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’.
The Fantasy Flashbacks Player of the Round for Round 2 is former North Melbourne full forward and current Sydney coach John Longmire. Playing in only his third season as a 20-year-old, Longmire was kept goal-less in a 53 point loss to the Demons in the opening round of what was the inaugural season of the AFL. However, Longmire and the Kangaroos bounced back in emphatic fashion against the Tigers at the MCG, with the man known as ‘Horse’ kicking 12 goals and leading North Melbourne to a thumping 141 point victory.
Longmire’s 12 goals, 22 kicks and 18 marks that day would have earned him a massive 201 fantasy points. Yet, if fantasy footy did exist back in 1990, there wouldn’t have been many coaches celebrating his phenomenal score, as he wouldn’t have been a popular player in fantasy as his best effort up until this game had been two four goal hauls.
Indeed, despite his 201 against Richmond and a very impressive 178 against the Demons in Round 14 later in the season, Longmire would only average 87.4 fantasy points for the year – which was by far the best of his career. While on paper that looks very good, these two scores certainly inflated his average that year. His next best season average was 82.2 the following year, which then dropped to 64.4 in 1992.
Yet, while he may not have been one of the first forwards picked from a fantasy perspective, Longmire’s efforts this day and for the season were quite remarkable for a 20-year-old in only his third season. Following on from his 12 goal haul against the Tigers, he kicked 98 goals for the year to earn his one and only Coleman Medal, while also taking out North Melbourne’s best and fairest award. Unfortunately, a disastrous kicking display of two goals and eight behinds in the final round of the season against Collingwood cost him the chance of hitting the magical 100 goal milestone.
Longmire went on to play 200 games for North Melbourne, kicking 511 goals and formed a powerful combination with Wayne Carey over the next decade. Although a knee injury kept him out of the entire 1996 season – which saw him miss out on the Kangaroo’s 1996 premiership, he did finish his career on a high, with his last game coming in the 1999 decider against Carlton which the Kangaroos won comfortably by 35 points.