Allen Jakovich had a brother who went alright playing for West Coast, he was dour, reliable, consistent and played a lot of footy receiving a lot of accolades in his career. Allen had none of these family traits, but what he did have was the ability to be predictably unpredictable. He could do the most remarkable things on the ground and then in an instant undo this with an errant act of undisciplined behaviour that would frustrate you.
He would have you shaking your head in amazement and then shaking your head in anger. But that’s why you pay your money. You want to go to a game with the anticipation of getting a live unscripted performance. No rehearsal, no second takes and no leaving your seat for fear of missing something.
When I was young Demons supporter, every club had a super star, a key forward that would make the turnstiles click. The competition was littered with them, Dunstall, Lockett, Ablett, Carey and Modra all commanded your attention. We had Garry Lyon, who although curtailed by a debilitating back injury, never had that full X Factor of a genuine forward that would shred opposition defences regularly and consistently.
Later on David Neitz followed when by necessity he was moved from defence into attack. Although Neitz forged a very solid career he was not a genuine star of the competition. Think the Australian cricket team and he’s more a Ian Healy type than Adam Gilchrist. He would consistently play his role for the team every game rather than rip games to shreds in minutes and have the crowd’s full attention when he was at the crease.
David Schwartz threatened before constant knee issues curtailed his career, which was a tragedy because he had X factor, and he had it in spades. There was one man who had that potential at the Melbourne Football Club, and for a myriad of reasons, yet he was gone in the blink of an eye.
What if I was to tell you this man kicked 100 goals in two different state competitions before being drafted? Would you guess his name if I told you at a trivia night that he was taken in the top 10 twice in two National drafts? Would you know he won three club goal kicking awards at Melbourne but was gone after just 47 games?
This man took 21 games to kick 100 goals, a feat bettered by no one that has ever played the game. The great John Coleman, a man etched in footy folklore and is at the forefront of any discussion about the greatest ever forwards, only equalled this feat.
As a kid living in the country, the trip to the G to watch the Demons with my Dad was the highlight of the year. This generally occurred five or six times and would often include games against the ‘Big Four’ and North twice. Wangaratta was the old zone for North so there was a link to watching the players who had come through the system and ended up playing in the big smoke.
My family had friends whose boys had made it, and an uncle who had captained the under 19s. So we took a special interest in them. The 1987 Elimination Final was my greatest event to attend as a boy, that was until Allen Jakovich unleashed one of the most amazing performances I saw live in the 1991 season.
It was round 20, his career only eight games old. In a 22 disposal game as a genuine full forward he kicked 11 goals, 8 behinds and one out on the full. He brought up his 50th goal in that match. No one in the history of the game had done that as fast.
I still remember that day like it was yesterday.
By the time quarter time arrived he’d kicked all of the Demons goals and missed a couple. He’d kicked goals off both feet and from an array of different scenarios. His poor opponent, Mick Martyn, and was being made to look like an apprentice working alongside an experienced tradesman. He kicked the first six goals for the demons, and had six of their seven goals at half time.
He could have quite easily have kicked 10 by the big break. His eighth goal, half way through the third, was the one Demons supporters still talk about today. A long kick in from Dyson which was touched by Darren Bennett, and resulted in the ball spilling off the pack. Jakovich looked as if he had gone past it until he threw a leg out in mid air and scissor kicked the ball through for a goal.
The only disappointing thing with that goal is that the MCG was under construction that year and, apart from the the odd construction worker, not enough people were able to see it, to fully appreciate how brilliant it was. His 10th, which came via a set shot banana on the 3/4 time siren and was majestic as well.
Mark Brayshaw accompanied Jakovich for the last part of the third as the North coaching staff must have grown tired of watching Mick Martyn look disorientated and out of his depth. In the last quarter Jakovich gave away a free kick which was followed by a 50m penalty for abuse and subsequently a report for abusive language. The report may have had an impact on him with his output reduced to one goal four behinds for the quarter as well as one out on the full.
Regardless of his inaccuracy late, you knew as a supporter that day that you had got your full monies worth and memories that would last a lifetime. As a Melbourne supporter, we might not have had a Super Star to watch often, but we had Allen Jakovich. Those 47 games gave us an all to brief glimpse of what it was like to go the footy and watch one.
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