Opinion Leigh Matthews and that season he didn't win the Brownlow . . .

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Osho

Team Captain
Jul 9, 2021
414
502
AFL Club
GWS
The thing about Matthews is that, he had so may strings to his bow he would have been fantastic in any era, against all strategies, immune to the jumper push-pulling and gentle inmtimidation of today, would flourish in all types of games. If he was born in an era when on-field violence was not accepted, revelled in, and encouraged within clubs and ignored by the authorities, like today's era, he would still dominate. He'd be a couple of inches shorter than most oppo, but that woiuldn't stop him getting the ball, avoiding tackles, staying on his feet and delivering. That can't be said about all greats from the past.

The Flower comparison is interesting, he was a glorious player, could do everything (though can't recall much of an inside game - call me out Dees fans, I may be wrong), maybe one thing he did regularly that I never saw Matthews do was run the field, marking the kick-in, and bouncing and dodging his way through traffic into the forward line, or being involved in one-twos to run the ball the full ground. There was one game against Richmond at the MCG in the mid 80s he did this repeatedly and I was aghast that it couldn't be stopped without some rugged stuff, and even then, not so much.

Matthews was explosive and great in heavy traffic. I think the modern fan who never saw Matthews play, and even some older folk who didn't see him much, may assume he was all aggression and that, ideirco, not very skilled. Couldn't be more wrong. It is one of the cases when stats do tell the modern fan more than the sketchy youtube highlights.

The first quarter brawl in the 1985 GF always fascinated me. It was a sliding doors moment. Not for the teams, Hawks would lose but return to the top pretty quickly, immediately actually, and be the reason that the Bombers could not create a proper dynasty even with the team they had, and the Bombers would be left unsated thinking, we should have won more with that team. It was a sliding doors brawl for Matthews and Brereton - Matthews clearly was not his old self and was mostly ineffective in the skirmish, whilst Dermott, the naughty fellow, stepped up and took the reins as the Hawks wildman in wonderful style.
 

Generation X

Debutant
Sep 26, 2021
148
202
AFL Club
Melbourne
The thing about Matthews is that, he had so may strings to his bow he would have been fantastic in any era, against all strategies, immune to the jumper push-pulling and gentle inmtimidation of today, would flourish in all types of games. If he was born in an era when on-field violence was not accepted, revelled in, and encouraged within clubs and ignored by the authorities, like today's era, he would still dominate. He'd be a couple of inches shorter than most oppo, but that woiuldn't stop him getting the ball, avoiding tackles, staying on his feet and delivering. That can't be said about all greats from the past.

The Flower comparison is interesting, he was a glorious player, could do everything (though can't recall much of an inside game - call me out Dees fans, I may be wrong), maybe one thing he did regularly that I never saw Matthews do was run the field, marking the kick-in, and bouncing and dodging his way through traffic into the forward line, or being involved in one-twos to run the ball the full ground. There was one game against Richmond at the MCG in the mid 80s he did this repeatedly and I was aghast that it couldn't be stopped without some rugged stuff, and even then, not so much.

Matthews was explosive and great in heavy traffic. I think the modern fan who never saw Matthews play, and even some older folk who didn't see him much, may assume he was all aggression and that, ideirco, not very skilled. Couldn't be more wrong. It is one of the cases when stats do tell the modern fan more than the sketchy youtube highlights.

The first quarter brawl in the 1985 GF always fascinated me. It was a sliding doors moment. Not for the teams, Hawks would lose but return to the top pretty quickly, immediately actually, and be the reason that the Bombers could not create a proper dynasty even with the team they had, and the Bombers would be left unsated thinking, we should have won more with that team. It was a sliding doors brawl for Matthews and Brereton - Matthews clearly was not his old self and was mostly ineffective in the skirmish, whilst Dermott, the naughty fellow, stepped up and took the reins as the Hawks wildman in wonderful style.
Flower was a winger, I don't recall him ever going into the middle, happy to be corrected though. Outside run, great kick and evasive skills and a wonderful mark, pretty amazing that someone can be so good during that era with his build.

But to see the best of Flower watch his games for Vic. Played for the state 15 times, was captain for 2 years. At Melbourne he was always in an ordinary team, you didn't get to see how good he really was until you saw him dominate when surrounded by the best.
 

Back One Out

Brownlow Medallist
Mar 2, 2015
16,350
28,332
AFL Club
Hawthorn
That I disagree with. Even these innate skills are trainable - reading the game, snapshots, goal sense, ball handling.
Players can train, improve themselves and be the very best they can be. But there's a ceiling to how good you can be.

The best players are the best players for a reason. I don't know if they're born with talent, or if talent is the product of a good learning environment from a very young age and sustained practise through your primary school and high school years. Maybe a combination of good genes, early learning, muscle memory & character building.

Either way, you can't teach average players to be champions. Otherwise, every hack from the state leagues would train themselves up to be the equal of Pendlebury, Selwood, Bontempelli or Oliver. That just doesn't happen.

99.99% of the gun players were always gun players. Ruckman and tall forwards/defenders are sometimes the exception. But we're not really talking about the specialised big players. Thinking more of the average-sized ball players (175cm-193cm) and the footy basics.
 
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Osho

Team Captain
Jul 9, 2021
414
502
AFL Club
GWS
Flower was a winger, I don't recall him ever going into the middle, happy to be corrected though. Outside run, great kick and evasive skills and a wonderful mark, pretty amazing that someone can be so good during that era with his build.

But to see the best of Flower watch his games for Vic. Played for the state 15 times, was captain for 2 years. At Melbourne he was always in an ordinary team, you didn't get to see how good he really was until you saw him dominate when surrounded by the best.
Yep, the Big V performances were sublime.
 

nineteen eighty

Norm Smith Medallist
Sep 18, 2003
6,648
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Geez, if that was so, they would've needed to build a lot of jails to house all the footballers & rugby players who threw punches in suburban, country, amateur and professional matches around Australia from 1965 to 1985
Fawkner and Thomastown in the Ammo's in the 90's would have all been locked up.

It was just a different era...not right, just different. Every week I was belted and whilst I never dished it out first, I would go out of my way to reciprocate. And being in the ruck, it was a lot easier to mistake a head for the ball 👍
 
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