Martin and Rachele Join 5+ Goals on Debut Club

The 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership season kicked off last week with Melbourne defeating the Western Bulldogs in a Grand Final rematch. There were plenty of other highlights and lowlights, depending on who you support.

One of the biggest talking points of Round 1 was how well several first-gamers performed. Jason Horne-Francis—the number one pick in last year’s draft—was overshadowed somewhat by Collingwood father-son selection Nick Daicos, a player many thought would go number one.

But Horne-Francis and Daicos had nothing on Essendon’s Nic Martin and Adelaide’s Josh Rachele, who both kicked five goals in their respective debuts. Martin was one of—if not the only—bright spot in Essendon’s crushing defeat at the hands of Geelong and was a worthy nominee for the Rising Star Award for the round.

Martin and Rachele became the 67th and 68th players (respectively) in V/AFL history to kick five or more goals on debut. The feat was first achieved in 1899, when Tommy Ryan kicked five for Melbourne against St Kilda.

Rachele’s teammate Riley Thilthorpe was the most recent player to kick five or more on debut prior to last weekend, snagging his five against Hawthorn in Round 6, 2021.

However, what I find more interesting about Martin and Rachele’s feat is that this is only the xxx time in V/AFL history that two players have kicked five or more goals on debut in the same round.

This first happened in Round 1, 1931, when Mickey Crisp kicked five for Carlton against Richmond, before George Moloney kicked seven for Geelong against Collingwood.

Incredibly two players from Carlton and Geelong repeated the incredible feat 20 years later in Round 1, 1951. Keith Warburton kicked seven for Carlton against Hawthorn, while Bill McMaster kicked five for Geelong against South Melbourne.

Paul Sprole (five goals for Essendon versus Hawthorn) and Doug Farrant (five goals for Footscray versus North Melbourne) were the next pair. Sprole and Farrant added their names to the list in Round 1, 1968.

The early 1980’s were particularly fruitful. 1981 saw Milan Faletic (five goals for St Kilda against the Footscray) and Kevin Taylor (five for South Melbourne against North Melbourne) achieve the feat. Then Wayne Otway (Essendon) and Allan Jennings (Footscray) started the 1982 season with five goal each when their respective teams faced off.

Otway and Jennings’ 1982 efforts were the last time two players kicked five or more goals on debut in the same round prior to Martin and Rachele.

Interestingly, Martin was Essendon’s ninth player to kick five or more goals on debut, while Rachele was Adelaide’s second (behind Thilthorpe). Brisbane (as either the Bears or the Lions), Fremantle, Gold Coast, GWS, and Port Adelaide are yet to have a player kick five or more goals on debut.

Number of players to kick five or more goals on debut, by club

Team Number
Carlton 9
Essendon 9
Western Bulldogs 8
Melbourne 7
Richmond 7
Geelong 4
Hawthorn 4
Richmond 4
St Kilda 4
Sydney 4
Adelaide 2
Collingwood 2
Fitzroy 2
West Coast 2

As always, I apologise to anyone who has already looked at these stats.