In search of The Reverse Torp

Has there ever been a kick as  curious as the reverse torpedo?

 

Does it have a rightful place in footy history, or is it a furphy?

 

Genuine kick or party trick?

 

The reverse torp, also known as the reverse screw punt or the inside-out torp, is not the checkside or banana kick. You hold the ball back-to-front to a normal torp, and kick it with the in-side of your foot.

 

You’re trying to create a spiral that, for a right footer, makes the ball go either directly to a nearby team-mate, or arc or curve a fraction from left to right as it finds daylight between the goal posts. Perfect if you’re deep in the wrong pocket. Perfect, that is, if you can ever, ever get it right.

 

“It’s a very exacting kick,” says Malcolm Blight, whose mastery of the conventional torpedo was somewhat prominent in a 17 year career spanning  803 goals for Woodville and North Melbourne. “You’ve got to kick the reverse torp with the inside of your instep, rather than the outside of your boot, as you do with a typical screwie or torp. It’s certainly not a natural kick, and it looks odd coming off the boot. But when it works, it goes okay.”

 

Blight remembers it being popular during warm-ups, to sharpen the reflexes. “Good for hand-eye co-ordination. We would call it the finger-buster. But it was never a real kick in a game. Only ever accidental. It happens when your arm gets knocked  and instead of guiding the ball it drops awkwardly to your boot.”

 

Geoff Blethyn kicked 343 goals in a ten year career with Essendon, Claremont and Port Adelaide from 1968 to 1977. One of those goals was a reverse torp.

 

“I was slung around in a tackle at the MCG against Melbourne one day. I was 20 metres out and purely by accident, the ball went through for a reverse torp goal. Left foot!  I’ve seen the odd reverse torp over the years and they are unintentional. If it was ever kicked deliberately, it was a party trick at training, at best.”

 

Setanta O’hAilpin, playing for Greater Western Sydney against Carlton in 2012, kicked a goal which the AFL YouTube channel dubbed a ‘classic reverse torp’. Classic in terms of it being a fluke, you could say.

 

More recently, Collingwood’s Adam Taylor managed an awkward kick from half-back against Melbourne in Round 12 of this season. “I think we’ll call that a reverse torp,” said the commentators.

 

And yet the kick has been formally recognised as long ago (or as recently) as the 1960s. In Coaching the Art of Kicking, former Norwood footballer Wally Miller said of the reverse screw punt:

This is a specialist kick, and is mainly used to score goals from deep inside the right forward pocket (for a right foot kick)…Contact [with the ball] is made at about knee height, on the raised inside of the instep (the opposite to a screw punt). The instep must be taut. The kicking action is very deliberate and most players prefer to kick off the back leg…The opportunity to use this type of kick will not occur very often, but if a player has an ambition to become a complete footballer he must strive to master the technique….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curiously, Miller refers to the reverse screw punt also as the ‘check side punt’ thus blurring the boundary line of definitions.

 

A more contemporary coaching guide, an AFL guide for primary school children, refers to the reverse torpedo in terms of preparing for a banana kick:

The ball is held like a reverse torpedo punt, with the right hand forward for a right-foot kick and the opposite for a left-foot kick….

 

Tony Morrissy grew up in Colac kicking what he calls inside-out torps in the backyard and the school playground. “I wasn’t much good at anything else, so I had to try something different! It’s not rocket science.”

 

A badly-broken leg in Grade Six stymied his junior footy hopes but, by the time he was studying at Deakin University in Geelong in the mid-1980s, he was dobbing reverse torp goals during midweek student games amongst faculties.

 

“It would be, say, Commerce v Science, or Arts v Law.  I’d park myself in the forward pocket and just about get knocked over by some of the bullet-like passes to me. There were some good players. Lair-rising was encouraged and lots of players tried the inside-out torp, though not with much luck.

 

“I’ve never seen the kick at the elite level but I reckon Eddie Betts could probably do the reverse torp with his eyes closed!”

 

Tony’s sons are keener on soccer than footy so the baton may not be passed on.

 

But 16 year-old Paddy Wheadon and his mates from Birregurra are keeping the kick alive. Captain of the Birregurra Saints Under 15 premiership team in 2019, Paddy taught himself the reverse torp a few years ago after seeing Facebook posts of AFL players doing trick shots.

 

“I would get bored with drop punts, and I wasn’t that great at normal torpedoes, so I taught myself the reverse torp. If you get a hold of one, it can go a fair distance.”

 

Not that Paddy has ever tried the kick in a game. Or even at training. “The coach is not even that keen on us doing torps, so we keep the reverse torps for kick-to-kick.”

 

Thank you to Rodger Young for introducing the reverse torp to Sunday morning kick-to-kick sessions at the Fearon, Williamstown, and to Dave Brown for info about the Wally Miller manual ‘Coaching the Art of Kicking’.

 

Further reading:

Coaching the Art of Kicking by Wally Miller.

https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/knowing-your-drop-kick-from-your-screw-punt-wally-millers-coaching-the-art-of-kicking/

 

You can read more of Vin Maskell’s Footy Almanac posts by clicking here.

 

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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. One of ‘the dark arts’, Vin. Well researched and explained. Do you think there is a player in the game today who might have the audacity, let alone the ability, to give it a go in a match?

  2. Paul Mitchell says

    Excellent Vin. I remember having a footy manual similar to the one pictured, in which the art of kicking the reverse torp was discussed. Did one by accident in a game once when trying to kick a banana and kicked the ball fifty metres out of bounds on the full.

  3. Fantastic yarn, Vin.
    This brought back some memories.
    We had a bloke at CYs, nick-named “Wonka”, who was ever so slightly uncoordinated. He would kick inside-out torps constantly, but it was all unintended because he couldn’t kick torps or drop punts properly.
    “It’s all in the ball drop” he would say!

  4. Paul Daffey says

    Nice one, Vin. You’ve given the kick a bit of credit, but not too much. Which is as it should be for a party trick.

    I was struck by Hamish McIntosh’s tone when he acknowledged Taylor Adams’s reverse torp against Melbourne early this month. He was hesitant, unsure if he should mention it or not. It was like a bird had pooped on the windscreen.

    Are you sure Tony Morrissey darkened the doors of a university?

    Even Deakin?

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Every day I learn something new. Thanks Vin.

  6. Thanks one and all. Much appreciated. Thanks also to Rulebook for spreading the word. Meanwhile, in the Twitter world, a mate of Peter Hanlon, a Gav Evans, tells the story of accidentally kicking a reverse torp goal while on his way to kicking 10.0 in a losing side for Uni Blacks versus Ivanhoe, at their ground. “It wasn’t deliberate – it was a rushed kick on my left foot from about 40 m out as I was being pushed. It is locked in my memory because I had one of those days where everything went right. The reverse torp which spun perfectly and carried through about post high was about No 7 – I knew someone must have smiling down on me when that went through.”

  7. Gary “Flea” Wilson taught me the reverse torp in year 11 (circa 1980). It was very handy when shooting for goal from the boundary when on the wrong side for a right footer. I never had the nerve to do it in a game (would have been dragged). Flea was brilliant at it.

  8. Vin Interesting read I’m not surprised that,Wally Miller was ahead of the pack a brilliant man and massively respected administrator is a understatement

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Great read and well researched Vin. Warnie would approve of this ‘mystery kick’. Surely P. Daicos trialled it?

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