A not so hair-brained idea to revive the torp (or is it?)

I can’t be sure of this as I’ve been off my footy this year and haven’t watched too many games, but the torp hasn’t had much of a presence. Indeed, I can’t think of one eye catching moment where someone has hit the sweet spot on the sherrin and powered one 70 odd yards. Need I say, that that is a terrible shame, and that the game is a much better spectacle with the torp as part of its landscape. Further, wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to accommodate the torp more often, and especially so, by having our games best torp-spiraling talent at the helm? Well, I kind of have one.

You know those situations where the siren has gone and someone had just taken a mark, or got a free and they’re about 60 to 80 yards from goal? We, of course, have four instances where this can happen each game and you get it every other game that the player goes back and takes the kick. Now rarely does anything come of it, does it? You rarely get a score, or drama or even a perfectly executed kick. Nevertheless, the players keep going back to take these kicks, and fair enough, as it’s a throw of the dice that costs nothing. Now, I’m thinking this is already a part of the game and one that rarely has a pay off, so why not try invigorate it with something? Why not introduce a rule where the team is allowed a designated player to take the kick? Namely, their ‘Torp Specialist’.

The ‘Torp Specialist’ would be a player in the 22, and would, of course, have to kick a torp and only a torp in the scenario. Can you imagine the drama when a team like Essendon is 4 points down at the final siren and Dustin Fletcher is called from his full back position to power a torp from 70 out? Better still, going forward, Fletcher would have been practicing his torps all summer for just such an occasion. His coaches would have been working with him nurturingly to find the Sherrin’s sweet spot, to extract a little more yardage and to tame the torps erratic nature (and this as opposed to furrowing their brows over mucking around with it, as happens now.)  As Fletcher then lines up everyone in the stadium would be looking on in awe. We know we’re about to see someone who knows the torp inside out, who is a skilled practitioner and someone capable of the miraculous. Fletcher then kicks and whop-bam-ba-lupa it goes through post high. Essendon wins, the stadium’s roof blows off, and Carlton fans go home filthy that it all stemmed from the softest of softest frees! I venture, it would be the most marvelous drama (well, at least the Mick Malthouse press conference would be!)

Each team, I expect would have 2 or 3 of these specialists, and I can envisage them spending as much time on perfecting their torps as any other skill. Wouldn’t that be the most wonderful, heartening thing? The torp being practiced again with a real purpose; and like the Rhino and the Whale, being brought back from the brink. I’m sure even the most hardened of footy hearts would soften at the thought.

Anyway, there it is: a not so hair-brained idea to give the torp some currency. And my great lament is that I didn’t think of it while Mal Blight was playing

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  1. Love the romance of your idea T-Bone. Has a bit too much of the US gridiron ‘designated kicker’ to become a reality. But still……..(9 pointers maybe???)
    I reckon I have seen one perfect torp (or ‘screwie’ as we called in SA as a kid) this season. It was Pav outside 50 on a 45 degree angle, at Subiaco for the Dockers. I don’t remember the game or situation, but it sticks in my mind as such a thing of beauty. It seemed to glide as if held up by thermals as it flew on relentlessly. Went through the middle at near post height.
    I marvelled at what an old West Torrens boy could do. Ross Lyon made him run 30 laps at training for breaking team rules.

  2. “It seemed to glide as if held up by thermals.” Pete, I love that line! (and what a shame Etihad has none.)

    9 points? Why not? Anything to revive the torps currency.

    Yeah, it’s a bit US gridiron, but, really, whats wrong with that? Maybe the yanks have got it right. Also, we’ve lost some major torp talent to gridiron. Would an idea like this keep players like Ben Graham in our game, in that a prodigious kick like Ben would become even more of an X factor and thus, attract a higher salary?

  3. Peter – I’m on board! Who would turn down a chance to recreate the majesty of a Van Gogh off the boot of a Pav? Your idea isn’t unique to American footy either – In Association footy teams often have a dedicated penalty taker – A designated expert in the art of the clutch shot, as skilled at the kick as they are at handling the psychological demons.

  4. Hey Longworth72

    Glad to have you on board, mate. Whatever it takes the get the torp of life support, I hope we do it.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant idea T-Bone, love it. Anything to bring the Torp back.
    Was watching some highlights last week of my boyhood idol Peter Daicos. A highly underrated exponent of the torp. A master of it just as much as his bananas, snaps and dribbles. Would be happy for him to just come on and be the Pies torp specialist even now.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Love the idea , Peter when you think they are full time footballers now days and surely it is a way to clear zones etc and move the ball quickly it is mystifying that the torpedo is a lost art this was a aspect of the game the messiah encouraged at the crows , M Bobran , D Jarman , Roo all v good bring the barrell back !

  7. Hey Luke and Malcolm

    Look, it’s not the greatest idea, but it’s also not the worst. I mean, it’d really add something to these long range kicks which rarely deliver a payoff ( can anyone recollect the last time there was one. Mal Blight of course, but since then?)

    Luke, Daics’s torps underrated? I beg to differ. I reckon he’s one of the greats. And has anyone kicked a torp with greater artistry than Daics?

    Mal, Robran, Jarman, Roo? Yeah, remember Roo’s: bloody good torps. Can’t remember Jarman’s. Remember all the other silky stuff, though.

  8. T Bone. Great idea. Get them all up to Trinity Beach and have Blighty teach them over a summer weekend. This would also make an excellent documentary!

  9. Ken Haley says

    When a truly great idea comes along (“You surely don’t expect that thing to get off the ground, do you, Mr Wright?”), you will always have knockers and whingers. Like Salisbury Cathedral, this brainwave of yours, Peter, is MUS (magnificently upwardly spiral). It’s far too good an idea for it ever to be accepted, but you should get a Nobel on the strength of it. If no one else nominates you, I will. The only amendment to this – and I can imagine the howls of derision this will generate – is that the team should get to choose between having its torp specialist and its place-kick specialist do the honours. The latter will require some intensive training and coaching preparation as well, but a thing of beauty deserves to fly forever.

  10. Hey Mickey.

    If you’re gonna have a torp academy. where better than Mals lair in the tropics.

    Hey Ken

    Rapt that you’re so enthused about it, mate. And yes, things of beauty deserve to fly forever.

  11. Rick Kane says

    Hi T Bone

    What Ken and others have said. I love the idea. I think it can be teased out to include a set number of torps that each side must kick per game. I think the Drop Kick and Stab Pass must be able to find their way back into our great game. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how. You’re on a winner.


  12. PeterB Pav’s kick was a drop punt. No spiral spin (or screw) just poetic end over end.

    He has never needed to resort to the torp for distance.

    Derek Kickett could kick a nice torp but the best I ever saw was Ted “Punter” Robinson playing for Mines Rovers in the 1960s.

  13. Hey Rick

    Good on ya mate. Of course, a super bloke like you would be on board about finding room for the torp. Maybe my idea’s not the way, but whatever way we can accommodate it, let’s hope we do it. And on skewing things to revive the drop kick and stab pass, how about this: the next time we have an expansion team, let’s make it that all the established teams ONLY use stab passes and drop kicks against them in their first season. A handicap like that might save some blushes at AFL house over all them blow outs we had in Gold Coast’s and GWS’s first years.

    PS Got through to the last track of Born to Run, and that last track (Jungle something?) is a beauty. Next in the queue is Greetings from Astbury Park.

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