Goalkicking has long been a metric by which many of the game’s greatest forwards are compared. The way the game has changed in recent years means that most of the most prolific goalkickers are from a bygone era, while a solitary superstar from recent years also makes the cut. With that in mind, let’s check out who has the most goals in the history of the AFL.
Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett is the owner of the prestigious AFL goalkicking record, and he doesn’t look likely to be surpassed any time soon. Plugga kicked a massive 1360 goals over the course of his 281-game career late in the 20th century, the majority of which he played with St. Kilda.
Plugga had all the tools required to be a dominant forward. He was deceptively athletic, powerful, possessed plenty of footy smarts, and perhaps most importantly was an extremely accurate kick. These traits helped him to kick a massive average of 4.84 goals per game, more than all but three players in history to have kicked at least 500 goals.
Few alive today had the fortune of watching Gordon Coventry play, but from all reports the Collingwood spearhead was one of the greatest to ever do it. Coventry played 306 games between 1920 and 1937, all of them with the Pies, and kicked 1299 goals in that time.
Unsurprisingly, he put together a pretty impressive resume this time. Coventry won five Premierships during his career, was Collingwood’s leading goalkicker an incredible 16 times, and led the league in goals on six occasions. He was an obvious inclusion into the AFL Hall of Fame, and is also in the Collingwood Team of the Century.
The Chief, as he is affectionately known today, is a respected member of the modern-day AFL , but as most know he was a prodigious goalkicker for the Hawks earlier in life. Dunstall suited up 269 times for the Hawks over roughly the same time period as Lockett, and only booted around 100 less goals — he ended with 1254.
Indicative of the number of dominant full-forwards during that era, Dunstall only won the Coleman Medal on three occasions, but he led Hawthorn’s goalkicking 12 times, helped his side to four Premierships and also led the club for the last four years of his career.
Doug Wade isn’t as well-known a name as the three mentioned above, but he probably deserves to be. Wade played 208 games with the Cats and 59 with the Kangaroos between 1961 and 1975, and ended his career with 1057 goals, which is now the fourth-most of all-time. Incredibly, he led his two respective clubs in goals in every single season of his career except for 1965.
Gary Ablett Snr
Ablett Snr rounds out this list as the final player to have kicked in excess of 1,000 goals in his career. The Geelong legend ended with 1,031 in total, and while the vast majority of them came with his Cats, something many forget is that he actually began his career at Hawthorn, where he managed ten goals in six games. Had he stayed, he would have forged a forward partnership with Dunstall, while Dermott Brereton would also have been running around up forward — making for a much scarier prospect than the Hawthorn team struggling near the bottom of the ladder today.
A number of other brilliant goalkickers fall just below these talented forwards, with many falling just short of 1,000. Buddy Franklin is the closest active player to the mark — he has 955, nearly 300 more than any of his peers. Clearly the AFL has changed significantly since the turn of the century, and as a result this list isn’t likely to change much anytime soon.