It is difficult to predict the likelihood of a goal-kicking record being equalled or broken as goals can come in bags of up to 12 or more or not be scored at all.
However, using the previous year’s form, we can do some crystal ball gazing.
Unlike the AFL top 100 game player list, which can welcome only one new member in 2020, the possible new elite players to the AFL top 100 goal-kicking list may be as many as three, and – if this is the case – there is a high probability that the bar to enter the top 100 goal scorers’ club will have risen to 400 goals.
Luke Breust (Hawthorn) sits only three goals behind hot-seat occupant Michael Conlan (Fitzroy) – a strongly built half-forward who burst through packs in the 1970s and 80s and kicked many memorable goals – and therefore should make the list early into the 2020 season.
Other top 100 goal scorers under threat are 1920s Carlton player Horrie Clover and Tony Morwood, who started his career with South Melbourne in 1978 and moved to Sydney with the club.
Geelong’s Cliff Rankin, who scored exactly 400 goals in his career despite missing three years due to World War One, will still be safe within the top 100 but may drop down to the hot seat (100th position). Rankin was Geelong’s inaugural premiership captain-coach in 1925. Born in Geelong in 1896, he died in Geelong in 1975.
The two other likely challengers for an AFL top 100 goal kicking spot are two Jacks: Jack Darling (West Coast Eagles) and Jack Gunston (Hawthorn), whose total goals have been boosted by his 20 goals in two years at Adelaide before his move to the Hawks.
At a club level, it is relatively easy to become a top 100 goal scorer at the ‘baby’ clubs as neither Gold Coast Suns nor Greater Western Sydney have had a 100 different players score goals. Even at the newer clubs (Adelaide, Brisbane, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and even West Coast), a high scoring key forward or a consistent crumbing flanker could zoom into the charts with one outstanding season in which he kicks around 30 goals, but at the clubs that have been in existence for 40 years or more the task becomes much harder with the bar being highest at Carlton with 91 goals being required.
Turning to the traditional milestones, it is interesting to note that – of the five players poised to score their 100th goal in AFL football – only one, Brad Ebert, will achieve it at the one club when he kicks four more goals and becomes the 18th Port Adelaide player to do so. The other four players: Cam McCarthy (Fremantle), Dan Hannebery (St Kilda), Adam Treloar (Collingwood) and Tom Rockcliffe (Port Adelaide) are now at their second club.
The potential 300 goaler, Josh Jenkins, will also have to achieve this milestone at his second club after being traded to Geelong after scoring 296 goals at Adelaide and finishing his career there as the club’s fourth greatest goal scorer.
Looking at the remaining long-standing teams and basing my figures on 60 goals being a good return for a key forward and thirty goals a good return for a consistent goal scorer playing forward for some of his time, a remarkable 46 players could become top 100 goal scorers at their clubs in 2020.
Most clubs have three or four contenders, and it is likely that only one or two of these will get the required goals. At the Western Bulldogs (admittedly with a low entry bar at present) an amazing 11 players could potentially climb into the top 100 goal scorers at the club and both Collingwood and Melbourne have five.
Carlton has only one in Charlie Curnow.