GWS excessive flyer Harry Himmelberg, his street to the AFL, and what goes into taking a speccie?
On a sleepy Sunday afternoon, someday simply after the summer time’s finish, the group grows silent for only a cut up second. Then a person decides to the touch the sky, each as a result of he can and to seize an errant ball.
That participant is Harry Himmelberg, maybe one of the best excessive flyer going round proper now. He is so good that the gravity-defying feat above may not be his finest speccie this yr.
Alongside the kick, the mark may be essentially the most foundational a part of Australian soccer. From yard kick to kick to the chip-mark sport on the large stage, the mark is a giant a part of why the sport we love is the sport we love.
Defining a mark is fairly straightforward … kind of. Based on the Legal guidelines of the Recreation a mark happens if a participant catches or takes management of the soccer inside the enjoying floor after it has been kicked by one other participant at the least 15 metres and the ball has not touched the bottom or been touched by one other participant.
In layman’s phrases, it is a first rate size kick clutched within the mitts, generally on the chest, generally out in entrance.
However there is a kind of mark that is a bit extra … particular than the peculiar one. The speccie, or spectacular mark, is a mystical factor, the kind of factor that songs are written about. If the traditional mark is important to ball motion, then the speccie is what attracts punters to their seats.
From Alex Jesaulenko to Jeremy Howe and all leapers in between, one of the best hangers go away an indelible mark within the minds of the young and old alike.
If figuring out a mark is fairly straightforward, then attempting to work out what precisely is a speccie is a bit tougher. It would take an knowledgeable, like Himmelberg, to assist work it out.
What makes a mark of the yr
Whereas that age-old query of what a speccie is may be a bit onerous to quantify, there’s a few issues that may aid you work it out.
Firstly, there’s the sound of the group. The second of awed silence earlier than the large roar. The flash of the cameras, the response of different gamers.
However the clearest means occurs after the sport.
The perfect grabs on the high stage are within the operating for probably the most well-known awards within the sport — the Alex Jesaulenko Medal for Mark of the 12 months.
Originating after Alex Jesaulenko’s unbelievable fly within the 1970 Grand Ultimate over Graeme ‘Jerker’ Jenkins, the Mark of the 12 months is arguably a very powerful subjective sporting award outdoors of the gold medals handed out for Gymnastics on the Olympics.
Jezza, for what it is price, did not assume a complete lot of his well-known seize.
“After the sport, I could not even keep in mind taking the mark. It is turn into greater because the years have passed by, as a result of it was a grand ultimate and folks attempt to make issues greater than they’re.”
The largest stage does are likely to see its fair proportion of Mark of the 12 months winners.
Jesaulenko additionally volunteered that the mark he took within the fourth quarter of that decider was a greater seize, however on the improper aspect of the bottom for the cameras.
Each these grabs got here on the expense of Collingwood. The largest membership in Melbourne has been most frequently to each take, and concede, the yr’s largest hanger.
Jezza’s seize was the beginning of a brand new period. A surprisingly sophisticated one on reflection.
At first there have been rival Mark of the 12 months awards — one handed out by Channel Seven’s World of Sport panel and one by the ABC. Usually, the 2 organisations would award totally different marks for the year-ending honour. Of the 2, gamers tended to hope for the World of Sport award because it got here with a automotive.
A choose few, equivalent to Collingwood’s Geoff Banks and Michael Roach famous their slight displeasure of solely successful the ABC’s pewter mug years down the observe.
The official AFL award did not begin till 2001, voted by followers and acclaimed by all. There are additionally some patterns within the Mark of the 12 months that may assist us break down what a speccie is.
The ABC have damaged down the traits of 4 a long time of Marks of the 12 months to search out out what makes a mark particular.
Essentially the most archetypal Mark of the 12 months is marked off a teammate’s kick (78 per cent), over a stepladder participant (88 per cent). Preliminary contact, particularly lately, is made to the participant being jumped on by the marker’s knee (71 per cent).
They’re going to most frequently leap roughly straight upwards (49 per cent), most likely in a pack (51 per cent). They normally take it arms prolonged (49 per cent) somewhat than on the chest, and a clear first seize is a close to requirement (90 per cent). Additionally it is necessary to dramatically crash to earth (83 per cent).
Following that logic, the 2 commonest speccies to win Mark of the 12 months are Tony Modra’s spectacular 1993 effort and Jamie Elliot’s seize 20 years later.
That bodes nicely for Himmelberg, with each of his efforts hitting most of these requirements.
Himmelberg’s journey to the literal high of the league is certainly one of perseverance. As a younger footballer Harry was undersized, however a late progress spurt put him within the draft body.
A damaged jaw in his nominal draft yr noticed him missed by all 18 golf equipment. Work alternatives for his dad and mom noticed the household plan for a transfer to Queensland, leaving Harry with a giant resolution.
Would he comply with them up north, or strike it out on his personal?
Himmelberg received supplied a spot in Canberra at Eastlake, about three hours away from Wagga. However the transfer would maintain him in contact with the Giants Academy, and the NSW/ACT underage program.
Nonetheless, the brand new begin was powerful.
“(The transfer) was particularly (onerous) as a result of I hadn’t lived out of residence earlier than. I used to be working as a cupboard maker in Canberra right here, in order that was good enjoyable.” Himmelberg mirrored.
As soon as footy season began Himmelberg discovered the commerce too powerful to steadiness. So he needed to discover a new match.
“The labour intensive stuff was making footy coaching quite a bit tougher, and dealing on weekends. So I went into the go well with enterprise. I’ve nonetheless received no thought tips on how to match them or promote them.”
Himmelberg’s huge resolution paid off. On the finish of the yr the Giants picked him up within the draft within the first spherical.
Like many gamers, Himmelberg began out at a proud group membership — the MCUE Goannas, brief for Mangoplah Cookardinia United Eastlakes. Regardless of Mangoplah and Cookardinia solely being the house to about 500 individuals between them, the merged membership and its predecessors boast at the least 13 V/AFL gamers.
Himmelberg began his footy journey as a teen in a strong senior competitors, the Riverina Soccer League. His coach on the time, former Sydney Swan Nathon Irvin, introduced Himmelberg up in defence.
“Yeah, I performed a little bit little bit of half again as junior. I used to be actually small and thin, so he kind of needed to play me at half again and hid me on the wing away from the larger our bodies in senior footy. I used to be solely about 16 or 17. ” Himmelberg stated.
“That taught me to be faster — eliminate (the ball) faster — to keep away from getting tackled, so it was good.”
All through his junior profession Himmelberg was thrown throughout the park, serving to his capacity to learn the sport. This yr GWS coach Adam Kingsley has been in a position to make use of Himmelberg as a tall Swiss Military Knife within the fashion of a Justin Westhoff or Mark Blicavs.
“Properly, yeah, it is a onerous one given his capacity to have the ability to do each (play ahead and again),” Kingsley advised the ABC.
“It is an ongoing problem for us as a training workforce to position him the place he will have most affect.”
Final yr interim Giants coach Mark McVeigh threw Himmelberg down again after he took the reins, prompted by their work collectively within the junior NSW/ACT applications.
The outcomes have been nothing wanting spectacular. Himmelberg instantly contributed at a very elite stage down again, albeit in a defence that noticed a whole lot of the ball. This opened up his capacity to make use of the ball extra by foot to arrange counterattacks, along with his kick a long run power.
“I feel it simply comes with follow. I all the time had a good, first rate kick. The gap and that kind of stuff got here as I kind of grew up a little bit bit and introduced some dimension,” Himmelberg stated.
However that boot is commonly put to finest deplete ahead, nearer to aim. Since his second season, Himmelberg has kicked the third most targets at GWS and sits twenty seventh within the league.
However for Himmelberg to kick targets, he first must get the ball.
So how do you’re taking a hanger?
Himmelberg has taken the entire forms of basic mark as listed above, from the skyscraping to the brave and the merely outrageous. However to get that good, it took work.
“We do. We positively practise that kind of stuff.” Himmelberg stated.
When elaborating about a very powerful aspect, he was clear.
“It is extra so timing. Getting your timing proper is the principle factor.”
The scenario additionally issues quite a bit. Practising hangers is commonly about practising studying conditions as they evolve.
“You establish if there’s individuals in entrance of you, when to leap, the place to leap, how excessive the ball’s coming in — that kind of stuff.
“So that you gotta toss up just a few various things coming in.”
As Harry sits down to speak about simply how he takes these marks, he winces instantly on the first picture on the display screen.
“My again nonetheless hurts from that one.”
That is the kind of speccie that takes extra braveness than aerial prowess, like Jonathan Brown’s seize in 2002. It additionally highlights the hazard of the entire endeavour. Regardless of taking place in 2019, he remembers the whole lot about it clearly.
“I kind of realised that the ball was going to land on Brent (Daniels) and his man’s head. I believed that if I jumped early I might be much less likelihood of getting harm there. It did not end up the best way I might deliberate however received paid the mark which was good.”
Different marks have fonder recollections, equivalent to that magnificence from the primary spherical this yr. For that one, he owes his outdated housemate Matt Flynn one.
“Yeah, that is what I stated to him. Get the large rucks to simply stand in entrance. I jumped early and tried to get the knee up on the shoulder.”
Typically all planning goes out the window, particularly as the sport attracts late. However these core preparations, and key components of taking a seize, maintain agency.
“That one I used to be simply watching the ball. I knew that we have been down by a few factors there. Clearly we would have liked a mark and a aim so I simply kind of had my eyes on the ball the entire time. I seen that there was a pack in entrance.”
“Like I stated, go early, put my knee out to guard myself.”
There’s a little bit little bit of awe exhibiting in his eyes as he sees himself fly, as if there’s a component that he cannot fairly consider that is how excessive he went. That is the magic of the screamer — a component of disbelief coming into the thoughts, difficult precisely what you might be seeing.
However the entire time it looks as if Himmelberg is rightfully extra involved with creating his personal legacy, and serving to his workforce win.
A excessive flying future
This yr GWS have battled onerous by way of yr certainly one of Kingsley’s repositioning of the membership.
Up ahead, the Giants look to be discovering their toes.
“We have had a very robust preseason, Jesse (Hogan), Tobes (Greene) and I working collectively — Brett Daniels is again too. Getting that continuity with the ahead line as a complete and staying on the park collectively is what creates that synergy.”
Himmelberg will even face possibly his largest resolution since transferring to Canberra a few decade in the past on the finish of the yr. As maybe the league’s finest out there tall in free company, Himmelberg will have the ability to determine his enjoying future with a number of golf equipment vying for his providers.
For now, he is centered on simply two issues — getting the ball, and serving to the Giants stand up the ladder.