The Most Beautiful Kicks


by Matt Zurbo


The most beautiful kick I’ve ever seen on a football oval was a torpedo by Andrew Levi.


The third most beautiful kick I’ve seen was a goal in a VFA/VFL Grand Final by Ian Rickman. His Williamstown were 42 points down at the start of the last quarter, then, soon enough, 48. Outsized in every single position.

So they ran. So they took risks.

The full-back, Pastore, left is man alone in the square and out-marked two more on the wing. They rolled the dice. And rolled it again and again.

Rickman, a beefy CHF, kicked a drop punt from 55. Suddenly, a minute or two left, they were four points down.

Then he took another mark, well inside the center square, and lined up from about 65-70 meters out. A drop punt.

He was one of those characters, big walrus mo, larger than life. That distance wasn’t possible. Surely! He walked in, prefect technique, everything quite and still, and gave it the lot.

Everyone in that grandstand rose with his kick in a building roar. Everyone. The Williamstown supporters, the neutral supporters, the opposition supporters.


By the time it went through for a goal the whole ground was a mob. A sea of raised hands and jumping, hugging lunatics. All of us a part of legends and in love with football!


Rickman later had a stint at Footscray, but his build was too big for AFL. So was the way he played, and his walrus mo. He was too much of a man’s man. But one level down it was a good thing to be 50 ft tall.


The second most beautiful kick I have seen was a torpedo by Jimmy Jess that beat the Dogs in the hard rain.


The most beautiful thing I’ve seen in football, though, was Andrew Levi’s Torp.

It was a cloudy day, the sky filled with chunks of grey and cracks of silver. A wide, suburban oval somewhere. D-division.

Andy took the ball deep on the wing, near the boundary, and running full trot, for some damn reason, let rip a barrel.

It rose into the sky, pulling every head on the oval, in the crowd and passing by, with it. It seemed to bend the fucking world. Make it fish-eyed. The bastard thing just rose and rose!

The ball came down to a contest in the goal square, to cheers and hoots and stupid breathy sounds. I was running beside him when he let rip.

It. Bent. The. World.


Thanks Levi. Top shit.


The single best thing I have ever seen on a football oval, full stop, was strolling out to watch the Under 13s play at Branxholme beneath the Eastern Tassie mountain ranges.  The roaming maul that is junior footy was down the other end, so two forwards and a defender, bored, were using the plastic make-shift goal posts as air guitars.


  1. Peter Flynn says

    Cheers Matt,

    Ben Graham kicking out from full-back at the Western Oval c1995.

    His torp landed on the wing and then bounced and bounced finishing on the half-forward flank.

    A number of Gary Ablett torps remain in the memory. Some of them on the run. The torp on the run. Love it.

  2. Malcolm Blight’s torp to win the game against Essendon? Huge kick. After the siren. Went at least 60 metres – No.3
    Gary Ablett’s 65 metre torp against Collingwood on a sodden MCG about 1992 maybe. He’d dropped the mark, roved his own ball, broke two tackles, turned and launched a bomb that went through post high. Incredible.- No. 2
    Twiggy Dunne’s torp to draw the game in the 1977 VFL grand final against North. You’ll never see a more technically correct kick under pressure. Massive stuff. Beautiful kick – No.1

  3. Peter Flynn says

    Good calls Dips.

    Blight against Carlton.

    Daics, G Lyon and J Jess kicked some great torps from memory.

    G Malarkey and D Clay torping from full-back.

  4. Mark Doyle says

    Peter and Dips, Doug Wade had a great torpedo in the 1960’s, along with Malcolm Blight in the 1970’s and Peter Daicos in the 1980’s. In recent times, Daniel Bradshaw’s torp. after the siren last year was a beauty. With respect to your Gary Ablett snr. (GA) memory, I wonder if you are not referring to 1989 on a wet and muddy MCG. I have a memory of GA making a play as you describe against Collingwood in 1989 and believe it is one of his most brilliant plays; I think it is on the GA video which was produced in the early 1990’s. I also remember a game against Essendon in 1989 on a wet day on either Easter Monday or the Queen’s birthday Monday, when GA kicked a great torp. from about 55 metres with a heavy ball.
    Other beautiful kicks were the stab kicks by blokes such as Bobby Skilton, Billy Goggin, Ian Stewart, Barry Cable and Barry Price and left foot drop punts by Paul Couch.

  5. 1. Tony Francis (Murray Rance)
    2. Dennis Lillee (Javed Miandad)
    3. Eric Cantona (Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons)

  6. johnharms says

    Sensational Matt.

    I have seen a few holes in one on the golf course.

    Gary ‘The Dog’ Seeto on the fifth at Indooroopilly East, 148 metres, 7.30 in the morning, sun behind us, so the light could not have been purer, hit a seven iron which never left the pin, landed with fairy feet about a metre short of the cup, and continued on its perfect path, trickling in to the hole. Did the result make it appear perfect? It seemed like it was never going to miss. Like watching the roulette ball drop in to your number. Of course it was going in to 5.

  7. johnharms says

    I do recall days of trying to pick up Victorian footy on Queensland radio when Smoke was in his pomp. I loved him. And he loved G. Lyon. “Lyon leads and he’s got it: half forward flank, southern side. He looks arou. He’s goin’ the torp. He’s goin’ the torp.” Just loved how he’d cut it off mid-syllable, once his torp-detector went off.

  8. smokie88 says

    I saw “Chops” Rickman in the supermarket tonight !!
    He looks in fine fettle.
    I played cricket with him, and you’ll not be surprised
    to know that he could really a hit a ball.

  9. Mulcaster says
  10. With one eye wide open….. I can’t go past Daics.
    1- Reverse banana in drawn 90 QF – the greatest kick I have ever seen with absolutely zero room for error, it was 100% perfectly executed and such an audacious choice. Not only the execution but in the heat of the cauldron late in the last quarter of a tight final (of which we hadn’t won one for several years) and put us 8 points up which “cooda/shooda” been the sealer. I was right behind the kick, it was amazing.
    2- His first goal in the 90 GF from the boundary – I directly in line with it in the middle deck old Olympic Stand FP it was literally gun barrel straight, did not deviate a mm, this one probably had 1% margin for error in degree of difficulty but wasn’t required. Broke the duck for the day and gave the mighty 1990 premiership team the trigger and self belief to break the drought.
    3- I could have picked one of his other 547, but have to put in a torp as he was a master of it. One on a cold winters day at Arctic Park against the Blues in 1990 went miles.

    Just happened to switch on to Fox1 and Bucks’s 2002 GF goal in the 3rd quarter just featured – there’s hundreds of his kicks that were just awesome, including this team lifting massive bomb that lifted a team of heart and soul to slug it out to a close points decision against a heavyweight champ. Late in the 2nd quarter he also had two 60 metre centre metre perfect passes from FB, to HFF in one passage of play that led to Lockyer goal.

    The Pies have been blessed with some gun kicks – add McKenna for perfection and the Rocca Bros for regular monster bombs. More recently Neon, Daisy and Dids some great highlight reels.

    Going back to the article (which is a classic by the way, sorry got carried away with the above), use to watch Chops in the VFA with great delight – remember those goals as they were after an Oaks GF Div 2 appearance. Was an Oaks 2nd Div fan and we had Ian Todd (who could kick a mile) and Reno Pretto who were great kicks in that side.

    As for other AFL/VFL goals. Blight v Carlton at PP is a standout.

    And at Murrumbeena Districts juniors, my best mate Bluey, who was a hard nosed battler not blessed with super skills unloaded a 50m barrel from deep on the boundary one day (and back in the 70s when video cameras were almost non existent, his brother happened to capture it on the family movie tape).

  11. Matt Zurbo says

    RENO PRETTO!!!!!! I remember him. Good player. great name!

    Chops, surely, is a six-or-out sort of cricketer. If ANYONE sees Chops in passing, tell him he is a legend for me.

    I have something to add to the Dacs file, and will save it for another piece. He was amazing, even if he played for Collingwood..

    Good one Bluey. Love that shit!

    The best kick I have ever seen play was, surely, Darren Bewick. The way he could hit targets while running flat out off the wing or half back was so. damn. crisp!
    It’s ironic that a player that was known and loved for his flashed of brilliance and unpredictability, and out-and-out character, could be most remembered for something so dependable. Boris was superb.

  12. Richard Jones says

    BEST kick I ever saw was John Coleman. Also the best footballer, bar none.

    That includes Bobby Rose, Barass, Teddy and our Cats boys Gazza Snr and Polly in the category of Best Ever.
    I know Rocket Rod says Darrell Baldock, but Coleman would play him on a break..

    Coleman was magic. This was in the era when drop kicks were still in vogue. Coleman in my memory was pretty unnerring with his set shots.

    That’s what a F-F has to do. Stick it thru’ the big sticks. Which he did, monotonously.

  13. Grew up following West Torrens in the SANFL. We were always hopeless in the 60’s and 70’s. For some unknown reason we hired Billy Barrot as playing coach for a couple of years when he was past his use-by date at Richmond. I guess we thought he could bring some of the Hafey magic to Thebarton. All I remember is that he was a ranter and raver as a coach. Most were in those days. You could go out on the groung and listen to the quarter and three quarter time addresses in those days. The further we were behind the more he frothed. Then he’d clock an opposition player and become a non-playing coach for a few weeks.
    But I remember what a beautiful long kick he was. That Richmond centre line of Clay, Barrot and Bourke kicking to Royce Hart must have been awesome.
    I remember him marking well inside the centre square or diamond or whatever we had in those days. He went back and lined up a long kick for goal. I thought what’s the point? Even if he gets onto it, it will fall 20 yards short. The torp took off into a clear blue sky, and seemed like it was suspended in air by gossamer strings. It went through the middle at near post height, and landed out near the entry gates at the Henley Beach Road end.
    I saw a lot of Blight in his pomp, and he was a great long kick like Ablett. But Billy takes the cake for the longest individual bomb and the consistently longest kick I have seen.
    Christ he could kick. Christ he had the best case of white line fever.

  14. Richard Naco says

    When Josh Hunt unloads his left foot, the ball collects a bruise. A wondrous boot, based as much on immaculate timing as a leg built like a California redwood.

    (Not that he’ll be doing it this week, of course.)

  15. Pamela Sherpa says

    Lovely to read Matt. and thanks all for the comments that are a reminder of what made watching good footballers such a treat.

  16. Billy Swan’s 50 metre kick, just before the siren, to win the 1990 VFA GF over Springvale. Billy at his best, and he was a champ at VFA level always struggled to kick over 40 metres.y

  17. Matt Zurbo says

    Richard, a cage fighter friend of mine took the juniors I was coaching for a night. He explained a long kick is part timing, and a lot elasticity/flexibility of leg muscles. It is why a lot of muscly players can’t kick long, and bendy, skinny ones can. Hunt, seems to have both.

    Thanks Pamela!!!

    Yeah, Pal, I was there. Same game as Chops. From memory Billy kicked two in the last. One to get them within a few goals, and the sealer to put them eight points up. Hope that’s right. Like me, he couldn’t kick that far. I was rapped for him. Nothing flash, just a true servant of the game.

  18. Matt Zurbo says

    Corker story Peter.

  19. Loved watching big Sav mark on a lead 65m out, slowly turn and just line up with a drop punt. He never needed the torp in his armoury. And he always seemed more accurate from 60m than from 25m.

  20. Matt, I’m actually catching up with Chops in a fortnight (know him thru work from years ago and is a distant distant relo and by coincidence got contact from him last week after many years – spooky timing with your piece above hitting the airwaves a few days later). Will send him a link to your thread, I’m sure he’ll be stoked!

    While I’m on, thought I’d take a different angle on your piece,,,, the best handball. Saw Chris Perry (Pies late 70s – tall wirey back pocketer with a penchant for the old white ankle guards and a head of hair like a steelo soap pad) handball from the back pocket Vic Park scoreboard side to about the wing – I’m sure it went 50 metres (as my nose grows like Pinocchio, but it was a bloody long one).

  21. Neil Belford says

    Fantastic piece Matt –

    I have never seen another team with the long kicking firepower of Subiaco in ’86. Todd Breman, Warren Dean, and Laurie Keene all regularly kicked goals from 60.
    I recall standing behind Todd Breman on the scoreboard wing (as it was at Subi back in the day), he had a couple of options, he was a bit puffed, and you could almost hear him say, oh stuff it.
    Then he just went boom – drop punt. Subi is a long ground, he was just forward of the wing on the boundary – straight through the middle and it landed a couple of rows back in the crowd. The crowd fell silent in awe. It remains the longest kick I have ever seen

  22. Matt Zurbo says

    Neil, three very good players for sure. Subiaco must have been some breeding ground.

    Ramon, top stuff! Can picture it. The best handball I’ve seen was by Andy Bazzel for Apollo Bay. I was on the run, opponent hot in tow, and, be buggered if his handball, fired across his body as I ran past, didn’t bend, following my outreaching arms. He did it other times too. No fluke. He could put a curve on it. Then I weaved when I should have dodged and got tackled.

  23. Barny/Josh's dad says

    1990 Picola League G/final, Waaia have trailed Blighty all day when mick Cleeland receives a free kick at half back then a fifty metre penalty takes him to 50 metre line as siren blows to end game.Umpire tells him to have his kick,torpedo, post high and Waaia by 5 points. Much controvisey and much more celebrations

  24. Matt Zurbo says

    Man! Imagine the controversy/chaos!!

  25. I still remember Laurie Keene’s kick at Subi from the wing. Wobbled around through the air, bounced over defenders heads and through the goals. From memory it was against the Hawks, probably around ’89.

    @Ramon. I was at that game at Arctic Park when Daicos kicked the ridiculous reverse banana. Happened about 10 rows from me. Even as a young Eagles supporter who knew the game was slipping away, that was an amazing moment that has been etched into my memory.

  26. ROCCCCCCCCCCA!!!!!!!!! After last night’s EJ Whitten game I have to add the goal by big Ant, what a monster of a torp. He’s still got it.

  27. Rick Kane says

    Hutchy and Strauchanie’s long range goals impressed as well. It was great seeing them on the field, normal sized aging male bodies. Because even the over-weight footballers still showed signs of the athlete’s frame, albeit, in decline.

  28. Rick Kane says

    One of the actions that elevate the world game is a running pass across the field that hits the mark on the chest allowing them to ease the ball down to the foot and move it on, seemingly, in a single motion. Bergkamp, if my memory serves, had a beautiful kick.

    In our own (and God’s own) game, the highlight beautiful kick for me is Luke Hodge. (I know, I know, I cannot but wear rose tinted glasses). However, when he leans back (sometimes off a step) and kicks deep into the ball off his left foot you find yourself marvelling at the artistry of the action. Meanwhile, you are wondering where on earth he is sending the pig skin projectile. Some 50 metres away, through a scrub of running players Hodge finds his target, hit him on the chest as you almost hear the ricocheting boom. Play has changed direction, opposition is caught off guard and Hawk fan’s hearts soar. Hodge does this game after game, week after week, year after year. They say Dew’s booming kicks in the third quarter of the 2008 GF secured the win for the Hawks but we all know the Hodge kick was the heartbeat.


  29. Matt Zurbo says

    Rick, great reply. Hodge is from my old neck of the woods. When he first nominated for the draft nobody drafted him. Everybody said it was because of this and because of that, and he should have been playing Falcons,, and whatever, when it was simply he was too young. One year later, and the rest is history. In the making.

    “a scrub of running players” Perfect! And well observed.

  30. Clearsighted says

    Lovely piece Matt.
    The first two who come to mind for me are: Tony Lockett and Syd Jackson (although, as I write many others – both Sr and Jr Abletts, Ian Stewart, Malcolm Blight, Jonathan Brown..etc.etc – are putting a magic boot to ball in my mind’s eye).

  31. Ripsnorter says

    Swannies had a a factory of great left footers for a while there in Browning, Bayes and Higgins. Buckley, Jarman, Raines, Paul Hudson, Chris Waterman, Didak, Akermanis, Dal Santo are some other deadly finishes of the modern era

  32. Matt Zurbo says


    Thanks, Clearsighted. From Stewart to Ablett Jr. Sounds like a line in a Greg Champion song. Has anyone ever done a team of beautiful kicks? God, imagine it!

    Ripsnorter (great tag!), Click on my name and go back through my pieces for one I wrote on Geoff Rainse and his kicking. I was as jealous as all he of him and am still today.
    Good tip on the Swans, too. I once played with a left footer who couldn’t kick. You just assume they can. It was heartbreaking. Haha.

  33. Ripsnorter says

    Matt, do remember reading that one on Raines – great footballer with great balance and beautiful kick – sort of guy who likes to play midfield but be behind the ball like Buckley in that regard. Would have been thought of more highly had he not chased the bucks all the time. Played good footy for the Bears late in his career though after horror stint with the bombers. Another favorite of mine was Dougie Barwick on the run from sixty would rarely miss and good with the torp or banana as well – great mullet also.Would have to mention my most underated champion of all time in this post and that was Superboot himself Bernie Quinlan – what a player – unstoppable at times.

  34. Phil Dimitriadis says

    David Wirrpanda kicking torps from full back in 2003 at Docklands against the Pies. Nearly every one spiraled perfectly and reached well into the square. It was as close as you could get to torpedo poetry.

    John Ronaldson’s 70 meter dropkick from the members’ flank in the 1967 GF was a masterpiece.

  35. Glad this article got reignited. What great names above. Agree on Hodge as a “bullet like” deadly left foot. Superboot was booming in a smooth as silk way (a bit like when a pro golfer eases his drive a lazy 350 metres without raising a grunt). Raines was like a thorougbred – remember his short stint at the Pies with two blinders in successive games at Vic Park against the bitter enemy in Carl and Ess and his immaculate style with long bombs from the centre. And along similar “one hit wonder” lines as JR, was there when Jeff Fehring lobbed the goal from the centre circle at Moorabbin (still dirty on Ray Byrne for not touching it :-). Still can’t get over big Ant’s goal last night.

  36. everard tossel says

    Bill Barrot. Playing for West Torrens at Thebarton Oval 1973. Kicked a torpedo punt so high that all around the ground there was a collective exhalation of breath. …and we all watched in awe…and it just kept on going and going and going, straight through the middle. Ben Graham, Malcolm Blight and Noel Pettingell also kicked some big ones, but I reckon that one of Billy Barrot was the longest. Check it out on U Tube.

  37. I take big pack marks.

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