My favourite drop-kick, part 9

The Drop-Kick Premiership Team

Vin Maskell

It is said that a champion team will always beat a team of champions, but what if that team of champions is a team of champion drop-kicks?

The selection criteria for this team are to be a premiership player and for there to be a reference to the player’s drop-kicking skills in The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers.

In keeping with the by-gone drop kick era there is a 19th man and a 20th man rather than an interchange/substitution bench. Twenty five players were eligible, meaning there would be five emergencies.



John Watts                               Fred Hughson                           Tassie Johnson

(Geelong 1963)                        (Fitzroy 1944)                          (Melb 1959, ’60, 64)


Half backs

Geoff Strang                             Ronald Kingston                       Barry Davis*

(Rich ‘67, ’69)                         (Coll’wood ‘53)                      (Ess ’62, 65; North ’75)



Jack Carmody                          Fred Hawking                          John Ronaldson**

(Coll’wood ’35, ’36)                (Geelong ’37)                           (Rich ’67, ’69)


Half forwards

Bill Pearson                              Fred Flanagan                          Thomas Heaney

(Ess ’46)                                  (Geelong ’51, ’52)                    (Fitzroy 1913, ’14)



Jack Howell                             Jack Titus                                 Tony Polinelli

(Carlton ’47)                            (Richmond ’32, ’34)                 (Geelong ’63)



Ken Hands                               Jim Mooring

(Carlton ’45)                            (Carlton ’45)



Peter Pianto

(Geelong ’51, ’52)


19th man                                   20th man

Martin Gotz                              Frank Anderson

(Carlton 1907, 08)                   (Carlton 1938)



Jim Sharp (Fitzroy, 1904, 05), Vic Thorp (Rich ‘20, ‘21),  Keith Rawle (Ess, ’46, ’49),  Ray Nilsson (Melb 1960), Roy West (Geelong ’63)***


Captain-coach: Fred Hughson

*Barry Davis may not have been allowed to do drop-kicks in the 1975 North flag.

**Ruckman John Ronaldson is named out of position in honour of his drop-kick goal from the members’ wing in the 1967 premiership.

***Geelong full back Roy West and his Richmond counterpart Fred Swift virtually played drop-kick kick-to-kick throughout the 1967 Grand Final.

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.


  1. Great stuff Vin. One of my favorite old stories relates to a bloke called Bill Dolphin in the 1900’s who kicked drop kicks from fullback for South Melbourne.

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    Great stuff as usual Vin. I reckon if you went through the players of the last couple of seasons you could still come up with a team of champion drop-kicks. A certain Carlton/Brisbane full-forward would be captain.

  3. John Butler says

    Lovely work Vin

    The Encyclopedia of VFL/AFL Footballers is one of the best investments a footy fan can I reckon.

  4. “Big Drop Robbo!”
    I remember Ian Robertson of Carlton and TV commentator fame regularly doing drop kicks, one on the run from the centre circle going through between goal and behind post.

  5. Matt Zurbo says

    Ken Hands drop kicks! Love it!


    Re Drop Kick/Stab Kick to Drop Punt/Stab Punt; first players to use these kicks, in Victoria, in Australian Rules Football.

    Hugh Hinks invented the Drop Punt in 1907. “ In The Beginning There Was Carisbrook” by Daryl McLeish, 2001. See page 342 and then 347 for a Picture of Hugh Hinks.

    The next recorded is Horrie Clover of Carisbrook, then Carlton 1920-24 & 1926-31. Despite claims to the contrary, Carlton believed that Clover invented the drop punt. Teammate Newton Chandler believed that Clover first saw the kick used by a teammate at Carisbrook and that he perfected it from there. Page 133 The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers, Sixth Edition.

    The next recorded is Len Metherell, who made his debut in 1930, certainly used the drop punt, and indicated that he had learned it from his father.

    Next recorded use was by the Collier Brothers see Page 195 3AW Book of Footy Records 1989.

    Jack Dyer adapted the Collier Brothers of Collingwood’s Drop Punt, that the Colliers used as a short pass of around ten yards in place of a hand pass. They only used it to pass the ball to each other over the head of an opponent.

    Next recorded use was by Jack Dyer. The Sporting Globe FOOTBALL Book 1948. Page 49: “Jack Dyer gets goals with the sillies looking kick in football history.”
    With the retirement of Dyer in 1949 the drop punt gradually fell into disuse. 3AW Book of Footy Records 1989 pages 195/6

    A short low trajectory pass to a teammate, which is kicked just after the ball, contacts the ground.

    Stab Kick Page 164. Captain Blood, Jack Dyer. as told to Brian Hansen, Paul, (London), 1965
    “Stab kick has been a rapidly failing art— but thanks to good full-forwards like John Peck and Doug Wade it must come back. Full Forwards need stab passes”. Published 1965. (The Stab Kick was brought back by Jim as a Stab Punt in 1949 and is being kicked today.)

    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 May1949. The stab punt invented by Jim, Aged 15 years, 5ft 2in(157.48 cm.), weighing 8 and 1/4 stone (52.5 kg), and playing for the Mount Evelyn First Eighteen in the Yarra Valley Football League.

    Page 165 Drops and Stab Passes are the jewels of football. A drop kick on the run is a more suitable kick for goal than a running punt but from a deliberate shot, the punt is more deadly.
    Page 164. Captain Blood, Jack Dyer. as told to Brian Hansen, Paul, (London), 1965. “…The stab is a feature of the game that should never die. The stab kick cannot be learnt overnight. It’s a kick that takes years of practice.” (James, from age 10 to 14, with only limited kicks, gained at school in kick to kick, learned to kick a stab pass, a drop kick, a torpedo punt, a flat punt and a drop punt as a field pass kicked at full pace. Then at 15, in Early May 1949, with his first ever “own” football it took Jim only a couple of weeks to convert the stab kick into a stab punt. There was only a split second adjustment of timing to make this happen. That is kick the ball just before instead of just after it hit the ground.)

    Since the inauguration of the Australian game of football in 1858 by Messrs H.C.A. Harrison, W Hammersley, J. B. Thompson and T. W. Wills, there have been so many changes that there is little original in it today.

    The PRETTIEST and most effective innovation of recent years is what is known as the stab kick. The Argus (Melbourne Vic.) Monday 27 June 1910 “TROVE”

    “Johnson sent his DELIGHTFULL little drop punt pass direct to Manfield.”
    The (Croydon) Post, Frank Casey, 15 September 1960

    The Argus (Melbourne Vic.) Thursday 27 June 1947 “TROVE”
    Stab pass can be troublesome
    “Howmany times have you heard a footballer criticised because he cannot use the stab kick pass? The only fault or criticism of Haydn Bunton, three times winner of the Brownlow Medal, was his kicking.
    There is a reason. Bunton was a fast mover, with long strides, and, as I
    have found out for myself, it is impossible for this type of player to
    use the stab kick pass while moving at top pace. For at least two years
    I tried hard to develop the art of passing with a stab kick while running at top speed, but I, at last, had to realise that the only way to do it was to slacken my pace and shorten my stride. I feel certain Bunton had the same experience. He would find, as I did, that he would be caught too often, and would receive many hard knocks. That would not pay. If you analyse the position you will find that those who use the stab kick best are the small men-those who take small steps. We saw Lou Richards in action at Essendon. He does the stab kick beautifully at full pace, but only because he does not have to shorten his stride.”

    Jim Johnson feels the same reasons apply today between those who can kick the Stab Punt and those who can’t, plus in my opinion the vertical droppers of the ball can not pull the ball back in tight enough, to be able to kick a Stab Punt / Daisy Cutter, as their knees would get in the way of the dropping ball.

    SIXTY YEARS OF FOOTBALL History of the South Belgrave Football Club.
    Published 2006
    A Tribute to some South Belgrave & Kalora Park Heroes
    Page 69. James Johnson
    From mid teens he had been studying football kicking technique which best suited his style of play. It could have been suited to many other players who required an accurate short pass at full speed. The kick became known as a stab punt and over a number of years much has been written about this technique which ultimately led to the drop punt, regularly used in today’s football.

    The stab punt is kicked with the same action as a stab kick/pass with the exception of the split second adjustment of kicking the ball just before instead of just after it hits the ground. This means the ball is kept in very tight to the body, in effect kicking the ball with the knee in front of the point of boot and ball contact. Of course you are leaning over the ball. The kick must be able to be accomplished running at full pace. The point of ball destination must be to the advantage of the player so he can run on to it and mark/catch it. You must estimate this and it must be in clear space preferable ahead of him. The tighter in you kick the ball the lower the pass will travel. The ball cannot be dropped vertically. In the old days, 1949, when muddy and variable surfaces were commonplace and the stab pass could not be kicked I invented the stab punt, An Australian Rules football Development.

    Part of entry from the Face-to-Face Exhibition at The Lilydale Museum, 13 October to 13 November 2011.
    Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives.

    Journalists didn’t know what to call Jim’s techniques. Frank Casey wrote in The Post on 8 September 1960, ‘Johnson sent his delightful little drop punt pass direct to Manfield’. The same day Davey Crocket reported in the Ringwood Mail, ‘Johnson should write a book on stab kicking – he has found the lost art’. _Both kicks are in constant use today in Australian Rules football as they are suitable for fast play-on football”. This story was researched by The Mt Evelyn History Group for The Yarra Ranges Regional Museum.
    See page 4 of; ( Discover the Wonders of Victoria’s Past during the 2011 History ) ……/Face_to_Face_Teachers_Pack.pdf – Cached

    THE SCIENCE OF KICKING” published 2007 Pages 64 & 65
    “THE STAB PUNT. The authors have coined the term “ stab punt” because it describes perfectly the mechanics of this shorter-range and highly accurate pass. It should not be confused with the “stab kick, a drop kick popularized by players like Bob Skilton (1960’s). While similar to a drop punt it never-the less has several defining characteristics that give it a distinctive flavour and purpose. It is not designed for maximum distance and accordingly the player uses a variation in drop punt technique with a limited backswing and minimal followthrough. It is a kick in which a rapid punching action is applied to the ball the aim being to pass the ball as quickly and as accurately as possible to a teammate.
    Interesting note. The drop punt had a slow take-up by teams: Dyer himself attributed this to “Coaches do no teach this kick to their players for one reason. They cannot do it and have never bothered to learn its fundamentals” Football Clinic, p.167 Captain Blood, Jack Dyer. As told to Brian Hansen, Paul, (London), 1965.

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

    ? Was Jack Dyer referring to the many VFL legends who coached from 1940 to 1965 including his own eleven years, 1940-1951, as coach of Richmond. Of these legends from this period Jim, at age sixteen, played as first rover in the Ringwood First Eighteen of 1950 which was Captained and Coached by Brownlow Medalist Herbie Matthew who played in the Centre for Ringwood. Jim played a further three seasons, 1951/53, at Ringwood when Alec Albiston, (Captain and Coach of Hawthorn 1947/49), was Captain and Coach of Ringwod. Jim has many newspaper clippings from these years.

    The drop kick should be a footballer’s basic weapon but unfortunately the tempo of the game is driving footballers to use the running punt. However there is nothing more certain than the DROP KICK WILL BE BACK. The football cycle is reverting back to classical football and dropkicking to position. Page 161/2. Captain Blood, Jack Dyer. as told to Brian Hansen, Paul, (London), 1965

    Stab Punt Jim (James A Johnson)

    Jack Dyer was correct in that the drop kick did come back. But it came back as the running drop punt Jim Johnson was using together with his stab punt from 1948 to 1960.
    Stab Punt Jim (James A Johnson)

  8. Jeanette S says

    Some of the best drop kicks I’ve seen were those by Gary Mountjoy (see his history in other stories on this site) – playing centre for Northern United Football Club in the ’80s. When the pressure was on, & especially when the pressure was on, Gary would line up for goal, drop the ball towards his toes and it arced through the centre posts without fail every time. But everyone on the sidelines was biting nails and howling with nerves for him not to do it! Good man, bloody good footballer.

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