Will Ashcroft, take a bow.
The 19-year-old may be forced to watch Brisbane’s first grand final since 2004 as the club aim to break a 20-year-old flag drought, but he will have some consolation, becoming the youngest ever winner of the official Goal of the Year.
Ashcroft’s mid-air kung-fu-esque effort from Round 7 against Fremantle at the Gabba sent the football world into meltdown, and beat out a long-range effort from Port Adelaide’s Dan Houston and a narrow drop punt from North Melbourne’s Paul Curtis.
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Tapping the ball forward from a hitout to advantage deep into the forward pocket, Ashcroft was squeezed onto the boundary line with nowhere to go, with most onlookers expecting the ball to roll innocuously over the boundary.
The father-son selection had other ideas however, picking up the ball and throwing it onto his boot in a single mid-air motion.
It evoked memories of Daniel Wells’ famous “Jackie Chan” goal from 2004, also against Fremantle, and itself the winner of the award 19 years ago, when Ashcroft was only two months old.
“You are kidding me! Something unbelievable from the kid. That is ridiculous. That is goal of the year,” said Leigh Montagna on Fox Footy at the time.
“He’s just won himself a car,” said Jonathan Brown, in reference to the car awarded by Toyota to the winner of the award as sponsor.
“I saw Daniel Wells do something similar, the Jackie Chan (from Ashcroft) was a little different from a ruck contest, but this is very similar,” said David King.
Ashcroft was as always, softly spoken and humble in accepting the award.
“I think I was pretty lucky in the end, just threw it on the boot,” he told host Rebecca Maddern.
It would spark a huge runaway lead for Brisbane, imposing their credentials on the competition as serious premiership contenders in the 17.13 (115) to 10.7 (67) win.
It helped secure the Lions’ fourth-straight win, after losing two of their first three games.
The Lions well and truly snapped back into form with a four quarter performance over the struggling Dockers, adding another win to their list including Melbourne, Collingwood, North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney.
Brisbane’s defence was a brick wall, with Brandon Starcevich, Daniel Rich and Harris Andrews using their big statures to fend off the Dockers, while Lachie Neale notched a stunning 35 disposals, along with 21 handballs and seven tackles.
Despite the loss, Fremantle’s own midfield showed good signs with Hayden Young notching 33 disposals, Andrew Brayshaw 30 disposals.
The win marks Fremantle’s third loss of the season as they head into clashes against Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong in the coming weeks.
Ashcroft was humble in victory, telling Alistair Lynch in the post-match interview he simply got lucky.
“Nah it was a lucky one, all the boys were saying it was a nice goal, but didn’t have much choice, just had a crack on the boundary there and luckily it went through,” Ashcroft said after the win.
Ashcroft said he’d been loving his start to life as a professional athlete.
“I’ve been loving every minute … just every week I’m getting excited to play.”