Statue commemorating EJ Whitten's (Mr Football) AFL career which was unveiled at Whitten Oval in Melbourne. Australian rules Victoria
Statue commemorating EJ Whitten's (Mr Football) AFL career which was unveiled at Whitten Oval in Melbourne. Australian rules Victoria

‘Reverse EJ’: The other side of Moorcroft’s epic hanger

Brad Johnson could not help but turn around and take a look at the big screen at Docklands after he had picked himself up off the ground.

It was Round 14, 2001 and the Western Bulldogs champion had found himself deep in defence in his side's clash with Essendon.

 

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Bomber Scott Lucas snapped a ball towards goal where - at the top of the goalsquare - Essendon high-flyer Gary Moorcroft flew above Johnson's head to take one mighty mark.

The grab won the 2001 Mark of the Year and has gone down as one of the greatest marks in AFL history.

"I made sure I had a look," Johnson said.

"When I heard my teammate Ben Harrison cheer the mark behind me, I probably knew that something special had happened.

"I just thought he was on my back. I didn't realise he was up that high at the time. But then when you look up at the big screen and see the enormity of it you think, 'Yep, that is pretty special'."

Essendon’s Gary Moorcroft flies high over an unsuspecting Brad Johnson in 2001.
Essendon’s Gary Moorcroft flies high over an unsuspecting Brad Johnson in 2001.

 

Johnson had a distinguished 364-game career with the Bulldogs full of plenty of highs of his own, but Gary Moorcroft's mark will forever be the most replayed piece of vision from his career.

"It sits fine with me," Johnson said.

"You've got to admire the feats of what guys do in the game and I was just underneath what happened to be one of the best marks of all time. I've always said well done to Gary Moorcroft. That was a super grab. I didn't actually see it because I was looking down, but when I stood up even the Bulldogs fans were giving him a standing ovation I knew it must have been something special."

 

 

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It did not take long for teammates to get stuck into Johnson, contrasting him falling over forward as the mark was taken to the famous statue of Bulldogs favourite son EJ Whitten leaning back as he launches a kick.

"I got called the 'Reverse EJ' there for a bit because of the famous statue and EJ's famous pose," Johnson said.

"Mine's in reverse. When you put the two together I'm doing the opposite."

 

Originally published as 'Reverse EJ': The other side of Moorcroft's epic hanger



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