It wasn’t too long ago that key forwards were all the rage, with a powerhouse in the goalsquare commonly associated with the best teams in the AFL. Carlton cult hero Brendan Fevola fit that description to a tee, with Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead equally deserving of that label, despite sharing the square with a dominant Lance Franklin for the bulk of his career. Roughy forged out a reputation as an integral part of an unstoppable Hawks team, while Fev was often on the receiving end of some of those beatdowns with the Blues. Both forwards had a lasting impact on the game, although only one of them can claim bragging rights when we pit them head-to-head.
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ALL THE NUMBERS
FEVOLA – 204 games, 12 seasons, 0 premierships, 6 finals, 623 goals, 47 Brownlow votes, 10.7 disposals per game
ROUGHEAD – 283 games, 14 seasons, 4 premierships, 21 finals, 578 goals, 59 Brownlow votes, 14.6 disposals per game
The first stat that stands out are the superior finals numbers from Roughy, with his resume boosted thanks to the role he played in the juggernaut Hawthorn teams of the 10’s. Fevola only managed to feature in six finals (winning two) during his career, although he did finish his playing days with a higher goals tally, virtually spending his entire career as Carlton’s lethal primary key forward. While he only averaged 10.7 touches a game that did translate to 5.03 scores each time Fev was on the park – easily beating the 3.35 scores Roughead contributed on average. You could really make the case for either player in this category, but just because Roughy has more flags and total games doesn’t mean I’m siding with him. More goals in fewer games and a higher Brownlow vote average gives Fevola the slightest of edges in my eyes.
Edge: Fevola, just
Image from heraldsun.com.au
No contest here. Even though Roughead walks all over Fevola with his four premierships to nil, the Hawthorn stud also had a greater impact when he featured in finals footy. Being surrounded by a lacklustre supporting cast hurt Fev, but he only managed to kick 10.12 from his half a dozen finals appearance – not exactly thriving on the big stage. Roughy on the other hand finished with 47.31 from his 21 finals. Let’s not waste any more time.
FEVOLA – 2007 Round 3
It’s hard to look past Brendan Fevola’s chase for 100 as the highlight of his career, with the Bluebagger coming agonising close to reaching a century of goals in a single season. Chasing Lance in 08 was memorable and kicking a career-best nine goals in three quarters vs. Richmond can’t be ignore either. However, Fev’s finest moment came during his impressive haul in Carlton’s epic triumph over the Bombers in 2007. Back in Round 3 of that season, the Blues found themselves trailing (no huge shock) against Essendon by 48 points late in the second quarter until a bit of Fev magic started to flip the script. Two quick Fevola goals trimmed the margin before half-time with Carlton fueling their historic comeback via a dominant 3rd quarter. The polarizing forward kicked four in that frame before adding another two in the last quarter to give him eight for the match while securing a memorable win for the club.
ROUGHEAD – 2014 Grand Final
Roughead’s best statistical game probably came against West Coast in 2012 when he kicked eight and gathered 24 touches to earn 3 Brownlow votes. However, a five-goal haul in the 2014 Grand Final is hard to pass up as Roughy’s shining moment as an AFL footballer. Going head-to-head with Lance Franklin in the GF the year after he left the club, you can guarantee that Roughhead and his Hawthorn teammates would have loved to take home bragging rights against their former comrade, and his role in Hawthorn’s victory can’t be understated. Despite the Norm Smith votes going to the Hawks’ premier midfielders a Roughead goal each side of half-time helped give his side an insurmountable 50-point lead as he went on to claim premiership No. 3.
Fevola’s instrumental role in Carlton’s comeback helps him hold a candle to Roughy in this argument, but I can’t go against the Hawthorn forward. Kicking five on Grand Final day while going up against Buddy is a pretty good career highlight. Even though he didn’t register a vote as one of the best players on the ground, Roughead still played an important role in Hawthorn’s second straight flag.
The presence of Lance Franklin alongside Roughy certainly hurt a lot of his per-game stats and his goal tally. Buddy managed to claim two Coleman Medal’s in the space of four seasons, a feat that Fevola also managed to pull off by taking out the AFL’s goalkicking crown in 2006 and 2009. He was voted an All-Australian in both those seasons and in 2008 when he bagged 99 goals for the season, with Roughead claiming one Coleman (2013) and a pair of All-Aus nods (2013 & 2014) over his playing days. Once Franklin left, Roughy also went on to win the Hawks’ goal-kicking award three times, but Fev handily beats him in that category as well, seven times ending the season as Carlton’s most lethal forward. There aren’t a lot of awards to judge this pair on, but the few gongs that Fevola has chalked up outweigh Roughead’s trophy cabinet – even with his four premiership medals.
While Brendan Fevola legacy is largely remembered for his antics at the 2009 Brownlow count the Carlton star did have his share of positive moments. During the mid 00’s there weren’t many players that put more bums on seats than Fev, and when he was at the peak of his powers you could argue that no forward was more dangerous. 16 times Fevola kicked 7 or more goals in a match (a feat Roughy pulled off three times), with most of his epic goal-kicking hauls coming in the preseason, VFL action or when Fev played in country footy leagues. Back in 2012 after his AFL career came to a close, Fevola signed on to play for Yarrawonga in the Ovens & Murray Football League with his ability to draw a crowd so prestigious that opposing clubs would pay Fevola to play against them. No offence to Roughead, who inspired the football community with his comeback from a brief battle with cancer in 2015, but Fev’s impact on the game outweighs Roughy’s contributions.
VERDICT – Brendan Fevola
In a classic premierships vs. goals argument, I’ve given Brendan Fevola the win over his Hawks counterpart. There is a genuine argument for Jarryd Roughead to be considered as the greatest ‘Robin’ of all time, forming an iconic one-two punch with Lance ‘Batman’ Franklin that saw Hawthorn emerge as a legitimate dynasty in the nine years they spent together. Once Buddy left the team, Roughy still had his moments, but with most of his playing days behind him, the full-forward kicked just 212 goals from 99 post-Franklin games. Fev on the other hand played on some god awful Carlton teams in the early part of the 21 century and that didn’t quell his impact on the game. Despite his inept supporting cast, there were 49 times when the Blues cult hero managed to kick five or more goals in an AFL match, equating to a five-goal haul in nearly 25% of his games. A lot of footy fans will remember Fevola for finding Juddy’s pressure point with a Crownie in his hand, but his ability to keep Carlton in games simply off his own magical boot can’t be forgotten.