When a new footy season kicks off in March next year, a number of players who hold, or share, the lowest position on the league’s or their club’s top 100 game-players or goal-scorers list will be under the hammer to hold onto the elite status that such an achievement provides them with.
Among the older, established clubs, it is generally a player who has given the club good service for seven or eight years, and through fitness and form and finals games, has managed to put together the requisite number of games to make it into the less than 10% of players in the upper echelon of the club’s history.
For these clubs the total number of games required to attain top 100 status is not easily achieved and top 100 goal-kicking positions are only generally obtained by forwards who consistently score goals over a number of seasons.
Let’s look at the hot seat holders across the whole spectrum to see who may disappear from the elite in season 2020.
In the AFL all time top 100 game-players, Anthony Stevens (North Melbourne), Darren Milburn (Geelong) and Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs) all share 98th position. As there is only one player with sufficient games at present to pass this trio (Melbourne’s Nathan Jones), the likely (and worst case) scenario is that these three players will drop to 99th position on the games-played ladder. This will mean that one extra chair will need to be found at any AFL top 100 function that happens after Nathan Jones has played the required six games to join the AFL elite.
In the AFL top 100 goal-scorers, however, things are not as cosy. As one of only three players in the AFL’s top 100 who has not kicked 400 goals, Mick Conlan (Fitzroy) sits alone in 100th position. Only three goals behind him is Hawthorn’s Luke Breust, while Jack Darling (West Coast) and Jack Gunston (Hawthorn) are also potential AFL top 100 goal-scorers. We could see the demise of Sydney’s Tony Morwood and Carlton’s Horrie Clover as well if these two have reasonable seasons in 2020.
From an AFL coaches viewpoint, Simon Goodwin (Melbourne) and Chris Fagan (Brisbane) – if they coach for the full season, and this is not as assured as it was in the past! – will become part of the coaching elite. However, on a crowded bench that holds six coaches who coached for four complete seasons – Tony Shaw (Collingwood), Kevin Bartlett (Richmond), Guy McKenna (Gold Coast), Gordon Rattray (Melbourne and Fitzroy), Gerard Neesham (Fremantle) and Gerald Brosnan (University and Melbourne – five seasons) – these two new entrants would drop this group from equal 98th to equal 100th and therefore they would remain on the list.
Among the umpires, current whistleblower Curtis Deboy is in 99th position, equal with Steven Hanley and Mike Henry. If he umpires even one game in season 2020 he will assign Hanley and Henry to 100th position where Nathan Williamson – if he has a good season and umpires in most rounds – could pass their tally and cause their departure from the AFL top 100 umpires.