Are there Monty Python fans amongst the Mongrels? 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.
“50 shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be 50.”
No, I’m not going to request you throw the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch at a killer rabbit – you probably don’t want to upset it. Nevertheless, 50 is a number of great importance to this article.
Given I have actually learnt how to scrape data properly in the last week or so, I figured it was about time I updated this ‘Dropping 50′ concept and actually make it completely accurate, as opposed to being riddled with human error… my human error.
If you haven’t heard of this concept just yet, I’ll give you a bit of a run down.
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 couple of years back, I heard someone talking about a simplistic way of assessing the value of an individual on a game of basketball. I’m not sure whether they were Douglas Adams fans or not, but they used the number 42 as a cumulative measure of accumulated stats that indicates whether a player had a significant influence on a single 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 tend to over-complicate matters at every turn. Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks = the total score of an individual player. If you’re tracking at 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 how I could apply a principle so simplistic to our beloved game of Aussie Rules 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 out game” stuff, please. I actually don’t like the culture around US Sports at the moment and would hate to see our sport head that way – this is just a bit of fun. 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 Monty Python rule?
“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? Ahhhh, this may throw a spanner in the midfield works.
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 definitely make the cut in this game. It seemed as though he was more or less over the line with the possessions alone, but the elimination of ineffective disposals had a significant impact on his overall game score. He scored 48 total points, falling short by two due to inefficiency with the ball. “Only” 36 of his 54 touches were 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, he also smashed through the 60-point barrier as well – the only player to ever do so. Mitchell has topped a score of 50 a massive five times and, at the time of writing, is the most recent player to register a 50-point game, as well. He did this in Round 21, 2021, with a 51 against the Pies.
Make no mistake; registering 60 points is no Mount Buller in terms of statistics – this is an Everest. I am struggling to find those who’ve hit 50, and Mitchell notched 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.
Let’s take a look Josh Bruce’s ten-goal game in 2021 and see how it stacks up
Ten goals and ten marks are a nice start, but Big Josh only laid one tackle, and had 15 effective disposals for the game. His game total was just 36. Way off the mark.
How about Darcy Parish? He had a couple of monster games for the Bombers in the 2021 season, right?
Well, yeah… but he is not going to trouble us here. You see… and this may be tough to hear for adoring Bomber fans, but he doesn’t tackle enough. He has been lucky to crack 40.
How about his teammate, Zach Merrett? The guy is a running machine, and his Round 15, 2021 effort against the Dees looked as though he may give things a shake. Alas, he too, fell short. Merrett had eight tackles and five marks, but failed to hit the scoreboard. He had a ton of effective disposals but still managed just 45 points.
How about the game where Darcy Moore took 19 grabs back in Round Eight? Well, he was playing in defence (following the failed forward experiment… remember that?) so goals were automatically ruled out. He also laid just one tackle, so when you combine his 19 grabs with 24 effective disposals and just the one tackle… maths time… you get 44. Sorry, Darcy… not this time.
So, come on Mongrel! Enough of telling us who didn’t make the cut – who the hell has topped 50 points in 2021? It sounds like a wasteland!
Well, people scoffed at Jack Ziebell early in 2021, didn’t they? They criticised his role, the way he was playing, and his penchant for trying to do everything for the Kangaroos… like he had much of a choice in their injury-depleted line-up.
But what he could do was rack up some huge numbers, and hit targets.
In Round Six, he had 34 effective disposals to go with 14 marks and five tackles. Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner. That adds up to 53 and gives him a place on the all-time list alongside names such as Dangerfield, Coniglio, and Ablett.
Brandon Ellis had a party on the wing in Round Seven, clocking 34 effective disposals, 16 marks, five tackles, and a goal. That’s a nice day at the office. Mitchell’s fifth 50+ game made it three players for the season.
Is it starting to hit home how hard this number of 50 is to achieve? Merrett, Moore and Bruce had massive games and couldn’t get near it, but Ziebell… well, he didn’t even need goals to crack the right number. Ellis was one game out of the box, and Mitchell… well, he is proving to be the man when it comes to this stat.
So, do we need to go historical to find some more company for Ziebell? Let’s take a look back
Lance Franklin’s “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 Whitfield, Mitchell and co. 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 couple of 50 point games, 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 52 overall. He added nine marks and six tackles in that game, but did not hit the scoreboard. His other outing was against the Hawks, as Gaz had 34 effective touches, eight tackles, nine marks and two goals for a handy 53.
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 rival in terms of the top recorded score.
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 one player has ever done, and added 10 goal assists to the stat-line as well. Unbelievable.
Other additions come from Stephen Coniglio, who added 30 effective touches, 13 marks, eight tackles and three goals for a total of 54 in Round 11, 2019, and Lachie Whitfield, who had 56 in Round 9, 2019, comprising of 31 effective disposals, 18 marks, three goals and four tackles.
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.
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 to the list. You won’t find any, however.
THE DROPPIN’ 50 CLUB
Tom Mitchell – 62 points (Round 15, 2018)
Patrick Dangerfield- 58 points (Round 12, 2016)
Heath Shaw – 57 points (Round Nine, 2016)
Lachie Neale – 57 points (Round 23, 2019)
Lachie Whitfield – 56 points (Round Nine, 2019)
Lachie Neale – 56 points. (Round Three, 2015)
Tom Mitchell – 56 points (Round 18, 2018)
Brandon Ellis – 56 points (Round Seven, 2021)
Kade Simpson – 55 points. (Round 24, 2011)
Brent Stanton – 55 points (Round Six, 2012)
Tom Rockliff – 54 (Round 11, 2016)
Stephen Coniglio – 54 (Round 11, 2019)
Jack Ziebell – 53 points. (Round 6, 2021)
Gary Ablett – 53 points (Round 21, 2012)
Matt Rosa – 53 points (Round Nine, 2012)
Gary Ablett – 52 points (Round 10, 2012)
Jack Macrae – 52 points (Round 14, 2019)
Jack Macrae – 52 points (Round 23, 2018)
Jake Lloyd – 52 points (Round Nine, 2018)
Brent Stanton – 52 points (Round Four, 2012)
Steve Johnson – 51 points (Round 19, 2011)
Bryce Gibbs – 51 points (Round 13, 2017)
Tom Mitchell – 51 points (Round Ten, 2016)
Tom Mitchell – 51 points (Round 17, 2018)
Josh Gibson – 51 points (Round Two, 2016)
Kane Cornes – 51 points (Round Four, 2013)
Joel Selwood – 50 points (Round Five, 2017)
Kade Simpson – 50 (Round Six, 2017)
Sam Docherty – 50 points (Round Six 2017)
Dane Swan – 50 points (Round 23, 2012)
Tom Mitchell – 50 points (Round 21, 2021)
Jack Steven – 50 points (Round Eight, 2015)
Leigh Montagna – 50 points (Round Three, 2016)
Sam Gibson – 50 points (Round Eight, 2016)
Steele Sidebottom – 50 points (Prelim Final, 2018)
AND A FEW NEAR MISSES?
Tom Rockliff has four scores of 49, which makes him the unluckiest of the bunch. He could have very easily been equal with Mitchell as the number one man in terms of total 50+ games. Gary Ablett and Lachie Neale could have also added to their totals, both with games finishing on 49, as well.
5 – Tom Mitchell
2 – Gary Ablett, Lachie Neale, Jack Macrae, Brent Stanton, Kade Simpson
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 five 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 Blues are second with four, courtesy of two from Kade Simpson, and one each from Sam Docherty and Bryce Gibbs. Then we have the Cats and Giants on three apiece.
Three teams have never had anyone register this stat – The Dees, 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…
Mitchell is the obvious standout, and given the number of touches he collects, another one or even two 50+ games in 2022 are not beyond him. Ditto for Lachie Neale and Jack Macrae. If I was looking for a player to join the club, as opposed to just adding to his totals, it’d probably be either Sam Walsh, Clayton Oliver, or Jack Steele. As an outsider, throw in Willem Drew as someone capable of picking up good disposal numbers, and propping them up with big tackle numbers, as well.
Who will be next, and who have we missed? Let me know.