My favourite drop kick, part four

The latest instalment in Vin Maskell’s tangential series.

Are the Dropkick Murphys a bunch of punk-folk frauds? None of their names are Murphy and I doubt any of their songs are about that once noble expression of grace and distance, the Australian Rules drop kick.

The Boston-based band of seven sing about work and unions, about struggle and strife, about hard lives. They have album titles like Do or Die, the Warrior’s Code, the Meanest of Times, Sing Loud Sing Proud. Mmm, nothing there about the poetry of leaning the boot into the leather a moment after the ball rises from the earth.

The Dropkick Murphys describe themselves as ‘one of the best-known rock bands in the world, thanks in part to their ability to tap into the working-class and sports fan culture that permeates Boston and the New England area but even more so due to their reputation for phenomenal live shows. They have risen from their basic Irish-punk roots to become a rocking & rolling, raging, green-clover machine.’

They’re big on sport, boxing and baseball, seemingly. They love the Red Sox and the Red Sox love them. And on one YouTube clip, a backstage acoustic song, they bounce a basketball to keep rhythm. But what about footy?

The band’s music was used in the 2009 AFL promotional video which showed a montage of players whose skills morphed from other sports into Australian Rules. Not that there would have been a drop kick amongst all the skills the elite players were conjuring to the music of the Dropkick Murphys.

Who, then, are the real drop kick Murphys? Are there any at all?

The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers mentions ‘drop kick’ or ‘drop-kick’ in regards to 57 players but there’s not a Murphy amongst them. This doesn’t mean that none of the 32 Murphys to have played AFL football never did a drop kick. It just means that they weren’t noted for their skills in this facet of the game.

One must speculate, then, about which of the Murphys may have known how to drop kick. You can draw a line across anyone who played, say, post-1980. This rules out Brad (Western Bulldogs), Danny (North Melbourne), Darren (Fitzroy), David (Sydney), Fraser (Carlton), Justin (Richmond, Carlton, Geelong, Essendon), Marc (Carlton), Michael (North Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane), Robert (Western Bulldogs), Ryan (Fremantle) and Thomas (Hawthorn).

Of that list, one can imagine Robert Murphy – a retro renaissance footballer in some ways – being capable of kicking a few drops. Maybe

And under the father-son drop kick rule Marc may have learnt the skill from his father John, who played 246 games for Fitzroy, South Melbourne and North Melbourne between 1967 (when the drop kick was still in vogue) and 1980 (when the drop kick was in its last throes, breathing its last gasps, rolling over, end over end, one last time).

One can imagine father John taking young Marc down to their local oval at a time when the father knew the son was ready for some of life’s secrets and saying, ‘Son, I’m going to show you how to do a drop kick, just like my father showed me many years ago, and just like his father showed him. Now, you may be ridiculed in the schoolyard and at Auskick but the drop kick is part of our family heritage, part of our history.’

And Marc Murphy might be thinking: ‘I can learn this ancient art or I can become an AFL footballer. I can listen to my father or I can do what coaches and talent scouts and agents tells me to do. I can seek out the drop kick secrets or I can be a chance to play with Chris Judd.’

Or the father might have said to the son, ‘Stop your living-in-the-past-day-dreaming. You’ll be the laughing stock of the playground if you try to do a drop kick, so I’m not even going to show you how to do it. It was drilled out of me in the latter stages of my career and I see no sense in you even learning about it.

‘It’s ancient history mate. It’s black and white TV. It’s pennies and shillings and ten-pound Poms. It’s Robert Menzies and John Gorton and Harold Holt. Especially Harold Holt. It’s Six O’clock Rock and Johnny O’Keefe. It’s Bandstand and Brian Henderson. It’s old hat. Son, I know your grandfather was part of the drop kick era but times change, mate.’

John Murphy’s father was Leo Murphy, a dual best-and-fairest winner at Hawthorn in a ten year 132 game career between 1930 and 1940. A ‘tearaway defender’, he played at a time when the drop kick was very much part and parcel of the game. Of the 57 players noted in the Enyclopedia for their drop kick prowess, 14 played in the 1930s.

But the only drop kick Murphys we can be sure of are the Boston band the Dropkick Murphys and they may even be frauds. Of a sort. Not that I’d make such a claim face-to-face, though. Just watching them on YouTube you sense they’d stick up for themselves. Put the seven of them on your back-line and you wouldn’t lose a game.

More about the Dropkick Murphys: http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/news

About Vin Maskell

Founder and editor of Stereo Stories, a partner site of The Footy Almanac. Likes a gentle kick of the footy on a Sunday morning, when his back's not playing up. Been known to take a more than keen interest in scoreboards - the older the better.

Comments

  1. Love the Dropkick Murphys.

    Great article.

  2. Vin,
    I never thought I would see the Dropkick Murphys mentioned on the almanac website.
    Having seen them perform live three times over the past few years, I can vouch that they are definitely not frauds! They put everything into their energetic live shows, just as you would want your back-line to do…
    Cheers
    Darren D.

  3. Ian Syson says:

    I know of a few drop kick Murphys.

    Geordan Murphy, Ireland rugby full-back
    Aaron Murphy, Wakefield Trinity full-back/winger
    Brian Murphy, Ipswich Town goalkeeper

    All use the drop kick on a regular basis. It is interesting that the three codes have kept the drop kick whereas footy has rejected it.

    As I say when I take footy loving friend to the soccer: “Ah goalkeepers — keeping the drop-kick alive in Victoria!”

  4. Vin I particularly liked the line about fathers and coaches/talent scouts. I reckon their is a band which is nuts for West Ham. Someine will know who it is.

  5. One of the punk genre. Tip of my tongue, arrrrghhh. It will no doubt come to me at an inopportune moment far from laptop…

  6. Cockney Rejects?

  7. Rick Kane says:

    Is it Russell Brand? Oh, you said band! or is it Kanye West H.A.M? No, that’s just his new single. I don’t know. I do know Forever Blowing Bubbles is as good a theme song as a club could have.

    Cheers

  8. Re paragraph 10 The latest installment in Vin Maskell’s tangential series.
    ” Now, you may be ridiculed in the schoolyard and at Auskick but the drop kick is part of our family heritage, part of our history.’
    Imagine how I looked on the schoolyard from being able to kick a drop, a stab,
    a torpedo punt to grubbing the ball along the ground every kick I had in “kick to kick”converting the “silliest looking kick in football history” into a drop punt as a field pass that could be kicked running at fall pass in 1948 and then the next year rearranging the stab kick into a stab punt.
    Part of Face to Face: “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives”
    Muddy Conditions Countered. Johnson was outstanding in the mud with clever turning and accurate disposal. Ringwood Mail, 1951.
    In 1949 Mt Evelyn football ground’s surface was uneven and often very muddy. Studying Jack Dyer’s drop-punt, 14-year-old Mt Evelyn player Jim Johnson adapted it into a field pass in 1948. Then, at 15, Jim invented and used a low, fast punt kick known as a ‘stab-punt pass’ or Daisy Cutter. Journalists didn’t know what to call Jim’s techniques. Frank Casey wrote in The Post on 8 Sept 1960, ‘Johnson sent his delightful little drop punt pass direct to Mansfield’. The same day Davey Crocket reported in the Ringwood Mail, ‘Johnson should write a book on stab kicking. He has found the lost art.’ This story was researched by The Mt Evelyn History Group for The Yarra Ranges Regional Museum‘

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