Goal of the Year

The AFL Goal of the Year is a awarded for the best goal kicked in the Australian Football League (AFL) during the home and away season. It is run in conjunction with the traditional AFL Mark of the Year competition. The winner is awarded the Phil Manassa Medal. The concept of awards for the goal and mark of the year is thought to have been initiated in 1970, as an unofficial award given by the media to Alex Jesaulenko following his famous mark in that season’s grand final. The official awards were first given in 2001. 

The Goal of the Year is generally awarded to a player who creates and scores a difficult goal in play; it has never been and is unlikely to ever be, awarded to a goal kicked from a set shot. Historically, it has been the quality of the creation of the goal which determines the winner, rather than the difficulty of the shot itself. As such, simply kicking a goal from the boundary line will not guarantee a player Goal of the Year, but if they have roved the ball cleanly off a pack (like Jason Akermanis in 2002) or won the ball by stealing or smothering it from an opponent (like Peter Bosustow in 1981), then they will generally come into Goal of the Year calculations. Players are also often rewarded for orchestrating a long run down the field which ends with a big goal on the run: Daniel Kerr in 2003 and Michael McGuane in 1994 are memorable examples.

Eddie Betts has been awarded Goal of the Year on an unparalleled four occasions (2006, 2015, 2016 and 2019), the most of any player, and is the only player to win the award in consecutive seasons.

Goal of the Year Winners

YearWinnerTeamDescription
1975??
1976Keith GreigNorth Melbourne
1977Phil ManassaCollingwoodManassa kicked a goal on the run from the half back flank in the 1977 Grand Final replay against North Melbourne
1978Phil BakerNorth Melbourne
1979Leigh MatthewsHawthornTook several detours to avoid North Melbourne opposition to score from the pocket in the first VFL game in Sydney since 1952
1980Michael TurnerGeelong3 bounces, 1 baulk from the wing and a shot from 50
1981Peter BosustowCarltonSmothered his Geelong opponent’s attempted clearing kick 20 m around in the right forward pocket at VFL Park, before standing, gathering and snapping a high goal over his right shoulder.
1982Mick ConlanFitzroyMarked on the wing, ran about 50 metres, baulked 2 tackles before kicking a goal from 60 metres.
1983Ken HunterCarlton
1984Geoff RainesRichmond
1985Andrew BewsGeelongA long run at Kardinia Park in which Bews baulked two tackles and bounced three times; 40 m out from goal, Bews attempted to touch the ball on the ground, fumbled and overran the ball before changing direction, recovering the ball and eventually slotting the goal from 30 m.
1986Phil KrakouerNorth MelbourneGrabbed ball on the boundary line and ran around Frank Dunell before kicking a sensational goal from the boundary with his left foot.
1987David MurphySydney SwansAfter the Swans scored a behind, Murphy took a spectacular mark over an opponent’s back from a long kick-in, then quickly played on and kicked truly from more than 50 m away at an acute angle (from the left-side).
1988Matthew LarkinNorth MelbourneSpun around 3 West Coast players, snapping miraculously from the pocket
1989Gary Ablett, Sr.GeelongDropped a contested mark in the middle of the ground then ran onto the loose ball at full speed, bursting into the forward line and snapping truly from 50 m vs Collingwood (MCG)
1990Michael MitchellRichmondGathered the ball in his own defensive area and set off on a blistering 70-metre run through the centre of the Sydney Cricket Ground, escaping a number of would-be tacklers and taking seven bounces before kicking truly from 35 metres out.
1991Peter DaicosCollingwoodBaulk & snap from the pocket v Richmond at Victoria Park
1992Darryl WhiteBrisbane BearsFollowed up a short kick that did not travel to the leading forward by kicking a ripper at Carrara from 30 m
1993Michael LongEssendonRan and bounced several times for a controversial goal in the 1993 Grand Final. It was apparently touched on the line by Carlton full-back Stephen Silvagni, who to this day claims he touched it before sailing through for a goal.
1994Mick McGuaneCollingwoodIn one of the most famous of all time, oft compared to Phil Manassa’s famous Grand Final run, McGuane had a total of 7 bounces from the centre square, baulking two tackle attempts before kicking truly from 30 m at the MCG against Carlton
1995Tony ModraAdelaideKicked the ball off the ground 35 m from goal and his scrubbed kick rolled to the forward pocket, finishing at the feet of Richmond full back Stuart Wigney. Modra followed up his kick, making up 30 m to soccer the ball away from Wigney then gather the loose ball and snap a beautiful goal from 20 m out hard on the boundary
1996Winston AbrahamFremantleRan onto a loose ball at forward 60, surged past two Swans defenders and took several bounces along the boundary line before slotting the goal from the goalsquare
1997Austinn JonesSt KildaRan hard from defensive 50 and took several bounces along the wing, handballed to Andrew Thompson at forward 50, received the ball back and snapped a spectacular goal in the 1997 AFL Grand Final
1998Jeff FarmerMelbourneRan the length of the ground, giving off 2 return handballs, to then receive the ball back, evade multiple opposition players and kick a goal from 45 metres out on the boundary line.
1999Jarrod MolloyBrisbane LionsMolloy bursts through Stephen Silvagni has a bounce handpasses to a teammate, gets it back and kicks a banana from the pocket at The Gabba
2000Kingsley HunterWestern BulldogsRunning from the defensive 50 he kept going and laid a handball off to Scott Wynd, received it back at centre wing, lined up from forward 50 and slotted it home (Was awarded on Rex Hunt’s Footy Show)
2001Mark MerendaWest Coast EaglesPaddled the ball from outside 50 along the boundary line towards goal and snapped it through from the pocket, against St. Kilda at the Telstra Dome.
Goal of the year
2002Jason AkermanisBrisbane LionsA snap shot from 45m out on his non-preferred left boot, along the boundary line while turning around to the left of the goals against Carlton at the Gabba in round 14.
2003Daniel KerrWest Coast EaglesReceived the football at half-back, before taking 5 bounces and finishing from 48 m out, late in a famous Derby against Fremantle.
2004Daniel WellsKangaroosDescribed as “Jackie Chan in mid-air”, Wells leapt into the air, grabbed the ball out of the ruck and scissor-kicked in one motion in the goalsquare at Subiaco giving North Melbourne a narrow victory over Fremantle.[20]
2005Chris JuddWest Coast EaglesBurst from a boundary throw in on the half forward flank, spun out of a tackle and kicked truly from about 40 metres out at Subiaco oval.[18]
2006Eddie BettsCarltonSmothered Tarkyn Lockyer’s handball, gathered the ball and, with two opposition players surrounding him, kicked a freakish banana from the boundary and kicked truly.[16]
2007Matthew LloydEssendonMatthew Lloyd back-heeled the goal through a pack of players from 5 metres out.
2008Leon DavisCollingwoodIn the final home-and-away Friday night match, Leon Davis tackled Fremantle player Des Headland in Fremantle’s defensive 50, knocked the ball out of the scruffle, as he picked the ball up he broke a tackle and then ran 10 metres before kicking an amazing drop punt from 50 m out on the boundary. Dennis Cometti adding the words “of the season” after Bruce McAvaney saying “goal”.
2009Cyril RioliHawthornIn the round seven match against Essendon, Rioli managed to evade numerous defenders to weave his way into a position to handball to teammate Chance Bateman, before receiving the ball back and kicking a goal from 40 metres out.[1]
2010Lance FranklinHawthornRound 13 goal against Essendon at the MCG, where Franklin outsprinted Cale Hooker from the wing to boot truly from around 50m out from near the left boundary line (Franklin is left footed making angle more acute)[11]
2011Hayden BallantyneFremantleRound 2 goal against Geelong at Patersons Stadium. Ballantyne ran through the centre of the ground before kicking the ball inside 50. He received a follow-up handball from Matthew Pavlich and slotted the goal from 40 metres out in a team-lifting effort.
2012Chris YarranCarltonRound 1 goal against Richmond at the MCG. Received a handball from Chris Judd between left wing and half-forward flank. Ran along the boundary past Dustin Martin, Ivan Maric and Steven Morris, breaking tackles from Maric and Morris before slotting the game-changing goal from 40 metres out.
2013Lance FranklinHawthornRound 3 goal against Collingwood at the MCG. Received a handball from Ben Stratton in the centre square, jumped over a tackled Stratton and went on to kick the goal from 75 metres out.
2014Matt WhitePort AdelaideRound 17 goal against Richmond at Etihad Stadium. White gathered the ball at half-back, ran full tilt up the wing with three bounces, burning off a chasing Steven Morris in the process, before unloading from 50m to goal.
2015Eddie BettsAdelaideRound 9 goal against Fremantle at Adelaide Oval. Kicked a goal inside out with his left foot from the left hand pocket from 50m out.
2016Eddie BettsAdelaideRound 10 goal against Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval. Betts successfully trapped and gathered the ball on the boundary line 50m out from goal after a spoiled marking contest. Betts then evades two GWS players before kicking a goal with a right foot snap from 35m out.
2017Daniel RioliRichmondRound 3 goal against West Coast at the MCG, Rioli successfully kept the ball in bounds up against the boundary line and kicked a right foot banana on the run 35m out from goal.
2018Jack HigginsRichmondRound 19 goal against Collingwood at the MCG, Higgins kicked it backwards
2019Eddie BettsAdelaideRound 5 goal against Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval. In his 300th game, Betts kicked a classic left-footed banana from about 30m out on the boundary line of the same left hand pocket as his 2015 and 2016 Goal of the Year winners.
2020Josh DaicosCollingwoodRound 10 goal against Sydney at the Gabba. Daicos was on the boundary line under pressure, handballs it in front of himself and the Sydney defender, then picking it up again and kicking a right foot banana 30m out on the boundary. A kick reminiscent of one his father would frequently kick.