The Roar
The Roar

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Ever dreamed of kicking the winning goal after the siren?

Trent Cotchin: Brownlow Medal winner. (Photo by Darrian Traynor)
Expert
22nd May, 2013
23
1018 Reads

This is a dream scenario played out in the backyards of nearly every kid who kicked a Sherrin in their youth.

The pretend siren sounds, the ball is left in your hands, and with your team trailing – usually by five points – you have the shot at goal to win, most probably the grand final.

It goes through (sometimes after a couple of repeat goes), and you are the hero, chaired off by your pretend teammates.

Backyard rarely translates to the MCG, or Etihad, or Subiaco, or the SCG.

While many have dreamt, very few have lived it.

Last weekend when he kicked the winning goal for the West Coast against a desperately unlucky North Melbourne, Nic Naitanui became just the 35th player in 117 seasons and thousands of matches of VFL/AFL football, to fulfil that dream.

Just 35 in that entire time.

He joined some familiar names who have soaked up the pressure and slotted the after the siren, the winning goal.

Doug Wade did it in 1973 for North against the Pies.

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Three years later another Kangaroo, Malcolm Blight, famously did it against Carlton, while in 1987 Stephen Kernahan extracted some revenge for Blues’ fans when he booted the winning goal after the siren against North Melbourne.

In that same season, another North also won a game with a kick after the siren, when Alastair Clarkson, making his VFL debut, kicked the winner against Melbourne.

In 1994 Geelong had it happen twice and both times in finals, firstly when Billy Brownless kicked a post-siren goal in the qualifying final against Footscray, then Gary Ablett snr broke the deadlock in the preliminary final after the siren to send the Cats into the grand final.

While it had happened only once in the previous six seasons, it occurred twice in 2012, firstly when Karmichael Hunt did it for Gold Coast against Richmond, then when Cat Tom Hawkins continued the hold Geelong have over Hawthorn with an after the siren winner in Round 19.

Only one man – Barry Hall, who conceded he used to play the dream scenario in his back paddock as a kid – has done it twice, first for St Kilda against Hawthorn in 2001, then for Sydney against Brisbane in 2005.

Four players have also kicked a behind after the siren for a win, the most famous being Tony Lockett’s to get the Swans past Essendon and into the 1996 grand final.

For some, the dream can become a nightmare when they miss, with 20 players – including Blight, Beasley and Kernahan, as well as more recently Jack and Nick Riewoldt, and Adam Goodes.

So what is the point of all these statistics? Well, if your team had a shot at goal to win a game after the bell, whose hands would you want the ball to be in?

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Or maybe spread it wider, outside your individual team … who would you want, as the saying goes, “kicking for your life?”

Current statistics for the 2013 season show young Swan Luke Parker one of the most accurate although he had nine shots, kicking 8.1.

Of the key forwards, Hawkins has the best accuracy, booting 19.4 (82.6%) this season, just shading GWS youngster Jeremy Cameron (22.5 and 81.5%).

Among the other noted goalkickers are West Coast’s Josh Kennedy (26.8 and 76.5%), and Hawk Jack Gunston (11.2 and 84.6%)

The most accurate last season was Fremantle’s Chris Mayne with 39.7 at 84.8%.

That figure stacked up well against historical figures, although Matthew Richardson did kick 27.3 (90%) in the first eight games of 1995 before doing his knee against the Swans in Round 9 and missing the remainder of the season.

Of current players it is GWS’s Cameron who has the best accuracy with a tally of 51.20 (71.8%).

So who would want kicking for you?

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Lance Franklin, who has kicked 20.15 (57.1%) in 2013 close to his career accuracy of 57.4% – with his not-quite-straight run-up?

Eagle Josh Kennedy, whose career mark is (63.9%) – with his twinkle toes run-up?

Maybe St Kilda’s Ahmed Saad (11.10 this year and 60.9% career accuracy), the man with a run-up almost bigger than some small grounds?

It’s a very difficult choice to make, but I might find myself going for the man who once couldn’t kick straight, Sydney’s Lewis Jetta or his teammate Josh Kennedy.

Having kicked 19 straight behinds before his first AFL goal, in 2012 and 2013, Jetta has kicked 50.17 (74.6%). He has kicked five straight this season, while Kennedy has also become deadly over the past season or so, and in 2013 he’s kicked 8.2.

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