Greater Western Sydney take on the Western Bulldogs at Henson Park tonight, and it’s fair to say Pepa Randall is pumped to play her side’s first home pride match.
With an enforced pre-grand final bye well and truly taking the wind out of the sails of what has been a thoroughly entertaining finals series, there’s perhaps only one antidote to the ever-predictable fall-out following the Goal of the Year decision handed down at the Brownlow Medal count.
That is, a look back at some of the more disrespectful acts undertaken on the football field in 2021. That’s right folks, we’re counting down the ten most disrespectful goals of 2021. Buckle up.
Josh Bruce – Round 3 versus North Melbourne
To say that North had a rough start to the 2021 AFL season is akin to whatever disastrous analogy you want to throw this way.
A 52-point loss to Port was followed by a 59-point humbling at the hands of the Suns, and they entered Round 3 knowing that Josh Bruce awaited them. (If you don’t remember, that’s the same bloke who snagged six against the Roos in both 2019 and 2020).
Following a competitive first quarter – which saw the Roos trailing by a mere two goals – what followed veered dangerously close to ‘trigger warning’ territory. Considering how rare a forward bagging ten goals is these days, Bruce’s performance almost warranted a column of his own, but in glorious TL; DR format, what followed was this.
Top of the goal-square set shot following a 50m penalty, snap on the run from 30m out, snap from set shot 15m out on boundary, set shot from 40m out on an angle, set shot from relatively straight on from 25m, run into open goal following a scrappy marking contest, and then – in a last quarter massacre – a torpedo from the goal-line following an uncontested grab, a 20m set shot following a contested grab on the lead, a snap from 15m on a tight angle, and finally, a towering grab over Jack Ziebell which resulted in the easiest of set shots from 15m out.
Feel free to pick whichever one you feel had the most disrespect attached to it as a starting point. (My vote is for the missile sent into the third tier at the start of the fourth quarter).
Mitch Duncan – Round 6 versus West Coast
At quarter-time of this Round 6 clash, the Eagles held a slender five-point lead over Geelong. This was at the very least verging on being a huge deal for West Coast, considering they hadn’t won in Geelong since their miracle comeback in 2006, and since that time had more or less been horribly belted at Kardinia Park.
At the cusp of halftime however, the status quo had been returned after the Eagles allowed the Cats at that point to have kicked 9.1 to a solitary behind. Not content with 15 touches, nine marks and a goal, Mitch Duncan received a free kick on the edge of the 50m arc following an errant attempted tackle from Dom Sheed.
What followed was a masterclass in arrogance from Duncan. Exhibit A) Mark Howard – commentating on Fox Footy – instantly foreshadowed what was to come by dropping a “Maybe he’ll need a barrel Browny…this would make it ten for the term…” Exhibit B) The reason he said this was because he was 60m out on a harsh angle and about to channel Jayden Hunt’s staggering efforts of 2017 where he yeeted a Sherrin into orbit.
Exhibit C) Having launched a filthy torpedo over the valiantly outstretched hands of the Eagles defenders he was interviewed live on air seconds later and had the audacity to state – among other things – that “Footy is a simple game sometimes” and “We’ll keep our foot on the throat from here”. Mitch Duncan is a bad, bad man.
Hunter Clark – Round 7 versus Hawthorn
Halfway through the second quarter of St Kilda’s reaming of Hawthorn, Hunter Clark smothered an attempted clearing defensive kick from Blake Hardwick. Gathering the bobbling pigskin on his way towards goal he was corralled by Changkuoth Jiath. Hunter took a second to look CJ in the eye, peering deep into his soul. CJ knew Hunter was going to handball to Jack Higgins and had made suitable adjustments.
Hunter, however, knew CJ better than he knew himself, and alas for CJ, there was no carrot in Hunter’s box. The Saints young gun merely continued his saunter towards the big sticks before booting the footy into the gleeful hands of the supporters behind the goals.
Perhaps the most glorious aspect of this is that no matter what each player achieves over their career, Hunter Clark will always have this over CJ. And that’s a hell of a thing to hold over a man.
Trent McKenzie – Round 17 versus Melbourne
When you’ve gone five years and 39 games with a goal, there’s a certain level of expectation that accompanies the – hopefully – inevitable next one. Normally it’s a gifted handball over the top from a sympathetic teammate, or a casual set shot close to goal from a regulation mark. Not for Trent McKenzie. Instead, he unleashed an unholy missile from nigh on 65m out, on the run, and sandwiched between two desperate Melbourne opponents.
McKenzie – for what it’s worth – has previously been filmed kicking a footy over the expanses of the Port Adelaide FC headquarters, so it’s safe to say that Luke Jackson knew what he might’ve been planning when lingering near a stationary Travis Boak 70m out from goal. Not that there’s anything that Jackson could have done to change what was about to unfurl.
McKenzie snatched a metres break on his young opponent, ever-so-briefly stared down the Melbourne player who dared to run across from guarding the mark, and Geronimo’d a staggering goal.
Whilst I’m not sure the Sherrin in question every truly recovered from the visceral impact inflicted upon it from McKenzie’s left shoe, what I am sure is that it cleared the pack, cleared the line, and in the process cleared all manner of bodily fluids from Port supporters’ bodies.
Jacob Hopper – Round 23 versus Hawthorn
Some might say it’s easy to make fools of Carlton. And whether or not this is true – of either the club’s recent win-loss record, the performance of their Board of Directors, of their attempts to snag a coach following the detonation of the Teague Train – Jacob Hopper delivered an all-time piss-take against the Blues in Round 23.
Gathering the ball from a stoppage inside-50, Hopper Willy Wonka’d half a backline’s worth of players in the blink of an eye.
Not content with forcing Jacob Weitering to attempt a smother on a kick that never existed, he had Nic Newman chasing ghosts with another fake-out and finished by selling Matthew Kennedy an everlasting gobstopper wrapped in a Golden Ticket that he’d never lay hands on.
Not content with this embarrassment, he proceeded to bend a banana through the big sticks, making a genuine mockery of Carlton’s defence. Needless to say, following this there wasn’t much surprise from this correspondent when Hopper led the Giants’ Brownlow tally on Sunday night.