From freakish to lucky: Which is the best of these goal of the year contenders?

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Bobby Hill’s well-executed dribble kick was not enough to crack the top three contenders for goal of the year, according to goalkicking great Phillip Matera, who says Will Ashcroft, Brody Mihocek and Charlie Cameron are the standouts.

Hill produced a new highlight for his reel on Sunday with a deliberate dribble kick to open Collingwood’s account against the Giants, which more than impressed goalkicking great Matera.

Brisbane’s Charlie Cameron has kicked one of the best goals of the year.Credit: Getty

But Hill’s goal is one that most small forwards have practised since they were kids, watching the likes of Peter Daicos.

Mick McGuane, winner of goal of the year in 1994, believes each of Ashcroft, Mihocek and Cameron’s goals were intentional, lauding them for their improvisation and execution.


Amazing Ashcroft

Matera, a five-time leading goal kicker for the Eagles, believes Ashcroft’s goal against Fremantle is the clubhouse leader.

Will Ashcroft kicks a goal of the year contender.Credit: Fox Footy

“That was like Jackie Chan, similar to Daniel Wells, wasn’t it? It was a pretty good goal, a pretty special goal actually,” Matera said.

“How quick was he to kick that in midair? That takes quick thinking. It’ll be hard to beat, the angle where he is, in the left pocket to ‘Jackie Chan’ it with his right foot. He obviously meant it, so I’m not saying it wasn’t skilful, but there’s a bit of luck involved.

“If you’re going on the most difficult, that would be it.”

McGuane described it as freakish.

“He improvised, thought his way through it quicker than most would,” McGuane said. “It was something out of nothing. He could do that one in a hundred times, maybe one in a thousand.”

Champion small forward Eddie Betts, a four-time winner of goal of the year, said after round seven that Ashcroft’s goal would not be beaten.

“It’s unbelievable, this goal,” he said on AFL360. “It’s like Daniel Wells, from the pocket, karate kick, that’s not supposed to go in. It has to be goal of the year.”

Creative Cameron

Charlie Cameron’s spectacular finish from earlier this season.Credit: Fox Footy

Conjecture reigned over whether Cameron deliberately deflected the ball off his shin for a goal, a week before Ashcroft’s goal stole the limelight.

But McGuane said the star forward absolutely meant it.

“It was quite similar to Jack Ginnivan’s [goal off the ground] on Sunday,” he said. “His timing was impeccable. He anticipated it and watched the footy, that was key to the goal. He knew how to make impact with the ball [to deflect it towards goal].”

Mihocek magic

But Mihocek gave judges something to think about in Collingwood’s win over Sydney, when he scissor-kicked a volley with Nick Blakey all over him, en route to five majors in round nine.

“Blokes over history have tried to do that, but haven’t been able to,” McGuane said.

Brody Mihocek kicks a stunner for the Magpies late in their win.Credit: Channel Seven

“He protected the drop zone and swung his leg through.

“But a metre from goal probably loses its clout.”

Matera believes “lucky ones”, such as Cameron’s, shouldn’t be treated like the “skilful ones”, such as Ashcroft’s.

“The lucky ones are not something you can do every time,” he said.

But McGuane was willing to take each goal on face value.

Hill’s thriller

Bobby Hill kicked a miraculous goal against GWS.Credit: Fox Footy

Then there’s Hill’s goal, one we’ve seen before but nonetheless a low-percentage play executed with elite skill.

“The Bobby Hill one, forwards practise that all the time,” Matera said.

“You see lots of those goals; [Peter] Daicos used to do them all the time. Forwards are training to kick those goals.

“But I’d agree the skillful goal should be goal of the year over the luck goal.”

In Matera’s day, the running goal was more frequent than the freakish one, such as Michael Long’s in 1993 or McGuane’s in 1994 – a few years before Matera made his debut – or like Matera’s former teammate Daniel Kerr’s in 2003.

McGuane said the modern press made it difficult for players to run the length of the ground.

“We’re probably not going to see a lot of it [again],” he said, referencing the goal Craig Bradley kicked in 1994 against the Eagles, which fell short to his stunner against Carlton for that year’s award.

Sam Draper won last year’s goal of the year with his centre clearance and follow-up work, and Matera said he hoped to see a few more running goals added to the nominations by season’s end.

“Like my brother when he won his Norm Smith Medal and set sail from 50,” he said.

“I think he kicked five in that grand final. Three or four of them would have all been contenders for goal of the year, all in a pressure game.

“Forwards love that award. Everyone wants to kick goal of the year.”

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