Tony Lockett. Picture: sydneyswans.com.au

It was the day Tony 'Plugger' Lockett would break Gordon Coventry's six-decade long goal-kicking record, and it was a day his coach Rodney Eade remembers fondly.

For Rodney Eade, Round 10, 1999, was a matchup of Sydney versus Collingwood and his focus for the night was the same as it always was – getting the win for his Swans.

Tony Lockett came into the match on 1297 goals, just two behind the 62-year-old record of Collingwood legend Gordon Coventry, who ended his career with 1299.

“It wasn’t as big a focus for me, but I remember there being some preparations for the club,” Eade told The Inner Sanctum.

The Swans were coming off a 13-point loss to the West Coast Eagles, and were in danger of losing touch with the Top 8.

“We really just focused on the team. On doing what we needed to do to beat Collingwood, not to go overboard trying to kick it to Tony, but be more about us trying to win,” Eade said.

The Swans came out of the blocks like lightning, kicking seven goals to one in the first quarter.

Lockett kicked two early, including a contested mark in the goal-square that led to the kick that levelled the record.

Lockett then was hit on the chest on the lead twice, spilling marks that he wouldn’t have dropped twice in his career, as the sense of anticipation built.

In the shadows of quarter-time, Lockett marked in the pocket off a kick from Paul Kelly. He went back for the set shot, with his typical routine, as the siren sounded for quarter-time.

Eade described the scene from his view, remembering the kick.

“He was a bit superstitious, and had a bad superstition about kicking from that pocket. I don’t know if that came into it or not,” Eade recalled.

“The kick itself, Tony was such a great kick for goal, but the kick was a bit wobbly.”

The ball sailed through for a goal and fans flooded out on to the ground to celebrate, as did the players.

A scene immortalised in time, as thousands of spectators flooded the field.

“I was thrilled for Tony, it was a massive moment for him, and for all the players, but my mind was back on the game,” Eade described.

The Swans came out flat in the second quarter, to the chagrin of Eade. By half time, their lead had been halved, and they led by just three goals.


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Eade recalled the scenes in the dressing room at half time.

“We had played very well the first quarter, and I had a feeling that we took our eyes off the ball a little bit in the second quarter. I was disappointed with the second quarter,” he said.

“I had some challenging words to them, that they needed to lift.

And the now greatest goal-kicker of all time wasn’t spared the coach’s frustration.

“I hope you haven’t put your cue back in the rack now that you’ve broken the record,” he said.

“Tony’s eyes glazed over and he kicked five in the second half.

“I didn’t have to do it very often to Tony.

“He always took great pride in his performance and set huge goals for himself. He always set high standards, and I just tried to get him focused for the second half”.

Eade said how after the win, there were smiles all around.

“It was the elation for him, living it, and being happy, and then having the win,” he said.

“He [Lockett] was very popular amongst his teammates. They certainly cared for him, and really liked him, and they shared that genuine elation when he kicked the goal.”

Lockett would finish with nine goals on the day, from just 11 kicks, and of course, three Brownlow votes.

Looking back on that game, as much as Eade was thrilled by the 10-goal win over the Magpies, he remembers the record fondly too.

“I knew in my deepest mind that Tony would get the record, it was just a matter of when” Eade said.

“Now that he’s retired, I think he’d hold that dear to him. It’s well deserved in my view, it was a pleasure to coach him and to be involved with him when he got the record.

And that record, of 1360 goals, which Lockett has kicked, Eade thinks it will stand forever.

“Footy is different now. Nobody is kicking 100 goals a year, and he did that for eight or nine years. Nobody will get there,” he said.

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