Magnificent Sevens | CDFC v WTFC 1988


Rudi Mandemaker, Derek Kickett, Gavin Chaplin and Robert Handley kicked themselves into the record books on a dark day for West Torrens at Elizabeth in 1988.

All four booted seven goals against a battered and bruised Eagles side that could muster just 14 fit men by the finish. The record-breaking quartet was captured for posterity after the game – the photograph still takes pride of place in Handley’s home.

“It was a magic day,” the man they call ‘Chopper’ recalled of the Dogs pummelling the Eagles 35.23 (233) to 4.11 (35) by a staggering 198 points. “There’s never been four blokes kick seven goals in top-ranked footy – it was a record at the time and it still is. The crowd was abuzz. It was a pretty hot day. Everything we seemed to hit, it just all fell into place. Mis-kicks were going to our blokes, it just all worked really, really well.”

Handley, who roamed centre half-forward that day, was playing just his third game for the Bulldogs after arriving from Hawthorn. Kickett, from Claremont, and Chaplin (West Perth) were playing only their fourth matches for the club. It was also just the fourth game in charge for Neil Kerley at his fifth club.

Kerls loved attacking footy and by the day’s end had coached the sides that had kicked three of the top five scores in the competition. By the end of the year, that would be four of the top six after Central repeated the dose dumping 35.18 at home against South Adelaide – Kickett this time going solo with another seven goals.

Central’s winning margin was the SANFL’s second-biggest ever and its score the fifth highest. But of course, the record books don’t tell the full story.

Bizarrely, Torrens made the trip north two rungs above Central on the ladder, with both clubs having won two of their first three games. But the Eagles took an injury depleted side to Elizabeth and began losing men inside the first few minutes when Scott Morphett was stretchered from the ground with concussion. The Eagles’ bench soon resembled something from an episode of M*A*S*H minus the laughs. Dale Eichner joined Morphett in spending the night concussed in hospital while Kevin Taylor, Dominic Fotia, Bob Enright and Michael Werner were also wounded as hapless Torrens coach Paul Weston was forced to leave injured players on the ground to make up the numbers. But the Bulldogs didn’t miss the chance to kick them while they were down.

“I tell the story that I went off at three-quarter-time (with seven goals) and didn’t play the last quarter just so those boys could catch up a bit,” Mandemaker said. “I think my knee was a bit sore so I went off. I probably could have kicked 10 or 12 but trying to get the ball off Chopper (Handley), Chaplin and Kickett was impossible, you know playing full forward.” Chaplin, who now coaches South Gawler, adorned his seven goals that day with 26 kicks and 22 handballs. “He always used to get into Gilbert (McAdam) and me that we always used to kick the ball over his head,” Chaplin remembered.

The team stats saw Central compile 468 possessions, Torrens just 240. The enormous win catapulted the Bulldogs to the top of the ladder on the back of a percentage boost of 13. “We had a pretty good team in those years,” Mandemaker said. “Probably good players but not a great team.”

Kickett was one of them, making quite an impact with 47 goals from 25 games. “I had a good offer to stay at Claremont,” Kickett recalled. “The only reason I did come over is that it was my dream to play AFL footy.” That dream was realised when he was drafted by North Melbourne.

Despite the magnitude of the win, a stoic Kerley was rightly not getting carried away with the numbers. “Some days things go right for you,” he said. “Today was one of those days.”




CENTRAL    10.4    20.6    25.15    35.23      (233)

TORRENS      1.1      2.6       4.8          4.11        (35)


Best – Central: Kickett, Chaplin, Handley, Smith, G. McAdam, P. Graham, Mandemaker, Prior, Bubner, Thomas, Lounder, Roe. Torrens: None.

Goals – Central: Kickett 7.3, Chaplin 7.2, Mandemaker 7.0, Handley 7.0, Lally 2.1, P. Graham 1.4, Thomas 1.2, Smith 1.1, Sickerdick 1.0, Girdham 1.0, Bubner 0.2, G. McAdam 0.1, van Dommele 0.1, Roe 0.1, rushed 0.5. Torrens: Weston 2.0, Werner 1.1, Athanasiou 1.0, Christensen 0.2, C. Lindsay 0.2, G. Hodson 0.2, rushed 0.4 .

Injuries – Torrens: Morphett (concussion), Taylor (driver), Enright (thigh), Fotia (corked thigh), Eichner (chest and concussion), Werner (dislocated shoulder).

Report – Torrens: Long, for allegedly tripping G. McAdam, in the third quarter.

Umpires – Laurie Argent, David Weston.

Crowd – 6109.

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