High-flying grabs, courageous clunks and massive marks are some of the highlights that make the AFL so unique and entertaining.
Right from the outset in 2023, we’ve seen some special Mark of the Year contenders – so let’s take a look at the grabs in the running on Brownlow night and those that weren’t far off.
AFL Mark of the Year finalists for 2023
Winning Mark of the Year looks great on a player’s resume. It’s a feat that earns great respect in the football community, but also has the chance to go globally viral and become a highlight on every major sports bulletin around the world.
Here are the players that flew the highest or shone the brightest through the 2023 season.
Harry Himmelberg (GWS Giants) – Round 1
According to the fans, Shai Bolton’s mark (seen below) wasn’t even the best mark of the round. And it’s the Giant’s that will fly the Mark of the Year flag for the opening weekend of the year.
Swingman Harry Himmelberg won the fan vote for the round, getting a massive sit on the shoulders of Crows ruckman Reilly O’Brien, setting the tone early for the Mark of the Year contenders with a grab that will be hard for judges to pick against.
Harry Himmelberg (GWS Giants) – Round 5
You’re reading that correctly! Himmelberg has taken out not one, but two of the final three Mark of the Year nominations.
Displaying his versatile capabilities, Himmelberg’s Gather Round hanger came in the forward 50, getting a big sit on top of a pack of players at a pivotal point in the game. It’s not often that Mark of the Year contenders factor in the context in which the marks were taken, but if that’s something judges are on the lookout for this year, Himmelberg is in the box seat to nab the title with this grab.
Ash Johnson (Collingwood) – Round 10
There are eerie parallels between Johnson’s Round 10 grab and Shai Bolton’s 2021 Mark of the Year winner. And if they’re are anything to go by, the high-flying pie could be a leading contender to take home the 2023 award.
On the goal line, using Blues ruckman Marc Pittonet’s shoulder as a springboard (as Bolton did to Max Gawn), Johnson’s huge leap is one of many highlights of the Pies’ 2023 season.
AFL Mark of the Year honourable mentions
Shai Bolton (Richmond) – Round 1
The 2021 Mark of the Year winner wasted no time getting on the board in 2023, taking a huge grab in the opening game of the season against Carlton.
Bolton’s specky was one of two Round 1 Mark of the Year nominees that make our shortlist. While it didn’t win the fan vote for the round, that hasn’t historically prevented some players from winning the gong, so the high-flying Tiger could be in the box seat to claim a second Mark of the Year title.
Patrick Parnell (Adelaide) – Round 9
A frequent trait of a Mark of The Year contender is its unexpected nature, and this incredible grab from the Crows’ Patrick Parnell certainly ticks that box.
The 178cm defender produced a huge leap onto the shoulders of St Kilda’s Jack Higgins, staying airborne as he pulled down a huge mark to stun the Adelaide Oval crowd.
Jamie Elliott (Collingwood) – Round 20
A notorious entertainer, the latest addition to Elliott’s highlight reel could see the Pies favourite claim his second Mark of The Year win ten years after he previously won the award.
Reminiscent of the mark that secured his 2013 win, Elliott’s big grab on the head of Blues defender Jacob Weitering is sure to be front of mind for the judges in 2023. Carlton was the opposition outfit for two of the above contenders!