Sports commentary. The colourful words which accompany sporting moments can often be as important or as memorable as the sporting act itself.
Over the years we've been treated to some brilliant quips, memorable one-liners, and expertly constructed passages of AFL commentary. I have attempted the daunting task of ranking the 10 best pieces of footy commentary since 2000.
For the purpose of this exercise, only lines from the official TV broadcast are eligible. I'm also leaving out recurring quotes -- think Dennis Cometti's "centimeter perfect", Bruce McAvaney's "delicious" or even Dwayne Russell's "they need a safe word".
10. "The legend becomes immortal." - James Brayshaw
Sydney vs. Geelong, SCG. March 25, 2022.
Scripted? Almost certainly. But these four words were all that was required when Lance Franklin slotted his 1,000th career goal. Credit to 'JB' for his succinct line as the ball sailed through the uprights and then remaining silent to allow the extraordinary pictures to shine through our TV screens.
Buddy's fourth major against the Cats at the SCG in Round 2, 2022 saw him join footy's most exclusive club, sparking wild scenes as thousands of fans flooded the ground to bask in the moment. Given the highly-defensive nature of the modern game, many expect this will be the final time we ever see a player reach the magical mark, meaning Buddy's moment, and Brayshaw's words, will be played time and time again.
9. "Usain Bolt wouldn't get him now." - Bruce McAvaney
Sydney vs. Collingwood, ANZ Stadium. September 21, 2012.
It just had to be Bruce. And it had to be in an Olympic year.
Jetta streaming towards goal with no Magpie defender in sight has become an iconic finals moment and McAvaney's words certainly matched it. I love the reference to the world's greatest sprinter, who was gearing up for what would be the best Olympic Games of his career, not only because it highlighted the speed of Jetta in comparison to his rivals, but as it was a lovely nod to McAvaney's work with the Games throughout his own legendary broadcasting career.
8. "They've done it again. They've done it again, the Cats. How about that? The Cat is still on the back." - Dennis Cometti
Hawthorn vs. Geelong, MCG. August 12, 2012.
The last seven words delivered by Cometti after Tom Hawkins had sunk the Hawks with an after-the-siren goal at the MCG were pure genius.
Geelong and Hawthorn were the two best teams in the competition during this period and enjoyed a great modern-day rivalry, despite the fact it was almost always the Cats who prevailed. In fact, following the 2008 Grand Final, the Cats won 11 straight games against the Hawks -- including this one -- leading to the birth of the 'Kennett curse'. The Hawkins moment is as iconic as it is perfectly called and even ranks top five in our best after-the-siren goals since 2000.
7. "Here he is, bursting out like Tarzan. Comes on the right boot. Stringer! He's alive. The Package." - Brian Taylor
Western Bulldogs vs. Adelaide, Marvel Stadium. May 7, 2016.
He might be the AFL's most polarising commentator, but no matter your opinion, there's no doubt Taylor owns his fair share of top footy lines.
The decibels would always rise in a BT-led commentators' box whenever Stringer took possession of the Sherrin. However, this passage of play and the accompanying call has to be the best of the bunch.
Taylor had just finished noting how Stringer had been unusually quiet when his man, quite literally burst from the stoppage, beat two Crows before straightening up and drilling an important goal. It was a great sequence, called with genuine enthusiasm, and the Tarzan reference fit sensationally well.
6. "This is better than a fairytale. You can't dream these scenarios. Ashley McGrath in his 200th game. A behind will create a draw, a goal will give the Lions an incredible victory. McGrath comes in, it's on its way, it's there. The miracle on grass." - Anthony Hudson
Brisbane vs. Geelong, Gabba. June 23, 2013.
Was this the greatest footy comeback in history? It's right up there. Admittedly, part of what makes this Hudson call so great is the remarkable second half, which saw the Lions storm from 52 points down to claim an epic win, one which was delivered after the siren by a guy celebrating his 200th AFL game. Talk about a fairytale.
The final passage of play saw Brisbane transition the ball from fullback and into the hands of McGrath in the space of 15 seconds and was expertly called by Hudson, as was the set shot and the celebratory scenes which followed. Ten years on and there isn't a footy fan who doesn't remember the 'Miracle on Grass'.
5. "Look at Ballantyne. Will he take him on? He looks at Rivers and says 'you're a little old, I'm young, and I'm sneaky'. Around one, aims, let's it rip. Oh, Ballantyne! He just looked at him and he said 'I've got you covered, Jared.'" - Brian Taylor
Fremantle vs. Geelong, Patersons Stadium. May 17, 2014.
When Taylor goes a little rogue in the commentary box it generally ends in one of two things: disaster or brilliance. This occasion certainly was of the latter variety.
The way in which he takes us into the mind of Ballantyne as the Fremantle forward sized up his opponent and the goal was done to great effect. The tone and excitement in his voice also fit the occasion perfectly as the Dockers crowd roared with delight at one of the goals of the year.
4. "Riewoldt runs in ... touched off the boot! Oh my goodness. Wonderful chase by Heath Shaw. He came up behind him like a librarian. He never heard him. No surprise everyone else in the library is shouting." - Dennis Cometti
Collingwood vs. St Kilda, MCG. October 2, 2010.
Cometti wasn't just a wordsmith but had unmatched timing, humour and pitch during his four decade run in AFL commentary. He has hundreds of iconic lines to choose from -- and you could easily make another list with just Cometti's best calls -- but this sequence in the first quarter of the 2010 Grand Final replay might be the most memorable, certainly since 2000. It's undoubtedly one of the most watched and listened to as well.
What looked like a certain goal for Nick Riewoldt was snuffed out with one of the all-time great smothers from Heath Shaw. Cometti reacted like all of us before wasting no time in delivering a brilliant analogy which will live long in footy folklore.
3. "Liam Ryan's saying 'kick it my way, I want to jump over the pack' and here he comes. Rrrrrryan!" - Brian Taylor
West Coast vs. Melbourne, Optus Stadium. May 17, 2019.
Sometimes commentary is vaulted to iconic status for the way it expertly marries words with the visual, while other times it's for the way in which it eerily predicts what's around the corner. This brilliant piece of commentary certainly fits in the latter category.
The ball was 50m away from Ryan in the goal square yet Taylor picked exactly what was about to unfold. Ryan launched himself onto Max Gawn's shoulders and hauled in the Sherrin in what would later be deemed Mark of the Year. I'm still convinced this perfectly-timed piece of commentary from Taylor helped Ryan's case to claim the award.
2. "Who would have thought the sequel would be just as good as the original?" - Anthony Hudson
Sydney vs. West Coast, MCG. September 30, 2006.
When you reminisce about the epic back-to-back Grand Finals of 2005 and 2006, the piece of commentary likely to spring to mind is Stephen Quartermain's "Leo Barry, you star." But for me, this Hudson line was the standout.
Huddo basically summed up 24 months of football in these 14 special words, which highlighted just how nail-biting both encounters were.
Sydney had won the 2005 Grand Final over West Coast by just four points, but the Eagles turned the tables 12 months later with a one-point win in the decider. Special.
1. "I don't believe it. I see it, but I don't believe it. Class with a capital 'C'." - Anthony Hudson
Sydney vs. Geelong, SCG. September 9, 2005.
You'd never know Huddo was a Geelong fanatic by the way he expertly called the remarkable final seconds of the 2005 semifinal between the Swans and Cats, one of the great games of the modern era.
"Siren could go any second. Swans need a goal."
To this day, there's not a footy fan who doesn't at least bring up YouTube every six months and type "Nick Davis Come To Save Us" into the search box. A four-goal final quarter masterpiece from Davis helped lift the Bloods from the dead to overcome a highly-fancied Geelong side at the SCG. Paul Roos' team would of course go on to win the flag a fortnight later and end the longest premiership drought in league history.
Huddo's raw, honest line about being in utter disbelief with what had just unfolded marries up superbly with the outrageous images. It will forever live on as a goosebump-inducing moment of Aussie Rules history.