THEY say life begins at 30.

In football terms, that old saying may have some challenges but for some of the current generation's best goalkickers, the statistics show that 30 really is just a number.

Heading into round 19, four of the top seven goalkickers in the race for the Coleman Medal are aged over 30. Adelaide's Taylor Walker (31 years old) and Richmond champion Jack Riewoldt (32) were in equal second place with 42 goals, Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins (33) sat in equal third with 41 goals and Sydney superstar Lance Franklin (34) was fifth with 37 goals.

The form of this quartet of veteran key forwards poses the question about whether the role for the experienced spearhead has evolved to work in their favour this season, with the first half of the year seeing more open games under rule changes that coaches and teams have come to clamp down on in recent months.

But it also highlights the value clubs place on having an experienced bigger, stronger body inside the forward 50. Just outside of the top 10 goalkickers this season sit Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon (30 years old), West Coast's Josh Kennedy (33) and Essendon's Cale Hooker (32).

Hawkins claimed last year's Coleman Medal as a 32-year-old and his remarkable stretch of 10 consecutive seasons of more than 40 goals continued with his four-goal haul against Fremantle last week.

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Riewoldt, meanwhile, booted six goals in his 300th game to help steer the Tigers to an important win over Brisbane last week, and Franklin's resurgence this season after missing all of 2020 through injury has been a key factor in Sydney's rise up the ladder.

Franklin needs just 19 more goals to become the sixth player to reach the magical 1000-goal milestone.

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Of current players, Franklin sits atop the group for most goals kicked after turning 30, with the former Hawk booting 194 goals from 66 games in that period. It ranks him 26th in VFL/AFL history for goals after 30.

Hawkins is second among current players with 172 goals from 69 games, with Kennedy next in line with 163 goals from 70 matches.

Former Crow and current Blues forward Eddie Betts (158 goals), Hawk Shaun Burgoyne (96 goals) and Port Adelaide gun Robbie Gray (90 goals) are other current players who have continued their stellar careers with high-quality showings after turning 30.

The all-time best is former Cat Gary Ablett senior, who kicked 516 goals from 102 matches after turning 30 – more than half his career tally of 1031 goals. 

CURRENT-DAY GOALKICKERS AFTER 30

PLAYER

MATCHES         

GOALS

Lance Franklin (Syd)

66

194

Tom Hawkins (Geel)

69

172

Josh Kennedy (WC)

70

163

Eddie Betts (Adel/Carl)

93

158

Jack Riewoldt (Rich)

51

99

Shaun Burgoyne (Haw)

181

96

Robbie Gray (PA)

72

90

VFL/AFL ALL-TIME GOALKICKERS AFTER 30

PLAYER

MATCHES

GOALS

Gary Ablett Snr (Geel)

102

516

Gordon Coventry (Coll)

108

515

Bernie Quinlan (Fitzroy)

115

425

Jack Titus (Rich)

107

397

Kevin Bartlett (Rich)

156

372

* All statistics from Champion Data