How 2016 smashed a 40-year goal record

The year 2016 ended with a goals per game rate never before seen in 40 years of Australian national league football, writes stats maestro @AndyHowe_statto.

In a calendar year which ironically started with a goalless new year’s day draw between the Wanderers and Adelaide United, 460 goals were scored in 140 Hyundai A-League matches, an average of 3.29 goals per game. 

The gun goal-getters over 2016 were Melbourne’ City’s Bruno Fornaroli with 25 goals in 30 games, Jamie Maclaren netting 20 in 26 matches for the Roar, and Besart Berisha for Melbourne Victory scoring 19 times in 26 appearances over the year.

Fittingly it was Fornaroli who scored the final goal of 2016 in City’s last-gasp 2-2 draw with the Mariners on new year’s eve, after Maclaren netted the first A-League goal for the year in a 2-1 win for Brisbane over Perth on January 2.


The previous highest goals per game rate for a calendar year was 3.19, back in 2001. 

This was an era when Perth’s attacking duo of Damian Mori and Bobby Despotovski were on fire, the Glory pair netting 45 goals in a combined 57 national league appearances between them. 

Also in red hot form in 2001 were two greats: Pablo Cardozo (20 goals in 30 games) for Sydney Olympic and Northern Spirit, and Saso Petrovski (18 goals in just 17 games) with Wollongong before heading off to Denmark mid-year. 

Sasho Petrovski.

The goal-frenzied 2016 was far cry from the 1987 national league season when only 2.38 goals were scored on average. 

The 1987 season, where crowds averaged a mere 3,000 per game, was the last time a finals series was not used to determine the Champion team. 

The lowest scoring calendar year in the A-League era was 2009, with just 2.58 goals per game scored over the year despite Shane Smeltz (20 goals for Wellington and Gold Coast) and Sergio Van Dijk (18, Brisbane Roar) being in splendid scoring form at the time.

While it might be no surprise the teams with the highest scoring rates in 2016 included Melbourne City (1.93 goals per game) and Melbourne Victory (1.89), the leading team throughout 2016 was actually Perth Glory with 57 goals in 28 games, an average of 2.04 goals per game.


With Andy Keogh (17 goals in 2016) and Diego Castro (13) leading the charge throughout 2016, Perth was the first team in the A-League era to score more than 2 goals a game over a calendar year. 

Perth Glory players celebrate one of Andy Keogh's goals against City on Friday night.

There were clear but contrasting changes of fortune for two teams over 2016.

In 28 games over the year, Sydney sensationally doubled their early season goalscoring tally in their last 14 games, amassing 35 goals compared to just 17 in their first 14 games of 2016. 

Adelaide fans won’t need reminding of their demise over 2016 however – after scoring 39 goals in their last 16 games of the 2015/16 season, including 3 in their historic Grand Final win over the Wanderers, the Reds recorded just 10 goals in their first 12 games of 2016/17.

There were two 9-goal matches in 2016 which were both historic in their own right.

In February, six different players scored for Perth Glory in their 6-3 demolition of Brisbane at nib Stadium. Never before in Australian national league history had more than six players scored for a team in a game. 

And in an epic 2016  Grand Final qualifier, Western Sydney won 5-4 in extra time in a true thriller over a Roar side who was 3-0 up in the 25th minute. 

Dario Vidosic is off to China to play with Liaoning Whowin.

This was the first Australian national league match where a team won outright after being three goals behind.


Bruno Fornaroli’s 25-goal flurry throughout 2016 was one of the highest annual national league tallies ever seen in Australia.

Only Zlatko Nastevski (30 goals for Marconi in 1989) and Damian Mori (26 goals for Adelaide City in 1995) have scored more goals in a calendar year.

In terms of goals per game, Fornaroli’s rate of 0.83 in 2016 (25 goals in 30 games) was exactly the same as Nastevski’s (30 goals in 36 games) in 1989, and ahead of Mori’s 1995 rate of 0.76 (26 goals in 34 games). 

Damian Mori

The red-hot form of Nastevski in 1989 led to a Grand Final win for Marconi that year, the last winter national league season, where the Macedonaian marvel scored in the only goal in the Stallions’ 1-0 win over Sydney Olympic. 

Nastevski commenced 1989/90 (the first summer season) in similar fashion before a major injury in January 1990 – obtained in his one and only match for the Socceroos – put a sudden halt to his fine form. 


The year 2017 started the same as 2016 with a goalless encounter, this time between Wellington and Adelaide.

By the third game of the new year however the goals had ramped up, Melbourne Victory and Newcastle sharing six goals between them as the Victory secured a top two position with its 4-2 win. 

It was another historic encounter at Simonds Stadium in Geelong as Besart Berisha broke Archie Thompson’s long-standing A-League goals record, the Albanian scoring his 91st A-League goal. 

The early signs are promising for another fantastic year of Hyundai A-League action.

Follow Andrew Howe’s Australian football stats updates on Twitter @AndyHowe_statto