Joni Mitchell told us we don’t know what we’ve got till its gone. I think this will be very true when Mark Blicavs finally hangs up the boots (hopefully not for a few seasons yet).


Has there ever been a player who starts in the midfield and then has a rest in the ruck? Koutoufides is the only one I can think of who comes close. But even Kouta didn’t play both roles in the one game all that often. Blicavs does it every week…and runs about 15km as well.


I am very guilty of underestimating, under appreciating, and not completely understanding what Blicavs brings to the team.


Against the Demons a few weeks ago he was asked to run with Oliver and/or Petracca and then ‘rest’ in the ruck against Jackson. That’s a monumental ask. Its like asking Edmund Hilary to swim the English Channel after conquering Everest. Actually, that’s not really true. Everest was a lot easier to climb in the 1950s because it’s growing by 4mm every year, so Hilary had 276 fewer millimetres to climb back then. Too easy.


Last Saturday against the Blues Blicavs was given the task of running with Cripps and resting in the ruck against de Koning or Silvagni. He more than held his own. On quite a few occasions he competed in the ruck then ran with Cripps to the next stoppage. Then did it all again. And again. And when he saw the opportunity he’d charge forward and make Cripps expend energy running with him. Phenomenal effort.


Blicavs is the quintessential modern footballer: athletic, tall, and a utility type with the capacity to run relentlessly all game. But he also has the skills of a footballer. His wrong foot (he’s a natural right footer) is as good as anyone’s at Geelong under pressure. His marking is solid and he tackles the bigs, smalls, and in betweens. But perhaps his greatest asset is his curiosity and being a thorough student of the game.


If you were selecting an All-Australian side he’d be slotted into the ‘everywhere’ spot. Or perhaps ‘anywhere’. Probably carries the oranges with gusto as well.


When I was a kid I loved watching Gary ‘The Flea’ Wilson play. Gary was immensely skilled and incredibly fit. He literally ran his opponents off their feet. And whilst he was a different type to Blicavs he used similar weapons – an unbeatable aerobic capacity and an ability to adapt. He was just as capable as a small marking forward (underrated overhead) as he was as a ball winning midfielder. Blicavs also adapts, perhaps better than anyone I’ve seen. He can start in the middle, run in the ruck, switch to the wing, then go to fullback if required. All with hardly a flutter of fuss.


From what I can see Blicavs has never received three Brownlow votes and generally doesn’t feature strongly in the count. It’s probably because the umpires, like me, can’t quite work him out. Its not often that he gets beaten in his position, its not often that he really tears a game apart, but its very often that he gets the job done. Or multiple jobs. And some.




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About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. roger lowrey says

    Couldn’t agree more Dips.

    In fact, I was stunned that he missed out on being named among our best in several media reports over the weekend. I gave him 3, Selwood 2 and Cameron 1 with De Koning, Duncan and Tuohy honourable mentions.

    The umpires may well miss him but the GFC hierarchy certainly don’t. He is already a dual club B&F winner (2015 and 2018) and wouldn’t surprise me at all if he polls well again this year.


  2. I had 3 Blicavs, 2 Stanley, 1 Atkins.

    Blicavs work rate is extraordinary.

  3. Dips, he is the embodiment of the theory that there is a place in our game for players of every shape and size.
    But there will certainly always be place for you if you are 6′ 6″, athletic, and can run like the wind.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A extraordinary player and ironically it’s taken this long for Chris Scott to work out how to best use
    unique and personally the cats most important player

  5. Malcolm Ashwood I think having a backline that hasn’t required his presence has allowed Chris Scott to use him this way. Was only two seasons ago supporters were crying for him to be sent back. If we’re able to keep him there he will flourish.

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