Where’s the stat for the split pack?

by Peter Zitterschlager

The presentation of Aussie rules players stats has come a long way since the days when they simply tallied up kicks, marks and handballs. From this rudimentary approach, it has evolved to a level of sophistication – one which it is fair to say is nothing short of a science. Possessions are now differentiated for their effectiveness, their penetration, their merit. Players are now scrutinized for their decisiveness, their teamwork, their accountability. Indeed, it seems that every conceivable facet of the game is now under the microscope; so much so, that one is tempted to think that this analysis has been taken to its zenith. But is this the case?

Last year I was watching a Footscray game, when, Barry Hall – in all his awe-inspiring brutishness – split a pack consisting of a half a dozen players. Though Hall didn’t go on to take possession of the ball, his actions proved just as valuable, seeing that the pack was left shell-shocked, and the ball spilled to a teammate. (As I recollect the player then shot for goal but missed.) Anyhow, watching all this as keenly as me was a mate, and the moment it happened, we turned to each other knowingly. Now while we’re not exactly pundits, my mate and I like to consider ourselves learned men of all things football, and like true connoisseurs, we went on to savor the sight of Hall’s split pack the way cultured Parisians do good wine. It was then that my mate made a comment which caught my ear: “Hey,” he said, as though he were about to address a glaring oversight, “where’s the stat for that?” In a heartbeat, I suitably concurred, “Yes indeed, where is the stat for that?” “Well there ought to be one,” he added; “their ought to be a stat.” Again I couldn’t have agreed more: “Yes, there ought to be one; there ought to be a stat.”

Just as lamely, we then went on to explore whether there were any other overlooked stats, but as we did, Footscray, as is their habit, conceded the next 10 goals, and in deference to our horror, my mate and I duly left it there. (And for the record, the mood became so funereal, we later admitted to each other that it caused “shrinkage” issues to our you know whats!) In the weeks that followed, however, my mate’s observation resonated, and over this time, my mate and I (and our other mates) kept an eye out for other overlooked stats. By seasons end we had assembled a compelling number of them, all quintessentially Aussie rules we venture, and all deserving of statistical recognition. Here’s what we came up with:

Column 1 – To be title “Heroics” and will include:
1.  “Split packs” – Herculean brutishness in packs of no less than 6;
2.  “Big grabs” –  Marks involving altitude, contortionism or acrobatics;
3.  “Tide turning goals” – Goals against the run of play;
4.  “Dashes evoking Ray Gabalich” – Inspiring runs which drew a roar from the crowd; and
5.  “Taking one for the team” –  Not shirking from avoidable collisions.

Column 2 – To be titled “Conduct which dishonored club” or “CWDC’s”

1.  “Not taking one for the team” – Shirking from avoidable collisions;
2.   “Hissy fits”- Tantrums where arms flew akimbo (i.e. doing a Richo;)
3.  “Ponsy blonde rinses” – Using peroxide to attract Brownlow votes;
4.   “Hearing footsteps” –  Shrinking when back-peddled blind into contests; and
5.   “Fleeing during rotations” – Running personal best to flee from ground in a rotation.

There were arguments put forward to differentiate inside 50’s, but this was thought to make matters too complex. Also, there was conjecture about how to rate each action – a faction feeling that there wasn’t always parity – but we eventually settled on a single digit for each instance.

Anyway, there it is: 2  new columns which we feel would sit comfortably alongside kicks, marks and handballs … oh, and all the other stats they have these days.


  1. Peter

    Love the ‘Split packs’ stat – especially the proviso of ‘no less than 6’

    Would love to keep the split pack tally active on footyalmanac.com

    Are you German, and what is the literal translation of Zitterschlager.


  2. Hi John,

    Yes, the split pack is the standout. And yes, the name is German. It translates as ‘he who splits packs!’


  3. JTH #1 – don’t mention the war.

  4. #2. So all these years I’ve been calling you Zitter but could just as appropriately have called you Splitter!

  5. 3#,

    Dips, my father in law was in Hitler youth as a child.

    Some time ago we were watching Hogan’s Heroes with another ‘Big Grab’ from Sgt Schultze where he ‘took a few for the team’.

    Hans picked himself up off the floor, wiped the tears of laughter from his cheeks and said ‘I know we lost the war, but we were’nt that silly’

  6. Phantom – Hitler youth! wow. Suppose I can’t be critical. As you know I played some footy at Montmorency and we wore Collingwood jumpers.

  7. No choice Dips.

    Father fighting in Russia so all the kids had to participate. Some very interesting stories heard over the years at the post midnight crying time in his fine Bavarian Cellar. I got another perspective to war. The ordinary people are always the ones who suffer.

    Some funny stories as well.

    What attracted you to those ‘Bar Code’ tops?. Just going through an anti social stage I suppose. I’m pleased you saw the light. You would have been a bugger of a Collingwood supporter and very challenging to keep under control on the blog.

  8. Phantom

    As the post who talks, you certainly have an original ear and eye. Is ‘barcodes’ an original, and can I appropriate it from you for a column somewhere one day.

  9. #7 and #8. Interesting to hear two coopers talking about barcodes.

    Cooper – one who makes or repairs vessels formed of staves and hoops, as casks, barrels, tubs etc. (Macquarrie Dictionary)

  10. Deep Dave, you obviously have something dark and red fermenting away in there. I like the ‘Coopers Pale’ my self.

    JTH, I would like to claim it but it came via my brother who is an Arsenal (and Richmond) supporter. Apparently Newcastle United are referred to, by some, as the bar codes.

    He also refers to the Chelsea supporters as chav(s): council housing and violent. I wonder if that one could be transferred over here?

  11. #4. Gigs … Splitter it is from here on I fear (it evokes imagery of John Clease berating the Judeans Peoples front, does it not?)

  12. Pamela Sherpa says

    Yay! Footy language I can understand. Good on you Peter .It will be interesting to see what your stats columns produce during the season.

  13. Stephen George says

    Column 1, Number 5

    No other name should be mentioned other than the great Glenn Archer – no-one comes close

  14. GooD get SG.

    Micky Conlan?

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