on country footy greats’ goalkicking abilities should surely contain the name: Ron Best.

    Besty landed 1624 goals in the Bendigo Footy League from the mid to late 70s through to 1984.

    He played for three clubs: Golden Square, Sandhurst and Northern United and also captained at least one VCFL combined side.

    Top total in a single game: 16 goals. Tops in a season: 145 snag rolls.

  8. Richard, is the Crapper you mention the great grandfather of the Selwood lads?

  9. Ron Best, from what I’ve heard was a champion forward, who would’ve kicked centuries in the VFL.
    Shame he didnt kick 200 in a season.

  10. Richard Jones says:

    Harmsy: here’s the Crapper family link with the Selwoods.

    The boys’ Mum, Maree Selwood, had a grandfather named Robert Henry Crapper.

    He was the cousin of the footballing Crappers from Raywood.

    Harry: 12 games for Melbourne (1930-31).

    Goalkicking sensation Frank: 27 games + 56 goals for North Melb. (1931 then 1935-39).

    Fred: 2 matches for Richmond (1936).

    There’s an apocryphal story I’ve heard around the bar at the Eaglehawk F.C. about the Crappers.

    Goes like this: if they’d been good boys and done all the work on their Raywood farm Dad would let them ride a horse each into footy training at E’hawk’s Canterbury Park.

    If they’d been slackers they’d have to walk. No one has been to confirm this yarn though.

    One fact which isn’t folklore but correct: the Selwoods are just the 13th family in VFL/AFL history to produce four league footballers.

  11. Trevor Sutton was also a prolific goal kicker in the NTFL as was Allan Jakovich.

    Stan Sargeant was a sensational goal kicker for Nth Albury in the O & M.
    HE got great delivery from players of the calibre of John Smith (Joel’s Dad). Phil Baker &
    Rossie Henshaw.
    Ross used to dominate kick to kick during recess & lunch at Albury High School

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