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The Chase: time for one more Sam Mitchell feat

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BEFORE four-time premiership hero Sam Mitchell hangs up the footy boots, there's time for one more historic achievement.

Mitchell, who announced his end-of-season retirement on Wednesday, needs 14 handballs on Sunday against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium to break Scott West's all-time record of 4093 career handballs.

The feat would add to a glittering set of accolades Mitchell has collected since being named the 2003 Rising Star.

Scroll through the stats record books and Mitchell's name is everywhere. 

Sixteen years after the Hawks took him with pick No.36 in the 2001 'superdraft', he stands:

  • first overall for clearances
  • third for contested possessions
  • sixth overall for disposals
  • ninth for goal assists
  • 10th for inside 50s

The stats honour board goes some way to explaining Mitchell's critical role in Hawthorn's dominant era, and why his trophy cabinet also now includes the 2012 Brownlow Medal.

On the few occasions the opposition managed to shut Mitchell down, they went a long way towards winning the match. 


The stats within the streak

Coincidentally, if Mitchell either equals or breaks the record this weekend, it will be from the same number of games played as West.

West, a champion Bulldog who was unlucky never to win his own Brownlow Medal, played 324 games; his 4093 handballs coming at an average of 12.633 a match.

Mitchell has currently played 323 games, with his 4080 handballs coming at an average of 12.632 a match. 

The most handballs Mitchell has recorded in a single match is a staggering 31 (out of 44 disposals), coming against St Kilda in round four last year.

One more Mitchell milestone: The retiring champ can also join an exclusive club on Sunday by notching his 200th career win.

Handballs Player Club(s) Games
4093 Scott West Western Bulldogs 324
4080 Sam Mitchell West Coast/Hawthorn 323
4008 Robert Harvey St Kilda 383
3781 Simon Black Brisbane Lions 322
3737 Matt Priddis West Coast 235

Who's next best?

It's no surprise some of the most enduring midfielders around have racked up the most handballs in the competition.

Handballs Player Club(s) Games
3737 Matt Priddis West Coast 235
3656 Gary Ablett jnr Gold Coast/Geelong 301
3452 Scott Thompson Adelaide 308
3366 Matthew Boyd Western Bulldogs 291

Sam Mitchell is part of a pretty special group with four flags. Picture: AFL Photos

The Chaser: The Burgoyne family legacy

The Burgoyne brothers, Peter and Shaun, are renowned for their silky skills. 

Peter played 240 games for Port Adelaide across a 13-year career, retiring in 2009 as a premiership player. 

Younger brother Shaun also started his career at the Power, before crossing to Hawthorn at the end of 2009. 

With Shaun due to line up against Richmond on Sunday afternoon, the Burgoyne brothers will draw level with Ian and Bruce Nankervis in second position for the most games played by a pair of brothers (578)

Simon and Justin Madden lead the way with 710 games, while Mark and Jarrad McVeigh are the next best of the current group with 526 games (sixth overall).


Text: Sarah Black | Designs: Kahla Emonson | Stats: Cameron Sinclair

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