For many of us, AFL football wouldn’t be the same without fantasy footy. Yet believe it or not, there was a time when fans didn’t spend hours obsessing over player stats, role changes and the like, in pursuit of fantasy glory in whatever their preferred format might be.
However, just because fantasy footy didn’t exist, doesn’t mean we can’t take a look back in time to see how some of the players from the past, would of performed in fantasy football if it did exist when they took to the field.
In each week of the 2021 season, we’ll delve into historical statistics to find a player of the past who would’ve excelled from a fantasy perspective in the corresponding round of football, and that player will be named our Fantasy Flashback ‘Player of the Round’.
For our Round 1 and inaugural ‘Player of the Round, we go back to 1968 and the season opening match-up between South Melbourne and St Kilda at the old Lake Oval. Leading the Swans out that day was soon to be triple Brownlow Medallist Bob Skilton. Although, at the time of this game Skilton had only two ‘Charlies’ to his name, anyone who was at the ground that day wouldn’t have bet against him winning a third that season after leading his side to a comfortable 25-point win.
Skilton collected 36 kicks and six handballs, took seven marks and kicked seven goals in a dominant performance which earned him three Brownlow votes and would have netted him an outstanding 185 points in AFL Fantasy. Remarkably, his score would have no doubt actually been higher, however back in 1968 tackles were not included in match statistics.
As mentioned above, Skilton would go on to claim his third Brownlow Medal that season and would have also been considered an elite fantasy midfielder, averaging a very impressive 117.8 fantasy points – and remember, that doesn’t include tackles!
Bob Skilton turned 30 during the 1968 season and statistics weren’t recorded until 1965, so unfortunately, we can’t work out what he would’ve averaged from a fantasy perspective over his career. However, in 1965, 1966 and 1967 seasons (and again, not including tackles), he would have produced fantasy averages of 107, 109.2 and 106.5.
There’s no doubt Bob Skilton would have been a favourite among fantasy coaches had fantasy footy existed at the time, but I feel pretty confident that his nine B&F finishes, three Brownlows, 25 appearances for Victoria and a place in both the Swan’s and AFL Teams of the Century compensate somewhat for the disappointment he would feel at not having the opportunity of being a fantasy gun.