Top 15 VFL/AFL Full-Forwards of the Last 40 years: 1975-2014

First a number of caveats. We chose not to include the great full-forwards of the late 1960s/early 1970s such as Peter Hudson, Peter McKenna and Doug Wade as we believe their achievements belong mostly to an earlier era. Admittedly, Hudson kicked 110 goals in 1977, but this was the only full season he played after 1971. Wade kicked 47 goals in his final season at North Melbourne in 1975. McKenna kicked 26 goals in his final season at Collingwood in 1975, and then 36 goals in a short stint with Carlton in 1977.

Our second caveat is that we mainly excluded players who were not specialist full-forwards, and spent most of their careers in other positions. They included most notably Malcolm Blight, Fraser Gehrig, Alastair Lynch, and David Neitz. However, we felt that Gary Ablett Senior demanded inclusion given he delivered three 100 goal seasons in a row as a full forward, and overall 444 goals from 81 games in 1993-96 as the spearhead. And ditto Superboot Bernie Quinlan who delivered two 100 goal seasons in a row from full forward, and overall 357 goals from 86 games in the 1983-86 period.

Lockett and Dunstall were the obvious stand-outs in terms of goals per game and consistent output over more than 10 seasons. It is sometimes forgotten that Lockett played 12 seasons for a mostly weak St Kilda side lacking slick deliverers of the ball before finishing his career in a stronger Sydney team. Dunstall was the best leading full forward of his generation, but enjoyed silver service from outstanding midfielders for much of his career. Matthew Lloyd is sometimes underrated, but kicked two centuries and won three Coleman Medals. Buddy is the only player in the last ten years to kick a hundred goals in a season, and may rise higher in this list if he successfully plays out his long contract with the Swans.

Richo, Bazza Hall, Sav Rocca and Fev all had long and successful careers without quite reaching the ton. Roach kicked 107 in the dominant Richmond premiership team of 1980, the pie man Beasley booted 105 goals in Footscray’s break out season of 1985, Modra kicked 129 in 1993, Sumich kicked 359 goals in four seasons from 1990-93 including 111 in 1991, and Taylor delivered the ton in 1986. The last three fell behind due to a lower total number of goals compared to the likes of Richo, Hall and Rocca.

A number of very good players still missed out. They included Larry Donohue who delivered 105 goals in 1976 and 95 goals in 1978, Jon Longmire and Michael Moncrieff who both got close to the ton on two occasions, Kelvin Templeton who achieved both 118 goals in 1978 and a 90 goal season, the long forgotten Fitzroy spearhead Bob Beecroft who booted 291 goals in 96 games from 1976-80, and current Richmond goal sneak Jack Riewoldt.

 

  1. Tony Lockett: 1360 goals.
  2. Jason Dunstall: 1254 goals.
  3. Gary Ablett Senior: 1030 goals.
  4. Bernie Quinlan: 817 goals.
  5. Matthew Lloyd: 926 goals.
  6. Lance Buddy Franklin: 659 goals.
  7. Matthew Richardson: 800 goals.
  8. Barry Hall: 746 goals.
  9. Michael Roach: 607 goals.
  10. Saverio Rocca: 748 goals.
  11. Simon Beasley: 575 goals.
  12. Brendan Fevola: 623 goals.
  13. Tony Modra: 588 goals.
  14. Peter Sumich: 514 goals.
  15. Brian Taylor: 527 goals.

 

About Philip Mendes

Philip Mendes is an academic who follows AFL, soccer, tennis and cricket. He supported Fitzroy Football Club from 1970-1996, and on their death he adopted the North Melbourne Kangaroos as his new team. In his spare time, he occasionally writes about his current and past football teams.

Comments

  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Comprehensive list Phil (Great name BTW). I’d forgotten that BT kicked so many goals in his career. Wow Wee

  2. cowshedend says

    Nice work Phil, Templeton is a must have for me, an absolute freak in a rubbish team, till his knees gave up before he went to the Dees, won the Brownlow and kicked 75 in 1980 in a side that won 5 games.

  3. Philip Mendes says

    Cowshedend – yes on reflection probably should have included Templeton. I was keeping in mind both the fact that he played centre half forward in his brownlow year, and also his decline after his knee injury. But almost unstoppable in that 1978-80 period. I remember going to a Dogs-Fitzroy game late in 1978 at the Western Oval. The Lions won by more than 60 points, and Gary Wilson got the three brownlow votes which nearly got him the Charlie. But Templeton kicked about 7 or 8 out of about 10 or 11 for the Dogs that day. That was also the year he kicked 15 against St Kilda including about 7 in the last quarter when the umpires awarded him a mark every time he got hands to the ball.

  4. Agree 100% CSE

    What sort of crowds do you think we would’ve drawn in the late 70’s had it not been for KT? Honestly, he was the sole reason for turning up to watch the Dogs during that three year period (1978-80) – responsible for just over 30% (284 of 923) of the clubs goals during that time, lead the competition goal kicking twice and followed those efforts with a Brownlow from CHF in ’80.
    Remember, the ball very rarely got into our half of the ground, when it did he was unstoppable one on one.

    Phillip – The “marks” you refer to during the last quarter of his 15 goal effort against the Saints were payback for the ones he wasn’t paid during the first half of the year. I keep hearing how things “even out over the course of the season”. If that’s the case Western Oval 1/7/1978 is your classic example of how it (sometimes) does.

    MCR

  5. Philip- nice article. AS with any list, it will generate discussion. I would have had Modra, Fevola and Sumich in front of Rocca because, although he kicked more goals, I recall the others having more impact, and I imagine, winning more games. Thanks.

  6. Hang about… Plugger had Nicky Winmar delivering him the pill. Silver service.

  7. Sacrilege that Kelvin Templeton is not in your top 15. A bigger disgrace is that he is not in the AFL Hall of Fame and no talent clowns like Warren Tredrea (who isn’t even fit to carry Templeton’s bag, let alone be considered a Hall of Fame member) are. Templeton is and was a legend, literally carrying Footscray for 3 years. As for Sav Rocca – give me a break.

  8. Neil Anderson says

    A bit of a pattern emerging here. Beasley part of a crappy Dog’s outfit except for 1985 and Templeton part of crappy side every year he played. You would think recruiters over the last four decades would have concentrated on getting a decent spearhead to (A) Win more games and (B) Get more members and more people through the gate.
    Not wanting to put the moz on Boyd, but let’s hope he’s the answer, albeit forty years late.

  9. Philip Mendes says

    AJC – yes forgot about Winmar, but he did only come to St Kilda in Plugger’s 5th year. My firmest memory is of that amazing game against Carlton at Moorabbin in I think Round Two 1989 when Plugger kicked ten on Silvagni to win the game off his own boot. From memory he just grabbed every ball that came his way – not sure too many hit him on his bootlaces.

  10. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Templeton was the name which struck me between the eyes ( before I got to the comments ) and agree with Mickey Modra and Fevola had more impact on games overall than , Rocca . Draw card wise no bigger than , Modra poor by , Blight and Modra that he didn’t play his whole career at the crows thanks , Phil

  11. Dave Brown says

    Lockett may not have had the best players delivering to him (Winmar aside) but he was likely the only one on the list that (allegedly) believably threatened violence towards team mates that didn’t pass to him

  12. Q marks re Richardson and Hall. Richo played every where forward of the centre, without being what you may call a specialist full forward. Yes he is the Tiges best palyer in the last 35 years, correcty he was a forward, though not always a full forward. Sorry for being pedantic.

    Similarily Barry Hall played a key forward role at his final two clubs but was he technically a full forward, or a marking forward covering a lot of ground?

    I totally agree with MCR and Cowshedend, Templeton is a must for this group. Mic, those Footscray v St Kilda encounters at Moorabin, 1978-1981, were all memorable, for a myriad of factors.

    Where does Warwick Capper fit into this equation?

    Glen!

  13. You’ve forgotten Gavin Exell

  14. John, that’s a valid point re “Tinny” Exell, but if we’re looking at fellows who had good stints at full forward for Geelong in this period, what about the “Prez”,.and of course the big number 16 from Jerilderie ?

    Glen!

  15. Nice work Phil.
    Those outstanding players drew the crowds with their unique talents.
    Could not the Horse, John Longmire, be included?

    Punters may also recall the brief, bespectacled, Geoff Blethyn who had a
    stand out season in 1972.

  16. Geoff Blethyn twice topped Essendons goal kicking, firstly with 22 goals in 1971, followed by 107 goals in 1972. He then went across to Western Australia, returning to a final season at Windy Hill in 1976.

    Glen!

  17. He also played in Canberra where from memory he once kicked nine n a quarter. Tony Robb/G. Robb might confirm.

  18. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    JTH, surprised D, Mensch didn’t get a mention.

    Paul Salmon is an interesting one. More than 500 goals. Better as full forward or ruck?
    How does Alistair Lynch not get a guernsey?

  19. Philip Mendes says

    Glen – Capper for his 317 goals in 90 games at Sydney (forget his Brisbane years) has to be in the mix, but arguably not the top 15. John – Longmire was close and but for his knee injuries would have been in that top elite. Philip – Most of my memories of Lynch at Fitzroy were of him playing full back on the likes of Dunstall and Lockett, or alternatively roaming round centre half forward. I think it was only at Brisbane he played as a deep full forward. I’m sure there are a few others we have forgotten. George Young was a decent player at St Kilda: 284 goals in 108 games including 70 in his last season.

  20. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Yes, George Young started as a half-forward and then went to FF. Fair point about Lynch, yet he kicked 633 goals.
    Jeff Hogg was much-maligned, but played many good games in an ordinary side from 1991-94. Mother’s Day Massacre in 1991 he kicked 10.
    John Roberts kicked 135 goals in 50 games for South between 1980-82. Had a great leap.

  21. Way back in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s there were a few handy full foward options. Fellows like Peter Johnston, Kerry Good, Shane Loveless, Ross Ditchburn, though all were different types of palyers, had decent spells in front of the sticks.

    How/where, do we include Jacko in this ?

    In more recent times where does Daniel Bradshaw fit in this equation?

    Glen!

  22. Peter Flynn says

    Snake Baker 15.8 in 3 GFs.

    Jacko 308/82=3.76 per game

    Capper 388/124=3.13 per game

    Exell’s absence cost Geelong the 89 flag!

  23. Philip Mendes says

    Phil – Hogg was a good player at Richmond, but useless at Fitzroy from 1994-96. We gave away Paul Broderick and Michael Gale who were solid professionals and Matty Dundas who had at times been a useful goal sneak, and got in reply a player who could no longer run or jump. Pretty symptomatic of Fitzroy’s last three years.

  24. Glen! When living in Brisbane I backed D Bradshaw for the Coleman every year. No luck. Nice player though. A name a little forgotten.

  25. Neil – (19/1 at 6.43pm)

    Can’t agree whatsoever with your claim that Simon Beasley (bar season ’85) and KT (74-82) played in crappy Dogs teams.

    With the exception of his first (82) and last full year (89) the teams that Beasley was a member of, whilst not always aesthetically pleasing, were far from crappy. Coaches Hampshire & Malthouse led teams that gave everything and a little more winning more than half their contests (71 and a draw from 135 starts) during those six seasons (83-88). Players such as Purser, Hawkins, Foster, Wallis, Royal and Sewell were pretty good to watch I might add.

    Whilst he made only a handful of appearances in his first season at the kennel and wasn’t a major player, the Dogs did make the finals in Templeton’s debut VFL year (74). He kicked 70+ goals in ’76 when Billy Goggin’s side finished 5th, losing the EF to the Cats.

    MCR

  26. Neil Anderson says

    Might have overdone it Mic with the crappy teams bit. Until we crack the big one, I’m going to be ruing the fact we only ever got to the Prelim stage since 1954.
    If we had some more Beasleys and Templetons over those years we coulda been contenders.

  27. Neil Anderson says

    Slight blue. Of course we were in the Granny in 1961.

  28. cowshedend says

    Neil, with our plethora of mega successful seasons, it’s quite understandable that you missed 61……………YEP!

  29. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Geoff Blethyn also played for Port and Glenelg in SANFL . Longmire , Lynch and
    D Bradshaw worthwhile names to be debated

  30. Glen, thanks for mentioning Brucey Lindner & the great William Brownless.
    After AFL, Gavin Exell, excelled for Stanhope.

    George Young did the same at St Kilda.

    As it’s coming up for Bobby Burns night let’s remember No 55 Austin McCrabb.
    Handlebars once incurred the wrath of Blighty at VFL Park.
    I think Malcolm has got over it.

    I hope Punters who celebrate the great bard enjoy the haggis.

  31. Jamie Simmons says

    Carlton supporters will be incensed over the duel non-inclusion of Warren Ralph and Ross Ditchburn. And what the hell does Mark “Jacko” Jackson have to do to get some love around here?

  32. Shano – seriously mate … you have to be kidding, Templeton disgraced himself by dumping the Dogs for money … simple.

    THE REST OF THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN REMOVED. IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE. [Ed]

  33. Pumbleduck says

    I personally believe as good as the lad is .. you have Franklin just too high on this list.

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