Chris Judd v Football

Many players have pace. Even the AFL’s plodders are quick by any other league’s standards. Many of them can mark. Not just hold one, but squeeze that damn ball under hard physical pressure. Many of them can weave. Man, Brent Harvey can weave! Or get stats. Garry Jr, he can really rack ’em up. What a jet!

One of the Furphys that run through the AFL when a team is beaten is: they didn’t want it.

Bull shit.

You make it to that level, you want it. You have pride. Only people who don’t know the game say AFL players don’t want it.

Thing is, want is a skill. Some have it more than others. Some WANT. Their hunger is palpable. Goodes has it.

He’s no jet. He is a Champion.

He doesn’t play in a team of champions, though. For personal glory, he should almost be a few inches shorter. That way, when games are there to be won or lost, his coaches might not try to play him everywhere.

“Steal a goal or two, Adam.”

“We need you on the wing, Adam.”

“Play deep in defence, Adam.”

“On ball, Adam.”

He can run and weave and takes a great mark, but I watch the Swans to marvel at his pride.

Chris Judd has all the skills a top level AFL player has. Including want to burn. But he has something more. Something 2/3rds character, 1/3rd presence.

Force of will.

When a game’s there to be won, or is not going to be won, he wills himself to win it.

His focus on the ball is only matched by his pride to keep his feet. They’re all strong in those packs. Everybody has muscle and bone and are pushing and swinging and blocking and smothering with them. Judd lets his body take the blows but keeps his hands, feet and eyes focused. Lets them find the inches of space in chaos. He wills them through the traffic.

These are the things you can’t coach, or explain, or recite. You have to see them. To feel them.

He just wants so much that he makes it happen.

On Friday night I watched him WANT another game to Carlton from the middle while Goodes was left waiting in the forward line, instructed to win it for Sydney.

Judd’s speed out of a pack is explosive, but, other than that, none of his skills are particularly worth watching. He doesn’t have Goodes’ long stride, or grab, or kick the same sort of goals.

But he has that something.

That something that’s relentless.

There were cameos on Friday. Eddy was at his slippery best when the weather matched his attributes. Sydney’s small forwards did just as well, yet missed a sealer that gave the Blues another sniff at it. An interchange official was ground to dust by the gears of modern AFL football. Once rich ponce married another on another channel, as Darling Bruce kept reminding us. But these things fall away.

What doesn’t is that you get to witness WANT.

To watch an all-time Champion like Goodes. Someone who seems to love his footy and club and life. To be every bit as great a person as he is a player. Someone you believe in and barrack for.

And you get to experience 43 men, plus coaching panels defied and defined by one man, and his force of will.

In Chris Judd, you get to see something you’ll never be able to explain to your grandchildren.


  1. John Butler says

    Spot on Matt.

    Judd’s Joe Cool persona is there to deflect some of the crap. A survival mechanism. He’s no dummy. But nobody plays like he does if they aren’t passionate and proud (and a little obsessed maybe).

    And many people take for granted what a marvellous player Goodes has been for a long time. Not playing for a Victorian team seems to a recipe for that.

    Keep ’em coming.

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