The Two Metre Joe Blake

Mark Blake retires on 99 senior games with the unfair shroud of perceived failure enveloping his career due to his apparent redundancy atGeelongand his inability to be picked up during the trade period.


Objective scrutiny of this modern monolith’s career will disclose a different scenario.


His 99 games were played with a team that is perhaps just one flag of being legitimately considered the best of all time.


He played in two grand finals but was unlucky to have missed out on a third. He played in one premiership and again can be considered unlucky to have been dropped from the 2007 break through flag when the Cats demolished Port Adelaide.


He has become an example of collateral damage from the changing game where the luxury of a second ruck man without the capacity to go forward and kick goals is a thing of the past.


His career will be envied by a majority of the thousands who have played the game at the highest level.


  1. Mark Blake had a good AFL career of 99 games which included the 2009 premiership. However, he was only ever a B grader and a fringe player. He was not unlucky to be dropped from the 2007 grand final team – his form dropped off at the end of that year – and Steven King’s selection was a ‘no brainer’.

  2. I once spoke to a school mate who went on to play 150 games and in a couple of flags at senior VFL level.

    He said he admires the players who only played in one senior game as he knew what they had to do to get there.

    So how many did you play in Mark? Come on fess up. Don’t duck back into the shadows when some one puts the acid on.

    I will go further. If things had gone entirely Blake’s way he could have played in three flags and that would have been a cameo career.

    There are a lot of ‘A’ graders who didn’t get that far. And finally if Blake was as bad as you infer then he did extremely well to get as far as he did with such limited resources.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


  3. Phanto – Blake got the best out of himself. As you say anyone who reaches AFL level is an exceptional player. His problem is that at the elite level he didn’t offer the coaches options to be played elsewhere. That’s the nature of the game now; flexibility. Unfortunately for Blake I think the coaches made the right decision in not playing him in 2007 and this season. The game passed him by this year.

    I agree that the idea that Blake somehow failed as a footballer is incorrect.

    Good luck to him in retirement.

  4. Good Dips.

    The point I make is that we tend to toss out any one who gets old and only judge the now not the then.

    The playiing of King in the 2007 GF was a great move but at least Blake took it and went on to play in a flag. What would N Buckley give for a premiership medal?

    A prime example of disregarding success, of any degree, is one R Ponting last year. He was gorrrn to the extent that many arm chair experts appeared to have forgotten just how good he was.

    Our obsession with the contributions of super heroes being valued more than plodders is interesting.

  5. I agree most wholeheartedly with Dips.

    We rail against so-called “duds” whom we believe our clubs should never have drafted,
    but the truth is that any footballer who plays a game at the highest level is an exceptional

    I have seen some wonderful footballers playing in the Ammos and local footy over
    the years, the majority of whom lacked one of the vital ingredients required to make it at
    the top level. It makes you realise just how good those who reach the top level actually are.

    Re Mark Blake: he has an AFL premiership medallion, which no-one will ever be able to take
    from him. And 99 games at the elite level, which is 99 more than thousands upon
    thousands who pull on the boots across the land every week.
    22 out of 24 games in 2007 suggests he is very unlucky not to have two of those medals.

  6. turtlemanistic says

    I agree Mark Blake performed to the best of his capabilities throughout his 99-game career.
    But, as a Geelong supporter, I am glad the club feels it does not need to rely on Blake as a back-up.
    Rather than an indictment on Blake, I believe it is a sign the Cats are continuing to improve their list, when a previously required player is no longer considered ‘good enough’ to be needed anymore.

  7. Pamela Sherpa says

    The Cats may well rue not letting him play one extra game. You never know what the father son rule might deliver in the future.

  8. You might argue that Blakey was one of the first victims of the reduced bench rule-change at the start of 2011 (i.e. down from the previous 4 players for rotation, to 3 players for rotation and a permanent substitute), where there is less luxury to select a second “genuine” ruckman at the expense of a utility player who can win the ball elsewhere around the field.
    Prior to this rule change, it had become the vogue for most teams to include 2 specialist ruckmen and rotate them through the bench. It must have been tough for guys like Jeff White at Melbourne (who often seemed to be playing as the only specialist ruckman in a team persisting with the old tactic) to have to consistently play against teams with 2 giant specialist ruckmen running him to the point of exhaustion. This arguably cut short White’s AFL career, along with some bad luck with a certain accidental air-swinging errant boot from Stephen King.
    We should thank Mark for his service to the GFC and I believe that he will be fondly remembered by Cats supporters. Blakey may not have been the most mobile or skilful ruckman once he had tapped the ball, but he made a huge contribution to the team as Stephen King’s powers began to wane and covering Brad Ottens’ frequent injury absences. Plus, of all the many goals kicked at Kardinia Park during the Cats’ current era, Blakey’s goals triggered the biggest crowd celebrations for “cult hero goals” since those of David Mensch!

  9. I remember the affection shown by all Geelong fans when Blakey was the gangling colt making his way in the Geelong side. He couldn’t kick – the earnest, comical look etched deeply in his face every time he put ball to boot won’t be forgotten – his handballs to onballers circling him every time he received a free kick reminded me of the under 9s – and the few times he kicked a goal sparked rampanat celebration by teammates and Kardinia Park stalwarts alike.
    But then 2007 came. His manager should be flogged. King was always the right choice and Blake was by all accounts advised to tell Geelong management that either King goes or he does. King had a contract and it was then withdrawn. Blake was advised, in a team sport, in a club as close as Geelong, to force out a former All-Australian captain loved by all in the team; Scarlett perhaps King’s number one fan.
    Fans and teammates alike couldn’t embrace Blake after that, which was a shame. His flag in 2009 should be seen in the same light as Matthew Stokes – elements of redemption, persistance, hard work. But it’s not.
    How things change.

  10. I also find it comical when the media says what a shame he didn’t make 100 games. He’s a premiership player. He’ll always be known as premiership player Mark Blake. He will always have his name on the locker in the change room; in the boardroom at the club. I don’t think it will bother him too much.

  11. Cookie, I agree with your comments, if that scenario (which I too heard rumoured at the time) actually occurred. I am not close enough to the club behind the scenes to know whether it did or not.

    Whether Blake was actually saying “It’s Kingy or me”, the Cats decision to assist King to get to St Kilda to continue his career was also influenced by the view that King’s body was starting to fail him (compared to youth of Blake, who was hoped to be still improving, and the then-rookie Shane Mumford) and that King could be of more help to another team and earn a few more dollars that way before he retired. We can blame Blake’s manager, but the ultimate responsibility for the decision lies with the club and I do not think it is likely that the club would have dudded King as badly as some have suggested (I would hope that the club learned from something from some of the sour-tasting de-listings/tradings of decorated players in the previous era e.g. Ablett Snr and Mansfield). Kingy seemed genuinely shattered at the time, so I wonder how he feels about it now after some time out of playing the game.

    Agreed, it was terrible that King did not finish his career in the hoops, as he did so much for the club during some difficult years and he probably turned down numerous offers over his career to leave the club for more money “to play finals” (as Leigh Colbert was supposed to have put it when he left the Cats, as serving Captain, to go to North Melbourne). I will certainly always think of Steven King as a Cats player, rather than a St Kilda player or a novelist.

    I reckon we can afford to be a bit charitable to Blakey when we sum up his career, given that it appears to have just ended. With the speed of the game appearing to increase every year, we may not see Blakey’s like again (outside of the under 9’s)!

  12. Which raises the question of ‘what if’?

    What if King had remained one more year and had played in the 2008 GF instead of Blake?

    Would that have made a difference with an extra goal kicking tall when the game was in the balance?

  13. Mumford also may still be a Geelong player if not for Blake being on the scene.

    My understanding of the Mansfield situation was that MM, an accountant, was offered a plum job in Collins street and his new employers were happy for him to continue playing football but not if it meant taking two or three full afternoons off a week to train at Geelong. So he asked to be traded to a Melbourne club.

    (Didn’t Geelong draft Chappy with Mansfield’s pick?)

  14. Mark Doyle says

    This discussion is laughable! It indicates that most football supporters have only an emotional and hero worship interest in the game and are incapable of an intellectual appreciation – this was demonstrated by the university socialogical study of a few years back, which found that 80% of football supporters are fanatical club supporters; 15% of supporters are “theatre goers” ; and 5% of supporters are connoisseurs. It should be understood that not all AFL footballers are great players – some of them are B graders; some of them are A graders; and a small percentage of the A graders are champions. It is always bemusing that most of the fanatical club supporters and the media buffoons think that their club players are champions.
    With respect to all you Geelong supporters, please understand that blokes such as Matthew Scarlett, Joel Corey, Corey Enright, Steve Johnston, Paul Chapman, Harry Taylor, Gary Ablett jnr., Jimmy Bartel and Steven King have been more valuable footballers than Mark Blake and others. THis list is not all inclusive.

  15. I don’t think any one has argued that Mark Blake was a champion Mark, just highlighting his achievements. The beauty of this forum is that people are able to discuss things relating to all manner of sporty stuff.

    I vividly remember an interview with Muammar Gadaffi recently when he noted that comments which he didn’t agree with were laughable. It is apparently a fine line.

    ‘The’ university sociological study is a little vague. Perhaps you could enlighten me further with a few specifics. Have been known to read and comment on the odd academic paper over the years.

    In capability of intellectual appreciation is an interesting concept as well. Can’t say I have noticed many of this sort on this blog but every now and again one pops their head up to general amusement.

  16. Here you are Phantom ;) A Cat man for as long as I can remember and never tires of talking about Geelong.

    You know we have something in common that has probably never entered your mind. We have both watched our clubs win premierships in Richmond :twisted:

  17. ……..Richmond Paddock to be more precise :)

  18. One thing’s for sure:

    This is the most amount of words written about Mark Blake on any site or in any publication.

    Apologies for adding twenty-seven more.

  19. Gnarley,

    the demise of Blake can probably be traced back to Richmond. If they had not off-loaded Ottens to the Cats Blakey would probably still be No 1 ruckman. How mean of them.

  20. Phanto

    ……..& the arrival of Maric to THOF may be the demise of Gus Graham. You may get your wish afterall with Gus :cool:

  21. I must be reading a different discussion to you, Mark Doyle. What a turkey.

  22. Phantom, I don’t think King would have helped in 2008. The damage was done early. He may have caught a dose of the yips that day as well.

    I think we should all raise our glasses to premiership player Mark Blake when next we meet. Cheers.

  23. You are a naughty boy Cookie: but I like you.

    I have always maintained that it was an over confidence thing in 2008 and the bitter taste got them through in ’09 and ’11.

  24. I agree Phantom. My brother even said to me after this year’s win: “Imagine if you’d won 2008 as well.” I said to him if we’d won 2008 we probably wouldn’t have won 2009. The boys were determined not to have the feeling of losing again and had to dig deep in 2009 when St Kilda probably should have won it.
    Everything pointed to a Geelong win in 2011 – except for the fact that it was Geelong and therefore we should probably blow it. Luckily we played Collingwood, who also expect to lose Grand Finals.

  25. Phanto

    The draw is out, & Geelong are set to unveil the flag in Round 4 @ Simmons Stadium (formerly Sleepy Hollow).

    Guess who plays the role of the Washington Generals for that round 4 occasion :(

  26. Gnarley, have not looked at the draw, but I’m guessing from your comment that we are up against the Tiges. If so, they may be a handful, what, with a new Tiger and all. He may look good on a poster, but I think they really need him to hold down a key defensive post.

    I was at gym in December last year… just me and two other blokes. One of them was the subject of the majority of the discussion in this thread. The third guy asked the “subject” how training was going. The response from the subject left me a bit flat about his prospects for this season, and that is what transpired.

  27. Skip of Skipton says

    Mark Blake was very good in taking ruck contests at centre bounces and stoppages. Aside from that he was fundamentally useless. He was very fortunate in that he was a local father/son product, and worth a spec. Without that I doubt he would have played 1 AFL game, let alone 99 with a premiership medallion included. Having said that, he earned his spot and deserves his place in the record book, with respect. Well done Mark, and thankyou.

  28. Hey Bro, can u get moi a 2011 almanac?

    Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry,Thierry Henry,Thierry Henry,Thierry Henry,Thierry Henry,Thierry Henry,Thierry Henry………………………………….

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