In defence of my beloved tackle

Why would the AFL want to reduce tackling? Photos: Getty
Why would the AFL want to reduce tackling? Photos: Getty

YEAH so I guess you could say I was a peculiar kid.

Ask anyone about their enduring memories of the 1992 AFL Grand Final and they might give you Peter Matera’s sizzling goals on the run.

Maybe Tony Evans’ couple before half-time.

Mine is more obscure.

25 years since the flag that changed the AFL

Early in the final quarter, with Geelong still having the vaguest of sniffs, Robert Scott galloped through the middle of the MCG onto a loose ball.

One man was determined to stop him.

Eagles stalwart Dwayne ‘Fatty’ Lamb fell in behind Scott, clamped two arms around him and said ‘not today’.

There was no free-kick paid, but the danger was averted and the Eagles went on to win their first premiership.

I bumped into Lamb at the Freo markets this year and asked him about that tackle, to which he laughed and said: “you’ve got a good memory.”

But the AFL, it seems, has declared war on the tackle.

Footy operations boss Steve Hocking is determined to reduce the number of tackles, removing it as a “feature of the game”.

”I have a very strong view on that,” Hocking said.

‘It has become a feature of our game and all the stuff that we’re analysing is how to get a balance back in that so that it’s not a feature of the game.

Have we seen the last great footy side? 

”I don’t think there’s a number … but certainly, we don’t want that necessarily as a skill.”

Well Steve, I have a very strong view on that too.

Hell I’m only 41, too young to be moaning about the good old days.

One of the beauties of Australian rules football is that it could provide a home for all: tall kids, short kids, fast kids, not-so-fast kids.

My favourite ever player, one Pat McGinnity, carved out an eight-year career at the top level based as much on the power of his will as what he could do with a football.

Lewis Jetta gets to grips with Jordan De Goey. Photo: Getty

If the boffins at league headquarters get their way, the AFL will soon be no country for hard men.

The grifters of league football will be no more, and that is a sad, sad thing.

Properly executed, a tackle is the ultimate demonstration of power and timing, a fleeting moment of beauty in a game increasingly marred by kick to kick across half back.

The battle between ball carrier and tackler has waged for centuries, across all codes of football, as fiercely as matter versus anti-matter.

Watching unaware players ambling through the middle get mown down by a hunter is one of the true thrills our game possesses.

Don’t remove it as a feature of the game. Celebrate it in all its glory.

And stop this focus on goals, goals, goals – low-scoring games can be beautiful too.

As any recovering sex addict will tell you, scoring’s overrated.

greig.johnston@communitynews.com.au