BIOGRAPHIES [Wi-X-Y-Z]

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Go straight to the biography of your choice by clicking on the appropriate link:

[Sean Wight]  [Len Wigraft]  [Frank 'Scotty' Wildy]  [Robert Wiley]  [Rod Willet]  [Colin Williams]  [Craig Williams]  [Don Williams]  [Foster Williams]  [Fred Williams]  [Frederick Williams]  [Geoff Williams]  [Greg Williams]  [John Williams]  [Mark Williams]  [Paul Williams]  [Roy Williams]  [Thomas Williams]  [Tom Williams]  [William Williams]  [Jack Williamson]  [Walter Williamson]  [John Willis]  [William 'Tiny' Willis]  [Tom Wills]  [Andrew Wilson]  [Brian Wilson]  [Colin Wilson]  [Ernest Wilson]  [Garry 'Flea' Wilson]  [James Wilson]  [Percy Wilson]  [Peter Wilson]  [Ray Wilson]  [Tom Wilson]  [Wilbur Wilson]  [William Wilson]  [Fred Wimbridge]  [William Windley]  [Gary Window]  ['Nicky' Winmar]  [John Winneke]  [Bruce Winter]  [Stan Wittman]  [Roy Witzerman]  [Peter Woite]  [Arthur Wood]  [Bryan Wood]  [Peter Wood]  [William Wood]  [Herbert Woodcock]  [Roger Woodcock]  [Dale Woodhall]  [Allan Woodley]  [Brian Woodman]  [Tom Woodroofe]  [Dave Woods]  [Ike Woods]  [Michael Woods]  [Jack Woollard]  [Fred Wooller]  [Michael Woolnough]  [Bert Worner]  [Jack Worrall]  [John Worsfold]  [Kevin Worthington]  [Brian Wright]  [Graham Wright]  [Herbert Wright]  [Jack Wright]  [Jim Wright]  [Kevin Wright]  [Roy Wright]  [Jack Wrout]  [Alby Wundersitz]  [Eddie Wylde]  [Scott Wynd]  [Tony Wynd]  [John Wynne]  [Tony Yaksich]  [John Yeates]  [Mark Yeates]  [Graeme Yeats]  [Percy Youlden]  [Barry Young]  [Charles Young]  [Garry Young]  [George Young[Henry 'Tracker' Young]  [Maurie Young]  [William Young]  [Colin Youren]  [Mark Zanotti]  [Shane Zantuck]  [Reg Zeuner]  [Denis Zeunert]  [Murray Zeuschner]  [Eric Zschech]  [Lloyd Zucker]  [Noel Zunneberg]

Sean Wight (Melbourne)

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Sean Wight was born in Glasgow, moved with his family to Ireland, and was the first Gaelic footballer to be brought to Australia by Melbourne's Barry Richardson and Ron Barassi as part of that club's 'Irish experiment' of the early 1980s.

Although it would be Dubliner Jim Stynes who would garner most of the accolades Sean Wight's career in Australian football was also highly commendable.  In 150 games with Melbourne between 1985 and 1995, mainly as a defender, Wight established a reputation for the spectacular and the unexpected.  Because he had not been brought up within the traditions of Australian football he frequently performed actions which appeared idiosyncratic: for instance, he often spoiled opponents' attempts to mark by coming in from the side, tapping the ball back over his head rather than forwards.

While it would probably be fair to say that Wight's spectacular marking ability was the most memorable feature of his game, he was also a stern, resolute defender who rarely conceded an easy possession. 

And Wight's own evaluation of his stint in the game?  "If I had played any other sport, my body would have been a lot better, but this has been a lot of fun," he told Glen Quartermain during his final season.  "This is one of the best games in the world."  (See footnote 1)

Footnotes

1.  From 'Wight Hits His Stride' by Glen Quartermain, in 'Sports Weekly', 3 May 1995, page 23.  Return to Main Text

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Len Wigraft (Preston & Fitzroy)

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After playing briefly with Preston prior to World War One, Len Wigraft was one of several players lost to the club in 1917, a year before the VFA competition resumed.  Most of the departees went to the VFL, with Fitzroy easily the most popular destination, and that was where Wigraft ended up.  Big and somewhat ungainly looking, he belied his appearance with an astute football brain that enabled him to out-maneuvre stronger, heavier opponents.  Most often used as a follower, he was also a useful forward option.  He was among the Roys' best players in the 1922 grand final win over Collingwood, and again showed to good effect in a losing side against Essendon the following year.  A regular 'Big V' representative, Wigraft was the sort of footballer who was more appreciated by coaches and fellow players than by supporters, in that much of his best work was surreptitious or unglamorous.  His three club best and fairest awards in 1920, 1924 and 1925 afford eloquent testimony to just how highly he was thought of within the club.  

Len Wigraft captained Fitzroy in 1927, his last league season, before retiring after 135 VFL games.  Two games into the 1934 season he returned to the club to replace Jack Cashman as coach, Cashman having walked out on the club in acrimonious circumstances.  However, he was unable to motivate his charges to rise above 8th place on the ladder.

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Frank 'Scotty' Wildy (West Perth & Subiaco)

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'Scotty' Wildy was a prominent player for West Perth between 1898 and 1904 during which time he was a member of two premiership teams.  In 1905 he was recruited by Subiaco as captain-coach, but endured a frustrating time as the club battled to come to terms with its comparatively recent elevation to the top level of Western Australian football.  Nevertheless, he managed to instill some measure of professionalism - in terms of outlook and attitude rather than pursuit of financial rewards - into his players, and this presumably must have contributed in some measure towards the club's subsequent emergence as a power. 

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Robert Wiley (Perth, Richmond, West Coast)

 

Possessing great pace, and a first rate reader of the play, lightly built and wispy haired Robert Wiley was one of a long line of champion rovers to emerge in the west.  Successor to Barry Cable in the Perth team, he stepped into his illustrious predecessor's shoes with enormous panache and aplomb:

He was confident as he was skilful, a player of immense class and ability.

He stood out against almost every opponent he played against in both Western Australia and Victoria in a career that spanned fifteen seasons between 1974 and 1988.

Wiley remains the last of Perth's great rovers ......  (See footnote 1)

A key member of the Demons' 1976 and 1977 premiership teams, Wiley won fairest and best awards in each of his first five seasons with the club.  In 1979 he moved to Victoria where he joined Richmond, and after an injury interrupted debut season he emerged as one of the finest rovers in the VFL.  Wiley played 95 games for the Tigers and was an important contributor to the club's 1980 grand final win over Collingwood.  He was also, somewhat perversely, twice selected to represent Victoria in so-called 'state of origin' games.

In 1984, he returned home to Perth, and promptly picked up where he had left off by claiming fairest and best awards in 1984-85-86 to establish a new club record of eight wins in all, one more than both Barry Cable and Merv McIntosh managed.  The 1986 season saw him selected as an All Australian after helping Western Australia to the national title.  When West Coast arrived on the scene the following year they had little hesitation in procuring the thirty-two year old to add some much needed experience to their youthful squad.  Wiley did not let the Eagles down, adding 18 creditable VFL games to his tally before electing to see out the remainder of his career with Perth.

After one last season with the Demons - a season which, uniquely, did not produce a fairest and best award - Robert Wiley decided to hang up his boots.  It is doubtful if West Australian football has seen his like since.

Rob Wiley was senior coach at Perth in 1988 and 1989, steering the side to 5th and 7th places respectively.

Footnotes

1.  Football Greats of Western Australia Volume One by Anthony James, page 69.  Return to Main Text

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Rod Willet (Morningside & Subiaco)

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After commencing his league career with Morningside, for whom he played in the losing grand finals of 1982 and 1983, Rod Willet was recruited by Subiaco in 1984.  His arrival at the Lions coincided with that of 'the little master', Haydn Bunton junior, under whose orchestration the club would finally re-emerge as a force after more than a decade in the doldrums.  Rod Willet's contribution to that resurgence was considerable.  Playing initially on a half back flank, the position he had occupied for much of his two year period in Queensland football, Willet rapidly developed into a solid and unflappable defender who refused to be intimidated (see footnote 1).  Willet held down the half back flank position with considerable confidence and assurance when Subiaco finally returned to the WAFL winners' rostrum in 1986 with a 69 point grand final thumping of East Fremantle.  Two years later he was at full back, the position he would go on to make his own for a time, in the Lions' equally emphatic grand final victory over Claremont.

Like good wine, Rod Willet seemed to improve with age.  As his career developed, he demonstrated tremendous versatility, being equally at home in a key attacking position as in the backlines.  In 1992 he topped Subiaco's goal kicking list (with 43 goals), and the following year he was the recipient of the club's fairest and best award.  He had also captained the Lions in 1992.

Rod Willet retired after the 1994 season with 188 WAFL games to his credit, having also represented his home state of Queensland at state of origin level, and his adopted state of Western Australia in inter-league state football.

Footnotes

1. See, for example, Diehards 1946-2000: the Story of the Subiaco Football Club, page 218, for Willet's own account of his initial confrontation with the 'bad boy' of WA football in the early '80s, Gary SidebottomReturn to Main Text

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Colin Williams (Subiaco)

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Colin Williams began his league career at Subiaco as a follower before developing into a top class defender.  He was at full back in the club's 1973 grand final victory over West Perth.  Resolute, determined, and extremely dependable, he represented Western Australia against South Australia in 1970, and played 252 WANFL games for Subi between 1963 and 1976.

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Craig Williams (Prahran, St Kilda, West Adelaide)

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Craig Williams began his senior career with Prahran.  While there, he was selected to represent the VFA against the Ovens and Murray League in 1975.  The 1977 season saw him at St Kilda, but he managed just 8 VFL games, before spending a couple of years playing reserves football with Fitzroy.  

Something of a 'jack of all trades', Williams only really began to hit his straps after he joined West Adelaide in 1980.  In ten seasons with the Bloods he played 160 SANFL games, kicking 50 goals.  His best season was 1983, when he helped the club to a long overdue premiership courtesy of a 34 point grand final defeat of Sturt.  Earlier that year he had achieved All Australian selection after two excellent performances at full back for South Australia against Victoria at Football Park and Western Australia in Perth; he was the seventh and last West Adelaide player to be so honoured.  Williams' biggest asset was his formidable leaping ability which he used to good effect both in the ruck and in key positions.

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Don Williams (Melbourne & West Perth)

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Originally from Elsternwick Amateurs, Don Williams commenced his league career with Melbourne in 1953, just as the club was beginning to re-emerge as a force.  A brilliant half back flanker, he played in the Demons' 1955-6-7 premiership teams, as well as the losing side of 1958, but was dropped to the bench for the 1959 grand final, a decision which infuriated him.  As a result, he decided to seek pastures new, and the 1960 season found him at West Perth, just in time to contribute to the Cardinals' first premiership win in almost a decade.  

In 1961, Don Williams had the satisfaction of being chosen in Western Australia's triumphant Brisbane carnival team, and of putting one over his erstwhile Victorian colleagues in the process.  He carried on at West Perth in 1962, but the following year he returned home to Victoria after accepting a coaching role at country side Sale.  Still aged only twenty-eight, however, he was keen to prove himself at the top level once more, and in 1964 he resumed at Melbourne for whom, playing in the centre, he was one of the best players afield in a nail-biting 4 point grand final win over arch rivals Collingwood.

Over the course of his last five seasons Don Williams played some of the finest football of his career.  Selection for the VFL in 1965 brought his total number of interstate appearances to 11 - 8 with his home state, and 3 with Western Australia.  

When, in 2000, Melbourne announced its official 'Team of the Century', Don Williams was chosen on a half back flank.

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Foster Williams (West Adelaide, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide)

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The quintessential, hard running, tenacious rover, Foster Neil Williams "led from the front.  His socks down, courageous, terrier-like style made him a near automatic choice as no. 1 rover in state teams for ten years.  He gave total commitment in every game he played, but always seemed to find something extra for the big games.  He was rarely out of the best player list in interstate and finals matches" (see footnote 1).

In hindsight, Port Adelaide's achievement in prising this champion away from West Adelaide, where he had played 54 games between 1946 and 1949, has to rank as one of the 'steals' of the century.  Perhaps more than any other single individual, Fos Williams was responsible for catapulting South Australian football out of its predominantly casual, laissez faire mentality into the same kind of professional, brutally expedient, 'win at all costs' mindset as prevailed across the border in Victoria.  Fos Williams' champion Port Adelaide sides of the 1950s and '60s were seldom pretty to watch, but they won, and that, when all is said and done, is the central aim of football.

Most discussions as to the greatest coach in the history of South Australian football centre on two men: Fos Williams and Jack Oatey (although John Cahill also has his advocates).  Both were supremely successful (Oatey ten premierships, Williams nine); both knew their own minds; both were enormously influential - Oatey in his advocacy of skill, Williams in the way he imbued his teams with Victorian style tenacity and fanaticism.  (This is not, of course, to suggest that skill, tenacity and fanaticism had hitherto been unknown in South Australian football, but merely to acknowledge Oatey's and Williams' feats in elevating these attributes to previously unprecedented heights.)

Where Williams arguably scores over his great adversary is in the interstate sphere, particularly in matches against Victoria.  South Australia had beaten the Vics on many occasions in the past, of course, and included in those victories were the only four occasions in history that the 'Big V' had succumbed to interstate opposition on home turf.  However, under Williams South Australia's performances against Victoria reached a consistently higher plane, including record-breaking wins at home in 1960 and 1965, and a historic triumph on the MCG in 1963.  Williams also masterminded two triumphs against Western Australia in Perth where South Australia historically had never enjoyed much success.

At club level all of Fos Williams major achievements came during twenty-one seasons (in two separate stints) in charge of Port Adelaide.  Again, the premierships and grand final appearances tell only part of the story: Williams' most significant achievements were, in the strict sense, unquantifiable, revolving as they did around the nurturing and honing of what might be termed 'the Alberton culture', a culture which Williams himself was responsible for defining perhaps more lucidly than anyone else:

The Creed of the Port Adelaide Football Club

We the players and management of the Port Adelaide Football Club accept the heritage which players and administrators have passed down to us; in so doing we do not intend to rest in idleness but shall strive with all our power to further this club's unexcelled achievements.

To do this we believe there is great merit and noble achievements in winning a premiership.  To be successful, each of us must be active, aggressive and devoted to this cause.  We agree that success is well within our reach and have confidence that each member of both the team and management will suffer personal sacrifices for the common end.  Also we know that should we, after striving to our utmost and giving our everything, still not be successful, our efforts will become a further part of this club's enviable tradition.

Any team which faithfully adhered to the above philosophy would be certain to perform to its optimum.  Any team coached by Foster Neil Williams would have no choice but to conform to the above philosophy to the letter.

Footnotes

1.  Merv Agars, quoted in Dynasty by Fos Williams and Michaelangelo Rucci, page 35.  Return to Main Text

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Fred Williams (Fitzroy & Carlton)

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Fred Williams was a small but gifted wingman who was a key member of Fitzroy's strong teams of the early 1920s, and beyond.  He arrived at the Maroons from Bacchus Marsh Football League side Melton and made his VFL debut in 1920.  Two years later he was in his favoured position on the wing as Fitzroy won its first flag in nine years by overcoming Collingwood in the challenge final by 11 points.   Wilson made his interstate debut for the VFL in 1923 in a 47 point loss to South Australia.  He also later represented the VFL's B side.  Far and away the greatest disappointment of his career must have been missing the Roys' 1923 challenge final clash with Essendon owing to injury.  Wilson had been in superb touch all year, and and his energy, pace and incisiveness were badly missed as the Same Old's famed 'mosquito fleet' took control of the game after half time to see Essendon home by 17 points.  In 1929, after 106 VFL games and 18 goals for Fitzroy, Fred Williams crossed to Carlton where, over the ensuing four seasons, he added a final 46 games and 6 goals.

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Frederick Williams (Subiaco)

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Fred Williams was one of many gifted West Australian footballers to suffer the misfortune of having his career interrupted by World War Two.  As it was, he played 129 WANFL games for Subiaco between 1939 and 1941, and from 1945 to 1950.  Widely regarded as the Maroons' finest player during the mid to late 1940s, he won the club's fairest and best trophy in 1946, and topped its goal kicking list, with 22 goals, the same year.  Subi captain between 1946 and 1949, he combined this role with that of coach during the middle two years.  Williams was equally effective either as a centreman or across half forward, and was even used at the goal front on occasion.  He played 4 interstate games for Western Australia. 

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Geoff Williams (Geelong & Yarraville)

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Despite not being the most stylish footballer of his time, Geoff Williams was seldom less than effective thanks to his wholehearted determination, tremendous pace, and great judgement.  He played 121 VFL games for Geelong between 1952 and 1959, mainly on a half back flank, winning the club's best and fairest award in his debut season, a year that also yielded a premiership.  Williams won a second best and fairest award in 1955.  Once his VFL career was over he joined VFA side Yarraville.

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Greg Williams (Geelong, Sydney, Carlton)

 

Like Laurie Nash before him, Greg Williams was never shy when it came to boasting of his own ability.  He also shared another Nash propensity - for honesty.

Often criticised for being slow, Williams showed that a player did not have to be endowed with phenomenal pace in order to wreak havoc among opposing backlines.  Given that the football, when either handballed or kicked, tends to move appreciably faster than even the sprightliest players are able to run, Williams' unequalled disposal skills with both hand and foot made him, when playing at his peak, almost uncontainable.  Of course, he had to get the football first, before he could use it, and this he was pre-eminently and repeatedly able to do owing to that marvellous, untutored sense of anticipation which all champion players possess, and which Williams himself possessed in unparalleled abundance.

The Greg Williams career fits neatly into three stages.  Between 1984 and 1985 he played for Geelong, winning the Cats' best and fairest award in the latter year whilst simultaneously displaying a nascent ability to catch the umpire's eye with 15 Brownlow votes.

In six seasons in the Harbour City with the Swans he truly came of age.  The compact Sydney Cricket Ground suited his style and he quickly established a reputation as the game's most prolific and effective exponent of handball, and indeed arguably its most renowned (in the sense of being 'identified' with the skill) practitioner since 'Polly' Farmer.  In 1986, he tied for the Brownlow Medal with Hawthorn's Robert Dipierdomenico.

The final phase of Williams' career saw him at Carlton where he won a second Brownlow in 1994.  Then, in 1995, he achieved his last major remaining ambition of playing in a premiership side.  His selection as Norm Smith Medallist after the Blues' demolition of his original club Geelong was the quintessential 'icing on the cake' of a stellar career.

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Jack Williams (Geelong)

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Geelong recruited Jack Williams locally from Geelong West, and threw him into the mix for the opening match of the 1925 season at home to North Melbourne.  Boasting plenty of pace, good ball handling skills and a healthy dose of venom in his approach, he impressed from the start, and at the end of his debut season had the satisfaction of lining up on a wing in the Cats' first ever VFL premiership-winning combination.  Williams also later played in the 1931 flag-winning side.  A VFL representative on one occasion, he was seldom flashy but almost invariably effective in everything he did.  Equally at home on a wing or across half back, he had played a total of 175 VFL games and kicked 9 goals by the time he retired after the losing preliminary final of 1934 against South Melbourne.

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John Williams (Essendon, Collingwood, Brunswick)

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The epitome of the sort of dour, unspectacular but highly effective VFL defender who proliferated during the 1960s and early '70s, John Williams played 162 games for Essendon between 1965 and 1973.  He was at his peak during the early 1970s, earning state selection in 1970 and 1972, finishing 2nd in the club best and fairest voting in 1971, running 3rd in the Brownlow in 1972, and earning All Australian selection after the Perth carnival that same year.  In 1974 he crossed to Collingwood under the short-lived ten year rule, but knee problems limited his effectiveness.  After 32 games for the 'Woods he transferred to Brunswick in 1977, where he ended his career.

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Mark Williams (West Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Collingwood, Brisbane)

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Prior to his accomplishments as coach of Port Adelaide in the AFL Mark Williams enjoyed a rich and varied career as a player with four different clubs.  He began at West Adelaide under the coaching of his father Fos in 1976.  After 66 games there he made the perhaps inevitable transfer to Port Adelaide in time to star in the centre in the club's 31 point defeat of South Adelaide in the 1979 SANFL grand final.  In the following season's premiership decider Williams was similarly impressive, again in the pivot, in assisting the Magpies to a hard fought 18 point victory over Norwood.

Scarcely what you would call elegant in his approach, with one of the most ungainly kicking styles imaginable, Mark Williams pre-eminently demonstrated that such factors count for nothing when it comes to playing effective, match-winning football.  

The 1981 season saw Williams on the move to Collingwood, where he was an immediate success, helping the club reach a grand final, representing Victoria, and winning the first of two Copeland Trophies for Collingwood best and fairest.  In all, he played a total of 135 games in six seasons with the Victorian Magpies, captaining them from 1983-6.  An unfortunate contract dispute at the end of the 1986 season saw Williams reluctantly make the move north to join the fledgling Brisbane Bears, but any initial uncertainty soon dissolved as he put in a series of high quality, influential performances for the newcomers.

Midway through the 1990 season, after 66 games for the Bears, and 201 in all in the VFL, Mark Williams 'retired' - or, at least, that was how the Melbourne media described it.  In actual fact, he had returned home to help Port Adelaide to another premiership, a feat which was repeated two years later, following which Williams genuinely did retire.

Having served a coaching apprenticeship with Glenelg (the team against which he had contributed to two premiership wins as a player) and as assistant to, first, Kevin Sheedy at Essendon, and then John Cahill at Port Adelaide, Mark Williams took on the Port Adelaide senior job full time in 1999, and in September 2004 piloted the club to its first ever AFL premiership.  As a result of this, and his numerous other accomplishments, a prominent place in football's roll of honour seems assured.

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Paul Williams (North Hobart, Collingwood, Sydney)

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Paul Williams, who retired as a player at the end of the 2006 season, enjoyed a fine career with three clubs, highlighted by involvement in an AFL premiership with Sydney in 2005.  When the Swans beat West Coast in that year's grand final, Williams was playing his 294th senior AFL game, making him the longest serving player ever to break through for a debut flag.

Originally from North Hobart, Williams impressed as a dynamic, long kicking centreline player and on-baller who was capable of turning a match off his own boot.  He was recruited by Collingwood and made his AFL debut as an eighteen year old in 1991.  In ten seasons with the Magpies, he played a total of 189 games and kicked 223 goals, and at his best was widely acknowledged as one of the finest running players in the game, with his ability to kick prodigious distances while moving at full pelt being arguably the most distinctive feature of his play.  After being badly hampered by ankle problems during the mid-nineties he recovered to play some of his best football towards the end of the decade, although at the same time it emerged that he was becoming unsettled with life at Victoria Park.  In 2001 he crossed to Sydney where his impact was immediate and considerable; he won consecutive club best and fairest awards in 2001-2 and in 2003 was included in the AFL All Australian team.  However, far and away his most noteworthy achievement was participation in the aforementioned 2005 premiership team.  After kicking 2 vital goals in the preliminary final win over St Kilda, Williams produced a typically effervescent, hard running performance on grand final day to amass 18 telling disposals and prove a constant thorn in the side of the opposition.  Paul Williams went on to play a dozen games in his final season to take his tally at retirement to 306; he booted 307 goals.

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Roy Williams (Queanbeyan & Queanbeyan-Acton)

 

A tough, tenacious back man, the late Roy Williams was the youngest of five brothers to play senior football, much of it with the highly successful Queanbeyan-Acton 'combine' which existed from 1952 to 1956.  Among his 143 senior CANFL appearances were the grand final wins of 1953, 1954 and 1956, the last of which was as part of an undefeated 'championship' team.  A regular representative player, one of the highlights of Williams' career was his selection in the Canberra team which participated, not altogether unsuccessfully, in the 1958 centenary carnival in Melbourne

Williams spent the 1952 season with VFL club Collingwood but, despite impressing as "a skilled aggressive performer" (see footnote 1), was unable to force his way into the Magpies' formidably strong senior line up.  Had he remained at Victoria Park, who knows what he might have achieved, but playing in Melbourne had not yet become the be all and end all of every talented footballers' aspirations, and Williams returned home to Queanbeyan, one presumes, with few regrets.  In any case, he continued to play superb football, winning the combine's best and fairest award in 1954, and continuing to perform with distinction for the 'post-divorce' Queanbeyan until 1959.

In common with his brothers, Roy Williams was also a talented rugby league player and represented the Queanbeyan Blues for several seasons.  In 1999, he was selected as a member of the official 'ACT Legends' team.

Footnotes

1.  Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: Queanbeyan Australian Football Club History 1925-1988 by Ron Fowlie, page 137.  Return to Main Text

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Thomas Williams (Fitzroy)

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Fitzroy's Tom Williams was a highly capable all round footballer who particularly excelled when playing as a half back flanker, in which position he played 3 interstate matches for the VFL.  He commenced his VFL career with the Roys in 1928 and went on to spend ten years at the club, playing a total of 136 games and kicking 41 goals.

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Tom Williams (Port Adelaide)

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Like his illustrious namesake Foster Williams, to whom he was no relation, Tommy Williams was a gusty and dynamic rover in the traditional Port Adelaide mould.  He played 108 SANFL games and kicked 119 goals for the club between 1955 and 1960, and was a member of premiership teams in 1955-6-7-8-9.  Many observers considered him unfortunate never to gain interstate selection for South Australia.

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William Williams (South Melbourne & Williamstown)

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Billy Williams was a pacy and talented rover noted for his goal kicking exploits when resting in a forward pocket.  Extremely elusive and tricky, he boasted tremendous stamina, and rarely put in a poor performance.  He played in a losing grand final in his debut season and was South Melbourne's best and fairest award winner three times and its top goal kicker twice.  A regular 'Big V' representative, he played a total of 124 VFL games and kicked 180 goals between 1945 and 1951.  In 1952 Williams was appointed captain-coach of Williamstown and steered the side to 10th (of 14) and 2nd place finishes in his two seasons at the helm.

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Jack Williamson (Eastern Suburbs)

 

Originally from Victoria, Jack Williamson moved to New South Wales with his family while still a youngster.  After playing junior football in Leeton, he moved to Sydney where, between 1932 and 1941, he fronted up with Eastern Suburbs during what was an unusually inauspicious era for the almost perennially successful club.  Playing mainly at centre half back, Williamson presumably had quite a lot to do, and, as his Phelan Trophies in 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1938 attest, he certainly caught the eye of the umpire often enough.  Renowned for his fairness as much as his demonstrable football ability, he was a stalwart in New South Wales representative sides during the 1930s, playing a total of 20 games.  His record of four league best and fairest awards has been emulated only once, by Rod Podbury of Bankstown and Campbelltown during the 1980s and early 1990s.  In 2003 Jack Williamson was among ten inaugural inductees into the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame.

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Walter Williamson (West Torrens & Hawthorn)

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Wally Williamson was one of a group of players of high quality unearthed by West Torrens during the late 1920s who would go on to form the nucleus of the club's second league premiership-winning side in 1933.  Described at the time as "an all-rounder", he was particularly effective either on the ball or in the backlines.  He won Torrens' best and fairest award in 1931, and was appointed club captain the following year.  In 1933 he led his side to a 13.10 (88) to 9.11 (65) grand final defeat of Norwood before embarking on a one season stint in the VFL with Hawthorn the next year where he was appointed vice-captain and, despite injury problems, played well in his dozen senior games.  The 1935 season found Williamson back at West Torrens where he rounded off his league career.  When he retired a couple of years later he had played a total of 117 SANFL games.  He had also been a South Australian interstate representative 4 times.

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John Willis (West Torrens)

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Strong overhead, and an elegantly accurate kick, John Willis was, for a brief time during the early 1950s, without peer as a full forward in South Australian football.  He topped West Torrens goal kicking list on three consecutive occasions (once jointly), and was the SANFL's leading goal kicker in 1952, when he bagged 85 goals.  He commuted to and from Port Pirie for much of his 81 game, 266 goal league career, which makes his achievements all the more noteworthy.  Willis was a South Australian representative on 4 occasions, kicking 9 goals.  His formidable all round performance at the goal front in a 1952 clash with the Big V in Adelaide was a crucial determining factor in the home state's win.

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William 'Tiny' Willis (Subiaco)

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Belying his nickname, Subiaco's 'Tiny' Willis had a big impact during his comparatively brief league career.  Equally at home across half forward or leading the rucks, he arrived from Geraldton in 1913 and made his league debut the same year.  With a half forward line of Willis, club captain-coach Phil Matson, and ex-VFL player Bruce Campbell the Maroons boasted more marking strength than any other team in the competition, and collectively the trio made a significant contribution to the club's 1913 premiership success.  Under Matson's successor as coach, Jack Leckie, Willis tended to spend more time on the ball, and it was as first ruckman in 1915 that he again enjoyed the spoils of victory on the last day of the season as Subi accounted for Perth.  It proved to be the last of 'Tiny' Willis's 47 league appearances.

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Tom Wills (Melbourne, Geelong, Richmond)

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The name of Thomas Wentworth Wills will forever be linked with the early evolution of the Australian game of football.  Born in Parramatta, New South Wales, on 19 August 1835, he moved with his family to Lexington in western Victoria four years later.  His early education took place at Brickwood's Academy in Melbourne, and when he was fourteen he made the long journey by ship to England, where he was enrolled at Rugby school in the Midlands.  Displaying an enormous aptitude for sport as well as academic pursuits, Wills achieved notoriety in both cricket and rugby, and after he left school spent four years playing amateur cricket at a very high level in southern England.  He returned to Melbourne in 1856, and two years later, in July 1858, concocted the famous letter that is traditionally regarded as representing the genesis of the Australian code:

Sir - Now that cricket has been put aside for some months to come, and cricketers have assumed somewhat of the chrysalis nature (for a time only 'tis sure), but at length will burst forth in all their varied hues, rather than allow this state of torpor to creep over them, and stifle their now supple limbs, why can they not, I say, form a foot-ball club, and form a committee of three or more to draw up a code of laws?  If a club of this sort were got up, it would be of vast benefit to any cricket ground to be trampled upon, and would make the turf quite firm and durable; besides which, it would keep those who are inclined to become stout from having joints encased in useless superabundant flesh.

Wills then went on to suggest the formation of a rifle club as a possible alternative, but it was the football idea that proved more appealing, and later in the year the Melbourne Football Club, with Tom Wills as inaugural captain, was formed.  Wills later also captained both Geelong, and the original Richmond Football Club (which bears no relation to the current club of that name).

As a footballer, Wills was clearly highly proficient, frequently earning prominent mentions in dispatches in newspaper accounts of matches in which he participated.  Although precise figures are hard to substantiate, he is reckoned to have played at least 170 matches for Geelong, 31 for Melbourne, and an unknown number with Richmond.  He also enjoyed an illustrious career in cricket, which was always far and away his first sporting love.

During the 1870s Tom Wills was beset by alcoholism and other personal problems.  On 2 May 1880, in a state of acute depression, he stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors.  He was just forty-five years of age.

The epitaph on his grave stone succinctly describes him as 'Founder of Australian Football and Champion Cricketer of his time'.

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Andrew Wilson (Essendon)

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Essendon recruited rover Andrew Wilson from Warracknabeal and he made his VFL debut in 1971.  He took a couple of years to find his feet, but in 1973 he was touted as one of the finest small men in the game, earning interstate selection for the VFL, and winning the Bombers' best and fairest award.  Pacy, determined and skilful, he was a genuinely two-sided player who used the ball extremely well.  His form dipped after 1973 and he found it hard to maintain consistency.  He retired in 1977, aged just twenty-six, having played 112 VFL games and kicked 127 goals.

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Brian Wilson (Footscray, North Melbourne, Melbourne, St Kilda)

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After failing to impress in 9 games over two seasons at Footscray Brian Wilson crossed to North Melbourne in 1980 and suddenly hit his straps.  He played 39 games in two years with the 'Roos, but then was surprisingly off-loaded to Melbourne, where, playing in the centre, he promptly produced the best football of his career to win the Brownlow Medal.  Thereafter, he never quite managed to recapture the same level of performance on a consistent basis, but he remained a serviceable footballer for the Demons in 154 VFL games over nine seasons.  Later in his career he played a good deal of football as a specialist forward pocket, and his tally of 208 goals affords evidence that he was a success in the role.  Wilson's last port of call was St Kilda where he played 7 games and kicked 16 goals in 1991.

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Colin Wilson (Melbourne)

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Melbourne recruited Colin Wilson from perennially powerful amateur club Ormond, and after taking a season or two to find his feet he developed into a handy player for the Demons.  A solid, hard working defender who could also do a serviceable job on the ball, he played in the first ruck in Melbourne's 61 point grand final win over Essendon in 1957, and was in the back pocket a year later for the boilover loss to Collingwood.  Between 1954 and 1959 Wilson played a total of 63 VFL games for Melbourne, kicking 1 goal.

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Ernest Wilson (Collingwood)

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Ernie Wilson had played senior football for both Clifton Hill Imperials and South Yarra by the time he commenced with Collingwood as an eighteen year old in 1919.  Flexible and highly skilled, he could play effectively in almost any position, but it was less for this than for the seemingly unbridled ferocity of his approach that he garnered attention.  At the end of his debut season he was one of the Magpies' best players at half forward right in the 11.12 (78) to 7.11 (53) challenge final win over Richmond.  Some of his best football was played in defence where his fearless, straight ahead approach served him well.  In 1924 he was a member of the VFL's victorious Hobart carnival team, and all told he was chosen to represent his state 9 times.  Having played in Collingwood's losing challenge final teams in 1925 against Geelong and 1926 against Melbourne, Wilson crowned his career in style in the next year's premiership decider by producing a typically solid and steely performance across half back as the Magpies consigned Richmond to defeat by 12 points on a semi-submerged MCG.  It was not quite his career swansong, though, as he carried on playing in 1928 to take his final tally of VFL games to 127.  He kicked 7 goals.

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Garry Wilson (Fitzroy)

 

Despite being thought too frail for league football by some people, Fitzroy's Garry 'Flea' Wilson proved himself one of the most brilliant rovers of his era (see footnote 1).  Between 1971 and 1984 he played a total of 271 VFL games, frequently displaying courage and persistence above and beyond the call of duty.  In 1977, for example, he sustained a badly fractured jaw, and doctors wrote him off for the season, but within weeks he was back playing as though nothing had happened.

Regularly among the favourites to land the Brownlow Medal, Wilson's best season was 1979 when he finished just one vote shy of the winner, Collingwood's Peter Moore.  He also came a close third in 1978 behind Malcolm Blight and Peter Knights.  His importance to Fitzroy was amply illustrated by his feat in winning no fewer than five club best and fairest awards.  He also topped the club's goal kicking list on two occasions.  From 1982 -84 he fulfilled a long term ambition by emulating his hero, Kevin Murray, with whom he had played at the outset of his career, and captaining the Lions:

"I remember running onto the ground near Kevin and it really made an impression on me.  He looked and acted the way a captain should and it felt good to be around him.  It gave me confidence.  That's how I want the young Fitzroy players to feel around me."  (See footnote 2)

Some of Garry Wilson's finest performances came in the interstate arena.  He represented either the VFL or Victoria 12 times, and he won consecutive All Australian blazers in 1979 and 1980.

Footnotes

1.  Wilson stood 179cm tall and had a usual playing weight of 70kg.  Return to Main Text

2.  Hutton's 1981 Footy Book by Jim Main, page 10.  Return to Main Text

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James Wilson (Geelong)

A former jockey who once rode in the Melbourne Cup, James Wilson roved for Geelong with great talent and ebullience during the late 1870s and early 1880s.  Geelong was very much the pre-eminent team in the VFA during Wilson's career, winning half a dozen premierships in the seven years between 1878 and 1884.  James Wilson's brother William, another former jockey, also played for Geelong with great distinction for several years.

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Percy Wilson (Collingwood, Melbourne, Port Melbourne)

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Combining pace, tenacity and tremendous talent, Percy Wilson was one of the finest rovers of his generation.  He began with Collingwood in1909, and went on to play a total of 183 VFL games for the club, including the winning grand final of 1917, in which he was both captain and one of the best players afield.  Unfortunately, he was prevented by injury from participating in either of the other two Collingwood premierships to arrive during his playing career, in 1910 and 1919.  Injury may also have prevented him from representing the VFL in the interstate arena more than twice.

Wilson crossed to Melbourne as captain-coach in 1921 and added another 51 VFL games in three seasons.  As a coach, however, he was found wanting, and a wooden spoon in 1923 hastened his departure.  Wilson later had two stints as non-playing coach of Port Melbourne, from 1927 to 1929 and in 1932.  In both 1928 and 1929 he managed to get his side as far as the premiership play-off, but first Coburg and then Northcote proved too strong.  In 1930 and 1931 Wilson coached rival VFA club Camberwell, but the side struggled, finishing 2nd from last in his first season, and bottom in his second.

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Peter Wilson (East Fremantle, Richmond, West Coast)

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East Fremantle recruited Peter Wilson from Lynwood and he made his league debut for the club in 1982.  A strongly built, no frills ruck-rover, half forward or half back he played a key role in helping the Sharks re-emerge as a WANFL power.  In the 1985 grand final against Subiaco he was named on a half forward flank, and contributed 2 goals to his team's eventual 5 point win.  Wilson made the first of his 9 interstate appearances for Western Australia the same season, and a year later was included in the All Australian team.  In 1987 he crossed to Richmond, and gave the Tigers solid service in 54 VFL games over three seasons.  He also booted 40 goals.  Moving to West Coast in 1990, Wilson produced the best and most consistent football of his career.  His 101 games for 76 goals in five years with the Eagles included sterling contributions to the club's grand final wins over Geelong in both 1992 and 1994.  After leaving West Coast at the end of the 1994 season he spent one last year back at East Fremantle, taking his final tally of games with that club to 101.

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Ray Wilson (Hawthorn)

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Solid, quick and extremely difficult to beat, Hawthorn's recruit from University Blacks, Ray Wilson, had an immediate impact on the league football scene when he made his debut in 1966.  Playing mainly on the wing he enjoyed a stellar season, landing the Hawks' best and fairest award, and suggesting quite strongly that he was a rare champion in the making.  If he did not quite fulfill that early potential he nevertheless gave the brown and golds some fine service in a 105 game VFL career that ended in 1972.  Quite tall for a winger at 180cm, he was particularly noted for his excellent disposal skills.  He was on the bench in 1971 as the Hawks overcame St Kilda to lift their second VFL pennant.

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Tom Wilson (North Melbourne, Fremantle, Imperials, East Fremantle)

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Tom Wilson played his early football with North Melbourne in the VFA, but it was in the west that he acquired a reputation as one of the bona fide early greats of the game.  A key member of the all powerful Fremantle teams of the early 1890s, Wilson also played briefly with the short-lived Imperials Football Club.  At the end of the 1897 season, however, Imperials folded, and Wilson was instrumental, along with his close friend 'Dolly' Christy, in the establishment of a new club, East Fremantle, which would go on to become the most consistently successful force in West Australian football.

Captain of Old Easts from 1898 to 1900, and again between 1904 and 1909, Wilson led the club to a total of 5 premierships, and never saw it fall below 2nd place on the ladder.  He was also a key player, under the captaincy of 'Spot' Chadwick, in the club's 1902 and 1903 premiership-winning sides.

As a player, Wilson was tough, resolute but fair; if he tackled you, you knew about it, but he never intentionally went outside the boundaries of the laws of the game.  His leadership style was described as "strict but kindly" (see footnote 1); he had that rare knack of being able to elicit maximum effort from his charges, and if he was something of a traditionalist - insisting, for example, that players remained in their set positions - the proof of the efficacy of his methods is in the record books.

Revered as 'the father of the club', Tom Wilson was a familiar figure at East Fremantle matches long after his retirement as a player.  He served the club as both secretary and treasurer, was a delegate to the league, and was a state selector for the 1924 Hobart carnival.  Fittingly, he was also the first person to be made a life member of the East Fremantle Football Club. 

Footnotes

1.  Celebrating 100 Years Of Tradition by Jack Lee, page 13.  Return to Main Text

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Wilbur Wilson (Central District)

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Talented though he was, Wilbur Wilson was by no means a champion footballer.  Nevertheless, it is doubtful if the SANFL has ever given footy fans a more popular folk hero.  Tubby to the point of rotundity, Wilson's mere presence on a football field was a kind of statement; it said, quite simply, "I'm like you" - which, presumably, went a long way towards explaining his popularity.

A left footer, whose right leg was, as the clich� has it, 'for standing on', Wilbur Wilson was a half forward flank specialist who gave the Central District Football Club exemplary service in 171 games between 1974 and 1986.  He also booted a highly commendable 331 goals, which included 45 in 1983 and 67 the following year to top Centrals' list.  Much more to the point, however, only Tony Modra in recent years has come close to matching the levels of hero worship and adulation enjoyed by the man who could lay strong claim to having been Central District's favourite son.

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William Wilson (Richmond & Glenelg)

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An effervescent, fiery rover who was quintessentially hard as nails, Richmond's Billy Wilson was extremely well versed in the art of looking after himself - and equally adept at 'taking care' of opponents as well.  On one famous occasion he responded to the unusual ignominy of having been flattened during the game by Collingwood's Lou Richards by taking the law into his own hands as the teams were departing the field, and leaving Richards with a telling reminder (in the form of a serious case of concussion) of just who was boss.  

Wilson, who was a regular 'Big V' representative (10 games in all) for most of his VFL career, played 185 games and kicked 226 goals for the Tigers between 1944 and 1954.  He won the club's best and fairest award in 1947 and, along with Bill Morris and Roy Wright, gave Richmond arguably the best first ruck combination in the league for much of his time in the game.  Many old timers will probably have considered Wilson to be a 'shoe-in' for a roving berth in the Tigers' official 'Team of the Century', but the selectors had other ideas, and went for the more recent, hence safer, pairing of Kevin Bartlett and Dale Weightman.

Billy Wilson finished his senior career with Glenelg, where he played 39 league games (plus 4 for the state) and booted 45 goals from 1955 to 1957, winning both the Bays' best and fairest award and the prestigious News-Ampol Trophy in his first season.  He also ran third in the Magarey Medal voting the same year.

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Fred Wimbridge (Perth, West Perth, South Melbourne)

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An abundantly talented footballer with a reputation for feistiness, Fred Wimbridge enjoyed a long and successful league career with three clubs.  He also played 3 games of interstate football for Western Australia, and spent some time in country Victoria.

Adaptable in the extreme, and a thumping kick, he could perform with equal effectiveness at the goalfront, across half forward, or at full back.  He commenced his league career with Perth in 1911, and was a key member of the side which contested five finals series out of six between 1911 and 1916.  He was the Redlegs' top goal getter in 1915 with 36 goals.  

The second phase of Wimbridge's career saw him at West Perth, where he produced arguably the best football of his career.  In 1921 he was a member of the victorious Western Australian combination at the Perth carnival.  Lining up at full back in both of the state's matches, he performed particularly impressively in the the clash with the VFL, which the home state ended up winning by 5 points.  His performances appear all the more creditable when you consider that he spent most of the 1921 season playing as a forward for his club, for whom he booted a total of 30 goals to head its goal kicking list.

Wimbridge spent the 1925 season in the VFL with South Melbourne, where he played 8 games and kicked 12 goals.  He then undertook his aforementioned spell in Victorian country football before rounding off his career with two seasons back at Perth in 1928-9, taking his final tally of league appearances with that club to 105.

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William Windley (South Melbourne)

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Often likened to an eel, South Melbourne's William Windley was guile, verve and elusiveness personified.  He was an amateur, who even paid for his own football equipment.  He made his debut with South in the VFA in 1886 and was a member of the club's 1888, 1889 and 1890 premiership teams.  Strong overhead, he played most of his football in the centre, and was widely acknowledged as one of the VFA's foremost players.  He continued with South in the VFL, and was in the centre in the 1899 grand final loss to Fitzroy.  Windley captained the southerners in 1900 and 1902, by which time he was playing mainly as a rover.  He also played a number of games as a forward during his last couple of seasons.  When he retired in 1905 he had played 129 VFL games and kicked 36 goals.

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Gary Window (Central District)

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Gary Window's feat in winning the 1965 Magarey Medal represented a major step on the road toward credibility and consequence for his club Central District, which had just completed only in its second season of league football.  After losing every single one of its 20 debut season fixtures, Centrals, with Window a driving force at either centre or centre half forward, had stunned many observers in 1965 by winning 6 of its last 8 fixtures to leapfrog not only fellow newcomers Woodville, but established clubs West Adelaide and West Torrens as well, and claim 7th spot on the ladder.

Then came Window's Magarey Medal win, and suddenly the entire South Australian football community was talking about the Bulldogs.  

Window, who had played a major role in Centrals' early development, lost nothing in comparison with previous winners of the oldest major best and fairest award in football:

He handles the ball surely in the air and on the ground, can pass with low stab kicks or else fire a 50 yard shot at goal.

Cool, clever and calculating, he makes position well and creates his own opportunities.  (See footnote 1)

Two years earlier, in the final season of Centrals' reserves apprenticeship, Window had served notice of his potential by winning the seconds Magarey Medal.  His high standing at the club was emphasised the following year when, in the absence of captain-coach Ken Eustice, who was still seeking a clearance from West Adelaide, he was chosen to lead the Bulldogs in their first ever league fixture against West Torrens.  Later in the year he became Central District's first ever interstate representative.

Window's form, along with that of most of his team mates, fell away badly in 1966.  He then spent two injury and illness-affected years as captain-coach of East Gambier, before resuming with Centrals in 1969.  However, he never recaptured the form of his Medal-winning season, and midway through 1970 he was dropped to the seconds.  The 1971 season saw Window installed as captain-coach of the Bulldogs' seconds team which he promptly steered to a first ever premiership.  His time as coach of Centrals' senior team was considerably less successful, however.  After taking over from Tony Casserly in 1976 he steered the side to 6th and 10th place finishes in his two seasons in charge.

All told, Gary Window played just 82 SANFL games, one of the shortest league careers of any Magarey Medallist.  However, in 2004 his iconic status within the club was emphatically affirmed when he was selected as centreman in Centrals' official 'All Time Greatest Team'.  

Footnotes

1.  South Australian Football Record Yearbook 1966, page 63.  Return to Main Text

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Neil 'Nicky' Winmar (South Fremantle, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs)

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Narrowly missing selection in West Coast's inaugural VFL squad, South Fremantle's Neil Elvis Winmar - always referred to as 'Nicky' - ended up instead at St Kilda where, as the clich� has it, he became an overnight sensation.  Exquisitely skilled, and capable of the spectacular, Winmar also possessed an aggressive streak which made him an extraordinarily formidable opponent when he wasn't getting into trouble.

Voted the Saints' fairest and best player on two occasions, Winmar nevertheless often made life difficult for himself by failing to accord members of the club hierarchy the levels of respect they felt they warranted.  Ultimately, after one run in with authority too many, Winmar was off-loaded to the Western Bulldogs at the end of the 1998 season.  He gave the Bulldogs a serviceable season in 1999 before retiring.

Arguably possessed of sufficient talent to have been one of the few genuine all time greats of the game, Nicky Winmar was nevertheless worthy of a place in almost any team because of his ability to excite, enthrall, and come up with the unexpected.

All told, he played a total of 309 senior league games, comprising 58 with South Fremantle, 230 at St Kilda, and 21 for the Bulldogs.

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John Winneke (Hawthorn)

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John Winneke was a lanky, somewhat raw-boned ruckman who enjoyed a noteworthy, if brief, VFL career with Hawthorn, where he played a total of 50 senior games and booted 3 goals between 1960 and 1962.  The Hawks recruited him from VAFA side University Blacks, and he was a significant contributor to their breakthrough VFL premiership in 1961 when they outclassed Footscray in the grand final.  Winneke, who won a 'Big V' jumper in 1960, retired from football at the age of just twenty-four in order to concentrate on his blossoming legal career.

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Bruce Winter (Sturt, Norwood, Woodville-West Torrens)

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When Port Moresby-born Bruce Winter began to stake a claim for a senior place in 1971 legendary Sturt coach Jack Oatey said of him, "He's strong, a good overhead mark, he's quick, he kicks well with his right foot, and he is more than useful with the left" (see footnote 1).  In other words, he already possessed all of the main attributes necessary to succeed as a league footballer, and over the course of the next sixteen seasons Winter would demonstrate these traits with commendable consistency in 351 games with two clubs.  As his career wore on, he would add intelligence and strong qualities of leadership to the melting pot, characteristics he would later display to good effect as a league coach when he steered Woodville-West Torrens to the 1993 SANFL flag.

Hardly the most spectacular or eye-catching of players, Winter was the personification of dependability and assurance - the sort of qualities which win premierships.  During his career, Bruce Winter played in three SANFL premiership sides: 1974 with Sturt, and 1982 and 1984 with Norwood.  Arguably his best performance in a grand final came in 1978, however, when he was a member of the Sturt team cruelly beaten at the death by a Norwood side determined to celebrate the club's centenary season in style (for a full, blow by blow summary of the game, go here). Winter was obviously impressed by what he saw, because he moved to Norwood the following year, playing the final 178 games of his career with the Redlegs, as well as twice being selected to represent South Australia.

Footnotes

1.  Quoted in True Blue by John Lysikatos, page 222. Return to Main Text

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Stan Wittman (Melbourne)

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Known, because of his pace and elusiveness, as 'Bunny', Stan Wittman joined Melbourne from Rosedale in 1924 and, playing mainly either at centre half forward or on a half forward flank, made a favourable impression right from the start.  Early in his debut match in the VFL against Collingwood at the MCG he soared high over the pack to take a finger-tip mark before threading the ball through the central uprights with an effortless, fifty metre drop kick.  Wittman went on to earn best afield honours in that game, and never looked back.  In the 1926 challenge final, also against Collingwood, he was one of the Fuchsias' most noteworthy contributors with 3 goals from half forward right in a resounding 57 point win.  For much of his eight season, 109 game, 132 goal VFL career 'Bunny' Wittman was renowned for his seemingly almost telepathic partnership with effervescently talented wingman Dick Taylor.  In addition to his club games, Wittman donned the 'Big V' jumper twice.

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Roy Witzerman (New Town & Devonport)

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Roy Witzerman was a quintessential, old-fashioned full back whose sole ambition every Saturday afternoon was to prevent his direct opponent from scoring.  Quite stockily built, and roughly 180cm in height, he played the game tough but fair, wearing the opposing full forward like an extra garment.  His kicking off after a behind was a delight to watch, with his text book drop kicks often reaching the centre of the ground.

Witzerman made his TFL debut with New Town in 1945, the season which saw the inception of district football in southern Tasmania.  He represented Tasmania at the 1947 Hobart carnival, and the following year, under the expert coaching of Roy Cazaly, was a member of New Town's grand final winning team against North Hobart, as well as of the victorious state premiership side.  He later capped off an excellent year by winning the club's best and fairest award.

In 1949, in front of a then record grand final crowd of 15,086, New Town again won the premiership, with Roy Witzerman heavily instrumental in restricting opponents Hobart to just 4 goals for the match.  Witzerman played in a third premiership team two years later after New Town annihilated North Hobart in the grand final by 71 points.  In all three of his winning grand finals, Roy Witzerman was named high in the best players.

The 1952 and '53 seasons saw Witzerman at Devonport as captain-coach but he was unable to steer the Magpies to a flag.  He did, however, represent the NWFU in intrastate football, and in 1953 he was best afield in a 7 point win against the TFL at his old, familiar stamping ground of the North Hobart Oval.

Witzerman returned home for one last season with New Town in 1954.  His selection at full back in Glenorchy's (see footnote 1) official 'Team of the Century', announced in 2000, was presumably virtually automatic.

Footnotes

1.  New Town became known as Glenorchy in 1957.  Return to Main Text

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Peter Woite (Port Adelaide & Glenelg)

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Winning best and fairest awards at Port Adelaide in the 1970s was no easy matter - unless your name happened to be Russell Ebert, that is.  One player to buck the trend was Peter Woite, who won the Magpies' top individual award in 1975 - and, for good measure, threw in a Magarey Medal as well.

Woite began with Port Adelaide in 1969, when he starred on the half back flank in the first two quarters of a pre-season match against Melbourne, only for injury to put him out for virtually the remainder of the year.  His full scale resumption in 1970 was spectacularly successful, and he earned selection on a wing in South Australia's team to meet the VFL at the Adelaide Oval in May, when he was widely acclaimed as the home side's best player.  Apart from anything else, the performance highlighted his versatility, as he was being used at centre half forward by Port in club games.

Arguably Woite's best position, however, was centre half back, where his authoritative, one grab marking, excellent anticipation, and good rebound skills came to the fore.  Recognising these traits, North Melbourne endeavoured to sign him in 1976 with an offer that would, allegedly, have made him the highest priced South Australian recruit in VFL history.  In the end, Woite elected not to transfer, although that was far from the end of the matter as North took him to court in an attempt to recoup an alleged $10,000 'signing on' fee.  Fortunately for Woite, the judge ruled in his favour.

A member of Port's 1977 premiership team, Woite later joined grand final rivals Glenelg where he saw out his career with a further 20 league games in 1979-80, taking his final tally to 202.  He represented South Australia a dozen times.

At the turn of the century, Peter Woite was selected as an interchange player in Port Adelaide's official 'Greatest Team 1870 to 2000'.

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Arthur Wood (South Melbourne)

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In a comparatively brief but auspicious career, wingman Artie Wood played 97 VFL games for South Melbourne between 1917 and 1923.  One of South Melbourne's best players during its victorious 1918 finals campaign, Arthur Wood possessed all the skills of the game, and was capable of performing them at maximum velocity.  Moreover, his brain was just as dexterous and nimble as his body, leading to his appointment as South's coach in 1921, while he was still aged only twenty-five.  The red and whites only finished 7th that season, which the committee did not regard as good enough, but under Wood's replacement as coach, the legendary Roy Cazaly, they slumped to their first wooden spoon in two decades.

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Bryan Wood (Richmond & Essendon)

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A tough, tenacious and pacy wingman who used the ball extremely well, Bryan Wood (see footnote 1) was a key component in the great Richmond sides of the 1970s and early 1980s.  He was a member of Tiger premiership teams in 1973-4 and 1980.  Originally from Blackburn, Wood was close to the complete package, and lost little if anything in comparison to other great wingmen of his era, such as Keith Greig of North Melbourne and Melbourne's Robbie Flower.  After 209 VFL games and 85 goals with Richmond between 1972 and 1982 he joined his former team mate Kevin Sheedy at Essendon where he was a more than handy performer in a further 44 games (for 12 goals) over the next four seasons.  In 1985, aged thirty-one, he was on a wing as the Bombers trounced Hawthorn in the grand final.  Bryan Wood played for Victoria on 2 occasions, a total that would undoubtedly have been much higher had he not been vying with so many other top quality wingmen in the VFL at the time.

Footnotes

1.  This, rather than the rendering in the above photograph, is the correct spelling of Wood's Christian name.  Return to Main Text

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Peter Wood (Oakleigh & Fitzroy)

After a brief VFA career with Oakleigh Peter Wood was recruited by Melbourne, but failed to advance beyond the reserves. The 1965 season found him at Fitzroy where he quickly established himself in the seniors and went on to play a total of 73 VFL games in half a dozen seasons, kicking 12 goals. Most of his football with the Lions was played at full back where he was solidly effective and hard to beat.

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William Wood (South Sydney & Footscray)

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Originally from Albury, Bill Wood played with South Sydney during the war, and some of his achievements attracted the attention of clubs in the VFL.  In one match against Sydney Naval in 1943 he booted no fewer than 28 of his team's 31 goals en route to a league ladder-topping tally of 95 for the year.  The following year he was invited to try out with Footscray after being recommended to the club by its star centreman Harry Hickey, who had played briefly with Wood while the pair were undertaking military service together.  Wood could scarcely have been more impressive on his VFL debut as he booted 9.1 in a best afield performance, and when his wartime service was over in 1946 he joined Footscray permanently.  Neat and purposeful in everything he did, Wood topped his club's goal kicking list on four occasions, and amassed a total of 294 goals in a 115 game VFL career that ended somewhat sourly in 1951 when he was left on the bench for the entirety of the losing 1st semi final against Essendon.

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Herbert 'Bill' Woodcock (St Kilda & East Perth)

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A butcher by trade, 'Bill' Woodcock's rugged approach to the game reflected his calling.  Powerfully built, he used his 95.5kg, 180cm frame to great effect as a foil for St Kilda's champion followers 'Vic' Cumberland and Dave McNamara.  When the Saints made their first ever serious assault on the VFL flag in 1913, Woodcock's redoubtable and hyper-aggressive displays as a ruck shepherd, although ostensibly at odds with the renowned free-flowing style of his team, actually complemented it almost perfectly.  St Kilda overcame minor premier and flag favourite Fitzroy with some comfort in the final, but unfortunately for Woodcock could not repeat the dose when the Maroons exercised their right of challenge the following week.

Woodcock, who had commenced his senior career with the Saints in 1908, headed west in 1915 to join East Perth, where he spent the ensuing three seasons.  In 1918, however, he returned home, and played out the final four years of his career with St Kilda, bringing his final tally of VFL games to 155.

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Roger Woodcock (Norwood)

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With 602 goals in 267 games between 1969 and 1981 Norwood's Roger Woodcock holds the record for the most goals kicked in the SANFL by a player who did not spend all or most of his career on the full forward line.  Woodcock played virtually all of his football as a half forward flanker, and booted nearly all of his goals with his unswervingly accurate left foot.  He was on a half forward flank in both the 1975 and 1978 premiership teams, and topped the Redlegs' goal kicking list in 1971 with 58 goals, 1974 (68), 1978 (46) and 1980 (62).  Somewhat surprisingly, he was never selected to represent South Australia.  He was forced to retire in 1981 because of a serious knee injury.

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Dale Woodhall (Mayne, Collingwood, West Adelaide)

by Murray Bird and Peter Blucher

Dale Woodhall was a Sandgate, Windsor-Zillmere and Aspley junior who forged a magnificent QAFL career with Mayne. A spectacular, high-marking full forward after making his debut in defence, he was the QAFL's number two goal-kicker in his first season in 1977 with 85 goals (behind Owen Backwell), topped the list in 1979, 1981 and 1982, and was a premiership team member in '82. Signed by South Melbourne in 1978 he didn't move to Melbourne until 1984, and when he did he joined Collingwood.  Woodhall played 12 games with the Magpies for 32 goals, including 7 goals in one game.  He followed resigned Collingwood coach John Cahill to West Adelaide in '85, and kicked 100 goals in 46 games over two seasons with the Bloods before returning home to finish his career at Mayne.  He played 10 times for Queensland.

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Allan Woodley (Hawthorn)

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Known as 'The Colonel' because of his cultured accent, Hawthorn's Xavier College recruit Allan Woodley was a tall (194cm) but thin (74kg) follower who delighted fans with his spectacular high marking.  Woodley began with Hawthorn in 1954, earning 'Big V' selection two years later at the Perth carnival, and winning his club's best and fairest award in 1959.  He then spent the period from 1960 to 1962 studying osteopathy in the UK before resuming for one final season with the Hawks, a season that brought a grand final defeat at the hands of Geelong.  Allan Woodley played a total of 130 VFL games for Hawthorn, and kicked 56 goals.

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Brian Woodman (South Melbourne)

Brian Woodman commenced his VFL career with South Melbourne as a wingman before developing into one of the league's finest back pocket specialist. He joined the Swans from Federal League club Springvale, and made his VFL debut in 1972. Allying excellent judgement skills with plenty of pace he afforded great rebound and was difficult to beat one on one. His distribution skills, particularly his kicking, were also first rate. In seven seasons with South he played a total of 104 senior games and kicked 46 goals. He was sometimes touted as a likely state selection but never made the cut.

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Tom Woodroofe (Norwood)

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Norwood's Tom Woodroofe was a dependable, loyal and often inspirational player who suffered the misfortune of playing during one of the illustrious club's least successful decades.  Between 1930 and 1939 he played a total of 141 senior games for the Redlegs, with a losing grand final against West Torrens in 1933 being the closest both player and club came to annexing a premiership.  Always visibly wholehearted in his commitment to the team cause, Woodroofe was Norwood's captain from early in the 1935 season until his retirement as a player.  He won the Redlegs' best and fairest award in 1935, and came 3rd in the Magarey Medal voting the same year.  His 8 South Australian interstate match appearances included both games at the 1937 Perth carnival.

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Dave Woods (East Fremantle)

 

Dashing, superbly skilled, and an outstanding exponent of the drop kick, Dave Woods was one of the finest and most flexible players to represent East Fremantle between the wars.  Christened Michael David Woods, but invariably referred to as 'Dave', he made his WAFL debut in 1923, and went on to play 197 senior games in thirteen seasons.  He also played 13 interstate games for Western Australia.  During the first half of his career he alternated between centre and the half forward line, but he played his best and most consistent football between 1929 and 1935 at full back.  A member of Old Easts premiership teams in 1925, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1933, he also played in three losing grand finals for a total of nine grand final appearances in thirteen years.  He must have been extremely close to selection in East Fremantle's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century', but the selectors ended up giving the nod to an equally magnificent exponent of the position in Con Regan.  

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Ike Woods (Geelong)

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Ike Woods, who topped Geelong's goal kicking list every year between 1902 and 1905, was a top ranking rover cum forward whose specialty was long, unwaveringly accurate place kicks for goal.  Despite his brilliance in front of goal, however, he was an unselfish player who would only take a shot if there were no team mates within passing distance in better positions.  Although comparatively short he was strong overhead, and his coolness under pressure made him a great asset when the going became willing.  Woods played a total of 69 VFL games for the Pivotonians from late in the 1901 season until midway through 1906.

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Michael Woods (Melbourne)

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Originally from Old Melburnians, Michael Woods was a powerful ruckman and defender who played 72 VFL games and kicked 6 goals for Melbourne between 1949 and 1953.  Sadly for him, this meant his career was neatly sandwiched between two of the club's great eras, that of the late 1930s and 1940s under 'Checker' Hughes, and that of the decade or so from 1954 under Norm Smith.  As a player, Woods showed enormous promise when he commenced, and in 1950 he was included in the Big V's Brisbane carnival team.  However, his career stalled somewhat after that, and overall it would seem fair to suggest that he failed wholly to fulfill his potential.  Much of his best football was played either as a permanent defender, or while resting from his ruck duties in a back pocket.

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Jack Woollard (West Adelaide, Sturt, West Torrens, Mines Rovers, Kalgoorlie City, East Perth, Port Adelaide)

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A much travelled footballer, Jack Woollard (sometimes rendered 'Woolard') had the rare distinction of representing seven clubs of league standard during an auspicious, twelve season career in senior football.

Originally from Broken Hill, Woollard's league career began in 1899 with West Adelaide, where he spent two seasons before joining the newly formed Sturt club.  After performing serviceably in the Blues' first ever fixture - a 33 point loss to Norwood - Woollard, playing mainly as a ruckman, was a "tower of strength" (see footnote 1) all year.  However, in 1902 he was on the move once more, this time to West Torrens, where he again spent just a single season before heading west.

From 1903 to 1905 Woollard played his football in the goldfields competition, initially for Mines Rovers, and later for Kalgoorlie City.  He was a prominent player, of whom it was remarked: "It is hard for others to compare with his brilliance" (see footnote 2).

The 1906 season found Jack Woollard on the coast where he spent the year as captain of East Perth's inaugural league team before heading home to South Australia and another twelve months at Sturt.

The most illustrious part of Woollard's career came during its final phase.  Between 1908 and 1910 he played for Port Adelaide, captaining the club to a premiership - the only one of his senior career - in his final season.  According to Dolph Heinrichs, that 1910 Port Adelaide team was the finest he ever saw.  The Magpies not only defeated Sturt in the challenge final, they also overcame eventual WAFL premier East Fremantle in Perth, and VFL premier Collingwood in the championship of Australia decider in Adelaide, achievements which made Jack Woollard arguably the most successful captain seen in football up to that point.

Footnotes

1.  True Blue by John Lysikatos, page 13.  Return to Main Text

2.  From 'The Western Argus', and cited in Gravel Rash by Les Everett, page 213.  Return to Main Text

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Fred Wooller (Geelong & Penguin)

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A classy performer in the true Cats' tradition, it was fitting that Fred Wooller should end up captaining Geelong to a premiership.  Quick thinking, elusive, strong overhead and a superb kick, he made his VFL debut midway through the 1956 season as a full forward, and that was the position in which he played, to commendable effect, for the first four years of his career.  In 1957 he topped the Cats' goal kicking list with the commendable tally of 56 goals - commendable, that is, in the context of a season which yielded just 5 wins and a draw from 18 games, consigning the side to its first wooden spoon since the war.  Still aged just eighteen, Wooller was selected to represent the VFL on 3 occasions in 1957, booting 7 goals.  At club level he topped the Cats' goal kicking twice more, and in 1960, after being moved to centre half forward, began producing the best and most consistent football of his career, earning himself that season's club best and fairest award.  In 1963 he was appointed club skipper and had the satisfaction of leading the side to its best season for a decade, culminating in a grand final in which minor premier Hawthorn was run ragged during a final term that saw the Cats add 6 goals to none to win by 49 points.  Wooller, who kicked 3 goals from centre half forward, was one of the victors' best players.  However, his form took a sudden, inexplicable dip in 1964, and after the Cats lost the preliminary final to Collingwood he decided to leave the club and take up the position of captain-coach of NWFU side, Penguin, where he spent the final four seasons of his career.  In 1966, his tally of 61 goals for the season was good enough to top the NWFU's goal kicking ladder.  Wooller also played in defence on occasion during his time with the Penguins, and in 2003 he was selected on a half back flank in the club's official 'Team of the Century'.

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Michael Woolnough (Geelong & Collingwood)

Originally from St Joseph's, Mike Woolnough made his senior VFL debut for Geelong in the second round of the 1971 season away at South Melbourne, but a succession of injuries prevented him from establishing a regular place in the side until the middle of the decade. A courageous type, he always went in hard for the ball, and was a capable mark. He spent eight seasons with the Cats, playing 117 games and kicking 42 goals. In 1979 he transferred to Collingwood where he added a final 24 games plus a couple of goals in two seasons. He was a member of the Magpies' losing grand final side against Richmond in 1980 in what proved to be his last ever VFL game.

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Bert Worner (Geelong)

Bert Worner was a solidly built, pacy player with a straight ahead style who boasted first rate distribution skills. He was equally suited to a half back flank, a wing or the centre, and was a key component in Geelong's superb sides of the early 1950s. Originally from Swan Hill, he helped the Cats to grand final victories at the expense of Essendon in 1951 and Collingwood a year later, and also played in the losing grand final team of 1953 against the Magpies. His senior VFL career comprised 65 games and saw him kick 10 goals between 1951 and 1955.

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Jack Worrall (South Ballarat, Fitzroy, Carlton, Essendon)

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If he tends to be best remembered today for his exploits as one of league football's earliest coaches, Jack Worrall also happened to be one of the very finest rovers of the nineteenth century, noted for his all round skills, goal kicking exploits (he was Fitzroy's leading goal kicker on two occasions), and leadership qualities.  He won an early version of the Roys' best and fairest award in 1886, and was the club's skipper for half a dozen seasons.  Originally from South Ballarat, he led Fitzroy to 3rd place in 1891 and a runners-up spot the following year, but had already been retired for a couple of years when the club broke through for its first and only VFA flag in 1895.

After his retirement as a player, Worrall took these leadership abilities into another arena as a prototype coach with Carlton and Essendon.  Whereas clubs had appointed 'coaches' before, their role had invariably been subsidiary to that of the team captain; Worrall, however, assumed complete control of all team-related matters, even donning football togs to participate in training.  This revolutionary approach bore substantial fruit as, between 1906 and 1908, the Blues became the first team to win three consecutive VFL flags.  

Jack Worrall had a similar impact on the Essendon Football Club when he went there in 1911.  In his first season in charge, he lifted the club to its first premiership in a decade, and the following year he coached his team to the most conclusive VFL grand final win achieved up to that point, as the Same Old annihilated South Melbourne by 74 points.

After retiring as a coach at the end of the 1919 season, Worrall became a celebrated if somewhat opinionated sports writer.  He died in 1937 at the age of seventy-seven.

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John Worsfold (South Fremantle & West Coast)

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John Worsfold played his early senior football at South Fremantle, but will forever be remembered as the man who captained the West Coast Eagles to their first two AFL premierships in 1992 and 1994.  Quietly spoken and reserved off the field, Worsfold was a classic victim of 'white line fever', with his aggressive attacks on body and ball being almost awesome in their intensity.  From 1987 to 1998 the man dubbed 'Clark Kent' by team mates played 209 games and kicked 37 goals for the Eagles, winning a best and fairest award in 1988.  One of the most highly respected leaders in the AFL, he captained his club for the final eight seasons of his career.  In 2002 John Worsfold replaced Ken Judge as non-playing coach of West Coast, and in 2005 he steered the Eagles to their first grand final in over a decade, only to see them fall short by just 4 points against Sydney.  Twelve months later, the same two sides played off for the premiership, with Worsfold's Eagles this time holding sway by the narrowest of margins, the first time in forty years that the V/AFL grand final had been so closely contested.  John Worsfold thus became only the sixth man to enjoy premiership success in the V/AFL as both a captain and a non-playing coach.

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Kevin Worthington (Claremont, Collingwood, Perth)

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A ruggedly reliable defender whose aggressiveness was supplemented by a good deal of authentic strength, Kevin Worthington spent fourteen seasons playing elite level football in two states.  He began with Claremont in 1971, where he performed a vital enforcing role in a team renowned for its flair.  After six seasons with the Tigers he transferred to Collingwood where he rapidly settled down to play some fine football on the last line of defence, helping the Magpies to reach that year's grand final after they had finished last the previous year.  Unfortunately for Worthington, Collingwood lost in a replay to North Melbourne, and when the side next contested a grand final two years later the redoubtable West Australian was unable to prevent another loss, this time to Carlton.  Concerns about a suspect knee prompted him to return home to Perth in 1980 but after another fine season with Claremont it was clear that the knee was stronger than imagined.  Consequently, Worthington resumed with Collingwood in 1981, and had taken his tally of VFL games to 95 by the time he returned from Victoria for good at the end of the 1982 season.  In 1983 and 1984 he played for Perth, adding a final 27 WAFL games to the 102 he had previously managed with the Monts.  Worthington also played 4 interstate matches for Western Australia, all of them, including the first ever state of origin match in 1977, against the Big V.

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Brian Wright (Glenelg)

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Described by Jeff Pash as boasting "the capacity to amaze, with that tenacious mark - the hands that somehow get there and won't let go" (see footnote 1), Brian Wright was without doubt one of the finest Glenelg players of the 1950s.  A dual best and fairest player, and winner in 1957 of the prestigious News-Ampol Trophy, Wright played a total of 111 SANFL games and booted 57 goals for the Tigers between 1950 and 1957.  He also represented South Australia 3 times.

In addition to his strong and elegant marking, Wright was safe and sure at ground level, and one of the longest kicks in the competition.  He was one of the favourites for the 1957 Magarey Medal but finished well down the field with just 9 votes, 16 behind winner Ron Benton of West Adelaide (see footnote 2).  

Footnotes

1.  The Pash Papers by Jeff Pash, page 219.  Return to Main Text  

2.  South Adelaide's Jim Deane also polled 16 votes but lost on a countback.  He was later awarded a retrospective Medal.  Return to Main Text

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Graham Wright (Devonport & Collingwood)

Graham Wright was an energetic, purposeful wingman who could be extremely damaging, and who enjoyed a fine, decade long career at the game's top level. Originally from Devonport, he was drafted by Collingwood, and made his senior VFL debut in 1988. Two years later he helped the Magpies to their historic, drought-breaking grand final victory over Essendon, and during the early '90s there were few more highly regarded wingmen in football. Late in his career he sustained a debilitating knee injury which robbed him of much of his pace, but he recovered sufficiently to play some useful football as a defender. His Collingwood career comprised 182 V/AFL games and saw him boot 106 goals. He played state of origin for both Tasmania and Victoria.

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Herbert Wright (Essendon)

Invariably known as 'Harry', Essendon's Herbert Wright was in the top echelon as a centreman during the club's final years in the VFA and its first seven in the VFL. He commenced with the Same Old in 1894, a premiership year, and was also heavily instrumental in the 1897 and 1901 premiership victories. Fleet of foot, and boasting excellent ball handling skills, he was twice chosen to represent the VFL against combinations from the Ballarat competition. Leach was also a fine cricketer, representing Victoria.

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Jack Wright (Geelong)

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Likened in the press of the time to 'a stone wall', Jack Wright gave Geelong excellent service on the last line of defence in 53 VFL games from 1902 to 1906.  Although normally tight marking, he was not afraid to back his judgement at times, and some of his runs with the ball were exhilarating to behold.  If the need arose, he could also take a turn on the ball.  Strong overhead, he was a thumping kick, and one of the stalwarts of the team during a somewhat meagre period.  He also represented the VFL.

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Jim Wright (West Adelaide)

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Jim Wright was an energetic, bustling rover who formed a noteworthy roving alliance with Colin Brown in West Adelaide's excellent teams of the 1950s.  Probably best remembered as the player whose kick hit a goal post during the dying seconds of the 1954 grand final, which Port Adelaide ended up winning by 3 points, Wright is undoubtedly worthy of a rather more glowing testimonial.  He played 201 league games for West between 1952 and 1962 and in 1964, kicking the highly creditable total of 360 goals.  During that time he played in a club record six grand finals, and was the club's top goal kicker on three occasions.  He represented South Australia 3 times.

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Kevin Wright (Fitzroy & Dandenong)

Kevin Wright was a highly competent and versatile footballer who gave Fitzroy useful service for ten seasons, during which he played 140 senior VFL games and kicked 160 goals. After progressing through the club's junior ranks he made his league debut in 1952. Most commonly used as a forward, he was also more than serviceable across centre, or as a rover. He topped the 'Roys' goal kicking list in 1959 with 43 goals and the following year did so again with a tally of 36. After leaving Fitzroy, Wright coached Dandenong in the VFA for a time.

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Roy Wright (Richmond)

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Despite managing just 21 senior games in his first four seasons with Richmond, Roy Wright ultimately developed into one of the all time greats of the game, with two Brownlow Medals, and numerous other awards and accolades, to his credit.  He always used his formidable 102kg weight with consummate fairness, but with ever increasing effectiveness as well.  When Jack Dyer retired at the end of the 1949 season Wright shouldered his mantle as number one Tiger ruckman with considerable aplomb, winning club best and fairest awards in 1951 (jointly with Des Rowe), 1952, 1954 and 1957 in addition to his two Brownlows.  Eighteen times selected to represent the VFL in interstate matches, he earned All Australian selection at the 1956 Perth carnival.  He sustained numerous injuries during his 195 game VFL career, which began in 1946 and ended in 1959, including debilitating leg and lower back complaints.  He also broke his nose on no fewer than nine separate occasions.  It came as a surprise to few people when Roy Wright was selected as 1st ruckman in Richmond's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Jack Wrout (North Melbourne & Carlton)

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Jack Wrout commenced his VFL career with North Melbourne in 1931 where he impressed sufficiently to gain selection in a VFL team that played South Australia in 1934.  The previous year had seen him included in the VFL squad for the Sydney carnival, but injury had forced him to with draw.  Midway through the 1936 season, after 53 games and 52 goals for North, he moved to Carlton, where he would go on to produce the best and most consistent football of his career.  Stockily built and not overly tall at 180cm and 85kg, he played most of his games with the Blues at centre half forward, where his formidable strength allied to keen intelligence saw him gain numerous possessions.  He was a safe mark, and a reliable kick for goal, with his 33 goals in 1943 being good enough to top Carlton's list for the year.  His proudest moment came in the 1938 grand final against Collingwood when he was close to best afield in contributing 4 goals to the Blues' 15.10 (100) to 13.7 (85) win.  He had played 130 games and booted 266 goals for Carlton when his career was brought to a sudden end after he sustained a broken leg in 1944.

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Alby Wundersitz (Sturt)

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A pacy and tigerish rover, Alby Wundersitz made his Sturt debut in 1929, and went on to represent the club with distinction in 113 matches over the ensuing ten seasons.  Especially renowned for his goal kicking ability, he kicked 45 goals in 1934 and 55 the following year to top the Double Blues' list, and finished his career with a total of 254 majors to his name.  Predictably nicknamed 'Wonder', he played a big part in Sturt's 1932 grand final defeat of North Adelaide when he shared the roving duties with Bill Smith.  Between them, the pair helped create numerous scoring opportunities for full forward Gordon 'Grassy' Green, who finished the match with a grand final record tally of 9 goals.  A South Australian carnival representative at Sydney in 1933, Wundersitz played a total of 4 interstate matches, kicking 7 goals.  Niggling injuries brought about his retirement in 1938 when it seemed he still had plenty of football left in him.

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Eddie Wylde (West Perth)

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Eddie Wylde was an important, if somewhat unsung, member of West Perth teams for more than a decade, during which time he played precisely 200 senior games.  He made his debut in 1953, and was on a wing and one of the Cardinals' best in that year's grand final loss to South Fremantle.  The following season saw him make his interstate debut in Western Australia's 7 goal loss against the Vics at Subiaco.  Chosen at half forward right, he rated high among his side's best players, but was never again chosen to represent his state.  The undoubted highlight of his career came in 1960 when he was a member of the Cardinals' first premiership team for nine years.  A fine team player, he was probably best suited to a wing, but could also rove effectively, and was a useful crumbing forward.  He retired at the conclusion of the 1963 season.

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Scott Wynd (Footscray/Western Bulldogs)

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Scott Wynd overcame serious knee problems to become, for a time, one of the most formidable ruckmen in the game.  The highlight of his 237 game V/AFL career between 1988 and 2000 came in 1992 when he won the Brownlow Medal.  The same season saw him achieve AFL All Australian selection, as well as land the Footscray best and fairest award for the one and only time in his career.  From 1994 to 2000 Wynd captained the Bulldogs and was widely acknowledged as one of the finest on field leaders in the business.  In 2002 he was named on the interchange bench in the Western Bulldogs' official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Tony Wynd (Queanbeyan)

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Four times a Mulrooney Medallist, recipient of the 1990 Alex Jesaulenko Medal for the best player in the ACTAFL grand final, and five times winner of Queanbeyan's best and fairest award (an award which ended up bearing his own name), Tony Wynd was undoubtedly one of the ACT's most decorated, and arguably among its very finest, footballers.  At his peak as a twenty-three year old in 1987 he was selected in the Australian combined rules team to tour Ireland, a rare honour for a player outside of the 'elite' southern states competitions.  Wynd's considerable pedigree was apparent from very early on, however: as a sixteen year old in 1981 he had captained the ACT's Teal Cup side, and at the end of the competition had been chosen as an All Australian.  Two years later he won the first of his Mulrooney Medals, and whereas such achievements sometimes pass over the heads of younger players, in Wynd's case the impact was considerable.  "It was pretty amazing when I won the Medal," he recalled five years later.  "I was only nineteen and not really ready for it.  I was speechless for five minutes.  It was big for the club - their first Medal for twenty years - and they made an even bigger thing out of it."  (See footnote 1)

Wynd would go on to be a major contributor to a striking resurgence in fortunes at Queanbeyan which saw the club contest no fewer than eight grand finals in a row between 1985 and 1992, emerging victorious on four occasions. Later in the 1990s when the Tigers re-emerged from a period in the comparative doldrums, Wynd was still a force to be reckoned with, and was a member of the club's 1998 and 1999 premierships sides before retiring after a League record 347 games.  In addition, he represented the ACT no fewer than 41 times, which included a fair number of appearances as captain.  Had he chosen to try and establish himself in a stronger competition interstate there seems little reason to suppose that he would not have enjoyed considerable success.

Footnotes

1.  'South Australian Bicentennial Football Budget', 2-5 March 1988, page 46.  Return to Main Text

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John Wynne (West Perth & Norwood)

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A highly accomplished player with a formidable physical presence, John Wynne enjoyed a long and distinguished league football career in two states.  He began with West Perth, where he was a key contributor, from centre half forward, to the 1969 grand final annihilation of arch rivals East Perth.  Earlier that same year he had represented Western Australia at the Adelaide carnival.

In 1970 Wynne transferred to Norwood, initially with the intention of playing in South Australia for a year before moving on to the VFL.  However, Wynne found a 'home away from home' at the Parade, and went on to spend no fewer than thirteen seasons there, contributing in no small measure in the process to the Redlegs' renaissance after a decade in the doldrums.  Playing mainly as a ruck-rover or centre half forward, Wynne helped the Redlegs secure finals participation on an annual basis throughout the 1970s, capped by premierships in 1975 (with Wynne himself as captain) and 1978.  The 1978 grand final against Sturt is today remembered almost as much for a controversial incident involving Wynne and legendary Double Blues coach Jack Oatey as it is for Norwood's dramatic, single point victory.  (Click here for a review of the match.)

After retiring as a player in 1982, Wynne helped develop Norwood's junior academy for a while before accepting the position of senior coach at his original club, West Perth, in 1985.  Wynne coached the Falcons for two seasons with minimal success.

John Wynne was chosen as an interchange player in Norwood's official 'Team of the Century'.  He played a total of 289 senior games, comprised of 193 for Norwood, 84 with West Perth, 8 for South Australia and 4 for West Australia.

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Tony Yaksich (West Perth)

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Tony Yaksich was a useful performer for West Perth in 190 league games between 1948 and 1958.  He played on a wing in the grand final of 1949, when the Cardinals overturned Perth by 30 points, 16.13 (109) to 12.7 (79).  Although never selected to represent Western Australia in a full scale interstate match, he did make 4 appearances for the state in clashes with visiting VFL clubs.

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John Yeates (Geelong)

John Yeates was a highly capable ruckman and forward who seemed to have the happy knack of being able to chip in with a goal when it was most needed. Slimly built and tall at 82.5kg and 196cm he coped well with the hurly burly of ruck work and was a fine field mark. Geelong recruited him from West Gambier and he made his senior VFL debut in 1959 before going on to play a total of 86 games over the course of an injury-impaired seven season league career. He skippered the Cats in 1962, and was a member the following year of their grand final winning team against Hawthorn.

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Mark Yeates (Geelong & North Hobart)

Mark Yeates overcame the setback of sustaining a hamstring injury whilst executing his first kick in league football to develop into a highly valuable performer for Geelong for more than a decade. That debut match took place in 1980, and when he retired at the end of the 1990 season he had amassed 154 games in a Cats jumper, and kicked 57 games. Capable of producing effective football in any key position, he was most commonly used at centre half back. During the opening moments of Geelong's 1989 grand final loss to Hawthorn he felled Hawks star Dermott Brereton with a ferocious bump, and it is probably this act above all for which he is best remembered. After leaving Geelong, Yeates spent the 1991 and 1992 seasons as captain-coach of North Hobart, whom he steered to successive grand final triumphs at the respective expense of North Launceston and Hobart. In 1991 he was a joint winner of the Demons' best and fairest player trophy.

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Graeme Yeats (Prahran & Melbourne)

Graeme Yeats was the epitome of reliability throughout a long, if somewhat unfeted, V/AFL career with Melbourne, whom he joined originally from VFA club Prahran. He made his Demons debut in 1984, and his 182 senior games over a dozen seasons included the losing grand final of 1988 against Hawthorn, when he lined up on a wing. Although a highly capable wingman, his best, and indeed most, of his football was played in the back pocket, a position in which, at his peak, he had few peers in the competition.

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Percy Youlden (Boulder City, Subiaco, South Fremantle)

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One of many blond footballers of his generation to be afflicted with the banal nickname 'Snowy', Percy Youlden commenced his senior career in the GFL with Boulder City, before being wooed to the coast by Subiaco in 1913.  The Maroons at that time were the reigning WAFL premiers, a status they maintained in 1913 courtesy of a 2 goal challenge final defeat of Perth, to which 'Percy' Youlden made a worthy contribution as a follower.  In 1914, Subiaco slipped to 3rd, but Youlden was one of seven of the club's players selected to represent Western Australia at the 1914 Sydney carnival, in which he participated in all 5 of the state's matches.  In the clash with the VFL he was one of the best players afield, but could not prevent the sandgropers relinquishing a 6 point three quarter time advantage to go under in the end by 2 goals 4.

Youlden played one final season with Subiaco in 1915, with the last of his 72 appearances in a Maroon jumper coming in the season's premiership deciding match against Perth, a game which Subi won with just 2 points to spare, 3.3 (21) to 2.7 (19).  A stint back at Boulder City followed, before he ventured back to the coast to round off his career with 21 games for South Fremantle in 1921-2.  Youlden later coached South for part of a disappointing 1924 season that saw the club officially placed 4th despite managing just 5 wins from 15 matches for the year.

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Barry Young (Richmond, Essendon, Hawthorn)

Barry Young's extreme toughness and aggression constituted both a strength and a weakness as they enabled him to perform successfully at the game's top level for a decade, but also necessitated numerous visits to the tribunal resulting in a fair number of suspensions. Originally from St Arnaud, he commenced his AFL career with Richmond in 1990, where his form over four seasons and 53 games was serviceable enough but inconsistent. Far and away his best football was produced during a six season, 76 game stint at Essendon, but even this was sullied somewhat by the frequency with which he succumbed to injury. Nevertheless, his forceful, tempestuous style was a decided asset to the Bombers whenever he fronted up. The 2000 season saw Young on the move to Hawthorn for whom he played the final 13 games of his AFL career.

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Charles Young (Melbourne)

Charles Young was a high possession gathering centreman whose kicking was a joy to behold. He commenced with Melbourne in the opening round of the VFL's inaugural season of 1897 when he helped his team mates to a 17 point win away at South Melbourne. His VFL comprised 129 games spread over eight seasons, highlighted by participation in the Fuchsias' 1900 grand final defeat of Fitzroy. Young played interstate football for the VFL against South Australia in both 1903 and 1904.

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Garry Young (Hawthorn)

Garry Young was a powerful key position forward who marked well and knew how to use his body, but whose kicking for goal was somewhat less than exemplary. Nevertheless, he headed Hawthorn's goal kicking list a couple of times, and overall managed the respectable tally of 168 goals from I08 VFL games. He was a key player for the Hawks during the 1961 finals series which concluded with a 13.16 (94) to 7.9 (51) grand final defeat of Footscray , in which Young lined up at centre half forward. He also appeared in the losing grand final of 1963 against Geelong . His league career spanned ten seasons, from 1956 to 1965. His younger brother Maurie also played for the Hawks for a time.

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George Young (Subiaco & St Kilda)

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George Young made his Subiaco debut in 1969 and played 76 WANFL games for the club over the next four seasons.  A West Australian interstate representative every year from 1970 to 1972, he gained All Australian selection after the 1972 Perth carnival.  In 1973 he crossed to St Kilda where he gave fine service, initially mainly as a half forward flanker, but from 1975 onwards frequently at the goal front, in 108 VFL games over the next six seasons.  His final aggregate tally of 284 goals included club list topping totals of 53 in 1975, 52 in 1976, 58 in 1977, and 70 in 1978.  Graceful, elusive and strong overhead, he once managed a bag of 10 goals in a match against Fitzroy

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Henry Young (Geelong)

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From the time he began with Geelong in 1890 until his retirement 20 years and well over 200 games later, Henry 'Tracker' Young was a lynch-pin of the team.  Supremely powerful in the air, and surprisingly adept on the ground, he was renowned for his supreme fitness that enabled him to ruck untiringly for four quarters.  His understanding with his rovers was uncanny, and his deftness in palming the ball to them regardless of how much duress he was under was a celebrated feature of his game.

A stirring and vocal on-field leader, Young had the honour of captaining the VFL at the inaugural Australasian championship series in Melbourne in 1908 as well as skippering the Pivotonians from 1901 to 1909.

He was a prominent all round sportsman who enjoyed success in rowing, cycling and amateur boxing.  Tragically, and somewhat ironically given his obsession with physical fitness, he died young in 1923 after sustaining a massive heart attack.

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Maurie Young (Hawthorn)

The younger brother of Gary Young, alongside whom he played for a time, Maurie Young was a dynamic, high leaping ruckman who played 71 senior games for Hawthorn between 1956 and 1960. He was particularly effective during the Hawks' first ever VFL finals campaign in 1957.

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William Young (St Kilda)

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Despite not commencing his VFL career until he was almost twenty-four years of age St Kilda's Bill Young was a success from the start.  Weighing in at a mere 73kg he nevertheless held down full forward with great aplomb, topping the league's goalkicking ladder with 56 goals in his debut season, and heading the St Kilda list in five out of his six years at the club.  Between 1956 and 1961 Young played a total of 94 games and kicked 274 goals.  He was a VFL representative in 1959. 

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Colin Youren (Hawthorn)

The son of former Collingwood player George Youren, Colin Youren was a significant contributor to Hawthorn's first ever VFL premiership in 1961. Between 1958 and 1965 he played 135 games for the Hawks, mainly as a wingman, in which position his pace, flair and penetrative kicking with either foot were best harnessed. A product of Scotch College , Youren was a genuine big name footballer whose high status was reflected in his selection in VFL interstate representative teams on 5 occasions.

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Mark Zanotti (Subiaco, West Coast, Brisbane, Fitzroy)

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Mark Zanotti was an extremely pacy and athletic defender who attacked the ball determinedly, and who loved nothing better than racing the length of the ground to kick a goal.  He commenced his senior football with amateur club Scarborough, and from there was recruited by Subiaco.  Between 1983 and 1988 he played a total of 60 senior games for the Lions, including the victorious grand final of 1986 against East Fremantle when, playing at centre half back, he won the Simpson Medal as the best player afield.  In 1987 and 1988 Zanotti alternated between the WAFL with Subi and the VFL with West Coast, for whom he played 36 games and kicked 6 goals.  In 1989 he transferred to Brisbane, adding another 64 games and 5 goals in a four season stint.  He then played 57 games and booted 8 goals for Fitzroy from 1993 to 1995.  Mark Zanotti played interstate football for Western Australia 5 times.  He later played in the UK.

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Shane Zantuck (North Melbourne, South Melbourne, Melbourne)

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After struggling to establish himself at North Melbourne, where he managed just 5 senior appearance between 1974 and 1976, Shane Zantuck crossed to South Melbourne where he enjoyed immediate success.  In four seasons with the Swans he played a total of 56 VFL games, mainly as a wingman, displaying all the verve, dash and creativity traditionally associated with the position. He continued his consistently fine form after crossing to Melbourne, although during his early time at the club he was frequently sidelined with injury. Between 1981 and 1986 Zantuck made a total of 88 VFL appearances for the Demons, including many useful games in defence in his final few seasons.

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Reg Zeuner (West Adelaide & Perth)

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Reg Zeuner was an abundantly talented ruckman and key position forward whose impact was sometimes seemingly undermined by an overly relaxed attitude.  Nevertheless, he enjoyed a fair amount of success during a fourteen season, 268 game league that saw him wear the same black and red playing uniform with pride at two different clubs in separate states.  He began with West Adelaide in 1946, and the following year was at full forward in the side's 5 goal grand final win over Norwood.  Zeuner topped West's goal kicking list that season with 53 goals.  In 1949 he was recruited by Perth where, with the exception of a season back with Westies in 1952, he spent the remainder of his career.  A Western Australian interstate representative on half a dozen occasions, he was a key member of the powerful Redlegs sides of the late 1940s and the first half of the 1950s, often reserving his best displays for vital finals matches.  An example of this was his fine display in Perth's dramatic grand final victory over East Fremantle in 1955 (reviewed here).  Runner-up by a single vote to Graham Farmer of East Perth in the 1956 Sandover Medal count, Zeuner continued to perform with distinction until late in his career, winning Perth's fairest and best award in 1958, his penultimate season.  He finished with 209 senior games for the Redlegs to add to the 59 he had played with West.  In 1999 he was chosen in Perth's official 'Team of the Century'.

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Denis Zeunert (Carlton)

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Recruited from Heywood, Denis Zeunert was an accomplished half back flanker who gave Carlton fine service in 110 VFL games between 1954 and 1960.  Tough, resourceful, and reliable, as well as being a useful kick, he twice finished as runner-up in Carlton's best and fairest player award.

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Murray Zeuschner (Footscray)

Murray Zeuschner commenced with Footsc ray in 1962, having played previously with both Horsham and Stony Creek. He proved to be a handy acquisition for the Bulldogs, for whom he made 64 senior VFL appearances in half a dozen seasons, kicking 4 goals. Athletic, Iithe and an accomplished aerialist, Zeuschner equally effective as a ruckman or occupying any of a number of defensive positions.

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Eric Zschech (Richmond, Lefroy, Sandy Bay)

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Deceptively indolent and casual in approach, Eric Zschech was actually a supremely effective performer for Richmond throughout his comparatively brief six season, 102 game VFL career.  Recruited from Minyip, where he had played under the great Roy Cazaly, Zschech soon established himself as the Tigers' centreman, where his effortlessly accurate foot passing marked him out as a player of rare class.  He was in the pivot as Richmond beat Carlton in the 1932 grand final, and again two years later when South Melbourne's famous foreign legion were the victims.  He also played in the losing 1931 and 1933 grand finals.  His understanding with champion full forward Jack 'Skinny' Titus was legendary, and seemed at times almost telepathic.

After leaving Richmond, Eric Zschech played with great distinction for Lefroy, captain-coaching the side to a premiership in 1937, and winning the George Watt Memorial Medal for the best and fairest player in the TANFL on no fewer than three occasions.  After a break for the war he resumed his senior football career with Sandy Bay, and was a member in 1946 of that club's first ever TFL premiership side.

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Lloyd Zucker (Port Adelaide)

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A formidable and hardy ruckman, Lloyd Zucker always seemed to rise to the occasion when the going was at its toughest.  He was rewarded for his sterling all round contribution to Port Adelaide by inclusion in that club's official 'Greatest Ever Team 1870 to 2000'.  Strong overhead, and dangerous near goals, Zucker's finest moment arguably came against West Adelaide in the 1954 SANFL grand final when he "was the hero for Port, getting goals (4 in all) when they were beyond price and rucking all day like a man possessed" (see footnote 1).  The Magpies emerged victorious that day by just 3 points, after trailing at every change.

Lloyd Zucker was a member of six Port Adelaide premiership teams in all in a career which lasted between 1949 and 1959 and saw him amass 183 league games whilst booting 259 goals.  Prior to joining the Magpies he had played with Exeter in the amateur competition, helping the side to an A1 premiership in 1948.  He also played interstate amateur football for South Australia.  While with Port he was the club's top goal kicker with 51 goals in 1949, and represented South Australia in 1955 and at the 1956 Perth carnival.

Footnotes

1.  The Pash Papers by Jeff Pash, page 214.  Return to Main Text

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Noel Zunneberg (Fitzroy)

Noel Zunneberg was a polished and eye-catching defender who joined Fitzroy from Croydon and served the Lions well in 71 senior VFL games between 1967 and 1972. The highlight of his career came when he polled a dozen votes to finish 11th in the 1970 Brownlow Medal count.

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