We tend to get caught up in certain stats when it comes to the AFL. One of them that has become a stat of high importance has been intercept grabs.
Players such as Jake Lever, Aliir Aliir, and Jacob Weitering have made names for themselves picking off the errant kicks of the opposition and continue to have a high profile in the league as a result. But from where I sit, playing as a +1, or coming in over the top to take a grab as your teammates take the heat and hold the fort against the forwards is not the most important type of mark in the game.
Of course, marks inside 50 reign supreme. They result in a shot at goal and can inflict maximum damage on an opposition, but there is another type of mark that often goes unheralded that I rate pretty highly. I call it the “ Get out of Jail” mark, or “GooJ” mark for short.
Sounds dumb, right? Well, the other option was to call it the “Bail Out” mark… or the “BO” mark. But that makes it sound like it stinks, so GooJ mark it is.
Firstly, a little description as to what constitutes a GooJ mark.
- It is a mark that can only be taken by a player when his team has the footy. He provides the target to get the team out of jail.
- It can only be taken between the fifty-metre arcs. This is an arbitrary decision, as it is meant to highlight the blokes who take grabs when the teams are forced to go down the line.
- As such, it is only recorded when a player presents up as the primary target as the team either leaves the defensive fifty, or works down the wing.
Why is the GooJ mark so important?
I’m glad I asked. You see, this is the mark that breaks the game open. How many times have you seen a team trapped inside their defensive fifty, hammering the ball out, only for the defensive press of the opposition to build the wall, intercept, and pump it back inside the attacking zone with interest?
Repeat inside fifties kill defences, but one GooJ mark not only releases the pressure, but can get the team up and running, changing momentum as the entire group of mids, half-backs, and half-forwards all have to get on the move. It gives a team under fire a chance to go on the offence.
My plan is to chart the best exponents of this aspect of the game all season, with the intention of identifying the players that give their teams the best possible avenue to exit defensive fifty, clunk grabs to relieve the pressure, and work the ball down the wing when short passing avenues are closed off.
Note – This will be a members column ongoing, but for the first one, to give you guys a bit of a taster, I am opening up the Round One results to all.
Here are the players that took the big “GooJ” marks in Round One. These will go into a table for you guys over the next week.
2 – Max King, Mason Cox, Aaron Naughton, Rhys Stanley, Riley Thilthorpe, Tim Taranto, Matt Flynn
1 – Jason Castagna, Jamie Elliott, Jack Hayes, Mason Wood, Ben Brown, Luke Jackson, Tim English, Darcy Parish, Matt Guelfi, Mason Redman, Jarrod Berry, Ollie Wines, Dan McStay, Reilly O’Brien, Bailey Banfield, Alex Pearce, Jordan Dawson, Jack Lukosius, Jack Mahony, Ned Reeves, Mitch Lewis, Jy Simpkin, Callum Mills, Stephen Coniglio, Jake Riccardi, Hayden McLean, Will Hayward.
Over the next few weeks, I expect the big men to really start standing up and putting some distance between themselves and the smaller guys. It is easy to take one here and there, but to provide a marking target as the GooJ option is not something little blokes will do all that often.
Players not mentioned I expect to feature going forward include Max Gawn, Rowan Marshall, Paddy Ryder, and Sean Darcy. All big men, I know.
Interestingly, of the seven players that managed to drag in two GooJ marks this week, all but one were rucks or key position players. Tim Taranto is the outlier. Let’s see how he goes in Round Two.
This will become more expansive as the season progresses, with Round-by-Round updates highlighting which players made a difference and who couldn’t get it done.
As an aside, Aaron Naughton could have probably been out in the lead by himself, but had a third GooJ mark taken off him due to his teammate attempting a block in the marking contest. Hell, I would have backed Naughton to take the grab regardless, given the way he was attacking the footy. And yes, I watched every game to compile these – I have no life.