Can you believe it’s been almost a year since I updated this ‘Dropping 50” concept?
Can you believe that most of you haven’t heard of it?
Can you believe I am going to tell you about it and you’re going to think ‘Hey, that is pretty cool… I should become a member here and support this bloke to provide innovative and sexy ways of covering footy, whilst managing to retain such rugged good looks and manner’?
Yeah, the last couple are a stretch, I know.
Anyway, are there Monty Python fans amongst the Mongrels that read this? I sure hope so, or I hope that you’ve at least watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail at some point, otherwise the next line will be totally lost on you.
“Fifty shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be fifty...”
No, I’m not going to request you throw the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch at a killer rabbit. Nevertheless, 50 is a number of great importance to this article.
Well, I am always in search of ways to accurately rate the individual games of the players who seem to dominate, and listening to a basketball podcast a few years back, I heard someone talking about a simplistic way of assessing the value of an individual on a game of basketball. They used the number 42 as a cumulative measure of stats that indicates whether a player had a significant influence on a game. The higher the number, the more influence on the game that player has had.
It’s a relatively simple equation in a sporting landscape that tends to over-complicate matters at every turn. Hell, just this week we had some bozo telling everyone that Lance Franklin actually tops the goal-kicking ladder if we allow for weighted stats due to the era he played in. You know… the era with stadiums with roofs, the era where defenders cannot arm chop and there is an umpire watching them all the time in case a defender holds them, they play extra games and finals – that difficult era.
Anyway… the concept – Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks = the total score of an individual player. If you’re tracking at a score of 42 points or over, you’re performing well. If you’re under, you’re probably playing a role and not a genuine star of the game.
Sound fair? There are probably holes in it all over the place, but for simplicity’s sake, I genuinely liked it.
I got to thinking about how I could apply a principle so simplistic to our beloved game, and whether there’d be any merit in it.
This is not meant to be some sort of revolutionary idea – more thought usually goes into ideas of that nature. It’s just a novelty kind of stat that may be of interest to some. Save the “you’re Americanising our game” stuff, please. If you don’t like the little more outside-the-circle stats, you may as well stop reading.
However, if you’re still here, congrats! You’re not a knob.
In regard to getting a simple game score for Aussie Rules Football, I started thinking that if we simply add possessions, tackles, marks and goals altogether, we may get a total number representative of the impact a player had on a game, or at least his standing in the game as compared to his peers?
I hit a couple of snags initially, as midfielders pick up a ton of possessions, and in the case of Tom Mitchell, or Lachie Neale, could have 50 points in possessions alone. Remember the start of the article?
“50 shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be 50.”
But how about if we counted only effective disposals?
Hmmmm, that throws a spanner into the works of the players that throw the footy on their boot and hope for the best.
To test this, I applied it to the most significant record-breaking effort in recent memory – Tom Mitchell’s 54-disposal clinic against Collingwood in Round One 2018.
I thought Mitchell would make the cut in this game. It seemed as though he was more or less over the line before he started, with the possessions alone. However, the elimination of ineffective disposals had a significant impact on his total score. He scored 48 total points, falling short by two, due to inefficiency with the ball, with “only” 36 of those 54 considered effective. He also only laid two tackles for the game.
However, his second 50-disposal game of the year in 2018 got him to the mark as a result of hitting the target with 80% of his disposals. Not only did he get to 50 points with the game that returned 40 effective disposals, nine marks and 13 tackles, but he also smashed through the 60-point barrier as well.
Make no mistake; this is no Mount Buller in terms of statistics – this is Everest. I am struggling to find those who’ve hit 50, and Mitchell notches a 62.
The 50-point game isn’t a mountain that’s meant to be easy to climb. It’s supposed to be a rarity. Some will never achieve it despite having sterling careers. Not that it means much, but you know what? I like it. I’m a bit of a numbers geek and seeing names on a list like this makes me happy. Shoot me.
To test this in 2023, and to demonstrate how difficult it is to achieve this number, we’ll look at the games of James sicily in Round 11 and Dom Sheed in Round 12 – both had 43 touches in their respective outings, which are equal season-high figures.
Well, well… will you look at that? Sicily romps into the 50-point club with a big game, notching 39 effective disposals, 16 marks, and one tackle. Though he added no goals, his total is 56, making his game one of the highest recorded.
But how about Dom Sheed?
Well, Dom gets plenty of the footy, but unfortunately, he kicks like a mule most of the time.30 of his 43 touches were deemed effective, and when you add his nine marks, one tackle, and one goal, he ends up with only 41.
Dan Houston came perilously close, registering 49 in Round 18, with 34 effective touches, nine marks and six tackles, but failure to kick a goal saw him reach 49… so close, yet so far.
So, do we need to go historical to find some more company for Sicily in 2023?
You bet your ass we do, because, with four rounds to go, he is the only bloke to achieve it this season.
With Lance Franklin calling it quits, his “13… 13… 13!!!” game in 2012 was as big a game as you’ll find from a modern forward, but Buddy actually wasted the ball a bit that day. From the 23 touches he collected, only 16 were effective. It cost him a score of 50, as he dipped to 47 as a result of those stray disposals.
How about Wayne Carey’s 31-possession, 11-goal effort in 1996? Sadly, there are no advanced stats available for that game, but if we assume, naively, that all of Carey’s 31 touches hit a target on the day, he clocks in at 61 points. Sadly, I’m not going to count that in here, as if we can’t discount his ineffective possessions, we probably shouldn’t be deducting them for any player. And I’m not here to make reaching this mark easier. You don’t install an escalator on the side of the mountain to help the old blokes, right?
The Little Master chimes in with a 50-point game, though, courtesy of his career-high 52 touches against the Pies in 2012. 37 of his 53 touches hit the mark, dropping him down from 68 points to 50 overall. He added nine marks and six tackles.
Patrick Dangerfield had a massive 58-point game in his 2016 Brownlow Year against the Roos, collecting 40 effective touches (out of 48 total… amazing), taking 13 marks, laying three tackles and kicking two goals to be Mitchell’s closest competitor.
Another Cat, Steve Johnson, went for 51 against the Dees in an absolute massacre in 2011. Not only did Stevie J have 31 effective disposals, seven goals, nine marks and four tackles, he did what only he has ever done, and added a record 10 goal assists to the stat-line as well. Unbelievable.
Tom Rockliff has a 50-pointer to his name as well, notching 54 in 2016 against Carlton. 36 of his 48 possessions were effective, and his nine tackles, eight marks and a goal put him over the top.
More recent additions come from Harry Himmelberg – 53 points (R13, 2022), Tom Stewart – 51 points (Round 11, 2022) and 50 points (Round Seven, 2022), Angus Brayshaw – 50 points (Round Three, 2022), and Luke Ryan – 50 points (Round 21, 2022). Indicates how sparse the big numbers are in 2023, with just one bloke making it, huh?
Below is the list we’ve come up with. Feel free to list any we’ve missed along the way and we’ll add them as we go.
The 50 Club
* note – none from 2020… what a horrible season, that was.
A few of you threw Nick Riewoldt’s 26 possession, 21 mark and nine-goal effort in 2016 out there as a possibility the last time I updated this column. Close… but no cigar. He had only one tackle, and only 16 of his disposals were considered effective, for a grand total of 47.
Interesting that this year, four defenders made the list this year and no mids. Haven’t had that happen before – it has been quite midfield-dominant to this point.
Dropping 50 now sits as an elite indicator in the Mongrel Stats realm. You can have a look at all our weird stats HERE.
Who will be next, and who have we missed? Let me know.
OVERALL 50-POINT LEADERS
5 – Tom Mitchell
2 – Gary Ablett, Lachie Neale, Jack Macrae, Brent Stanton, Kade Simpson, Tom Stewart
Stanton notching two may come across as surprising to some, particularly given the heat he’d receive from Bombers supporters at times, but he is the in here twice and makes an appearance in as one of the eight players to ever notch a Quadruple Double (double figures in kicks, marks, handballs and tackles in the same game) since stats have been kept.
TEAMS WITH THE MOST 50+ PLAYERS
The Hawks have five, with four of Tom Mitchell’s 50+ games coming in brown and gold, and one from Josh Gibson, as well. The Cats, by virtue of the double from Tom Stewart in 2022, leap into equal top place. The Blues are third with four, courtesy of two from Kade Simpson, and one each from Sam Docherty and Bryce Gibbs. They’re tied with the Giants are also getting in on the action, with Harry Himmelberg bumping them up to four, as well.
Just two teams have never had anyone register this stat – The Crows, and Tigers are all yet to have a player crack 50.
WHERE ARE THE FORWARDS?
It seems it’s pretty difficult for forwards to make the cut, doesn’t it? But Stevie J’s inclusion indicates it can be done.
A few of you threw Nick Riewoldt’s 26 possession, 21 mark and nine-goal effort in 2016 out there as a possibility. Close… but no cigar. He had only one tackle, and only 16 of his disposals were considered effective, for a grand total of 47. Sorry, St Nick…