Magpie high-flyer Jeremy Howe sits comfortably among the game’s best serial screamers

Jeremy Howe is a modern-day marking marvel who wouldn’t have been out of place in the 1970s and 1980s and two footy greats reveal why the Collingwood flyer is a special player. Cast your vote on the greatest mark in the past 50 years.

Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe is a modern-day “treasure” who sits comfortably alongside the greatest high-flyers of the past 50 years, according to multiple Mark of the Year winners Peter Knights and Bill Picken.

Knights, who won three Mark of the Year awards during a stunning Hawthorn career, said there was always something special about a player who could drag down high marks consistently, as Howe does now.

“I guess that (marking) was a big part of my game and in my era there were players such as Bill Picken, Trevor Barker, Paul Vander Haar and Malcolm Blight,” Knights said.

“The style of game was so different back then.

“The thing that I always admired about those sort of guys — and the likes of Jeremy Howe now — is that they do it consistently.

“There have been some wonderful marks taken over the journey, but a lot of them are one-offs.

“The thing about Jeremy Howe is that it is not just a oncer.

“It takes a lot of courage and a lot of skill to take those sort of marks on a regular basis. A lot of people don’t realise the courage it takes to throw your body into a pack like that, not really knowing how you are going to come down or what the circumstances might be.”

Jeremy Howe takes a soaring grab over Melbourne’s Tom McDonald in 2017. Picture: Mark Stewart
Jeremy Howe takes a soaring grab over Melbourne’s Tom McDonald in 2017.

Picken, who won the VFL’s best mark award twice, loves watching Howe in action, saying he wouldn’t have been out of place in the high-flying 1970s and ’80s.

“He is a treasure that lad,” Picken said of Howe.

“He’s definitely right up there.”

“He produces them consistently.

“You always hope he goes for them because you know he brings them down.”

The former Magpie said he used to get “a bit of a buzz” out of flying for great marks and loved watching the likes of Knights, Vander Haar and Barker in action.

“I love the high-marking aspect of the game, even if it is not quite the same now,” he said. “You still get a thrill out of seeing a speccy even though we don’t see as many.

“In those days you got a big thrill out of seeing Knights with his great vertical leaps and the blond hair of Barker flying for the Saints.

“So it is good to see someone (Howe) still taking those sort of marks.”


JEREMY HOWE (Collingwood/Melbourne)

Almost a throwback from the 1970s and ’80s where high-flying aerialists brought the crowds to their feet. Has won 16 marks of the week since 2011, but has won only one Mark of the Year. Hard to believe his 2017 grab over Tom McDonald didn’t win it. Has a ridiculously high leap and rarely fails to control the ball when he is up in rarefied air.


It’s often forgotten how effortless and graceful Knights was when he flew. But it was his courage as much as anything else that was his trademark. He flew without fear, and often without peer. His duel with Vander Haar in 1978 at Windy Hill was one for the ages.

Peter Knights.
Peter Knights.
Bill Picken in 1974.
Bill Picken in 1974.

BILL PICKEN (Collingwood/Sydney)

Picken set the standard with a sensational one-handed “mark” on debut in 1974, but the umpire disallowed it. He made up for it by winning two Mark of the Year awards in his first three seasons (1974 and 1976). Who could ever forget his grab over Mark Maclure in the 1979 Grand Final, or his flying for marks with his tongue stuck out, crying out, “Here comes Billy.”


A champion mark and an even better bloke. “Barks” could ride on the shoulders of his opponents for what seemed like an eternity. He made footy fun for long-suffering Saints fans during some of their toughest years and left behind memories of so many crowd-thrilling marks.

TONY MODRA (Adelaide/Fremantle)

Was it any wonder they called him “Godra” in Adelaide, for his immense public profile in South Australia during the 1990s? It also served him well in a heavenly sense, given how high he used to rise. Won three AFL Marks of the Year and there were a dozen or so others in contention. A genuine freak.

Tony Modra in 1997.
Tony Modra in 1997.

GARY ABLETT SR (Geelong/Hawthorn)

Ablett provided the most diverse body of work of any footballer in VFL-AFL history. He marked them in every possible manner — high and low; on leads and in the air; on his chest and in his hands. At times it was impossible to stop him.


Like Ablett, Jezza had a wide array of grabs for assessment, from his trademark classic leap on Graeme Jenkin’s back in the 1970 Grand Final to marks taken diving at full stretch. He always maintained his greatest mark came at Princes Park one day when he rose above a pack, but it was never captured on film. Pity.


He wasn’t nicknamed “the Birdman” for nothing. Genetically blessed with a fine leap and superb timing, Burton was an extraordinary mark. It wasn’t just his Mark of the Year in 2009 over a pack … he used to throw himself at similar aerial challenges each week.

Brett Burton in 2009.
Brett Burton in 2009.


We know the Wiz is prone to exaggeration and never misses the chance to tell us how good he was. But when it comes to high-flying marks, there was no hyperbole needed. During a period in the mid-1980s, there was no more spectacular mark in the game. Just ask former AFL Commissioner Chris Langford. The expression “taking a Caaaaapper” lives on as a result.

SHAUN SMITH (North Melb/Melbourne)

His 1995 Mark of the Year at the Gabba ranks as one of the greatest AFL marks. But Smith’s body of work is just as considerable. His capacity to rise seemingly without effort — as he did that night at the Gabba — set him apart from many of his contemporaries.


What is it about Melbourne players and screamers? From the moment Robertson’s AFL career was launched by a video sent to The Footy Show’s “Almost Footy Legends”, he was renown for his ability to drag down the biggest of marks.


Like Barker and Knights, the mop of blond hair flying through the air was unmistakeable in the 1970s and 1980s. Vander Haar was a must-watch player on and off the field, and he ruled the skies at Windy Hill.

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