The spectrum of turnovers

I am in the process of editing this year’s Footy Almanac. This is a truly joyous role. I am always struck by the originality of the writing (there are well-worn cliches as well, don’t worry).


In Brian Matthews review of Freo v St Kilda (which so reminds me of his lovely footy essays in Oval Dreams), Brian uses the phrase ‘a truly calamitous turnover.

Ah, I immediately thought to myself: this suggests a spectrum of turnovers.

If ‘truly calamitous’ is at one extreme, then ‘calamitous’ is one up, what are the other five, in order, in the seven-term spectrum.

Here is the spectrum:

truly calamitous, calamitous,   ?    ,    ?     ,     ?      ,    ?     ,    ?   .

I suggest that ‘inconsequential’ may be at the other end of the spectrum, although I don’t think such a bland word is in the league of calamitous.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Would the centre of that spectrum be a ‘regulation turnover’?

  2. Fatal or dreadful to the left of centre.

    Toepoke at the far right.

  3. Truly calamitous turnover, calamitous turnover, A David Spriggs turnover, a Zac Dawson turnover, a we’re-trying-to-play-like-Collingwood-but-don’t-have-the-cattle turnover, a pre-season-game-played-in-Yea-against-Richmond turnover, a lethargic 10 goals-up-with-two-minutes-to-go turnover.

  4. Alovesupreme says

    I would have thought the scale of turnover calamity depended on who benefited – both in an individual and in a collective sense. A turnover to a noted turnover merchant from the opposition (I’m too well brung-up to name names) clearly matters less than if the ball is handed to a del Santo, a Hodge, a Didak, a J. Sellwood. Equally a turnover against current Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Richmond etc. is quite likely to be won back fairly promptly; in comparison a turnover against Geelong or Collingwood and it’s goodnight nurse.

  5. A turnover that loses a game directly might be seen as occupying the ultimate right-hand edge of the spectrum, but I believe that a there is a place beyond the ultimate right-hand edge for a turnover such as Chris Judd’s last Saturday night.

    It was a real team de-spiriting turnover. The captain, the hero, let’s face it the messiah did something so wrong in both concept and execution that it not only cost a goal, but left everyone connected with the team in a state of disbelief.

    What to call it? Ultimate doesn’t go far enough (despite its literal definiton).

    My suggestion is shamelessly lifted from an old early talkie movie – the ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe’ turnover. To me it reflects the mixture of disbelief, disappointment and “dis can’t be true” that Blues fans must have been feeling at the time.

  6. Pieman, you’re right to suggest it was a surprise.

    Whereas a Dane Swan turnover is just another day at the office.

  7. Where does the “coach-killer” turnover fit in?

    Is that the post-point kick out that goes straight to the man on the mark?

    Then there’s the “telecommunications equipment destroyer”.

  8. aka phone smasher.

    Who was the bloke from Freo who always seemed to be kicking out 20 metres to the opposition?

    Back in Neesham’s day (cf. coach killer)

  9. Given the sometimes cancerous nature with which the turnover bug can spread through a side that is being sapped of confidence, I’d just like to point out at this juncture that “the spectrum of turnovers” is an anagram of “tumour creeps, vents froth”.

  10. Could you have a fortuitous turnover right at the far end of the scale? (i.e. A turnover that has minimal to no impact).

  11. There are a number of different things we could rate with respect to turnovers and therefore coming up with a single rating system will be problematic.

    Do we rate turnovers according to whether or not it results in an opposition score?
    Do we rate them to the extent to which skill was missing in the execution of the disposal?

    Perhaps there is something that we can use to create a universal turnover scale, and that is the number of swear words used, or force of impact on nearest object, after a turnover.

    For me, a “truly calamitous” turnover would be, “For f%$^ sake Hunt, for someone who’s supposed to be a great kick, you keep costing us f^&%$ goals!”

    At the other end of the scale might be, “hehehe, you’re such a gumby Blakey, but you’re fun to watch.”

  12. Tim, in more recent times, turnovers that have landed in the arms of Nick Riewoldt have often been fortuitous for Nick’s opposition. (Sorry Sainters. I’ve always been a Saint Nick fan as you know but his goal-kicking has been a killer this year.)

  13. Andrew Fithall says

    At one extreme I would have Gubby Allan. At the other extreme I would have apple.

  14. The Eagles have had some turnover experts over the years. Rowan Jones was a great blocker/tackler/tagger in the 05/6/7 glory years. You could see that the coaches eventually said to him first option – look to handball; second option – look to handball; third option – refer to first option. Chris Masten – are you listening?
    So here is the turnover scale from 1-7 (least to most costly) henceforth known as the Masten-Jones Scale (so as not to confuse it with Duckworth-Lewis or Talbot-Duckmanton).
    1. Ho Hum.
    2. Uh Oh.
    3. Bloody Nora.
    4. You Idiot.
    5. F… Me.
    6. Get him off.
    7. Get him off the team – Western Sydney Village needs an idiot to keep Rhys company.
    He only got to 6 by 3/4 time last week, so he will be our sub this week and Paddy Irish will start. I am in a forgiving mood (not you Julia and Tony).

  15. Andrew F, re your comment: “Like!”

    Both ends of that spectrum appeal to me. Was there at the Western Oval on Gubby’s day.

  16. Pamela Sherpa says

    What about a ‘ season defining’ turnover ?

  17. Ed,

    When you finish turnovers can you do margins and then perhaps relate them to a specific points margin. Liked edged out or the like = say less than a goal right thru to belted, shellacking, pole axed, thumped, pummelled, over ran or swamped (the old come from behind to win well). There are so many out there that the journos pick on as required. I think you have the picture.

  18. As above I think a turnover is automatically measureable by the language it sparks on the couch.
    Imagine Dennis Commetti calling this…” Shaw, surging out of the backline, handpasses straight to Chapman for a two-f**k turnover.”
    Even worse, “Glass kicks back to the goalsquare he’s defending, right onto the chest of Hawkins for a five-f**k turnover.”

    The gradations of criminality then become limitless. Late in 2008 home-and-away against the Cats I saw Luke Hodge committ a forty-five f**k turnover. Gubby Allen’s was a thousand-F**k turnover.

  19. Calamitous (For F**k Sake, FFS)
    Dreadful (For G*d Sake FDS)
    Ghastly (For Ch***t Sake FCS)
    Unattractive (Heavens to Murgatroyd HTM)
    Wobbly (Heavens to Betsy HTB)
    Drongo (Such Is Life SIL)

  20. 1. Agree with @gigs, @alovesupreme and @ivins – and perhaps add that the spectrum does start with a “Fortuitous” turnover, ie. a turnover that in fact has a net benefit to your side. For example: Carrazzo kicks errantly to Tambling who shanks his kick to Yarran who then saunters the length of the field and goals, leaving a trail of polished grass in his wake.

    2. I suppose the inconsequential turnover sits next – no negative or positive outcome for your side (For example: your team wins one of those deeply mysterious free kicks from a ruck contest on the wing. Your ruckman then kicks it out on the full. The opposition then kicks back down the line and another stoppage is created in exactly the same place where we started). If you don’t want to call this category “inconsequential” you could perhaps call it the “ball-scratching turnover”?? I propose this name only because many male fans witnessing such a turnover, being unable to cheer nor jeer will, by default, adjust their family jewels (hopefully via the pocket so as not to offend anyone nearby).

    The next few are harder I suppose.

    3. Perhaps the humorous turnover (can’t think of a name) mentioned at the end of @Pete’s post – when a loveable gumby in your side who has tried his guts out but has next to zero talent kicks the ball sideways and the good natured sections of the crowd laugh in unison.

    4. The “It’s not our day turnover”. This turnover occurs when it’s not your team’s day – ie. when Gary Ablett or Pendlebury or Luke Hodge commits a turnover that is so out of character but yet so completely in line with the flow of the game that you remark “it’s just not our day”. This turnover often results in a trip to the bar / fridge.

    5. “Delist him immediately” turnover. Reasonably self-explanatory – the category of brain-fizzingly infuriating turnovers regularly made by such unfortunates as the aforementioned Tambling, R. Clarke, Z Dawson etc.

    6. Calamitous (that turnover might cost us this game / the coach’s job). This catergory of turnover could result in one of those ‘anti social behaviour’ SMS’s to be sent with your seat number on it.

    7. Truly Calamitous (that turnover did just cost us the game, head in hands etc.).

Leave a Comment