Daisy Cutter


By Phil Dimitriadis


This term denotes a sense of speed and precision that is both metaphorical and absurd because daisies aren’t allowed to grow on football fields. If they did the studded boots of the forty-four competing players would soon tread on them. Nevertheless, the ‘daisy cutter’ evokes a feeling that a player has at least momentarily mastered a special art of the game. Contemporary Australian Rules football has reacquainted itself with the art because a central feature of the game today involves keeping the ball away from the opposition. This pass denies defenders the chance to punch the ball away because it ideally should not be delivered above waist height. Current players have the aerobic capacity and physical conditioning to reach these passes more readily than their predecessors of the 1970s and 80s.

There is also an element of nostalgia in this term. At the highest level the game is now played on immaculately manicured grounds. In country or outer suburban grounds in the past, playing on grounds with a healthy sprinkling of daisies may have been the norm, especially if there were no council curators to ensure that the grounds were kept flat. The symbolism also evokes the imagery of cheating or cutting death’s head off. The well-worn cliché of the dead ‘pushing up daisies’ is juxtaposed with fit and youthful life destroying their presence physically and symbolically. To metaphorically defy death and pass the ball in this way denotes ability to bridge the physical material world with that of uncanny or subliminal realms. The bridge is formed between the passer and the recipient. In the process death is not only defied but also momentarily defeated as the receiver has gathered the ball in adversity and has a chance to kick the goal and provide a fleeting glimpse into heavenly realms for fans.


That ‘glimpse’ drives the motif of mythological symbolism in the games literature, fan conversations and many journalistic pieces. The need to keep the ball which may be a symbolically exchanged for the human soul is imperative in the same way that most people go out of their way to avoid death. If the ball hits the ground it is a sortie that has died and an opportunity for the soul to experience some fleeting joy has been subverted. The earth has claimed another victory and the grubbed daisy cutter has momentarily forsaken hope. Thankfully, football provides numerous chances for the moment to be recaptured. The next passage of play, the next quarter, next week or even next year for some, gives the hope that a brush with something sublime will reinvigorate faith in the heart of the football follower. In the poem ‘Life-Cycle’ Bruce Dawe demonstrates how poetry, football, mythology and the human need to have some faith in life after death is simulated through those forms of expression and action. He writes:


That passion persisting, like a race-memory, through the

welter of seasons,

Enabling old-timers by boundary-fences to dream of

resurgent lions

and centaur-figures from the past to replenish continually

the present,

So that mythology may be perpetually renewed (Dawe, In Fitzgerald and Spillman, 1988, p. 42)


Dawe’s refernce to the perpetual renewal of mythology is consistent with the idea that humans need to create meaning out of their local rites and cultural development in order to live purposeful lives. The ‘Daisy Cutter’ is essentially a way to pass the ball, but this simple, if at times graceful, sometimes clumsy act can disseminate into a plethora of meaningful language and mnemonic imagery.

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Great piece, Phil.

    Although being familiar with the use of the term ‘daisy cutter’ in the 70s and 80s, I read in fear that a homage to Dale Thomas would be woven in. It wasn’t, and for that I’m grateful.

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    I on the other had feared more of the “tall poppy syndrome” (sorry about the mixed floral metaphor). I should have known a Collingwood supporter wouldn’t denigrate our boy from Drouin.

    Phil. You continue to set the standard for writing and for content.

  3. 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. At 15, Jim invented and used his stab-punt pass,

  4. Daisy Cutters Counter Muddy Conditions at Mt Evelyn
    ‘Johnson was outstanding in the mud with clever turning and accurate disposal.’ The Ringwood Mail, August 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. At 15 Jim invented and used his stab-punt pass – a low, fast punt kick (‘daisy cutter’). He used both at full pace. Because the ball was kicked from the boot before it touched the ground, and stayed low, it was accurate in mud and windy conditions.
    Journalists didn’t know what to call Jim’s techniques.
    ‘Johnson sent his delightful little drop punt pass direct to Manfield’. Frank Casey, The Post, September 8, 1960.
    ‘Johnson should write a book on stab kicking – he has found the lost art’. Davey Crocket, The Ringwood Mail, September 8, 1960.
    Both kicks are in constant use today in Australian Rules football as they are suitable for fast play-on football.

  5. The comment of October 12 at 10.15 am was part of the entry in” Face to Face Exhibition: “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. This story was researched by The Mt Evelyn History Group for_The Yarra Ranges Regional Museum from 13 October to 13 November 2011.
    Enclosed some further information re my schoolboy Innovations.
    .Re Jim, at 16 years old, Training at Richmond in 1950_I had said “no” when asked if I would like to train at Richmond. Mr. L Pratt, at Ringwood, again approached me and he said it would only be for convenience as I was traveling to practice at Ringwood and then traveling home to Oakleigh. I thought that was a good idea. I attended training with the seconds and during circle work under “Lights” a ball was coming towards me. All I had to do was keep running looking back over my shoulder and I would mark it. Good except a “courageous” person came out of the darker centre of the ground, on my blind side, and took me out. I was not hurt as I saw the player in the last seconds and “went with it”. The Richmond secretary came over to me while I was changing after training, and suggested I come back when I was older. I was a very one-eyed Collingwood supporter and walked away from the ground saying to myself “ I wouldn’t play here if you paid me.” Anyway they looked at my skills so closely that they did not see, on Jack Dyers home ground, the class disposal that was in front of their eyes. Granted it was in very ordinary light and that in bright sunlight others had difficulty seeing how I was kicking the ball. But on the so-called “Home” of the drop punt????? But then around the same year they turned away Thorold Merrett. Thorold Merrett; Stab kick expert. Collingwood 1950-60 is around one month younger than I. Thorold Merrett’s approaches to Richmond coach Jack Dyer, were rejected with a laugh. (The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers). At nine and a half stone he was one of the smallest players in the League. . (The Encyclopaedia of AFL Footballers).
    Jim Johnson’s Drop Kick to a Drop Punt field pass in 1948, and_Stab Kick to Stab Punt in 1949, An Australian Rules football Development._

    THE STAB PUNT. The authors have “COINED” the term “stab punt”._Page 64 & 65 THE SCIENCE OF KICKING 2007 Geoffrey Hosford. & Don Meikle. B.I.P.E._Publications. Forward DAVID PARKIN.

    The term STAB PUNT was” coined” 58 years after Jim invented it.

    In 1948 aged 14 Jim tried the Jack Dyer, “gets goals with the sillies looking kick in football history” page 49 and pictured page 50 in The Sporting Globe FOOTBALL Book 1948, and found it unsatisfactory. Jim revamped it into his format by kicking the ball close to the ground and definitely not dropping the ball vertically._The Stab kick discovered in Tasmania in 1902. So from 1902 no one did anything extra with the stab kick till Jim, a school kid, converted it into a stab punt in May.1949.

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