For all of the intricacies in our great game of AFL football, not many people have actually put a high price on the value of kicking the first goal.
Many coaches always state to their teams that they need to start off well and kick the first goal, yet no one actually knows who is and who isn’t good at it.
I have found six people who have kicked the first goal of a game the most times this season. Five players were ahead of the rest by kicking the first goal three times this year, whereas one player was in a league of his own, with four instances of him kicking the first goal.
I’ll inform you of which players made the list and where they would play in an ideal 2014 forward line for the first five minutes.
The list may be surprising.
Half-Forward Flank: Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle) (three times)
The Fremantle captain may not have had the best of years in what is a glistening and brilliant career, but Matthew Pavlich has found another way to contribute to his side in 2014.
He kicked the first goal in Round 3 against Sydney, with a highlight game being in Round 9 against Geelong, where he kicked the first goal of the match in a dream 300th game.
I have put Pavlich at half-forward flank because of the other players in this forward line, as he would have surely been in a key position spot if there weren’t such modern day superstars lining up with him in the same forward line.
The great Freo skipper is just another useful yet unseen player in what is a scary forward line.
Centre-Half Forward: Lance Franklin (Sydney) (three times)
For all of the accolades that have come his way this season, ‘Buddy’ has found yet another way to be in the stats books for a good reason. He has found ways to kick the first goals of games on three occasions.
He kicked the first goal for the first time this year in Round 3 against Adelaide, where he led his then new and poor performing team to a great away victory which started a fantastic year for Sydney.
I put ‘Buddy’ at centre-half forward because of his huge kick, great running capacity and general presence. He could have been at full-forward but the ideal full-forward resides there. Franklin is one of the more important and bigger names in the ‘2014 best first five minute forward line’.
Half-Forward Flank: Charlie Dixon (Gold Coast) (three times)
One of the two surprises is this young Sun, as Charlie Dixon has aided his youthful and talented side in another way. He has kicked the first goal three times this season, with the first instance being in Round 7 where he helped his team to a fantastic upset victory over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
Ever since kicking the first ever goal for the Gold Coast Suns, Dixon has been an important name for AFL enthusiasts. Now he has found another way to be remembered, as his starting efforts in season 2014 have been great.
I put him at half-forward flank because he doesn’t have the experience or skill to be a key position player ahead of the quality that is in the forward line.
Forward Pocket: Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) (three times)
The sometimes controversial yet consistent goal kicker in Jack Riewoldt may not have had a year as good as 2012, where he won a Coleman Medal, but he has impacted on the record books in a different way. He has been one of the two Richmond players to make this forward line.
He started off this trend by kicking the first goal against Brisbane in Round 5 in what was a drought-breaking win, as he kept on churning out goals consistently in 2014. I have put him in the pocket because the in-form full-forward sits in his rightful position, squeezing Riewoldt to the pocket.
He is still quite an asset for this forward line though.
Full Forward: Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn) (four times)
Jarryd Roughead is having a superlative year. His team sits on top of the ladder only three rounds out from finals, he is leading the Coleman Medal race and has kicked the first goal the most times this season, as his first goal against Melbourne last week saw him go ahead in the race.
He started off a lot later than all of the other members of the forward line, as it took until round fourteen against Collingwood on a Saturday afternoon for him to register his first goal of a game in 2014.
He then produced the same feat three more times in quick succession, as his sterling start to last week’s game giving him the title. He has been put straight to full-forward for his brilliant year and form. Roughead can live slightly happier at home this weekend while on suspension, as he can join up with ex-teammate‘Buddy’ in being in this awesome forward line.
Forward Pocket: Trent Cotchin (Richmond) (three times)
The second shock and second Richmond player is Trent Cotchin. The midfielder has proven that scoring the first goal of a game doesn’t have to be a forward’s job, as Cotchin has achieved this feat three times in 2014. It started in Round 3 against the Bulldogs, where he slotted the first.
He has been consistent in many ways and can be happy knowing that he has achieved another feat. He is probably the only pocket or flank player who actually fits his position, as Cotchin has been a fantastic small forward for the first few minutes of AFL games in 2014.