Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
Christopher Dylan Judd

Known as
Chris Judd

Born
8 September 1983 (age 39)

Place of birth
Melbourne, VIC (3000)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 210d
Last game: 31y 271d

Height and weight
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 88 kg

Senior clubs
West Coast; East Perth; Australia; Carlton

Jumper numbers
West Coast: 3
Carlton: 5

Recruited from
Sandringham Dragons (2002); East Perth (2002); West Coast (2008)

State of origin
VIC

Chris Judd

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
West CoastAFL2002-20071341381.0363%12.908.132.4394
AustraliaIR2002200.00
East PerthWAFL2002144.00
CarltonAFL2008-2015145900.6246%12.5711.992.70116
WAFL2002144.00
IR2002200.00
AFL2002-20152792280.8254%12.7310.142.57210
Total2002-20152822320.82

AFL: 11,186th player to appear, 144th most games played, 330th most goals kickedWest Coast: 143rd player to appear, 51st most games played, 18th most goals kickedCarlton: 1,110th player to appear, 87th most games played, 103rd most goals kicked

One of the game's greatest ever players, Chris Judd won nearly every individual and team accolade the sport had to offer over an outstanding 14-year AFL career, first with the West Coast Eagles, and subsequently with Carlton. At his peak, from his breakout Brownlow medal-winning season in 2004 to late 2011, he was the outstanding player in the competition. In that eight-season stretch he won two Brownlow medals, five club best and fairest awards, six All-Australian jumpers, two Most Valuable Player awards (the Leigh Matthews Trophy) as judged by his peers, captained a premiership team, and won a Norm Smith medal, in addition to numerous media awards. In that same period he polled 20 or more Brownlow votes in five separate seasons, and accumulated a remarkable 173 votes in only 163 eligible (H&A) games, a scoring ratio among the highest in the medal's 92 year history.

Recruited from the Sandringham Dragons (via East Sandringham Juniors and Caufield Grammar) by the West Coast Eagles as their priority draft pick (number three overall) in the 2001 AFL Draft (subsequently dubbed the 'Super draft' due to the calibre of outstanding talent that emerged), high hopes surrounded the youngster despite shoulder problems during his junior career (which were to persist for the duration of his senior career). Allocated to WAFL side East Perth, Judd played just one game for the Royals, but it was enough to dispel any doubts about his potential. A West Perth opponent that day, Adam Curley, later recalled Judd’s extraordinary debut.

"He was wiry, had both shoulders strapped like his arms were stuck onto his body with Elastoplast, and had that slightly hunched over running style we're now so familiar with. He looked like any other potential star until the ball was bounced. That two hours of footy was like a Judd highlights reel, the ones you see on Brownlow Medal night. He finished the day with around 20 touches, four goals, and five Sandover Medal votes. His pace was electric, like he was supercharged, and he had that breakaway speed which made him pretty much unstoppable when he was in full flight...it was clear that day that C. Judd would be a one-game WAFL wonder, a part of folklore, a yarn to tell your grandkids about around the campfire.

The attributes described above were soon on display on a larger stage, albeit not to quite the same explosive effect. Nonetheless, the signs were already apparent that a special player was in the making, evidenced by a Norwich Rising Star nomination in 2002 and a second-place finish in the club best and fairest the following year, and highlighted by an incredible performance against reigning premiers Brisbane at the Gabba when he scored five first half goals on the run, accelerating past opponents and breaking tackles at will. That match proved to be the template for 2004 and beyond.

Judd's football rose to another level in 2004, and apart from an injury ravaged latter half of the 2007 season, stayed at that elevated standard for the next seven seasons. Installed as one of the favourites for the 2004 Brownlow Medal he blitzed the field to poll 30 votes, seven ahead of runner-up Mark Ricciuto. Widely acknowledged as the finest player in the country by 2005, he became the central plank of one of the greatest mid-field combinations ever put together (with Dean Cox, Ben Cousins, and Daniel Kerr), a foursome that powered the Eagles into premiership contention. Unfortunately for them, they came up against a doggedly determined Sydney Swans outfit that simply refused to die, and after beating the Bloods by four points in the Second Qualifying final in Perth, went down by the same margin in a thrilling Grand Final. A Norm Smith medal-winning display by Judd was not enough to get the Eagles over the line.

With Chris Judd installed as captain after the increasingly erratic behaviour of Ben Cousins, the Eagles turned the tables in 2006, and after losing to the Swans in the First Qualifying final by one point, they returned the favour in an equally thrilling Grand Final, again by the tightest of margins. The rivalry between the two teams during this period can be gauged by a remarkable sequence of 4, 4, 2, 1, 1, 1 point margins, respectively. While the Eagles may have felt hard done by at having to settle for one premiership each with the Sydneysiders—given the talent on their list vis-a-vis the more 'workman-like' Swans combination—hindsight has judged it to be a fair split.

Leading the Eagles to the 2006 flag was the pinnacle of Judd's career, but also the beginning of the end for the Eagles ascendancy. Injuries to key players, including Judd himself, and disciplinary problems with other key players contributed to the club crashing out of the 2007 final in 'straight sets'. Compounding the problem was the decision of the captain to return to his native Melbourne, a move that had long been speculated. The potential suitors included nearly every Melbourne-based club, but after mulling over several possibilities, Judd settled on Carlton.

Appointed captain of the struggling Blues even before he made his senior debut for the club, carrying an enormous weight of expectation, and having to remake his playing style due to a persistent groin injury, Judd bore the resultant pressure manfully, winning the club's best and fairest—the first of three John Nicholls' medals in a row—and impressed the Carlton faithful with a more contested 'inside' style of play that had hitherto been subservient to his trademark explosive outside run. His outstanding form, characterised by an ability to shed taggers and to win the ‘hard ball’ from seemingly impossible situations, continued on through the following seasons—at times it seemed he was carrying the team on his shoulders—and a second runaway Brownlow win followed in 2010. 

But hopes of ultimate team success in the 'Judd era' were dashed by several 'near miss' finals defeats, notably against the Swans in Sydney in 2010 (a game in which Judd dominated) and against the Eagles in Perth the following year. The club was simply unable to take the next step to genuine premiership contenders, a case of so near but yet so far.

By 2012 the ravages of time and injury and the pressure of responsibility had taken their toll, and though Judd remained consistently good for the remainder of his career, the jaw-dropping displays so common in his heyday were less frequent, notwithstanding the occasional masterclass, as when he inspired the Blues to a shock comeback win over the higher placed Richmond in the First Elimination Final of 2013. Having relinquished the captaincy to focus on his fitness, and to prepare for life after football, he continued to be a valuable team player until mid-2015 when retirement was forced upon him after a serious knee injury.

Neither an outstanding kick nor a strong overhead mark, there have nonetheless, been few players in the history of the game that have had a greater impact on matches as consistently as Chris Judd did. From the early days of explosive breakout speed, and core balance enabling him to manoeuvre through packs and break tackles, to the latter days of evading taggers, boring into heavy packs and winning the hardest of balls, Judd was always a 110 percent player. He stands among the greats of the Australian game. 

Author - Adam Cardosi


Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.