Dustin Martin played a blindingly good game against Carlton to start the 2017 season. The commentators claimed, plausibly enough, that his game heralds a step up to the very top echelon of AFL talent alongside Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe. They cited, in particular, his 33 disposals and 4 goals as evidence of his large contribution. This made me wonder: how impressed should we be by a 33 disposal, 4 goal game?
The answer is: very impressed. Since the AFL began in 1990, there have been 217 091 player-games. Of those, only 56 featured at least 33 disposals and at least 4 goals. It so happens that two of those 56 games happened in 2016 – Robbie Gray in the final round and Steele Sidebottom in Round 5 – but before that we need to go back to Gary Ablett in 2014 to find a player who got at least 33 disposals and 4 goals in a game.
Disposals and goals don’t sum up a player’s contribution to a footy match, but they go a long way. Dustin Martin’s output on Thursday night was truly impressive.