Lachie Neale has taken eight quarters of football to write himself into a Lions record book that has been 50 years in the making.
Neale’s career-best 43 possessions in Saturday’s excellent win over North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday made him the seventh Lions player to reach this mark since the introduction of possessions statistics in the AFL in 1965.
This covers the last 32 years of Fitzroy, 10 years of the Brisbane Bears, and now 22 years of the Brisbane Lions since the Fitzroy/Bears merger took effect in 1997.
The record of 48 possessions is held by ex-captain Tom Rockliff, who has six of the top 12 possession counts and eight of 29 games in club history of 40 possessions or more.
Rockliff’s 48-possession game came at Marvel Stadium in 2016, earning him three Brownlow Medal votes in a 38-point loss to Carlton.
All players to have had 40 recorded possessions in a game for the Lions have been:-
48 – Tom Rockliff
47 - Tom Rockliff
45 – Tom Rockliff (3), Garry Wilson, Pearce Hanley
44 – Brendan McCormack
43 – Tom Rockliff, John Murphy, Simon Atkins, Lachie Neale
42 – Garry Wilson (2), Graeme Allan, Paul Roos
41 – Mathew Armstrong (2), Dayne Beams
40 – David Bain (2), Dayne Beams (2), Tom Rockliff (2), Jason Baldwin, Michael McLean, Luke Power, Garry Wilson.
Neale’s brilliant 43-possession blitz against North in his second game in Brisbane colors was the eighth 40+ game of his 137-game career, surpassing his previous best of 42. He has also had 46 30-possession games.
In 91 games since 2015 the prolific midfielder has had 39 30’s and eight 40’s, which equates to 30+ possessions in 52% of games.
It was a busy weekend for the Lions Stats File team as Neale led a brilliant win over North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium after they’d trailed by 10 points 15 minutes into the final stanza.
As much as the football chiefs will be pleading ‘keep a lid on it’, the Stats File team believes in celebrating little wins and recognising significant little quirky statistics. So, we take great delight in noting the following:-
- The Lions have started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2010 to sit 2nd on the AFL ladder. Not since Round 4 2010, when they were 4-0, have they been so high.
- The Lions are the only side to have topped 100 points in both rounds and after two rounds are the highest-scoring team in the competition.
- The Lions’ percentage of 144.1 is the club’s best after Round 1 since 2007.
- After two rounds Lachie Neale sits third on the AFL possession list with 72 behind only Tom Rockliff (81) and Adam Treloar (73).
- Charlie Cameron, with seven goals, is equal second behind only Alex Sexton (8). Linc McCarthy, with six, is equal sixth.
- Harris Andrews, outstanding in defence through the first two rounds, is a runaway League leader in one-percenters. With 31, he is 41% up on second-placed Tom Barrass.
- Dayne Zorko is equal first in forward 50 entries with 15, level with Luke Shuey.
- Oscar McInerney, who on the TV commentary for a blistering few minutes in the third quarter joined the elite athletes called only by his Christian name, had an equal career-best four contested marks and kicked an equal career-best two goals.
- In votes for the Coach’s Association Player of the Year award, Neale (10) was just best afield from Daniel (7) and North’s Ben Cunnington (6). Stefan Martin (3) and North’s Shaun Higgins (3) and Aaron Hall (1) rounded out the votes.
The Stats File also unearthed a significant milestone in club history … the win over North was the 300th in Bears/Lions history. Carlton, St.Kilda and the Western Bulldogs, each beaten 22 times by the club, head the list from North (21), Sydney (21), Melbourne (20), Collingwood (19), Essendon (18), Geelong (18), Hawthorn (18), Adelaide (17), Richmond (16), Fremantle (15), Port Adelaide (15), West Coast (13, Fitzroy (11). Gold Coast (10) and GWS (2).
Individually, Simon Black heads the win list with 174, followed by Michael Voss (167), Nigel Lappin (162), Marcus Ashcroft (153), Luke Power (152), Jason Akermanis (151), Shaun Hart (147), Jonathan Brown and Darryl White (145), Justin Leppitsch (135), Chris Scott (126), Craig McRae and Daniel Bradshaw (125), Tim Notting (121), Chris Johnson (120), Alastair Lynch (117) and Ash McGrath (103).
Fitzroy Single-Game Possession Record
The chronological progression of the Fitzroy single game possession record was dominated two club superstars – John Murphy and Garry Wilson.
It started with State rover John Newnham in 1965, when he had 26 possessions in the first game in which statistics were kept. It was the second season for the 116-gamer, who was the Lions’ leading vote-getter in the Brownlow Medal and runner-up in the club best & fairest..
Ian McRae, a 97-game wingman from 1962-70, bettered that when he had 27 possessions in Round 5 of the same season. This was matched in Round 3 1966 by 181-game ruckman Norm Brown, a three-time club champion who was later chosen in the Fitzroy Team of the Century.
John Hayes, a 94-game defender from 1961-66 who captained Fitzroy for most of 1966 after Ralph Rogerson retired five games into the season, stretched the record to 28 in Round 12.
Four weeks later Brown posted the first recorded 30-possession game in club history – he had 32 against Essendon at Windy Hill.
Kevin Murray matched the Brown mark in Round 15 1967, and three weeks later bumped it to 33.
In Round 4 1968 Murphy had 34 possessions in a game. Later chosen in the centre in the Fitzroy Team of the Century after winning five club champion awards and captaining the club for five years, he played 214 games in Lions colors before switching to South Melbourne and North Melbourne.
Murphy, father of current Carlton player Marc, bumped the record to 35 in 1970 before it was matched by Barry Padley, a 159-game utility from 1968-78. Murphy had 35 possessions in a game again in 1971.
In 1972 Murphy bumped the record to 38 before emerging club favorite Wilson, in his 35th game, equalled it.
Wilson, installed as a Legend in the combined Brisbane Lions Hall of Fame in 2016 after a stellar 268-game career from 1971-84 highlighted by four years as club captain, five club champion awards, selection as vice-captain of the Fitzroy Team of the Century and inclusion in the AFL Hall of Fame, was the first Fitzroy player to record 40 possessions in a game.
He reached this mark when he had a day out in a losing side against North Melbourne at Waverley in Round 15 1974.
Murphy bettered the Wilson mark with 43 possessions against Geelong at Waverley in Round 22 1975 before Wilson had 45 against Collingwood at Waverley in Round 17 1978.
This mark stood as the all-time Fitzroy record through to the merger.
Brisbane Single-Game Possession Record
The first player to hold the Brisbane Bears games record for most possessions in a game was the late, great Phillip Walsh.
The former Collingwood and Richmond wingman, winner of the inaugural Bears club champion award in 1987 and a 60-game player for the club from 1987-90, had 31 possessions in the club’s first game against North Melbourne at the MCG in Round 1 of that year.
It was matched in Round 2 by Mike Richardson, an 81-game Bear from 1987-90 after stints with Collingwood and Essendon He had 31 possessions against Geelong at Kardinia Park.
In Round 3 Brenton Phillips, who had kicked five goals in the Bears’ first game, stretched the record when he had a 32 possessions in the club’s first loss to St.Kilda at Moorabbin.
It was blown away in Round 11 against Sydney at Carrara, when ex-Fitzroy rover Bernie Harris had 35 in the ninth of his 56 Brisbane games, and Mark Williams, the former Collingwood captain, had 37 possessions in the 11th of his 66 Brisbane games.
Mark Withers, a former Melbourne rover who had a runaway win in the 1988 Bears B&F but played only 36 games for the club, twice bettered the record in 1988. He had 38 possessions against Geelong at Carrara in Round 10 to better the Williams mark, and then 39 possessions against West Coast at the WACA in Round 16.
David Bain, a mature-age recruit from East Perth in the WAFL who shared the 1990 B&F with Martin Leslie, was the first Brisbane player to top 40 possessions when he did so against Hawthorn at Carrara in Round 16 1990.
Bain and Michael McLean, a dual Brisbane B&F winner recruited from Footscray, each had 40 possessions against Footscray at Western Oval in Round 9 1991.
Luke Power, a 282-game triple premiership player, joined the 40-possession club in Round 13 2008 before Tom Rockliff, a pre-season draft pick-up who played 159 Lions games from 2009-17, did likewise in Round 13 2012.
Rockliff, later to play for Port Adelaide, blew the record away when he had 45 possessions in Round 14 2014 against Fremantle at Subiaco.
And then, in Round 18 2014, Pearce Hanley had 45 possessions against Gold Coast at the Gabba to equal the Rockliff mark before Rockliff, in the same game, had 47.
Then, in Round 11 2016 Rockliff set a club record that still stands with 48 possessions against Carlton at Marvel Stadium.