Max shines as Saints stutter
The All-Australian line up for 2008 wreaks havoc for statisticians all around the nation; they’ve got goals, clearances, hit outs, spoils and everything which labels a footballer as truly great, but they haven’t got Max Hudghton.
The Saints were rolled by the Hawks but Hudghton managed to bypass any efforts of the impeding “Bulldozer Buddy”, restricting the star forward to one goal. The 32-year-old veteran’s closing speed and spoiling ability are two credentials that have proven too strong for the forwards to shake.
If stats go a long way to All-Australian selection, here’s one that should have landed Max a spot. In both games against the Hawks and Blues, Hudghton was given the role of keeping two of the games most influential players in Franklin and Fevola quiet. For the two clashes, Fevola was limited to five goals (2 in round 2, 3 in round 15) and Franklin four (3 in round 16, 1 preliminary final).
The All-Australian back-line only possess two, possibly three defenders that play the role of sticking with one individual forward (Morris and Scarlett). Max Hudghton is the most competent defender to fill that role. Geelong only played the Hawks and Blues once, Franklin scored 4 goals playing on him and Fevola 3. With St.Kilda playing the teams twice, Hudghton’s stats read better.
The All-Australian defensive structure appears to be basing itself on counterattacking football; Harley, Hodge, Fisher and Enright all play zone, loose man type roles, all are excellent footballers, but do we need four rebound type footballers, because it seems the biggest problem for defenders isn’t the pace they rebound at, it’s stopping a forward on a lead.
All-Australian or not, i regard Max Hudghton as one (top three) of the best defenders in the game.