Mark of the Year: Part I.



Never take a mark for granted. They are the sweetest thing.

Never take The Mark of the Year for granted, either.

People say it like it’s a fact.

“That was the mark of the year!”

Full stop.

Odds are, Walker will win the telly one, but footy means many different things to many different people. It ain’t that cut and dried.

Last year, by a mile, for me, Godard’s mark was the best. This was no round 13 grab. It was a speckie, in a final, to maybe win the game.


I once saw Ablett Snr tack the pack mark of all pack marks over Essendon. And I mean, over Essendon, elbows, knees, scragging hands everywhere, only for the ‘Mark of the Year’ to go to someone who simply timed a beautiful leap.

It was a shame. The sheer strength of his grip on the ball was a treat.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a well timed hanger. Love it! Hell, big and slow, and always backing into packs, I’ve been the foundation for more of them that Jacko was!

And I never get to see any of them! Just feel the sudden, crisp punch of a knee to the shoulder blade or back of head, then hear the crowd roar.

Damn it! Haha. Good stuff!

But a pack mark?



That’s what it’s about.


When bodies are jostling, elbows digging. When balance is hard and the slightest knock on your arm or care for safety can nudge your fingers out of place. Timing a leap through all that, and having the strength to keep you eyes and hands linked.

That’s a mark.

Cox has done it with a few seconds to go. Gardiner did it against Geelong. Softly spoken, legendarily nice Richo played with the sheer grit to do it time and again.

For all their strengths, pride and abilities, Dunstal couldn’t do it. Neither could Hall. St. Nick struggles, but has his moments. Buddy can’t.

The one-on-one BOING is great.

But it just looks better, to me, with one or two players leaping to their full height, doing everything right, yet still trailing off the marker’s back. To see defenders, in the air, reaching, fisting, hanging off, and still falling short is the bomb.

Walker went BOING!

Goodes went BOING!

There were a few more around him, but even Natinui went BOING! And will, I hope, do so again and again.

As good as that mark was, Natanui took a better one, when he was starting. Coming in with the flight, leaping as his opponent ran, getting a ride on his back, towards the ball, for a few wobbly steps, players everywhere in the goal square. THAT was a pack mark. It should have won Mark of the Year, but didn’t. The asthetics weren’t right.


Premiership Captain for those dirty, rotten Blue Boys, Kernahan seldom went BOING! For a decade Carlton’s game plan was: Kick it to Sticks. Everybody knew it. He always had three or four blokes hanging off him. But he had incredible inner and physical strength.

I’ll never forget one mark he took. He ran hard and leapt and, not so much marked the ball, as clamped the fucking thing.

One of his opponents took his legs out from him, the other had a full grip of his arm, and was dragging it down.

The two combined to send him sideways, back down to earth. He hit the ground hard, but even with the impact of that, on his side, on the turf, his whole body stayed tensed, in the shape of a perfect, strong grab.

The ball didn’t bobble an inch.


Kernahan didn’t go BOING! but it was, in ways, the best mark I have seen. A thing of fierce determination and strength.


This year, Geelong’s West didn’t go BOING!

He was third in line, and not in line. Not at all. He should not have marked it. But he actually rode his opponent, getting a second lift as he straightened up. The ball didn’t fall into his hands, but, while sailing through the air, he reached around and to the left for it. Basically, he took on an already rising pack.

And, POP, the ball didn’t stick. He marked it.

Mark of the Year.


For me.


No doubt.






  1. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Wayne Carey would agree with you, re pack marks.

  2. Jared Newton says:

    Great piece. Wholly agree on Sticks. Carey and JB were in the same boat. I always felt that Tarrant’s mark against Melbourne in 2001 (or was it 2000?) was better than Moorcroft’s mark but Moorcroft won it.

    Take it froma big man who has a dud set of hands, taking a grab when you’re getting smashed around is not an easy thing to do.

  3. Great read.

    Jimmy Bartel took mark of the year in 2004 against the Bulldogs at Etihad. He was in teh centre of the ground where a high lob was kicked to CHB. He covered 30 metres while the ball hung and flung himself over the top of an oncoming pack. He took an absloute screamerabove 6 or 7 blokes while parallel to the ground.

    I was so looking forward to seeing the replay and when I did was so disappointed. A long distance, wide angle shot was the best they had and that flog Eddie Maguire was telling the other commentators how unfairly Collingwood was treated by the AFL. Its a Cats/Bulldogs game, and during live play, he talks about Collingwood.

    He didn’t even win mark of the week. They gave it to Reiwoldt who took a chest mark in Sydney no more than couple of feet above the ground, but was made spectacular because his feet were taken out by a desperate Swans player. They had a much better angle of it in close up, and the commentator actually was actually focused on the game at the time. He won mark of the year also.

  4. Pete I remember that mark. It was astonishing.

    Matt, was the Ablett mark you’re talking about in ’93 during “that” game where he kicked 14 and Fish kicked 10? I think he outmarked Derek Kicket and a Daniher (Chris?) They both hit him in perfect unison and he bore the full brunt of their weight with his arms.

    I loved West’s mark because he seemed to snatch it off Otto.

  5. My favourite Ablett mark was also in 93 against North. It did not even make his “One special season” video.

    He was sandwiched between Mick Martyn and some other North player and underimmense pressure and clunked it.

  6. Matt – beautiful mark, wasn’t it? Had a bit of the Ashley Sampi MOTY about it, with the second launch. I just loved how poor Pods had his body and hands in the perfect position, only to have Westy just casually reach across, place his hand lovingly against Pods’ palm, and steal the mark.

    Like with Chappy in the ’07 decider, it’s a shame they don’t extend nominations to the finals. Some of the greatest marks of all time have been taken then.

    Pete – great video, though, wasn’t it?

  7. Susie, I have a sneaking feeling you have a soft spot for Geelong!
    And, yes, at the moment it is not Mark of the Year, but Mark of the Home-And-Away. A totally different, far lesser, thing. Imagine Jezza not getting the nod!!!! Marketing, bah!

    Yes, Edward, THAT game! What a corker.

    Pete, I hear ya. Remember Rainse doing the same. . No tv on it, not even a photo. Eddy would have been about 12 years old at the time, but I blame him, anyways!

    Jarad, I though Tarrent’s mark was heaps better, too!!!

  8. All grabs mentioned above were sensational.

    Totally agree that the contested element must be a big factor in the decision. Surely Krakoeur’s contested speccy v Adelaide has to be right up there as well?

    Isn’t it great to see the torp is back as well….any chance of the drop kick getting another run?

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