‘It Happens’: All-Time Moments, Episode 11

This was 10 minutes into the 3rd Quarter.

Well it’s only a week away from the AFL season reigniting, so this will most likely serve as the season finale for the All-Time ‘It’ Happens series.

With the Queen’s Birthday weekend coming up over east, it’s almost the 20th anniversary of another incredible moment from the year 2000, courtesy of one of the great magic tricks from a bloke called ‘The Wizard’.

Saturday, June 10, 2000.

Melbourne Cricket Ground, somewhere in Victoria.

Round 14 of the AFL season marked the annual Queen’s Birthday Round as 6-7 Melbourne played 5-8 Collingwood, although this was the year before the two clubs started playing annually on the public holiday Monday, as Richmond & the Western Bulldogs got the coveted slot.

Weirdly enough, they did play on the public holiday in 1999, which makes 2000 the odd Monday out in the last 20 years.

Coming off a 98 point hiding against Carlton a week prior, the Demons led by 3 points at half time (7.6-48 to 7.3-45) against the struggling Magpies, but they were getting absolutely nothing from Jeff ‘The Wizard’ Farmer, who was dragged by coach Neale Daniher in the 2nd Quarter, after pulling a disappearing act and racking up just 1 kick for the half – Which had sailed out on the full.

Some ‘Older’ fans will remember that with how sparingly the interchange was used (Compared to now), getting benched in that era genuinely meant something.

It wasn’t until Chris Connolly at Fremantle (Where Farmer eventually landed) a few short years later that someone finally realised just how useful the interchange was to keep players fresh, and rotations skyrocketed.

Farmer stayed on the bench when the 2nd Half began, and seemed destined to spend the rest of the afternoon there, until teammate Ben Beams broke his wrist in the opening minutes of the 3rd Quarter, forcing ‘The Reverend’ Daniher to send the Wiz back on to the field, as the Dees led by 16 points.

With 13 minutes remaining, Farmer broke loose from Tarkyn Lockyer and marked Adem Yze’s kick 10 metres from goal, at which point he still only had a kick and a handball to his name.

The Wizard kicked 9 goals in the next 45 minutes.

3 goals in the 3rd Quarter, 6 in the last.

The 6th goal is a genuine highlight – Russell Robertson was in the perfect position to take a hanger on Rupert Betheras, only for Farmer to come across, sit on Rupert’s head, and take the mark for himself.

Skipper David Neitz, who set up the kick, recalled that moment with The Age in 2015:

“The look on Russell Robertson’s face after that mark was one of absolute disgust. He was not interested in the fairytale of Jeff Farmer kicking 10 goals in a half. He just wanted to take mark of the year!”

After moving on to 8 goals in a 40 minute period, Farmer took a mark on the lead 45 metres out at left half forward with 5 minutes remaining, going for his 6th goal of the final quarter.

Not known for his long range kicking (Like most small forwards), Farmer wasted no time, wound himself up, and proving just how much he was taking the piss, absolutely nailed the kick, giving a trademark Wizard celebration.

What many fans forget is that Farmer took a specky on Mark Richardson with a minute remaining to have a shot at a perfect 10 for the half, but to the sheer disappointment of everyone, the kick went left.

The siren sounded a short time later, and after leading by 3 points at the half, the Dees had raised hell with a thumping 65 point win.

22.11-143 to 12.6-78.

Farmer’s final stats – 17 disposals, 9 marks, 9.1 (From 15 kicks), and 2 Brownlow votes.

And it all stems back to Ben Beams breaking his wrist.

For the record, Yze, with 35 disposals and a goal, was best afield.

It seems appropriate that performance would remain Farmer’s biggest career haul in his 249 game career, although he almost bettered it months later in the Preliminary Final, kicking 8 against North Melbourne to propel the Dees into the Grand Final.

Where they had the misfortune of playing THAT Essendon team.

2000 was easily Farmer’s best season – There was the Grand Final appearance, he led the Dees goalkicking with 76 majors in 23 games, earning him a spot in the All-Australian team, and for at least that season, he was the best small forward in the game.

The Wiz left the Dees after 2001 to return home to WA, where he played at Fremantle for 7 seasons until his retirement in 2008, where he provided plenty of memorable moments for the Purple Army, including that goal after the siren against his former team in 2002.

The Wizard – What a character.

Farmer’s 9 goals are still the most in a half by any player this century.

And that’s all for this unofficial final edition of….

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