Arguably the most distinctive feature of Australian football is the high mark. Virtually every other facet of the game is shared by other sports, but the sight of a player taking a fingertip ‘screamer’ whilst perched on the shoulders of an opponent is unique to footy, and players who perfect this ability are among the code’s most celebrated and well remembered.
John Gerovich, who played 221 league games for South Fremantle between 1955 and 1969, mastered the high flyer’s art more completely and conspicuously than most. The photograph of a skyscraping mark taken by Gerovich during the 1956 preliminary final against East Fremantle remains one of the most visually stunning and indeed iconic in football history. The unfortunate ‘step-ladder’ was Ray French.
John Gerovich was much more than just a spectacular aerialist, however, as he “had superb balance, a blistering turn of speed and the ability to kick goals from long distances with either foot”.1 Equally at home either at centre half forward or the goalfront, he topped South Fremantle’s list of goal kickers on eight occasions and the league list in 1956 (74 goals), 1960 (101) and 1961 (74). He booted 721 WANFL goals altogether, and was a regular interstate representative (18 games, 56 goals). When West Australia won the 1961 Brisbane carnival, John Gerovich played at full forward in all 3 matches, kicking 8 goals.
Perhaps the most persuasive testimony as to Gerovich’s brilliance came from Marty McDonnell, who coached South during the early ‘60s, and who had played at full back on the great Essendon full forward John Coleman. McDonnell’s unequivocal assessment was that “Gerovich was the most sensational forward he had seen in Australia”.2
Author - John Devaney
Full Points Footy's WA Football Companion