BIOGRAPHIES [Bi-Bz]

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

[George Bickford]  [Mark Bickley]  [Jim Bicknell]  [Ray Biffin]  [Doug Bigelow]  [Stephen Bilcich]  [Brenton Bills]  [Fred Bills]  [John Birt]  [Jack Bishop senior]  [George Bisset]  [Jack Bisset]  [Jim Black]  [Jack Blackman]  [Hedley Blackmore]  [Wayne Blackwell]  [John Blair]  [Rod Blake]  [Cameron Blakemore]  [Geoff Blethyn]  [Russell Blew]  [Malcolm Blight]  [Fred Bloch]  [Justin Blumfield]  [John Blunden]  [Jim Bohan]  [Martin Bolger]  [Michael Bone]  [Stan Booth]  [Ian Borchard]  [Albert Boromeo]  [Les Borrack]  [Mark Bos]  [Peter Bosustow]  [Ron Boucher]  [Barry Bourke]  [Daryl Bourke]  [Edward Bourke]  [Francis Bourke]  [Peter Bourke]  [Robert Bowden]  [Len Bowe]  [George Bower]  [Percy Bowyer]  [Peter Box]  [Marcus Boyall]  [Dave Boyd]  [Harold Boyd]  [Robert Boyle]  [Craig Braddy]  [Jim Bradford]  [Craig Bradley]  [Robert Bradley]  [Phil Bradmore]  [John Brady]  [Terry Brain]  [Jack Brake]  [Ron Branton]  [Harold Bray]  [Jeff Bray]  [Richard Bray]  [Barry Breen]  [Greg Brehaut]  [Danny Brennan]  [Reginald Brentnall]  [Leigh Brenton]  [Dermott Brereton]  [Harry Brereton]  [Frank Brew]  [Ray Brew]  [Ian Brewer]  [Ross Brewer]  [Gary Brice]  [Charles 'Ernie' Bridgeman]  [Arnold Briedis]  [Clarrie Briggs]  [Terry Bright]  [Cornelius Britt]  [Bill Brittingham]  [Tom Broadbent]  [Wayne Broadbridge]  [Jack Broadstock]  [Mel Brock]  [Patrick Broderick]  [Keith Bromage]  [Bob Brooker]  [Hector Brooks]  [Wilfred 'Bill' Brophy]  [Gerald Brosnan]  [Charles Brown]  [Clinton Brown]  [Clive Brown]  [Colin Brown]  [Douglas Brown]  [Gavin Brown]  [Greg Brown]  [Keith Brown]  [Malcolm Brown]  [Martin Brown]  [Norm Brown]  [Paul Brown]  [Rod Brown]  [Ron Brown]  [Roy Brown]  [William 'Billy' Brown]  [Morton Browne]  [Barry Browning]  [Clinton Browning]  [Mark Browning]  [Roger Browning]  [Robert 'Rupe' Brownlees]  [Thomas 'Tobler' Brownlees]  [Bill Brownless]  [George Bruce]  [Ken Bryan]  [Ian Bryant]  [Edward Bryce]  [David Bryden]  [Gary Buckenara]  [Jim Buckley]  [Nathan Buckley]  [Donald Budarick]  [Tony Buhagiar]  [Ned Bull]  [Horrie Bullen]  [Haydn Bunton junior]  [Haydn Bunton senior]  [Tony Burgan]  [Fred Burge]  [Reg Burgess]  [Gerard Burke]  [Nathan Burke]  [Gar Burkett]  [John Burkett]  [Greg Burns]  [John Burns]  [Peter Burns]  [Robert Burns]  [Ronnie Burns]  [William Burns]  [Chris Burton]  [Sydney Burton]  [William Busbridge]  [Alf Bushby]  [Percy Bushby]  [Harry Bushell]  [William 'Joe' Bushell]  [Gil Butchart]  [Jack Butcher]  [Neil Button]  [Ray Button]  [John Buttrose]  [Fred Buttsworth]  [Wally Buttsworth]  [Don Byfield]  [Garry Bygraves]  [Bevan Byrne]  [Ray Byrne]

George Bickford (Melbourne)

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George Bickford was a fine centreline player for Melbourne in 126 VFL games between 1945 and 1952.  Recruited from Wesley College, where he had been captain, he was an excellent kick over both long and short distances.  He was on a wing when Melbourne lost to Essendon in the 1946 grand final, and was a significant contributor from the centre when revenge was achieved via a replay two years later. 

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Mark Bickley (South Adelaide & Adelaide)

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Adelaide's dual premiership captain Mark Bickley began his football life with Port Pirie club Solomontown before progressing to South Adelaide, where he played 53 SANFL games in 1989 and 1990.  In 1991, while still appearing intermittently for South, he made his AFL debut with Adelaide, impressing many observers with his courage, strong tackling and excellent team sense.  Chunky and compact in build at 178cm and 82kg, Bickley was never the most polished or overtly eye-catching of performers, but he always provided 100% commitment.  Appointed Crows captain in 1997, he had the good fortune to lead his side to a flag in his first season in the role, courtesy of a rousing grand final win over St Kilda.  The following year saw him repeat the accomplishment as North Melbourne was humbled.  Bickley, who played much of his football across half back, but who could also function effectively on the ball, carried on as skipper of the Crows until the end of the 2000 season, when he was replaced by Mark Ricciuto.  He retired in 2003 after a then club record 272 AFL games in thirteen seasons.

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Jim Bicknell (North Melbourne)

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Rover Jim Bicknell was fast, energetic and tenacious, and acknowledged, at least for a brief time, as a key member of the North Melbourne side.  He arrived at North from South Kensington, and played a total of 57 VFL games for the club in 1933-4 and between 1936 and 1938.  He booted 7 goals.  Described during his career as tricky and difficult to contain, the ultimate consensus was that he probably failed to make the most of his considerable all round ability.

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Ray Biffin (North Launceston, Melbourne, Dandenong)

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Ray Biffin commenced his senior career with North Launceston where he played from 1965 to 1967.  During that time he represented the NTFA in 1966, and played in a losing grand final against East Launceston the following year.  In 1968 he crossed to Melbourne where he would spend twelve productive if largely unspectacular years, playing 171 VFL games and kicking 131 goals.  In 1976, playing mainly at full forward, he booted 47 goals for the year to top the Demons' list, but he was equally effective as a bustling, ruggedly unpretentious full back.  Biffin coached VFA 1st division side Dandenong in 1980 and 1981, and later spent some time as coach of Hawthorn's under nineteens.

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Doug Bigelow (Essendon & Coburg)

Essendon recruited Doug Bigelow from Bentleigh, and handed him his senior debut in 1947. He developed into a handy player for the Dons, for whom he ended up playing 148 VFL games and kicking 27 goals in ten seasons. Extremely tenacious and hard hitting, he played most of his football in defence, but could also do a job on the ball.  Bigelow was not selected in the Bombers' 1950 premiership-winning side but was arguably their most consistent player during the following season's finals campaign, which ended with defeat at the hands of Geelong in the grand final.  Bigelow later coached VFA club Coburg from 1957 until early in the 1961 season.  He spent the 1963 season coaching his original club Bentleigh.

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Stephen Bilcich (East Fremantle)

Stephen Bilcich commenced with East Fremantle in 1898 and was an extremely valuable player for the Sharks throughout the ensuing decade. His 215 senior games for the club, spread over twelve seasons, included the triumphant grand finals of 1992 against South Fremantle when he was best afield in the opinion of many observers after doing a comprehensive blanketing job on Bulldogs danger man Wally Matera, 1994 against Claremont, and 1998 versus West Perth. He was chosen in Western Australia’s state league interstate team on 4 occasions.

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Brenton Bills (West Torrens)

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Less high profile than his older brother Fred Bills, Brenton Bills was nevertheless a handy performer for West Torrens in 122 SANFL games between 1968 and 1974.  Despite being neither especially quick nor skilful, his consistently wholehearted and energetic approach to the game helped him to compete successfully with ostensibly more talented opponents.  He was also extremely versatile, which may not always have been to his advantage as it meant he was often used as a 'spare parts' man, and thereby prevented him from developing expertise and consistency in a single position.  Arguably his best football was played as a defender.

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Fred Bills (West Torrens)

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Heroes come in different shapes and forms: some attract us because we see ourselves reflected in them, if only palely; others are demi-gods whom we admire for perhaps the opposite reason.

Fred Bills, who played 313 games for West Torrens and 7 for South Australia between 1959 and 1975 was quintessentially of the former type.  Definitely heroic, at least to Eagles fans, he nevertheless seemed to imply that heroism was almost universally attainable.  Whereas Gary Ablett or Haydn Bunton senior might invite awe-struck admiration at their ability to perform the unlikely or even the 'impossible', Freddy Bills persistently served to reassure the onlooker that effectiveness and high achievement in football were within the grasp of anyone with even a modicum of ability.  One-paced to the point of seeming plodding, almost half-heartedly aggressive, as though enacting a role, and so bereft of subtlety that one sometimes wondered if he understood the game at all, Bills was nevertheless an automatic choice for the Eagles for seventeen seasons, during which time he won four club best and fairest awards and arguably attracted more affection and esteem than any other Torrens player, even including that most illustrious of 'demi-gods', Lindsay Head.

Of course, the impression conveyed by players like Bills that the playing of football at league level is 'easy' and requires no special talent is an arch deception.  Bills had talent, and plenty of it, albeit that it was serenely and modestly packaged.  When South Australia was looking down the barrel against the West Australians at three quarter time of a 1962 interstate clash at Subiaco Oval, 12 points adrift and with only sixteen fit men on the field, it was not the 'demi-gods' who came to the rescue, but 'our Freddy', an heroic manifestation of the common man, who regarded the fact that he was bleeding profusely from the mouth as a minor distraction of scant importance, and who summoned up literally the quarter of his life to help steer his team to victory.

The following year, Bills was a member of the famous South Australian combination which scored a 7 point victory over the VFL in Melbourne (click here for details of the match).  Although not conspicuous in terms of statistics, he undertook the vital role, along with Neil Kerley, of ensuring that the Victorians did not 'crowd' the ruck contests, thereby limiting the effectiveness of 'Big Bill' Wedding.  Given a free run at the ball, Wedding was unstoppable, but it was only the surreptitious solicitude of Bills and Kerley that enabled this to happen.

In contrast to his interstate exploits, there was little at club level for Bills to enjoy, with the Eagles qualifying for the major round only four times during his career without winning a single finals match.   

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John Birt (Essendon & West Torrens)

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Originally from Ballarat, jockey-sized (173cm, 68kg) rover Johnny Birt began his VFL career with Essendon in 1957, and was one of the Bombers' best in a losing grand final against Melbourne in his debut year.  Quick, hyperactive and intelligent, he rapidly became acknowledged as one of the finest small men in the game.  He made the first of his 11 interstate appearances for the VFL in 1960, and won the first of three Essendon best and fairest awards the following year.  He was also dangerous around goal, and topped the Bomber goal kicking list in 1958 with 31 goals.

While with Essendon, Birt played in a total of four grand finals, and was high among his side's best players in all of them.  The first two, both against Melbourne, were lost, but in 1962 and 1965 Birt enjoyed premiership success against Carlton and St Kilda respectively. 

From 1968 to 1970 Johnny Birt coached West Torrens but the side achieved only modest success.  As a player, however, Birt's prodigious talent remained in evidence as he won successive club champion awards in 1968-9 and became an automatic interstate selection for South Australia.

Following his retirement as a player at the end of the 1970 season he returned home to Essendon as coach but after one disastrous year in charge he was replaced by Des Tuddenham.   Between 1972 and 1976 Birt was assistant coach at Footscray, following which he served as skills coach at Hawthorn (1977 to 1980) and Carlton (1981).  Thereafter, he maintained his involvement in football through a variety of administrative roles.

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Jack Bishop senior (West Adelaide)

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After playing a couple of games for West Adelaide in 1915, the last season before the league competition was suspended owing to the Great War, rover Jack Bishop became a regular member of the side in 1919, and remained so until 1928.  Despite standing just 160cm in height, and weighing a mere 60kg, he was a tenacious and fearless competitor who was widely acknowledged as one of the finest small men in the game.  Boasting lightning fast reflexes, and extremely quick over that vital first five or so metres, he typically racked up numerous possessions during a game, and was always a danger when resting in the forward lines.  His 120 league games for West included the 13 point challenge final victory over North Adelaide in 1927.  He kicked a total of 117 career goals.  Winner of his club's best and fairest award in 1919, his 2 appearances for South Australia came at the 1921 Perth carnival, when he booted 3 goals.  Jack Bishop was the son of Toby Bishop, who played 46 games for West between 1897 and 1901, and the father of Jack Bishop junior, who represented the club on 16 occasions in 1954-5.

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George Bisset (Footscray & Melbourne)

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A firm favourite among fans at the Western Oval, nuggety rover George Bisset gave Footscray precisely ten years of fine service, during which he played 166 VFL games and booted 288 goals.  Despite lacking pace, he was a dynamic, feisty performer, who loved to "play up" (his words).  Ted Whitten once described him as "a typical western suburbs boy". 

George Bisset joined the Bulldogs from one of the club's favoured recruiting sources, the Braybrook Football Club, and made his senior league debut in 1963.  By the end of the sixties he was widely acknowledged as one of the finest small men in the game, a status he enhanced in the 1969 season by polling 18 votes in the Brownlow Medal, just 1 fewer than the winner, Fitzroy's Kevin Murray.  Bisset, in fact, was extremely unfortunate not to win the Medal, as he was reported during a round 14 match against Carlton and therefore awarded no votes despite amassing in excess of 30 disposals and kicking 6 goals.  He was subsequently cleared at the Tribunal.  The 1969 season also saw Bisset secure his club's best and fairest award and represent the triumphant VFL side at the Adelaide carnival.  In 1973, to the dismay of Bulldog fans, he took advantage of the short-lived ten year rule to cross to Collingwood, where he added 41 games and 49 goals in two seasons before retiring.

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Jack Bisset (Port Melbourne, Richmond, South Melbourne)

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Originally from Longwarry, Jack Bisset joined Port Melbourne while still a youngster and played at full back in the club's 2 point grand final win over Footscray in 1922.  The following year the two clubs again contested the premiership, with the achievement of Footscray in gaining revenge being somewhat overshadowed by the fact that no fewer than seven reports were laid.  Bisset, who was one of four Borough players to front the Tribunal, was outed for five weeks on a charge of striking Jack Howell, who himself was handed a seven week 'holiday.' 

After roughly 30 games for Port, Bisset, now playing mainly as a follower,  had two brief stints with Richmond, during which time he played in losing grand finals against Collingwood in 1928 and Geelong in 1931.  In 1932, at the outset of what in retrospect has become known as the 'foreign legion' era, he transferred to South Melbourne, and twelve months later, after captain-coach Johnny Leonard was compelled to return home to Western Australia, Bisset was appointed as his replacement.  In some ways a rather surprising choice, Bisset's extensive finals experience with Richmond, coupled with his commanding on-field presence, probably gained him the nod ahead of ostensibly more obvious choices.  In his first season at the helm he repaid the club committee emphatically by steering the southerners to their first flag since 1918.  In the grand final victory over his former club Richmond he led from the front in imposing fashion, etching his name firmly into history as the last ever architect of a South Melbourne premiership.  Bisset remained at South until the end of the 1936 season, adding 90 VFL games to the 38 he had played with the Tigers.  He also represented the VFL.

In 1937, Jack Bisset returned to his original club Port Melbourne as captain-coach, but before the season was out he had been replaced by Harry Crompton.  Bisset's achievements at South Melbourne were of incalculable importance, however, and in August 2003 he was rewarded with selection as coach of the club's official 'Team of the Century'.

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Jim Black (Queanbeyan)

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Four time Queanbeyan best and fairest award winner (in 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1980) Jim Black played a total of 191 games during what was probably his club's least auspicious era.  However, it is doubtful if there have been many ACT players to match his motivational energy and skill.  A genuinely two-sided player at a time when this was by no means the norm, Black was still in the middle of an illustrious junior career when he made his senior debut for Queanbeyan aged just fifteen.  A livewire rover, his ability near the goal front made him ideal as a forward pocket 'change' player.  Popularly known as 'Blackie', he represented the ACT on 18 occasions, including the famous win over the VFL at Manuka Oval in 1980, the same year that saw his appointment as Tigers captain.  In 1981, he also took on the coaching mantle whilst continuing as a player, but after struggling through the season with persistent knee injuries, did not resume in either role in 1982.

In 1999, Jim Black was selected in the right forward pocket in the official 'ACT Legends' team which commemorated seventy-five years of football in Canberra.

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Jack Blackman (Hawthorn & Preston)

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Jack Blackman, who was the son of pre-World War One Port Melbourne defender George Blackman, joined Hawthorn in 1939 and went on to become a key player for the Mayblooms in a war-interrupted 87 game league career.  Playing mainly as a centre half back, he was utterly dependable and highly skilled.  He won Hawthorn's club champion award in 1944, and was vice-captain for the 1946 season, his last in the VFL.  

Prior to the start of the 1947 season, Blackman was enticed away from Hawthorn by VFA club Preston, whom he joined without a clearance.  Appointed captain-coach, he steered the side to 6th place on the ladder, its best season for some time, and on a personal note ran fifth in the Liston Trophy voting.  In 1948 the Bullants went within an ace of making the finals, and Blackman, who was normally named on a half back flank, but almost invariably ended up filling in where he was most needed, came second to Brighton's Russ McIndoe in the Liston voting.

Jack Blackman's final season with the Bullants in 1949 was a mixture of personal success - he finally won the Liston Trophy - and desperate disappointment for the team, which failed to build on the promise of the previous two years, and finished well down the list.  Blackman, who had played 62 games for the club, departed in 1950 to coach Horsham in the Wimmera League.

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Hedley Blackmore (Carlton & Brunswick)

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One of several top line full backs to have represented Brunswick, Hedley Blackmore actually cut his football teeth as a forward with Carlton, where he played 51 VFL games and booted 76 goals between 1923 and 1927.  Extremely reliable overhead, whether spoiling or marking, he was also a superb kick, and extremely tenacious and aggressive when battling for the ball one-on-one.  At Brunswick, he was a major reason behind the club's qualifying for a rare finals series in 1929, but fourth place was all it could manage, albeit that this was the highest placed finish that was managed during Blackmore's career.  Hedley Blackmore captained the Pottery Workers in 1932 and 1933.

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Wayne Blackwell (Claremont & Carlton)

 

Recruited by Claremont from North Beach, Wayne Blackwell made his senior league debut in 1978, and went on to play a total of 112 WA(N)FL games before crossing to Carlton in 1984.  Tenacious, dogged and courageous, he could fill a variety of positions or do a more than useful job on the ball.  He was in the centre when Claremont beat South Fremantle in the 1981 WAFL grand final, and played on the wing in Carlton's losing grand final of 1986 against Hawthorn.  Blackwell played a total of 110 VFL games for Carlton between 1984 and 1990, kicking 80 goals.  He represented Western Australia 8 times.

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John Blair (South Melbourne, Fitzroy, St Kilda, Morningside, Sandgate, Windsor-Zillmere, Sherwood)

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John Blair was a fiercely competitive centre half back who became a key figure in Queensland football, having moved north in 1981 after playing with South Melbourne (27 games), Fitzroy (4) and St Kilda (2) from 1975 to 1980. He joined Morningside as captain-coach and became one of the competition's most dominant players, winning the 1982 Grogan Medal and the Panthers them to three consecutive grand finals from 1982-4. Blair later played at Sandgate, Windsor-Zillmere and Sherwood, tasting elusive premiership success with Zillmere in 1988, when he also won the QAFL goal kicking for the second time, having topped the list with the Panthers in 1985. He represented Queensland through the glory years of the 1980s, wearing the Maroon jumper 19 times with distinction. Later on he had a role with the Queensland under 18 side and took back the coaching reins at Morningside in 2002.  

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Rod Blake (Geelong)

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Recruited from Inverleigh, Geelong's Rod Blake made his VFL debut in 1971, but spent almost a decade in the shadow of his fellow ruckmen John Newman and Ian Hampshire before finally being given the opportunity to give full rein to his ability in 1980.  Already renowned for his penchant for thumping the ball forward up to 40 metres from centre bounces, Blake quickly demonstrated that he also boasted great aerial prowess, considerable courage, and a sound football brain.  He won the Cats' best and fairest award in 1980, and by the time he retired three years later had played a total of 176 VFL games, and kicked 113 goals.  He also played 3 times for Victoria.

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Cameron Blakemore (Subiaco)

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A triple Subiaco fairest and best award recipient, Cam Blakemore had the singular misfortune to retire the season before the Lions won their first flag in almost half a century.  He made his league debut in 1963 having served an apprenticeship in the junior ranks and  immediately caught the eye as a centreman of rare talent, winning a major 'best first year player' trophy, sponsored by a Perth radio station, in his debut season.  Boasting all the skills of the game, and presenting them as a highly polished package, Blakemore's is perhaps best remembered today for his superb delivery of the ball to team mates, which was characteristically accomplished with a combination of precision and firmness which only very rarely went awry.

For most of his league career Subiaco struggled, but this was scarcely Blakemore's fault.  He was regarded as providing a perfect example to youngsters on how the game should be played, and it was perhaps a touch surprising that he did not make the first of just 3 interstate appearances until 1970.  

Tragically, when Subiaco announced its 'Greatest Team 1946-76', with Blakemore in the centre, he was already dead, a premature victim of cancer.

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Geoff Blethyn (Essendon, Claremont, Port Adelaide)

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Slimly built, agile and - most memorably of all - bespectacled, full forward Geoff Blethyn had a career of fluctuating fortune with three league clubs in three states.  That career began in highly noteworthy fashion with Essendon in 1968.  Blethyn played just 2 senior games that season, the second of which was the grand final against Carlton.  The Bombers lost the match by 3 points, but the young St Andrew's recruit, still a few weeks short of his eighteenth birthday, contributed 4 of his team's 8 goals for the match.

Geoff Blethyn's best season in football was 1972 when he became the first Essendon player in twenty years to 'top the ton'.  In the process, he headed the Dons' goal kicking list for the second time, but Peter McKenna of Collingwood was the league's top goal kicker.

Between 1973 and 1975 Blethyn played 33 games for Claremont but, despite topping the club's goal kicking list with 71 goals in 1973 and 33 the following year, he largely failed to justify his high reputation.  In 1976 he returned for one last season with Essendon where his total of 39 goals for the year was good enough to head the Bombers' list and gave him a final career tally of 216 goals in 84 VFL games.

Blethyn's next and final port of call was Port Adelaide in 1977, where he once again failed to enhance his reputation.  Nevertheless, he at least managed to round off his career in style by playing in the Magpies' 8 point grand final defeat of Glenelg - the first and only premiership of his ten season stint in league football.  The grand final was Blethyn's 11th appearance in a Port jumper, and the 1 goal he managed during the match was his 13th for the year.

In 1980 he made a brief 2 game comeback with Glenelg reserves, and later served on the Bays' coaching staff.

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Russell Blew (Essendon & Waverley)

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Russell Blew was a fine wingman whose work was always tidy and composed.  He commenced with Essendon's under nineteens in 1959 and immediately won the club's best and fairest award at that level.  In 1960 he was appointed captain of the under nineteens but he progressed much quicker than anticipated and finished the year playing in the seniors.  He was on a wing in the Bombers' 1962 grand final defeat of Carlton, and again three years later when St Kilda was vanquished.  Arguably his best season in football came in 1964 when he made the state team and finished second to Ken Fraser in the voting for the club champion award.  A knee injury limited his appearances in 1966 and 1967 but he was back as good as ever for what proved to be his final VFL season in 1968.  The last of his 125 senior games for the Dons came in that year's losing grand final against Carlton.  In 1969 he transferred to Waverley in the VFA as captain-coach where he spent his last three seasons as a player.  He later worked as a football panelist on HSV7, and a radio commentator on 3DB and 3UZ.

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Malcolm Blight (Woodville, North Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide, St Kilda)

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During its comparatively fleeting involvement in the SANFL it is doubtful if the Woodville Football Club produced a more prodigious all round talent than Malcolm Jack Blight.  In two separate stints at Oval Avenue Blight played a total of 163 games, won the 1972 Magarey Medal, was twice named Woodville's best and fairest player, made 7 appearances for South Australia earning All Australian selection on two occasions separated by thirteen years, and, for good measure, topped the SANFL goalkicking in 1985, his final league season, with 126 goals.

In between he spent a decade with North Melbourne where he became arguably the most celebrated South Australian to transfer to the VFL up to that point.  His record while in Melbourne is worth summarising:

member of premiership sides in 1975 and 1977
member of North's 1980 night premiership team
1978 Brownlow Medallist
7 interstate appearances for the VFL including 2 as captain
4 times club leading goalkicker
Coleman Medallist in 1982
played 180 club games including 22 consecutive finals appearances

The bare facts reveal nothing of the artistry, power and genius of Blight's play, however.  Thankfully, his career coincided with the onset of the video age, and so a fair number of his more memorable feats have been recorded for posterity.

If Malcolm Blight the player was among the greatest to have adorned the game, Malcolm Blight the coach was no slouch either.  After proving himself the most successful coach in Woodville's brief and predominantly ignominious history, he steered a hitherto under-achieving Geelong side to three grand finals, before returning home to South Australia and masterminding the first two premierships in the history of the Adelaide Crows.  A brief stint at St Kilda was less successful, but his achievements with the Crows would doubtless have been sufficient to earn him the keys to the city of Adelaide for life.

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Fred Bloch (North Adelaide)

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Recruited from Berri in the Upper Murray League, Fred Bloch made his North Adelaide league debut on ANZAC Day 1961 when, playing in the centre, he was best afield in the Roosters' 16.11 (107) to 12.10 (82) defeat of Norwood.  Thereafter, however, his form dropped away alarmingly, and in round 8 he was dropped to the seconds.  The next couple of years saw Bloch alternating between seniors and seconds on a distressingly regular basis, leading to his being unkindly referred to as 'Chopping Bloch' in some quarters.  In 1964, however, he finally began to produce his best form on a consistent basis, and ran a close second to Barrie Barbary in the club's best and fairest award, even though a broken hand restricted him to just 12 appearances for the year compared to Barbary's 20.  

Short (177cm) and stocky (79kg) Bloch was not quick, but was a sure ball handler and had good evasive skills.  He won North's premier individual award in 1965, but then the old cycle of inconsistency began to recur and he spent the next two seasons alternating between firsts and seconds.  After managing just a couple of senior games in 1967 he opted to bring the curtain down on an eventful, but ultimately perhaps rather frustrating, 77 game league career.

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Justin Blumfield (Tuggeranong, Richmond, Essendon)

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Justin Blumfield began his senior career with Tuggeranong before being taken by Essendon as selection 62 in the 1994 National Draft.  After taking a couple of seasons to find his feet at the elite level, Justin Blumfield raised his performance level several notches in 1998 when he was a virtual ever present in an Essendon side that was starting to come good again after a brief spell of mediocrity.  In 1999 and 2000, Blumfield emerged as one of the primary reasons for Essendon's development into arguably the most complete unit seen in Australian football up to that point.  Along with players like James Hird, Jason Johnson, Blake Caracella and Joe Misiti, Blumfield gave the Bombers an engine room second to none, personally averaging more than 20 disposals a game - most of them effective - besides chipping in with 20 or more goals a season.  In Essendon's victorious grand final team of 2000, Blumfield was named second best on ground behind his skipper, James Hird.

An injury affected 2001 season saw Blumfield's appearances in an Essendon jumper reduced, but he remained an extremely handy player when called upon.  In 2002 he was back to something approximating to his best, playing almost every game for the year and once again averaging more than 20 possessions a match.  Nevertheless, owing to salary cap restrictions, at season's end he was traded to Richmond where he endured a disappointing debut season.  After managing just 8 league appearances in 2004 he was delisted.  All told, Justin Blumfield played a total of 148 AFL games for his two clubs, and booted 91 goals.

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John Blunden (North Adelaide)

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After playing in North Adelaide's colts and thirds premiership teams of 1947 and 1948 respectively, John Blunden was promoted to the seniors in 1949 and ended the season with a superb performance on a half back flank as the red and whites overcame West Torrens in the grand final.  Two years later he again shone on grand final day as North trounced Norwood by a record margin of 108 points.  That same 1951 season also saw Blunden play his only interstate match for South Australia.  Undermined by injuries over the ensuing couple of seasons, he emphasised his class by winning the seconds Magarey Medal while on his comeback trail in 1953.  Between 1954 and 1958 John Blunden played the best and most consistent football of his career, winning consecutive club best and fairest awards in 1956-7.  He retired at the end of the 1958 season having played a total of 142 league games, and the North Adelaide Annual Report for that year noted:

Always cool and unruffled, John never allowed opposition players to move him from his course of playing the ball and the game, for the joy of participating in this, the finest game of all, was to John his greatest pleasure.

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Jim Bohan (Hawthorn & Camberwell)

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Without doubt one of the greatest players in Hawthorn's history, in 2003 Jimmy Bohan achieved the distinction of being named as centreman in the club's official 'Team of the Century'.  Perfectly balanced, highly skilled, and a superb kick with either foot, Bohan played 131 VFL games for the Mayblooms between 1938 and 1946 without once appearing in the finals.  He captained the club in 1944 and 1946, and won club champion awards in 1943 and 1945.

In 1947 he caused something of a furore by crossing to VFA club Camberwell without a clearance.  He spent seven auspicious years with the Tricolours, playing for the majority of his time there in the hitherto uncustomary position of full back.  Although Camberwell was not a successful team during his time there, Bohan himself was recognised as a bona fide champion of the highest order, winning best and fairest awards in 1951-2-3, and running second in the 1952 Liston Trophy.  He was a key player for the VFA at the 1953 Adelaide carnival.  In all, he played 140 games for the Tricolours, and in 1994 was chosen as full back and captain of the club's official 'Team of the Century'.  

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Martin Bolger (Richmond)

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A member, along with Kevin O'Neill and Maurie Sheehan, of Richmond's famous 'Three Musketeers' backline of the early 1930s, Martin Bolger specialised in minding the opposing team's resting rover, almost invariably to the detriment of that player's impact.  As nimble and quick as a rover himself, Bolger was also tough, resilient and extremely consistent.  His ball handling skills were excellent, and he was a reliable kick to position.  He played 185 games for the Tigers between 1930 and 1939, and was among the best players afield in the grand final-winning teams of 1932 and 1934.  He won the Richmond best and fairest award in 1936.

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Michael Bone (Collingwood)

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A tenacious, hyperactive rover, Collingwood's Mick Bone was sometimes almost too enthusiastic for his own good, and his consistency suffered as a result.  He was recruited from Thornbury YMCW, and made the first of an eventual 62 VFL appearances over five seasons in 1962.  He booted 55 goals.  Bone was one of the Magpies' best in a losing grand final clash with Melbourne in 1964 (reviewed here) but he could easily have failed to make the team.  Two weeks earlier, in a hefty 2nd semi final loss against the Demons, he had played poorly, and for the following week's preliminary final against Geelong he was dropped to the bench.  His stirring effort when introduced to the fray in the second half helped Collingwood scrape home by 4 points, and effectively earned him a place in the starting eighteen the following Saturday.  After leaving the VFL at the end of the 1966 season he spent ten seasons with Wodonga in the Ovens and Murray Football League, playing a total of 144 OMFL games, and captain-coaching the side to flags in 1967 and 1969.  

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Stan Booth (Essendon & Sandy Bay)

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A fast-moving, elusive rover who was often among the goals, Stan Booth joined Essendon from Moonee Imperials and spent some time in the lower grades before making his senior debut in 1952.  He went on to play 102 VFL games for the Dons in eight seasons, kicking 116 goals.  He was a member of the club's 1952 seconds premiership team, and was on a half forward flank for the seniors when they lost the 1957 grand final to Melbourne.  In a home and away game against the Demons earlier that year he was controversially penalised for kicking the ball deliberately out of bounds with only seconds left to play and Melbourne kicked the winning goal from the free.  Booth captain-coached TANFL club Sandy Bay from 1959 to 1961.  He later coached Aberfeldie junior sides.

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Ian Borchard (Richmond, South Fremantle, West Adelaide)

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After failing to make his mark at both Richmond (10 games) and South Fremantle (1 game) hopes would almost certainly have not been outrageously high at West Adelaide when Ian Borchard arrived there in 1979.  However, sometimes a change of scene can do mysterious things to both a player's morale and his motivation, and Borchard proved to be undeniably one of West's most noteworthy recruits of the past half century.  Tough, courageous and desperate, his approach suited the red and blacks' style to a tee.  In only his second season he was elevated to the vice-captaincy and won a best and fairest, before assuming the captaincy in 1981.  A second best and fairest award followed in 1982, and the following year Borchard experienced a pleasure no West captain has since managed to repeat when he lifted received the Thomas Hill Seymour Cup at the end of the club's winning grand final against Sturt.

Ian Borchard retired at the end of the 1986 season having played 145 senior games, mainly as a ruck-rover, and kicked 80 goals in his eight season stint at Richmond Oval.

In 2001-2 Borchard was senior coach of the Bloods, leading them to consecutive 5th place finishes.

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Albert Boromeo (Carlton & Richmond)

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Albert Boromeo's Carlton debut took place in the opening round of the 1919 season against Fitzroy, and some indication of just how primitive the game was in those days can be gleaned from the fact that he took to the field in his street boots.  Despite this not inconsiderable handicap, "he gave decided promise, and looked every inch the footballer" (see footnote 1).  Within a matter of half a dozen games it was clear that the Blues had a champion on their hands.

Fairly tall for his day, at 184cm, and weighing in at a hefty 92kg, Boromeo was a formidable figure whom opposition players had tremendous trouble dislodging, both on the ground and in the air.  He was a thumping kick, and formed a highly effective partnership with his close mate Horrie Clover.  Surprisingly quick for such a solidly built player, he was used to equal effect by Carlton both as a follower and a half forward flank.  Arguably his most memorable performance came in the 1921 grand final, despite the fact that the Blues lost to Richmond.

First chosen to represent the VFL in 1920, Boromeo also got the nod in each of the subsequent three seasons.  However, in 1923 he was unable to take up his place in the team after being suspended by the Carlton committee, for reasons which remain unclear.  Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the Carlton players apparently supported the committee's decision one hundred per cent.  The upshot of it all was that after just 69 spectacular games, Boromeo's career with the Blues was over.  He spent the next couple of seasons desperately seeking a clearance to Richmond for whom he eventually lined up in 1926.  After 14 games with the Tigers, however, his VFL career was over, and one of the most eye-catching players of his era 'went bush', where he continued playing for several years afterwards in places like Horsham and the Victorian goldfields region.

Footnotes

1.  Jack Worrall, writing in 'The Australian', and quoted in Carlton: The 100 Greatest by Jim Main and Russell Holmesby, page 25.  Return to Main Text

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Les Borrack (Geelong)

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Les Borrack was dynamic and determined footballer who typically ended a match running just as hard as he started it.  He hailed from Redan, and made his senior VFL debut for Geelong in round 6 of the 1953 season, at home to South Melbourne.  After managing just a couple of league appearances that season, and half a dozen the next, he became the Cats' first choice centreman in 1955, and played most of his remaining games in that position.  The most eye-catching feature of his play was his prodigious drop kicking on the run, but his 'in and under' work was arguably of equal value to the team.  Borrack played the last of his 95 VFL games, in which he booted a total of 15 goals, in the final round of the 1960 season.

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Mark Bos (Geelong)

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Recruited from Wandella, Mark Bos made his senior debut with Geelong against Footscray in round 6 1979, and over the ensuing eleven seasons he went on to play a total of 195 VFL games.  Tough, hard-hitting, and a thumping kick with either foot, he was one of the most reliable half back flankers of his day, although he could also perform serviceably in other positions if required.  A smooth ball handler who played the game in a straight ahead, uncomplicated manner, Bos improved the longer his career went on, and won club best and fairest awards in 1987 and 1988.  His last game was the 1989 grand final in which Geelong went down to Hawthorn by 6 points.  Mark Bos represented Victoria in 1980, 1984, 1985 and 1988.

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Peter Bosustow (Perth & Carlton)

Probably best remembered for his spectacular aerial feats, Peter Bosustow delighted fans in two states for more than a decade. He joined Perth from Victoria Park and made his league debut in 1975. At first he struggled to hold a regular place in a team that was being moulded by Ken Armstrong into arguably the finest in Western Australia since the previous decade. He was not selected in the team which downed East Perth to claim the 1976 premiership, while a year later he started the grand final clash with East Fremantle on the bench. However, once he established himself he became a lynch-pin of the side, topping its goal kicking list twice, and overall impressing sufficiently to earn selection in Perth’s official ‘Team of the Century’. A little too inconsistent to poll heavily in fairest and best counts, his peak form was nevertheless almost unmatchable. For instance, his dazzling 7 goal performance for a losing Demons side in the 1978 grand final against East Perth must have come extremely close to earning him a Simpson Medal.

Bosustow’s Perth career comprised 141 senior games from 1975 to 1980, 1984 to 1985, and in 1987, and saw him kick 357 goals, with a season’s high of 75 in 1980. He represented Western Australia 8 times, booting 17 goals. Between 1981 and 1983 he played 65 games in the VFL with Carlton, where he did well.

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Ron Boucher (Swan Districts)

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Recruited from North Albany, Ron Boucher made his league debut with Swan Districts in 1971.  Extremely powerfully built at 192cm and 102kg, he used his strength to awesome effect, most notably during Swans' halcyon period under John Todd in the early 1980s.  He was one of his team's best in the losing grand final against South Fremantle in 1980, and was a key contributor to premiership wins in 1982-3, despite having to battle for much of the time with persistent niggling injuries.  He was equally effective as a knock ruckman or a strong marking forward, and was selected in a forward pocket in Swan Districts' official 'Team of the Century'.

Ron Boucher played 190 games for Swan Districts between 1971 and 1983, as well as representing Western Australia.  He won the club's fairest and best award in his penultimate season.

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Barry Bourke (Melbourne)

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Barry Bourke was an extraordinarily versatile but sometimes underrated player who commenced his VFL career in 1963, just as Melbourne's decade of dominance was coming to an end.  He did manage to contribute to one premiership, however, lining up at full forward in the Demons' 4 point grand final defeat of Collingwood in 1964.  The previous season, Bourke had finished as Melbourne's leading goalkicker with 48 goals.  For much of the remainder of his eleven season 175 game league career he played either as a defender or an on-baller, and indeed he only added a further 7 goals to his debut season total.  Characteristically efficient and reliable in everything he did, Bourke was a regular member of VFL representative sides, and went to both the 1966 Hobart and 1969 Adelaide carnivals.

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Daryl Bourke (Melbourne & Morningside)

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by Murray Bird and Peter Blucher

An in-and-under centreman who joined Morningside in 1987 after 23 VFL games with Melbourne, Daryl Bourke was a dual Grogan Medalist (1989 and 19993), a triple premiership player (1991-3-4) and triple club best and fairest winner. He played a total of 187 QAFL games despite a 1988 knee reconstruction, and was captain and assistant coach through the club's most successful era.  He played 10 times for Queensland.

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Edward Bourke (Brunswick, Richmond, South Melbourne, Sandringham, Yarraville)

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Best remembered for his Recorder Cup win in 1929 with Sandringham, Ted Bourke was a much travelled footballer who gave fine service to five clubs of league standard during an illustrious career.  A strong and dashing key position defender for much of that career, he had to stand out of football for the entire 1928 season in order to win his clearance from South Melbourne, where he had managed just 6 VFL games in 1927, to Sandringham.  Earlier on, Bourke had played with Brunswick in the Association, and Richmond (32 VFL games from 1924 to 1926).  He also spent time as captain-coach of Yarraville and Wimmera League club Ararat.

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Francis Bourke (Richmond)

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Recruited from Nathalia, Francis Bourke overcame a heart murmur to become one of Richmond's greatest ever players - quite an accolade when you consider the number of out and out champions whose names grace the Punt Road honour board. 

Initially a wingman, Bourke later excelled in defence where his courage, pace, anticipation and refusal to be beaten made him ideally suited.  Known affectionately as 'Saint Francis' Bourke represented Richmond in 302 VFL games and his state on 13 occasions.  He won the Tigers' top award in 1970, and was a member of five Richmond premiership teams.

Following his retirement, Bourke coached Richmond to the 1982 grand final, which was disappointingly lost against arch rivals Carlton.  When the side slumped to 10th place the following year, Bourke's brief VFL coaching career came to a peremptory end, but no coach since has managed to steer the Tigers beyond the preliminary final.

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Peter Bourke (South Ballarat & South Melbourne)

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During the two decades or so prior to the first World War the standard of football played in Ballarat was, at times, the equal of that played anywhere else in Australia, and it is at least arguable that games played by footballers in the Ballarat Football Association should be regarded as having been of league standard.

By whatever yardstick you care to adopt, South Ballarat's Peter Bourke was an accomplished footballer.  He played numerous games for the blue and reds in two separate spells, in between which was sandwiched a two season (1905-6), 17 game stint with South Melbourne in the VFL.  Bourke, who was a member of South Ballarat's 1909 premiership team, was a regular BFA representative player, with arguably his best performance coming in a 41 point loss to a South Australian number 2 combination at Jubilee Oval in 1910, when "the visitors created a good impression and were heartily applauded for their uphill game" (see footnote 1).

Footnotes

1.  A contemporary, but unnamed, press report, quoted in 100 Years On: Centenary Ballarat Football League, page 45.  Return to Main Text

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Robert Bowden (Collingwood, Richmond, St Kilda)

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After managing just one game with Collingwood in 1906, Robert Bowden made a more concerted return to league ranks a couple of years later when he was a regular member of Richmond's inaugural VFL side.  He remained at Punt Road for five years, amassing 83 senior games, before crossing to St Kilda in time to participate in that club's first ever premiership play-off in 1913, which resulted in a loss to Fitzroy.  A talented and extremely consistent wingman, he added a further 66 games to his VFL career tally with the Saints before finally retiring at the end of the 1919 season.

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Len Bowe (Essendon)

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Arguably one of the finest defenders in the pre-World War One VFL, Len Bowe was a consistent tower of strength for Essendon despite hardly ever training.  He arrived at the Same Old in 1907, and was a key factor in the Dons' re-emergence as a league power after several seasons of under-achievement.  When Essendon made the 1908 grand final, Bowe, playing in a back pocket, was his side's best player in a 9 point loss to Carlton.  He later starred on a half back flank as the Dons recorded consecutive grand final wins over Collingwood in 1911 and South Melbourne the following year.  The 1912 season saw him selected to represent the VFL in two interstate matches against South Australia.

Had it not been for Essendon's temporary disbandment for two years during the war, Len Bowe might well have been the club's first player to record 200 VFL games.  It would have been a fitting reward for a player who always played his football with consummate fairness, and who could always be relied on to produce his best form when it mattered most, such as in finals.  As it was, when Bowe was forced to retire owing to an illness known as athlete's heart in 1920 he had amassed a total of 185 senior games, and kicked 4 goals.  One imagines his having been a strong candidate for inclusion in Essendon's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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George Bower (South Melbourne)

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Slick, dashing and talented, George Bower played 75 VFL games for South Melbourne between 1909 and 1914.  In his debut season he was in the centre as South overcame Carlton by 2 points in the challenge final, thereby ending the Blues' hopes of a fourth successive premiership, and giving the southerners their first flag at league level.

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Percy Bowyer (Collingwood)

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Percy Bowyer's VFL career with Collingwood spanned 154 games over more than a decade, during which time he played in almost every position on the field.  He was a member of Magpie premiership teams in 1929 (on a wing), 1930 (in the back pocket), and 1935-6 (as a ruckman).  Exceptionally strong overhead, Bowyer also read the play well, and was an excellent team man.  He retired prematurely in 1938 when he wrongly believed himself to be suffering from a stomach ulcer.

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Peter Box (Footscray and Camberwell)

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Originally from Federal League club Cheltenham, Peter Box had to overcome the horrendous setback of being involved in a serious road accident early in his VFL career before developing into one of the finest centremen of his era.  In 1954, his third league season, he helped Footscray to defeat Melbourne in the grand final to secure its first ever VFL flag.  Two years later he became the club's second Brownlow Medallist (or the third if you include Alan Hopkins' retrospective 1930 Medal), making him the only Bulldogs player to date to procure the 'double' of Brownlow and premiership win.  Perhaps a touch surprisingly, Box did not win Footscray's club champion award in his Medal-winning year - that honour went to Don Ross - but he had managed to lift the award a year earlier.  All told, Box played 107 VFL games for Footscray in seven seasons.

In 1958, aged twenty-six, Box transferred to Camberwell where, in what proved to be his final season, he continued to display fine form, winning the club's best and fairest award, and representing the VFA at the Melbourne centenary carnival.

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Marcus Boyall (Collingwood, Glenelg, Camberwell)

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Marcus Boyall made his VFL debut with Collingwood in 1935 but did not become a regular in the side until two years later.  In 1936 he won the Gardiner Medal for best and fairest in the VFL reserves competition.

Strong overhead, and deceptively dashing for one who appeared so angular and uncoordinated, Boyall made the centre half back position his own in 1937-8, but in 1939 he accepted an offer to join Glenelg, much to the ire of the Magpie committee, which refused to clear him.  Boyall was forced to stand out of football for the whole of the 1939 season, but quickly made up for lost time by performing heroically when finally cleared the following year.  Boyall spent part of the 1940 season as Glenelg captain-coach only to resign mid-season when things were not going well.  With the coaching burden removed he began to play better than ever, and this stellar form continued during a 1941 season which saw him land both a Bays best and fairest award and South Australian football's most prestigious individual honour, the Magarey Medal.

Boyall once again played for Collingwood while stationed in Melbourne on war service in 1944-5, but in the latter year he again courted controversy by crossing to VFA club Camberwell without a clearance.  He gave the Tricolours excellent serviced over the next three seasons, winning a best and fairest award during a 1947 season that saw him replaced as senior coach half way through the year by Harry Collier, and later achieving selection on a half back flank in Camberwell's official 'Team of the Century'.

Marcus Boyall's last season in top level football, 1948, was spent with Glenelg, although as he was actually based at Whyalla he only managed to front up occasionally.   His final tally of league games with the Tigers was 49.  He also played 50 games for Collingwood, and 54 for Camberwell.

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Dave Boyd (Port Adelaide)

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Local product and lifelong Port Adelaide supporter Davey Boyd (he was almost never referred to as 'David' or 'Dave') made his league debut with the Magpies in 1948, after topping the club's seconds goal kicking list with 80 goals from full forward the previous year.  He did not play at full forward in the seniors, however; after spending most of his debut season as a half forward flanker, in 1949 he replaced retiring champion Lew Roberts in the centre and never looked back.

Tireless, beautifully balanced, and a superb stab pass, Boyd went on to play 222 SANFL games for Port in 13 seasons and was never once dropped.  He was also a near automatic choice for South Australia for much of his career, playing at the 1950 Brisbane, 1953 Adelaide and 1956 Perth carnivals.  One of his greatest displays came against the VFL in Perth when he lowered the colours of champion Footscray centreman Peter Box; later that year, Boyd and Box would win their respective competition best and fairest awards.

A member of seven Magpie premiership teams, Boyd was often cited as a primary reason for the team's dominance, and yet somewhat surprisingly never won a club best and fairest award.  Part of the reason for this may have been his tendency to reserve his finest performances for big games - he was almost invariably among the best players afield in grand finals, for instance - but his Magarey Medal win in 1956 suggests that he was also perfectly capable of playing well consistently.

In 2000, Davey Boyd was selected on a half forward flank in Port Adelaide's official 'Greatest Team 1870-2000'.  His sons Greg and Russell later maintained the family tradition by playing premiership football for the Magpies.

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Harold Boyd (West Perth)

One of three Sandover Medal winning half backs to play for West Perth during the 1920s, the ultra assured and reliable Harold Boyd was arguably the pick of the bunch.  He won his medal in 1922, with Jim Gosnell and Jim Craig following suit in 1924 and 1927 respectively.  Boyd spent the first seven seasons after World War One with West Perth, winning the club's fairest and best award in 1923, the same season in which he captain-coached the club.  He also captained the Cardinals in 1924.  Boyd counted both matches at the 1921 Perth carnival, which the home state won, among his 7 appearances for Western Australia.  In 1928, three seasons after retiring as a player, he took over as West Perth senior coach, steering the side to 5th, 3rd and last place finishes in his three seasons in charge.  It was as a player that he established his reputation, however, and he was a worthy inclusion, on a half back flank, in his club's official 'Team of the Century'.

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Robert Boyle (North Melbourne & Carlton)

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Robert Boyle began his senior career with North Melbourne, and was on a half back flank in the side's 7.6 (48) to 3.9 (27) grand final defeat of Richmond.  The following year saw him cross to Carlton, where he crowned an outstanding debut season by appearing in the centre in the grand final clash with Fitzroy, which resulted in a 24 point win to the Maroons.  Boyle entered the 1905 season regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the VFL, and along with wingmen George Bruce and Edward Kennedy he helped give the Blues arguably the most damaging centreline in the competition.  In 1906, however, his form fell away, and, after missing the club's ultimately successful finals campaign, he retired at the end of the season having made just 36 VFL appearances.  The best of those appearances, however, were sufficiently noteworthy for him to be remembered with respect, not least because he arguably established the tactical prototype which was later developed to such outstanding effect by his successor as Carlton centreman, Rod McGregor.

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Craig Braddy (Fitzroy & Sydney)

Craig Braddy was recruited by Fitzroy from Olympic Youth Club, but in two seasons with the Lions he struggled to make an impression, managing just 8 senior appearances and kicking 3 goals. A move to Sydney in 1982 brought instantaneous and marked improvement and he was acknowledged as one of the VFL's leading centre half forwards. Between 1982 and 1985 he played 56 senior games for the Swans, while his overall tally of 83 goals included 48 in 1983 to top the club's list.

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Jim Bradford (Collingwood, Camberwell, North Melbourne, West Torrens)

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Fatuously, but perhaps a tad evocatively, nicknamed either 'Mighty Mouse' or 'Nipper', West Torrens' diminutive goal kicking rover Jim Bradford was a real crowd pleaser over the course of 76 league games between 1950 and 1954.  He booted a total of 197 goals during that time, including a club list-topping 52 (jointly with John Willis) in 1951.  Bradford began his senior career with Collingwood where he managed 7 VFL games and 16 goals in 1943.  Bradford then spent the four year period from 1945 to 1948 with VFA side Camberwell, winning consecutive club best and fairest awards in 1945-6, and starring in the 1946 grand final, in which the 'Wells lost to Sandringham by 7 points.  His VFA career comprised 76 games and saw him kick 169 goals.  In 1949 he added another 9 VFL games, and 8 goals, with North Melbourne, but it is for his stints at Camberwell and West Torrens that he deserves to be best remembered.  "About the goal front he was the quickest ever," opined Jeff Pash.  "When he was in motion every hair lay along the line of his flight."   (See footnote 1)

When Camberwell announced its official 'Team of the Century 1884 to 1994' in 2003, 'Nipper' Bradford was named as first rover.

Footnotes

1.  The Pash Papers by Jeff Pash, page 82.  Return to Main Text

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Craig Bradley (Port Adelaide & Carlton)

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Almost universally acclaimed as one of the bona fide greats of the modern game, Craig Bradley might well have been lost to football had he enjoyed greater success at his first sporting love, cricket.  Indeed, Bradley will probably be looked back on as one of the last Australian sportsmen to enjoy simultaneous pre-eminence, or near pre-eminence, in the country's favoured summer and winter pastimes.

Once it was clear that he would not quite achieve his ambition of playing cricket internationally, Bradley chose to devote more and more of his time, commitment and energy to football.  In 98 SANFL games for Port Adelaide he proved that he was a player of the top echelon, but it was in his seventeen seasons at Carlton, where he accumulated a club record 375 games, that Bradley really stamped himself as one of the all time greats.  Quick, both in mind and body, sublimely skilled, and always impeccably fair, there have been few better role models for youngsters aspiring to succeed in sport than Craig Bradley.

A star in Port Adelaide's grand final defeat of Glenelg in his debut season of 1981, Bradley would go on to play in another six premiership deciders, one with Port, and five with the Blues.  When Carlton went top in 1987 and 1995, Bradley's contribution was considerable.   Equally significantly, when the Blues underwent a re-building exercise early in the twenty-first century, Bradley, as club skipper, played a crucial role in helping maintain equilibrium, as well as providing a constantly reassuring sight to supporters of longer standing.

Six times a club best and fairest award recipient, Bradley's failure to land a competition best and fairest remains more than a trifle surprising.  However, he emphasised his brilliance in numerous other ways, most notably with his habit of producing his very best football when it mattered most (he won no fewer than four Fos Williams Medals, for example).  

Bradley's aggregate of 501 senior games at the top level is likely to remain unchallenged for some time, while it is hard to imagine the powers-that-be allowing his record of 15 South Australian state of origin appearances (held jointly with John Platten) ever to be overhauled.  (Bradley also played 4 interstate matches for South Australia which were not classified as state of origin affairs.)

Craig Bradley was included in both Carlton's official 'Team of the 20th Century', and Port Adelaide's official 'Greatest Team 1870 to 2000'.

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Robert Bradley (Essendon)

Recruited from Moonee Ponds YCW Robert Bradley made the first of an eventual 62 senior VFL appearances in 1947. Used mainly as a wingman, it was in that position that he lined up in the losing grand finals of 1947 against Carlton and 1948 when the Bombers went down in a replay to Melbourne. He earned premiership honours with the Dons in 1949 when they overcame the grand final challenge of Carlton by a hefty 73 point margin. A shoulder injury sustained during the 1950 season brought a premature curtain down on his league career as well as robbing him of the opportunity of playing in successive premiership-winning sides.

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Phil Bradmore (North Shore, Footscray, West Perth)

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Footscray recruited Phil Bradmore from North Shore, and he made his senior VFL debut in 1978.  However, he struggled to make an impression, managing just 15 games in three seasons.  In 1981 he transferred to West Perth and, after blowing hot and cold in his first season, seemed to find a new lease of life, stamping himself as one of the most imposing key position players in the league.  His form underwent a dip in 1983 and 1984 but in 1985 he produced probably the best and most consistent season in his career, winning the Breckler Medal as West Perth's fairest and best player, and representing Western Australia against South Australia at Subiaco.  When he retired in 1988 he had played a total of 139 senior games for the Falcons.

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John Brady (North Melbourne)

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One of the finest key position players of his time in the VFL, John Brady was also without doubt one of the most talented footballers to represent the North Melbourne Football Club since the war. He began his football with Shepparton and also played briefly for Benalla in the Benalla-Mulwala Football League before joining North. Superb overhead, Brady particularly excelled in the difficult centre half forward position.  He was a great team man, and extremely adept at bringing smaller team mates into the game.  Although he scored comparatively few goals himself, he contributed legibly to many.  Best and fairest at North in 1954, he also captained the side during his last three seasons at the club.  Between 1952 and 1959 he played a total of 118 VFL games, kicking 45 goals.  He donned the Big V jumper in 1954, 1957 and 1959.  Once his VFL career was over Brady spent a season playing for Ararat before returning to Shepparton as captain-coach of City United, whom he led to a premiership in 1962.

Considering he was such a dominant and eye-catching performer in what was a more or less completely inauspicious era for his club it is perhaps a touch surprising that John Brady failed to gain selection in North's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Terry Brain (South Melbourne)

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Flimsily built but courageous to a tee, rover Terry Brain was already a stalwart of the South Melbourne league side when the 'foreign legion' phase of that club's history got underway in 1933.  Recruited locally, he began with South in 1928, and went on to play a total of 141 games and kick 198 goals for the club over the course of the ensuing ten seasons.  Brain was first rover when the Blood-Stained Angels went top in 1933 with a grand final win over Richmond, and the following season saw him named as the club's best and fairest player.  He was a member of South's losing grand final teams of 1934 against Richmond and 1935 against Collingwood.

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Jack Brake (University & Melbourne)

Jack Brake joined University in 1909, the club's second season in the VFL, and went on to become one of its most consistent performers over several years. A fine ruckman, he had played 81 games and kicked 2l goals for the Students by the time he crossed to Melbourne in 1915. Brake embarked on military service soon after that, and later took part in the famous AIF match at Queen's Park in London. In 1920 he resumed his VFL career with Melbourne, and continued until the following season, by which time he had played 17 VFL games for the club, and kicked a couple of goals. During his time with University he represented the VFL against South Australia in 1912.

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Ron Branton (Richmond)

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Originally from Maryborough, Ron Branton spent the early part of his Richmond career playing as a rover, before developing into one of the finest back pocket players in the game.  As a back pocket he represented the VFL and won his club's best and fairest award in 1960-61-2, the same years that he captained the Tigers.  He played a total of 171 VFL games, kicking 173 goals, between 1953 and 1962.  Branton later played for both Myrtleford in the Ovens and Murray Football League, and King Valley United in the Ovens and King Football League.

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Harold Bray (Prahran & St Kilda)

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Harold Bray was one of the most talented centremen of his era.  After playing his early football with Prahran he joined St Kilda in 1941, and went on to play 156 VFL games for the Saints before retiring twelve seasons later.  Boasting tremendous pace, especially over that vital first five metres or so, Bray's superb ball handling skills allied with tenacity, excellent kicking skills and strength overhead made him close to the complete football package.  He won his club's best and fairest award twice, and finished in the top three places in the Brownlow voting three times.  Bray represented the VFL on half a dozen occasions.

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Jeff Bray (West Adelaide & South Melbourne)

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Although nowhere near as immensely gifted as the likes of Lindsay Head or John Halbert, Jeff 'Buckets' Bray was a highly talented footballer whose value to his club was immense.  Barrel-chested and resolute, he seldom lowered his colours in individual contests, and was renowned for his talkative on field presence which helped make him the consummate team player (see footnote 1).  Strong overhead, and always hard at the ball, he enjoyed a particularly stellar year in 1963 when he participated in South Australia's historic win over the VFL at the MCG, and, in addition to landing his second Westies club best and fairest award, picked up both the ADS7 Footballer of the Year Award and the Advertiser Trophy to boot.  Two years earlier, Bray had been at centre half back as West Adelaide defeated Norwood to win its first SANFL premiership in fourteen years.

Between 1964 and 1966 Jeff Bray played for South Melbourne, but persistent injuries restricted him to just 34 VFL games, and when he returned home to West Adelaide in 1967 he was nothing like the same player.  He finally retired from SANFL football in 1970 after a total of 196 games, having commenced in 1956 as a seventeen year old.  Bray sadly died of a heart condition in 2006, aged sixty-eight.

Footnotes

1.  Bob Skilton, for instance, according to 'Footy Week', 29/5/65, had a very high opinion of Bray's team-orientated mind-set.  Return to Main Text

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Richard Bray (Port Adelaide)

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Something of a latter-day Byron Pickett, combining explosive pace and extravagant skills with a sometimes misplaced fondness for the physical side of the game, Port Adelaide's Richie Bray probably failed to achieve as much as he might have done in football.  In 1959 and between 1962 and 1966 he played a total of 77 SANFL games for the Magpies, kicking 65 goals.  He played on a wing when Port beat West Adelaide by 3 points in the 1962 grand final, was on a half forward flank in the following year's defeat of North Adelaide, and started on the bench in the 1965 grand final when Sturt was edged out. 

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Barry Breen (St Kilda, Balmain, North Shore)

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Idolised and indeed immortalised among St Kilda fans for his feat in kicking the winning behind in the 1966 VFL grand final against Collingwood, Barry Breen would be worthy of a prominent place in the club's annals even were it not for that unique accomplishment.  A product of Mentone Juniors, he was a highly effective and damaging centre half forward for much of his career, and later an equally successful defender, Breen was the quintessential clubman - honest, hard-working, and utterly loyal.  He played 301 VFL games for the Saints between 1965 and 1982, kicking 307 goals.  He topped St Kilda's goal kicking list with 35 goals in 1970.  A VFL interstate representative, Barry Breen had the honour of captaining the Saints in 1979.  In 1983 he was appointed playing coach of Balmain and was successful in steering the Tigers to their first SFL grand final since 1916.  However, they lost to East Sydney.  Crossing to North Shore as captain-coach in 1984 he managed to get his side to three successive grand finals, but only the second of these, against Campbelltown in 1985, produced a premiership.

After his playing career was over, Breen served as General Manager of the Sydney Swans.  He is a member of both St Kilda's and Balmain's official 'Teams of the Twentieth Century'.

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Greg Brehaut (Perth & Woodville)

 

Greg Brehaut was a strong, graceful, physically tough left-footed wingman who was a driving force in Perth's great teams of the mid- to late 1960s.  His 16 interstate appearances for Western Australia included games at the 1966, 1969 and 1972 carnivals, and he achieved All Australian selection at Adelaide in 1969.  Brehaut was a member of Perth premiership teams in 1966, 1967 and 1968 and, between 1965 and 1973 and in 1975, played a total of 157 games for the club.  He spent the 1974 season as captain-coach of Woodville  but was prevented by injury from producing his best form, and the Woodpeckers finished a disappointing 9th.  At his peak, however, Greg Brehaut was one of the best and most effective wingmen in Australia, and his selection in Perth's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century' was both predictable and warranted.  After retiring as a player, he coached Wanneroo to four successive premierships.

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Danny Brennan (Sandgate & Southport)

by Murray Bird and Peter Blucher 

Danny Brennan was a skilful wingman/back pocket who debuted as a 17-year-old in 1967 and played 300 games at Sandgate through the club's golden era of the 1970s, sharing in four premierships in 1970-1-4-9.  He played five times for Queensland, and later coached Sandgate and Southport, posting a record 100 point grand final winning margin with the Sharks over Mt Gravatt in 1997.

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Reginald Brentnall (South Fremantle & East Perth)

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A tough, hard-hitting defender with a touch of class, 'Nashy' Brentnall was arguably the most noteworthy of several prize recruits secured by South Fremantle in 1914 who would collectively help propel the club to its most successful era up to that point.  The red and whites contested premiership deciders in 1914-15-16, winning the last two, and Brentnall was a key player for them in all three seasons.  In 1918, however, he transferred to East Perth, where he would enjoy an even more auspicious time, contributing to no fewer than half a dozen premiership triumphs in ten seasons.  He was also an important player for Western Australia in interstate games, playing at centre half back in both of the state's matches at the 1921 Perth carnival, from which it emerged victorious.  He retired after the winning challenge final of 1927 against his former club South Fremantle having played a total of 161 games for the Royals as well as 6 state matches for Western Australia.  In June 2006, Brentnall was selected on a half back flank in East Perth's official 'Team of the Century 1906 to 1944'.

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Leigh Brenton (East Fremantle & Swan Districts)

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Leigh Brenton was a talented and pacy wingman or half forward who gave good service to two league clubs, albeit that he endured more than his share of misfortune with injury.  He commenced his senior WANFL career with East Fremantle in 1976, having been recruited from Brentwood, and when he transferred to Swan Districts early in the 1983 season he had played a total of 85 games and kicked 17 goals for the club.  His last couple of seasons with Old Easts had been disappointing, but the moved to Bassendean sparked an impressive, if brief, revival, highlighted by participation in Swans' 1983 grand final win over Claremont, and selection in the West Australian state team that scored a nail-biting and controversial 1 point win over South Australia in Adelaide.  Shortly after the state match, however, he was badly injured in training, and missed the remainder of the 1984 season, which culminated in Swans going top once more.  Brenton resumed in 1985, but injuries again impeded him, and the following year he did not play at all.  In 1987, after 38 games and 14 goals for Swans, he resumed with East Fremantle where he rounded off his career by adding 3 final games to his tally.

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Dermott Brereton (Hawthorn, Sydney, Collingwood)

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There have been better all round footballers than Dermott Brereton, but few who have possessed both his flamboyance and his big game temperament.  Both traits were evident from the moment he made his Hawthorn debut in the VFL 1st semi final of 1982: Brereton booted 5 goals that day in a near best afield performance that helped the Hawks overcome North Melbourne, and over the years it would be his performances in finals that would do most to etch his name among the all time greats of the code.

Much of Dermott Brereton's best football was played while he was suffering from injuries that other players would have found grossly incapacitating.  He played for a couple of years with a cracked ankle bone, for instance, while his heroic performance in the 1989 grand final - won by Hawthorn over Geelong - came after he had been pole-axed by Mark Yeates at the opening bounce.

Popularly known as 'The Kid', Brereton's body eventually sustained more in the way of pummelling than even he could take.  After missing the whole of the 1993 season with a serious hip injury Brereton crossed to Sydney in 1994, but neither there (7 games) nor at Collingwood (15 games in 1995) was he able to recapture his former brilliance, although the support he gave to the younger brigade while with the Magpies was invaluable.

Between 1982 and 1992 Dermott Brereton played 189 senior games for Hawthorn, winning a best and fairest award in 1985.  He was a member of premiership teams in 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1991, and represented Victoria in state of origin matches 9 times, gaining All Australian selection once.  Few if any players today come close to matching either the ferocity with which he attacked the football, or the level of dedication which he conferred on the Hawthorn cause.

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Harry Brereton (Melbourne & South Melbourne)

Harry Brereton was one of the VFL's foremost key position forwards of the immediate pre- and post-world war one periods. Most of his career was spent with Melbourne, for whom he played 85 senior games and kicked 187 goals between 1909 and 1912 and in 1915. His tally of 56 goals in 1912 was good enough to head the league list. Many of his goals were scored using the place kick, of which he was an acknowledged master. After the war Brereton resumed his league football career at South Melbourne playing an additional 17 games and kicking 52 goals. In addition to being the VFL's leading goalkicker in 1912 Breton topped Melbourne's list on three occasions.

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Frank Brew (South Melbourne)

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Frank Brew was a speedy, elusive and highly rated wingman who joined South Melbourne in 1947 from East Brunswick.  He went on to play a total of 87 VFL games - unlucky for some - and kick 28 goals for the club between 1947 and 1953.  He was also a fine cricketer.

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Ray Brew (Carlton)

Ray Brew was an exceptional all round footballer who was a frequent victim of illness and injury, and whose achievements were therefore nowhere near commensurate with his ability.  He commenced with Carlton in 1923, and although he continued with the club for nine seasons, he only managed a total of 113 senior games in that time (an average of 12.5 per year).  Brew was appointed captain of the Blues in 1925, and took on the coaching role as well the following year.  He missed the whole of the 1927 season with illness, before resuming for one final season as captain-coach in 1928.  His retirement part of the way through the 1931 season was prompted by his inability to shake off a number of persistent injuries.

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Ian Brewer (Collingwood, Claremont, Norwood)

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Key position forward Ian Brewer had the rare distinction of enjoying top level success in the three main football states.  At Collingwood he impressed as a full forward, kicking 164 goals in 84 VFL games between 1956 and 1961, topping the league list with 73 goals in 1958.  He topped the Magpies' goal kicking ladder twice, and was at full forward in the 1958 when the Woods upset firm flag favourites Melbourne by 3 goals.  Earlier that season, on the Queen's Birthday holiday, he had produced arguably his most memorable performance for Collingwood in booting 6 of the side's 10 goals in an 11 point loss to Melbourne in front of an all time record VFL home and away crowd of 99,346.

In 1962 he crossed to St Kilda, but proved unable to break into the senior side.  As a result, he seems to have decided that a change of scenery might suit him, and travelled to Western Australia.  He spent the next couple of seasons with Claremont where, playing mainly as a centre half forward, he booted 55 goals to top the club's list in 1963, and was a member of its sensational 'rags to riches' premiership team the following year.  (Click here for a detailed, goal by goal review of that season's grand final.)

The next stop was the SANFL where Brewer lined up with Norwood.  In 1965 he was the competition's outstanding forward, missing the elusive ton by just 4 goals.  He also topped Norwood's list with 76 goals the following year.  After three years spent captain-coaching Wangaratta Rovers in the Ovens and Murray Football League he made a somewhat faltering return with the Redlegs in 1970, when his 3 appearances for the season gave him a career total of 171 league games comprised of 84 with Collingwood, 43 with Claremont, and 44 for Norwood.

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Ross Brewer (Melbourne, Collingwood, Richmond, Sandringham)

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Seventeen years younger than his brother Ian, Ross Brewer was an equally accomplished footballer who shared the same strong marking ability and beautiful kicking style.  Recruited from Bentleigh-McKinnon Youth Centre, he made his VFL debut with Melbourne in 1972, and went on to give the club seven years of commendable service which yielded 121 games and 196 goals.  In 1973, 1974 and 1977 he was the Demons' top goal kicker.  From 1979 to 1981 Brewer added 47 VFL games and 85 goals with Collingwood, before crossing to Richmond where he managed just half a dozen games and 6 goals over two seasons.  He rounded off his senior career at Sandringham in 1984 where his 94 goals for the year was good enough to head the club's goal kicking list.

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Gary Brice (Port Melbourne & South Melbourne)

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Strongly built, robust and extremely skilful, Gary Brice was in some ways the archetypal VFL footballer of his era.  He actually began his senior career with Port Melbourne in the VFA in 1967, but the 1970 season saw him at South Melbourne where he went on to play 171 games and kick 101 goals in ten seasons.  Most of those games were played as a wingman, but he was also a fine half forward or half back flanker.  In 1980 he returned to the Borough as captain-coach and in his first three seasons in charge had the satisfaction of steering the side to grand final wins over Coburg by 11 points, and Preston by 113 and 7 points.   Brice retired after the 1982 grand final having played 104 VFA games.  He was non-playing coach of the Borough in 1983 and again in 1985.  In August 2003 he was selected as coach of Port Melbourne's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Charles 'Ernie' Bridgeman (West Torrens)

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An accomplished follower renowned for his aerial strength, Ernie Bridgeman was one of the most noteworthy West Torrens footballers of the 1930s.  Close to best afield when the blue and golds downed Norwood in the 1933 grand final, he continued to give fine service throughout the remainder of the decade.  All told, he played a total of 172 league games and kicked 105 goals between 1929 and 1939, won Torrens' best and fairest award in 1935, and captained the club the following year.  Bridgeman represented South Australia 16 times, kicking 6 goals.

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Arnold Briedis (North Melbourne)

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North Melbourne recruited Arnold Briedis locally from Paramount, and he gave the club fine service in 162 VFL games between 1972 and 1983.  His value to the 'Roos was never better exemplified than in the winning grand finals of 1975 and 1977, in both of which he booted 5 goals and was among the best players afield.  Excellent overhead, he was a constant thorn in the side of opposition backmen, booting 279 goals for North during his career, a surprisingly high proportion of them in finals.  He was North Melbourne's top goal kicker in 1980 with 53 goals.

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Clarrie Briggs (East Fremantle)

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Had his career not been interrupted by the war Clarrie Briggs might conceivably have been only the second East Fremantle footballer, after George Doig, to play in excess of 200 league games for the club.  As it was he gave magnificent service from 1937 to 1941 and between 1945 and 1947 in a total of 152 matches.  At the end of his debut season he was chosen at half forward right in Old Easts' grand final team against Claremont and helped his team to a 14.13 (97) to 13.9 (87) triumph.  After the war he enjoyed further premiership success in 1945, when East Fremantle downed arch rivals South Fremantle in the grand final, and 1946 when an 11.13 (79) to 10.13 (73) defeat of West Perth climaxed an unbeaten season.  Versatility was very much Clarrie Briggs's watchword as he could do a highly dependable job in almost any position.

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Terry Bright (Geelong West & Geelong)

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Terry Bright commenced his senior career in the VFA with Geelong West, and was a member of that club's 1975 1st division premiership side.  He crossed to Geelong the following year, and was a great player for the Cats in 219 VFL games over the ensuing dozen seasons.  A highly effective, goal kicking forward, he booted 331 career goals, and topped Geelong's list on three occasions.  When required, Bright could do a more than mean job across half back, where his strong marking and keen anticipation came to the fore.  He represented Victoria 3 times.

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Cornelius Britt (Collingwood)

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Invariably known as 'Con', Cornelius Britt joined Collingwood from Golden Point in the Ballarat Football League, and made his VFL debut in 1966.  Much of his best football was played on a half forward flank, but he could also perform serviceably either across centre or on the ball.  Always hard at the ball and extremely tenacious, his overall approach typified the Collingwood style.  Britt was at half forward left when the Magpies lost the 1970 VFL grand final to Carlton by 10 points (match reviewed here).  When he retired in 1973, still aged only twenty-six, he had played a total of 110 senior games and kicked 72 goals.  

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Bill Brittingham (Essendon)

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Having worked his way through the ranks at Essendon, Bill Brittingham made his senior VFL debut in 1943, and after a slow start developed into an excellent key position player.  Prior to the arrival of John Coleman he was the Dons' full forward, topping the league goal kicking list in 1946 with 66 goals, and Essendon's the following year with 48.  However, in 1948 his woeful inaccuracy in the grand final against Melbourne was blamed for his side's failure to win the match despite managing 34 scoring shots to 19.  The game ended as a draw, and Melbourne won the following week's replay comfortably.

After Coleman's arrival the following season, Brittingham was converted into a solidly effective full back, in which position he was a key member of the Dons' 1949 and 1950 premiership winning teams.  In 1950, he was chosen as full back in the prestigious team of the year selected annually by the writers of 'Sporting Life' magazine.  He was runner-up in Essendon's best and fairest award the same year.

Bill Brittingham retired at the end of the 1952 season after a ten season, 171 game league career.  He later spent four years as an Essendon committee member.

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Tom Broadbent (Sandgate & Fitzroy)

by Murray Bird and Peter Blucher 

Tom Broadbent was a mercurial Sandgate full forward who was a member of the club's 1956 premiership side before following Ken Grimley to Fitzroy, where he played one VFL game in 1957. He was the QAFL leading goal kicker in 1953 (72 goals) and 1960 (86), and represented Queensland in 1953-4-5-6, captaining his State as a twenty year old in an era that included Grimley, Verdon, McGuinness and McGill. He once kicked nine goals against New South Wales.

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Wayne Broadbridge (Port Adelaide)

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He was no football stylist, but Port Adelaide's left-footed utility Wayne Broadbridge was as tough, hard working and determined as they come.  He was also acknowledged as one of the fittest players at the club.  Originally from Port Augusta, his tally of 117 SANFL games between 1966 and 1973 included the losing grand finals of 1967 and 1968 against Sturt and 1971 against North Adelaide.  Of medium height and build at 183cm and 75.5kg, Broadbridge probably played his best football as a ruck-rover, but early in his career in particular he was also a damaging half forward flanker. 

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Jack Broadstock (West Adelaide, Richmond, West Torrens, Boulder City)

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Audaciously talented, and well ahead of his time in terms of tactical acumen and nouse, Jack Broadstock almost certainly failed to achieve anything like as much as he ought to have done in the game he loved.  Part of this failure was attributable to the war, which coincided with the peak years of his career, but Broadstock's temperament also played a part.  In 1947, for example, "West (Adelaide) was the first SA team to develop handball as an attacking weapon - and Broadstock was the king-pin" (see footnote 1), but a needless altercation with Port Adelaide ruckman Bob McLean in the preliminary final led to his missing the club's first grand final victory in twenty years.  Accused of hacking by boundary umpire Aplin, he was found guilty by the Tribunal, and handed a 3 match suspension 

Broadstock actually had three separate stints with West, playing a total of 65 games over seven seasons, the first of which was in 1938, and the last, as captain-coach, in 1950.  From 1943 to 1946 he played for Richmond, and was centreman in the club's 1943 grand final defeat of Essendon.  Although he only played 33 VFL games for the Tigers, he did enough to persuade Jack Dyer that he "was the most talented footballer I have ever seen" (see footnote 2).

Many others shared this vaunted opinion of Broadstock's prowess, including Jeff Pash, who during his first year as a football journalist, and Broadstock's last as a league player, wrote of him that:

Jack Broadstock can be taken as a very good example of a player who moves with perfect balance.  He is so well poised that changes in his movements are effected with lightning rapidity.  He can change direction, kick, or handball equally quickly.  Knowing to the full the value of sudden immobility, he is the present expert in the art of throwing opponents off balance.  (See footnote 3)

In 1948, Broadstock spent the early part of the season with West Torrens, before accepting the position of captain-coach of GNFL club Boulder City, whom he promptly steered to a premiership.  The 1949 season saw him once more at West Torrens, and he was a major driving force behind the side reaching that season's grand final.  In the preliminary final defeat of Norwood he produced a truly virtuoso display that made it seem he was playing football on a different level to everybody else, but a pulled thigh muscle badly hampered his performance in the grand final and Torrens went under to North Adelaide.

The following year saw Broadstock heading back to West Adelaide for one last season in the 'big time'.

The peripatetic nature of much of his career, coupled with the inimical impact of war in terms of the number of games he managed to play overall, have led to Jack Broadstock being accorded a somewhat less prominent place in football's unofficial 'hall of fame' than he perhaps deserves.  He was one of those inordinately rare individuals who possessed the ability to turn a match on its head almost single-handedly - something Jack Dyer saw him do for South Australia against the Vics on one occasion, for example.  He also played a significant, if largely uncredited role, in pushing South Australian football down an avenue later explored more thoroughly, and with greater ostensible success, by the likes of Jack Oatey; an avenue in which constant, fluent movement of the ball, by hand as much as by foot, was pivotal.

Perhaps future generations will accord him greater credence and approbation, but you would have to be very brave indeed to bet on it.

Footnotes

1.  West's 1947 premiership skipper Johnny Taylor, quoted in Blood, Sweat and Tears by Merv Agars, page 17.  Return to Main Text

2.  Captain Blood by Jack Dyer, page 92.  Return to Main Text

3.  From an article in 'The News' dated 20/9/50, and reproduced in part in The Pash Papers by Jeff Pash, page 83.  Return to Main Text

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Mel Brock (Glenelg)

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Glenelg's Mel Brock "never entertained the thought of winning a Magarey Medal, not in my wildest dreams" (see footnote 1), but win a Medal he did, testimony to his consistency, determination and raw talent.  A Glenelg man to the core, he made his league debut with the Bays in 1932, enjoyed the ultimate thrill when he participated in an unforgettable against-the-odds premiership in 1934, and went on to play a total of 166 games, including 3 with the West Adelaide-Glenelg wartime combine.  He was Glenelg's best and fairest player on two occasions, and won the most consistent player award 4 times.  His career highlight, however, came in 1940 when, with 19 votes, he scored a runaway Magarey Medal triumph, 5 votes clear of runner-up Max Murdy of South Adelaide.

As well as being consistent, Mel Brock was highly versatile.  Much of his early football was played in the backlines, but later he excelled as both a follower and a rover.  He retained his passion for football for the rest of his life and was a regular spectator at Glenelg matches, both home and away.

Footnotes

1.  SA Greats: The History Of The Magarey Medal by John Wood, page 137.  Return to Main Text

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Patrick Broderick (West Torrens)

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Tough, dogged and gutsy, West Torrens' Patrick Broderick played the demanding ruck shepherd role during the 1920s with great verve and consummate fairness.  He could also perform effectively in the backlines, and was a master at collecting what these days would be referred to as the 'hard ball'.  A highly popular figure at Torrens, he won the club's best and fairest award in 1928, and was captain and joint coach (with Phil Read) the following year.  When the blue and golds broke through for their first ever premiership by beating Sturt in the 1924 challenge final (reviewed here), Broderick was one of the best players on view, particularly during the first half when the going was at its most strenuous.  Patrick Broderick played a total of 122 senior games for West Torrens, and was selected to represent South Australia twice.

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Keith Bromage (Collingwood & Fitzroy)

When he made his league debut with Collingwood in 1953 aged just fifteen years and two hundred and ninety-seven days Keith Bromage became the youngest VFL footballer ever.  However, despite obviously boasting considerable ability he failed to build on his promising start, and managed just 28 games and 29 goals in four seasons with the Magpies.  In 1958 he commenced a second stint in league football, this time with Fitzroy, but although he was marginally more effective and consistent than he had been during his time with Collingwood, the ultimate assessment on his VFL career would have to be 'could have done better'.  Bromage spent four seasons with Fitzroy during which he played 41 games and booted 48 goals. 

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Bob Brooker (North Melbourne)

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Originally from Mentone, Bob Brooker was an eminently useful performer for North Melbourne, mainly as a ruckman, in 107 VFL games between 1949 and 1956.  He booted 41 goals.  Second ruckman and one of his side's best players in the losing grand final of 1950 against Essendon, he went on to win a club best and fairest award in 1955, and was the 'Roos' skipper in his final season, only to suffer the disappointment of seeing his side manage just 3 wins from 18 games to claim the wooden spoon.  He was a VFL interstate representative in 1951.

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Hector Brooks (North Hobart, City-Launceston, New Town)

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A contemporary of Cananore legend Horrie Gorringe, North Hobart's Hector Brooks was a similarly intuitive, clever and accomplished rover who won his club's most consistent player award on seven consecutive occasions during the 1920s.  He was often at his best in representative matches, and his combination with Gorringe in intrastate fixtures made the TFL well nigh invincible.  He also performed creditably for Tasmania at both the 1924 Hobart and 1927 Melbourne carnivals.  In 1928, Brooks journeyed north to play for Launceston-based club City under the coaching of Roy Cazaly.  City went on to win that year's local and state premierships.  Returning to Hobart in 1929, Brooks rounded off his senior football career with a couple of seasons at New Town.

In August 2000, Hector Brooks was included in the official North Hobart 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Wilfred 'Bill' Brophy (Subiaco)

'Bill' Brophy was a great servant of the Subiaco Football Club in three different capacities. As a player he was acknowledged as one of the most polished and assured defenders going ‘round. He played 154 league games for the Maroons between 1922 and 1933, among them the triumphant challenge final of 1924 against East Fremantle. Brophy made his interstate debut for Western Australia in a home match against South Australia in 1925 and went on to make a total of 5 appearances for his state including a couple at the 1927 Melbourne carnival. Other highlights of his playing career included a fairest and best award in 1925, and the club captaincy in 1931-2.

After his retirement as a player ‘Bill’ Brophy had three separate stints as a Subiaco committee man as well as serving as coach of the club’s wartime under age team from 1942 to 1944.

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Gerald Brosnan (Fitzroy & University)

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It took three attempts for Gerald Brosnan to break into league ranks, but once he did he developed into one of the most highly regarded key position forwards of his era.  

After Geelong and Essendon both rejected him, Brosnan transferred to Ballarat to play.  His form there was so good that, in 1900, he was signed up by Fitzroy.

A deadly left foot kick for goal, Brosnan was acknowledged during his 10 season, 131 game VFL career as among the most damaging centre half forwards ever to play the game.  He was also a good on-field leader, and captained the Maroons from 1903 to 1905.

After his retirement as a player, Gerald Brosnan coached University in 1911-12 and 1914.

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Charles Brown (Balmain & Collingwood)

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Not overly tall at just 178cm, but possessing a powerful leap and great anticipation, Collingwood's Charles Brown was one of the great defensive marks going 'round in the VFL during the late and immediate post-World War One period.  Originally from Balmain, he starred for Collingwood, mainly as a half back, in 107 VFL games from 1916 to 1923, including the grand finals of 1917 (won), 1918 (lost), and 1920 (lost).   In addition to his leaping prowess he was extremely powerful, and hard to beat one on one.

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Clinton Brown (Subiaco)

Dual premiership player Clinton Brown began his league career with Subiaco as a forward, and indeed he topped the club’s goal kicking list in both 1983 (with 59 goals) and 1984 (54). However, it was as a hard running, close checking defender that he eventually found his true niche. Between 1980 and 1990 Brown, who hailed originally from Scarborough, played a total of 204 senior games for Subi, plus 2 for his state. He was in a back pocket when the Lions overcame East Fremantle by 69 points in the 1986 grand final, and at centre half back for their next premiership triumph, achieved at the expense of Claremont two seasons later.

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Clive Brown (Geelong)

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Speedy and hard working rather than abundantly talented, Clive Brown was a solid performer in league football for half a dozen seasons, during which he played a total of 72 VFL games, mostly as a wingman, and kicked 4 goals.  He arrived at Geelong from Eaglehawk, and made his league debut against Fitzroy at Brunswick Street in round 5 of the 1955 season.  There was nothing fancy about his play which was centred around the single principle of being first to the ball and then kicking it as far as possible into the Cats' forward lines.

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Colin Brown (West Adelaide)

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Colin Brown spent the beginning and end of his West Adelaide career playing in the back pocket, while during the intervening time he established a reputation as one of the premier rovers in South Australia.  He earned state selection and won club best and fairest awards in both positions.  Brown made his senior debut in 1946, and the following year was in the back pocket as West overcame Norwood by 5 goals in the SANFL grand final.  His move to roving came shortly after the club's leading rover Fos Williams was cleared to Port Adelaide in 1950.  For much of the next decade, Brown combined with Jim Wright to give Westies arguably the best roving ensemble in South Australia.  Quick, cool and precise, Brown was a ball player par excellence - when a donnybrook erupted at half time of the 1954 grand final against Port Adelaide, Brown was the only one of the thirty-six players on the field not to get involved.

Between 1946 and 1959, Colin Brown played 227 games for West Adelaide, winning best and fairest awards in 1948, 1953 and 1954.  He represented South Australia 10 times.

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Douglas Brown (Fitzroy & Geelong)

Doug Brown was an excellent rover who might well have accomplished a good deal more than he did had he been available to play more often during the war years, when he was at his peak. He was originally attached to Geelong, but when he made his senior VFL debut in 1943 it was with Fitzroy, where he had moved temporarily because the Cats were in abeyance owing to wartime travelling restrictions that year.

In 1944, after 13 games and 21 goals for the Roys, he returned home to Geelong where he had added another 70 games and 108 goals by the time he retired in 1950.

Brown was a tough, resilient type as well as a genuinely two-sided player. He picked up plenty of possessions while on the ball, and was usually good for a couple of goals while resting in a forward pocket.

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Gavin Brown (Collingwood)

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One of Collingwood's favourite sons of recent years, Gavin Brown played 254 V/AFL games and kicked 195 goals for the club from 1987 to 2000.  The consummate team player, much of his best work was so surreptitious as to go virtually unnoticed, but it was obvious to those in the know that he was Collingwood through and through.  A key member of the Magpies' 1990 premiership side, Brown won three Copeland trophies, made the AFL All Australian team in 1991 and 1994, and was an inspirational captain of the Woods from 1994 to 1998.  Tenacious, wholehearted, and ultra-determined, his form could feasibly be viewed as an index to how Collingwood as a team was performing.  He was also a distinguished Victorian state of origin representative, most notably when he captained his side to an heroic 8 point win over an extremely highly rated South Australian combination in Adelaide in 1997.

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Gregory Brown (Essendon & Waverley)

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Originally from Essendon Grammar School, Greg Brown worked his way through the ranks at Essendon before making his senior league debut, as a twenty year old, in 1963.  He soon showed that he had all the hallmarks of a top quality defender in that he was strong overhead, a superb kick, and stuck to his opponent like a limpet.  Most of his best football was played as a full back, but he could also perform well on a half back flank, and was even used as a highly effective negating centreman on occasion.  Brown was at full back when the Bombers beat St Kilda in the 1965 grand final, and although his direct opponent Verdun Howell managed to kick 3 goals on him, overall he did well.  Runner-up in Essendon's best and fairest award in 1967, Brown's form the following year was adversely affected by injury, and in 1968, his last season at the club, he spent the majority of his time in the reserves.  His form at reserves level was exceptional, and he finished runner-up in the 1969 Gardiner Medal, besides winning his club's reserves best and fairest award.  At the end of the year, after 83 VFL games and 4 goals, he crossed to VFA club Waverley, where he played from 1970 until 1972 before retiring.  He later became a football commentator on both radio and television.

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Keith Brown (South Adelaide)

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Although not blessed with an abundance of pace, South Adelaide centreman Keith Brown was a highly effective player because of his potent combination of strength, aerial prowess, and supreme, if somewhat untutored, football intelligence.  He played precisely 100 league games for South Adelaide from 1937 to 1940, and between 1945 and 1947, winning the Knuckey Cup for club best and fairest in 1946.

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Malcolm Brown (East Perth, Richmond, Claremont, South Fremantle, Perth)

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After a football career laced with more than its share of controversy it is all too easy to lose sight of the fact that Malcolm Brown was actually both a highly talented footballer and a tremendously astute coach.  Powerful overhead and a prodigious punt kick, he excelled at reading the play, and relished being in the thick of the action.

Brown's league career commenced with East Perth in 1964 and he was first chosen to represent his state two years later at the Hobart carnival.  Along with regular trips to the Tribunal he won a Sandover Medal in 1969, and the following year, aged just twenty-three, he became the Royals' captain-coach, steering his team to a drought-breaking premiership just two seasons later.  The fact that that 'drought' had involved no fewer than seven losing grand finals over the previous twelve years gives some indication of the significance of Brown's impact on the team.  That same year his leadership qualities were further recognised when he was chosen as captain of the All Australian team after the Perth carnival.  The other side of Brown's character was starkly and memorably revealed at the end of the season during a championship of Australia semi final against Carlton in Adelaide when, for a time, 'Mad Mal' seemed intent on single-handedly turning each and every one of his illustrious opponents into mince meat.

Two years later, Brown enjoyed an entire season - minus the odd appointment at the Tribunal, of course - of this kind of activity when he joined Richmond.  After one such Tribunal visit he incurred a suspension that, tragically for Brown, took in the Tigers' winning grand final against North Melbourne.

Back in the west in 1975 he took over as coach of Claremont where, a season later, he was personally responsible for the unilateral, if completely unlawful, implementation of the interchange rule, sending a previously replaced player back into the fray after his team was reduced to seventeen fit men.  Brown's 'inventiveness' eventually cost him his job, but he returned to football the following year as coach of South Fremantle, where he proved himself an excellent coach, steering the Bulldogs to the 1980 flag.

Mal Brown later took over as coach of a struggling Perth side, but his efforts to resurrect the Demons' fortunes were stymied by the degradations wrought on the WAFL competition by the inception of the West Coast Eagles.  Back at South Fremantle for one season in 1992 he managed to steer the Bulldogs to that year's grand final, but a 24 point loss to 'derby' rivals East Fremantle spoiled what until then had been a fairytale return.

Football has perhaps had more accomplished and skilful performers than Malcolm Brown, but few as colourful or entertaining.  His selection at centre half forward in East Perth's official 'Team of the Century 1945 to 2005' was hugely justified, and will have surprised no-one.

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Martin Brown (South Melbourne)

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Martin Brown was a footballer of above average ability who was particularly renowned for his aerial prowess.  He joined South Melbourne in 1921 and gave the club solid service in 73 VFL games, during which he kicked 38 goals, between then and 1928 (although he missed the whole of the 1925 season).  His best football was played on a half forward flank, in which position he represented the VFL at the 1927 Melbourne carnival.

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Norm Brown (Fitzroy, Port Melbourne, Moorabbin)

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Ruckman Norm Brown joined Fitzroy from North Heidelberg and was almost a lone shining light at times in some dire Lions combinations during the 1960s and early 1970s.  He played a total of 181 VFL games between 1962 and 1973, kicking 77 goals.  He also represented the VFL.  By no means pretty to watch, he was a paragon of strength, courage and almost fanatical devotion to his team.  His three successive club best and fairest awards between 1965 and 1967 were extremely popularly received.  In 1974 he was appointed captain-coach of Port Melbourne and had the immediate satisfaction of leading his charges to a 22.20 (152) to 11.17 (83) 1st Division grand final defeat of Oakleigh.  Brown led the Borough to further premierships in 1976 and 1977, although he did not play in the 1977 grand final.  He played a total of 57 VFA games for Port, retiring at the end of the 1977 season.  He carried on as non-playing coach for one more year, but his team failed to annex a third successive flag, eventually finishing 3rd.

When Moorabbin re-entered the VFA after a two decade gap in 1983, Norm Brown was the reincarnated club's first coach.  He only stayed in the post for one year, steering the side to 8th place (of 12) in 2nd division with a 7-11 record.

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Paul Brown (Geelong)

Originally from Echuca, Brown was a talented and adaptable footballer whose highly promising career was ultimately derailed by injury. He commenced with Geelong in 1992 when he played mainly as a forward but he later produced some of his best football in defence. He was a member of the Cats' losing grand final teams against West Coast in 1994 and Carlton the following year, performing particularly impressively in the latter match. However, early in the 1996 season he suffered a ruptured patella tendon and managed just 1 more senior grade match a couple of years later. His final tally of league games with Geelong was 84, and he booted 66 goals.

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Rod Brown (Swan Districts, Woodville, Subiaco)

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After playing state football for Western Australia as a schoolboy, Rod Brown entered league ranks in 1972 with Swan Districts.  A solid, hard working type who spoiled well, and liked to back his judgement, he spent most of his twelve season top level career as a defender, but could also be used on the forward lines to good effect when required.  Early in the 1978 season, after 86 games for Swans, he crossed to South Australia for a brief, 8 game stint with Woodville.  The 1979 season saw him back in the west, this time at Subiaco, where he produced the most consistent football of his career, adding a final 101 league games over half a dozen seasons.  

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Ron Brown (East Perth)

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Ron Brown made a solid contribution to the East Perth cause in 114 WANFL games between 1950 and 1956.  The last of those games was the 1956 grand final, in which he gave good value from right centre wing as the Royals overcame the challenge of South Fremantle by 13 points.  Although never selected to represent Western Australia in a full scale interstate match Brown did play a couple of games for Western Australian 'B' teams against visiting club sides.

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Roy Brown (West Torrens & Glenelg)

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Best remembered for being captain of West Torrens' inaugural premiership team in 1924, Roy Brown was an accomplished centreman who was particularly admired for his general adeptness at ground level, and for his superb distribution by both hand and foot.  In addition to captaining the blue and golds, he shared the coaching for a time with team mate Johnny Karney, and between them the pair encouraged a fast and flexible style of play in which the flick pass featured prominently.  Following the banning of the flick pass in 1925, Torrens underwent a gradual decline as a league power.

Roy Brown joined West Torrens in 1921 and, over the ensuing seven seasons, went on to play between 104 and 106 league games (sources vary) for the club.  He won a best and fairest award in 1923, and was appointed captain the same year, a position he retained until he left the club for Glenelg at the end of the 1927 season.  After Torrens refused him a clearance, Brown was forced to serve the Seasiders as non-playing coach in 1928, but he resumed his playing career briefly in 1929, adding a final 9 games to his overall tally.  Brown left Glenelg at the end of the 1929 season, but he returned to the club as non-playing coach in 1938.  In both 1928 and 1929 the black and golds had finished 7th, but in his second two season stint as coach the club finished dead set last twice.

It is as a player, however, that Roy Brown deserves to be best remembered.  Intelligent, wily and creative, he was a regular choice for South Australia during the early 1920s, with his 7 interstate appearances including games at the 1924 Hobart carnival, when he was the team's captain.

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William Brown (Richmond, Dandenong, North Shore)

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Exhilaratingly pacy, ultra courageous, and chock-full of trademark 'eat 'em alive' bellicosity that belied his diminutive stature, Billy Brown was a tremendous favourite among Richmond supporters throughout his nine season, 129 game VFL career, which commenced in 1963.  Recruited from VAFA side State Savings Bank, he made his league debut as a wingman, but it was as a rover that he made his name.  Playing as second rover to Kevin Bartlett, he was one of the best players afield in the classic 1967 grand final against Geelong, which the Tigers won by 9 points.  Brown also roved in the 1969 premiership team.

After leaving Richmond Brown played 26 VFA games and kicked 61 goals for Dandenong, 54 of them in the 1972 season.  He then played with North Shore between 1976 and 1978 as well as in 1982, coaching the side to a flag in his last year.

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Morton Browne (Hawthorn)

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Like one of his team mates in Hawthorn's 1961 premiership team, John Winneke, Morton Browne joined the Hawks from University Blacks, and pursued a legal career off the field.  He made his senior debut in 1960, and had played a total of 80 VFL games and kicked 107 goals by the time he retired in 1967.  He missed the entire 1963 season because of his studies.  In the aforementioned 1961 premiership team, Browne lined up on a half forward flank and contributed 3 goals to the Hawks' 13.16 (94) to 7.9 (51) defeat of Footscray.  Fairly lightly built at 182cm and 78kg, Browne was a polished and pacy performer who was hard to contain when playing at his best.  A member of the VFL's 1966 Hobart carnival squad, he was just as much at home across half back or in the centre as he was on a half forward flank.  His father, also called Morton Browne, played seconds football for Essendon in the late 1920s and early '30s and 1 senior VFL game for Footscray in 1931.

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Barry Browning (Ainslie)

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After an outstanding career as a junior, Canberra-born Barry Browning made his senior debut with Ainslie, aged just 16, in 1952.  Two years later he made the first of 15 representative appearances for Canberra.

An elusive and highly skilled centreman, Browning was also good in the air, and if his kicking style appeared a trifle unkempt, his passes almost invariably hit their target.  In 1955, still aged just 19, he became one of the youngest ever winners of the Mulrooney Medal, and was described in the Canberra League Annual Report as a "fine sportsman and a great credit to Canberra football - unfailing sportsmanship and clever play has earned him the admiration of all fine football lovers" (see footnote 1).

VFL talent scouts were quick to take note of Browning's prowess, and in 1956 he was invited to train with Geelong.  However, he elected to remain with Ainslie, where he continued to excel, winning the Mulrooney Medal for the second consecutive year.  His superb form continued in both 1957 and 1958 when he won back to back club champion awards, besides being a prominent member of the Tricolours' 1958 premiership winning team.  Browning enjoyed premiership success with Ainslie again in 1959 and 1961, and went on to play a total of 177 club games before a severe facial injury in 1964 forced his retirement.

Footnotes

1. Quoted in The National Game in the National Capital: 60 Years of Achievement by Barbara Marshall, page 92.  Return to Main Text

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Clinton Browning (East Fremantle & West Coast)

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An accomplished aerialist, Clinton Browning began his league career with East Fremantle as a forward, but later played many fine games in key defensive roles.  He was also eminently capable of performing effectively on a wing or in the centre.  Recruited from Mingenew, he made his WAFL debut in 1981, and by the time he retired in 1993 had played a total of 223 senior games, including 4 in the VFL for West Coast in 1989.  He won the Lynn Medal for the club's fairest and best player in 1984, and enjoyed another stellar year in 1985, making the first of an eventual 3 interstate appearances for Western Australia, and starring at full forward in the grand final as the Sharks overcame Subiaco by 5 points.  Browning booted 6 goals in that game to be a popular choice as East Fremantle's best player; the Simpson Medal, however, went to the Lions' Brian Taylor.  When the Sharks next went top in 1992, Clinton Browning was at full back in the 24 point defeat of arch-nemesis South Fremantle, and just as seven years earlier was one of the best players on view.

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Mark Browning (South Melbourne/Sydney & Hobart)

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Originally from Beverly Hills, Mark Browning was recruited by South Melbourne, and made his VFL debut in 1975.  He was a tremendously versatile performer who gave the Swans great service in 251 games over thirteen seasons, winning a club best and fairest award in 1983.  Browning was a regular Victorian representative who always gave good value because of his ability to play equally well in a variety of positions.  He was the Swans' captain for part of the 1984 season and the whole of 1985.  In 1988 he joined Hobart as captain-coach, winning the club's best and fairest award in his first season.  Two years later he led the side to a 19.16 (130) to 10.12 (72) grand final defeat of North Launceston.  His great all round contribution to the Hobart Football Club was later recognised with his inclusion in its official 'Greatest Team 1947 to 2002'.

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Roger Browning (New Norfolk)

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The oldest of three brothers to represent New Norfolk during the 1950s and 1960s, Roger Browning's career was cut short by injury, but for a brief time he was without doubt one of the finest players in the Apple Isle.  Winner of the Leitch Medal in 1961 and 1962, Browning was voted his club's best and fairest player in all four of his full seasons in the game.  He played a total of 79 club games, and also represented both the TANFL and Tasmania.

Roger Browning was selected in a back pocket in New Norfolk's official 'Best Ever team 1947 to 2001'.

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Robert 'Rupe' Brownlees (Geelong)

The older of two talented footballing brothers who both played for Geelong, 'Rupe' Brownlees was a powerful, team-oriented player who was equally effective as a follower or across half back. His career was severely curtailed by the Great War, but he still managed in excess of I00 league games - 101 to be precise - in 1908-9, from 1911 to 1915, and in 1919.

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Thomas 'Tobler' Brownlees (Geelong)

Tom 'Tobler' Brownlees was the younger brother of 'Rupe' Brownlees, whom he joined at Geelong in 1913. Smaller and faster than his brother, and arguably more flexible, he made 113 senior VFL appearances for the Pivotonians between 1913 and 1915, and from 1917 to 1922. He kicked a total of 108 goals. In 1921, he earned interstate selection for the VFL at the Perth carnival.

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Bill Brownless (Geelong)

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Billy Brownless was an excellent key position forward for Geelong in 198 V/AFL games from 1986 to 1997.  His aggregate of 441 goals during that time included club list topping tallies of 81 in 1991 and 79 the following year.  A spectacular if sometimes inconsistent aerialist, Brownless was one of the best and most prodigious kicks of his era.  He was selected in the 1991 AFL All Australian team, and represented Victoria on half a dozen occasions.

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George Bruce (West Adelaide & Carlton)

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George Bruce made his debut for West Adelaide in 1899 and went on to play 43 matches for the club over the next four years.  In 1903 he transferred to Carlton, where he immediately impressed with his immense pace, determination, elusiveness and intelligence.  Bruce's arrival coincided with the onset of a halcyon era for the Blues, and the livewire wingman was one of the key contributors to that success, being listed high among the best players in each of the side's three successive grand final wins from 1906 to 1908.  Quite why Carlton chose to ignore players from this era, such as Bruce, when it named its official 'Team of the Twentieth Century', remains something of a mystery.

The 1908 season saw the inaugural interstate championship series in Melbourne, and Bruce was named on a wing for the VFL's match with South Australia.  However, an injury sustained in that match forced him out of the team for the decisive clash of the carnival against West Australia.  

During the final couple of years of his illustrious 11 season, 181 game VFL career George Bruce acted as Carlton's secretary.  

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Ken Bryan (Perth)

 

Something of an unsung hero at Perth during the 1950s, Ken Bryan played a total of 154 senior games for the club between 1951 and 1958.  Easily the highlight of that time was his appearance on a wing in the 2 point grand final win over East Fremantle in 1955 (match reviewed here).  Bryan's football was unspectacular but almost invariably efficient and assured.

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Ian Bryant (Footscray)

For Footsc ray , the 1960s was a decade that opened with considerable promise, but ultimately produced only failure and disappointment. Throughout it all, one reliably constant feature was the form of Ian Bryant, a local product who made a total of 162 senior appearances for the club between 1960 and 1969.  He was on a wing when the Bulldogs lost the 1961 VFL grand final to HawthornHe also played half a dozen interstate matches for the VFL, earning All Australian selection after helping the Big V to victory at the 1966 Hobart carnival.

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Edward Bryce (Essendon)

A livewire wingman, and later a forward and change rover, who scouted the packs superbly, Edward Bryce joined Essendon from South Melbourne Districts and gave good service in I06 VFL games between 1935 and 1942, kicking a total of 125 goals. Hyperactive, of solid build, and extremely determined, he incurred an 18 match suspension in 1936 for kicking, but he bounced back to play the best football of his career, highlighted by interstate representation in 1938.  Two seasons later he booted 48 goals for the year to top the Dons' list. He was a member of Essendon's losing grand final team against Melbourne, and kicked a couple of goals as a rover changing in the forward pocket.  He won the Dons' best utility player trophy in 1938, and the best clubman award two years later.

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David Bryden (Footscray)

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Dave Bryden was a formidable on-field presence who excelled in the role of follower resting in defence, which was where he lined up in Footscray's victorious grand final team of 1954.  Originally from Wonthaggi, he played a total of 147 VFL games for the Bulldogs between 1947 and 1955, and kicked 56 goals.  He was a VFL representative player in 1951.

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Gary Buckenara (Subiaco, Hawthorn, Sydney)

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Gary Buckenara commenced his senior league career at Subiaco, where he played 61 games from 1979 to 1981, mainly in losing teams.  Things were very different at Hawthorn, where he moved in 1982, and among Buckenara's 154 V/AFL games (for 293 goals) in nine seasons were appearances in the winning grand finals of 1983, 1986, 1988 and 1989.  Strong overhead, and a magnificent kick, he was a big game player par excellence, well remembered in particular for his feat in kicking a long winning goal after the siren in the 1987 preliminary final against Melbourne.  A regular state of origin representative for Western Australia, Buckenara was selected in three All Australian sides.

In 1992, Gary Buckenara was appointed coach of Sydney but, with the Swans rooted to the bottom of the ladder early the next season, he was replaced by Ron Barassi.  He spent the 1995 and 1996 seasons as coach of his original club, Subiaco.

When Hawthorn announced its official 'Team of the Century' in 2003, Gary Buckenara was included on a half forward flank.

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Jim Buckley (Carlton)

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Formidably tough and cocksure, Jim Buckley was one of the pre-eminent centremen/on-ballers in the VFL for fifteen seasons.  Originally from Kyneton, he made his senior league debut with Carlton in 1976 while still at school, and three years later was one of the best players afield as the Blues overcame Collingwood by 5 points in the VFL grand final.  Buckley later played in Carlton's 1981 and 1982 premiership teams as well, and won the club's 1982 best and fairest award.  When he retired in 1990 he had played a total of 164 V/AFL games and kicked 146 goals as well as representing Victoria on numerous occasions.

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Nathan Buckley (Southern Districts, Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Collingwood)

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Few footballers have enjoyed a higher profile in recent times than Nathan Buckley. The former Collingwood champion commenced his senior football with Southern Districts in the NTFL, enjoyed a stellar season in the SANFL with Port Adelaide in 1992, and was the AFL's outstanding rookie in 1993 while playing for Brisbane, but it is with the Victorian Magpies, where he amassed 260 AFL games in fourteen seasons, that his name will forever be synonymous.

Buckley hailed from a football family in that his father, Ray, had played in the SANFL with Woodville during the late 1950s and early '70s. His single season of dominance in the SANFL during which he claimed both the Magarey Medal and his club's best and fairest award, besides being best afield in a premiership team, gave notice that he was an exceptional talent, and the remainder of his career only served to embellish and extend his reputation.  Besides sharing the 2003 Brownlow Medal with Adelaide’s Mark Ricciuto and Adam Goodes of Sydney, Buckley claimed a Norm Smith Medal in a losing grand final team in 2001, won the Copeland Trophy as Collingwood’s best and fairest player half a dozen times (including once jointly), and made the AFL All Australian team in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2003. 

The keys to Buckley's success were immense power allied to fine all round skills and an exemplary football brain. His ball handling ability was first rate, as was his kicking with both feet. He also boasted the true champion's trait of always appearing to have plenty of time in which to undertake even the most complicated of maneuvers. An inspirational on-field leader, Buckley skippered the Magpies from 1999 until his retirement at the conclusion of the 2007 season. He was included on a half back flank in Collingwood's official 'Team of the Century'.

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Donald Budarick (West Adelaide)

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Recruited by West Adelaide in 1937, Don Budarick made his league debut the same year and immediately stamped himself as a defender of considerable class.  Sadly, his five season, 74 game senior career was brought to an end by the war, but he nevertheless managed to win a club best and fairest award in 1940, and to represent the state on 2 occasions.

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Tony Buhagiar (East Fremantle, Essendon, Footscray)

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Despite his diminutive stature - TV commentator Lou Richards famously dubbed him 'the little budgie' - Tony Buhagiar was worth the equivalent of his weight in gold to three league clubs during his career.  He began with East Fremantle, earning the nod for best afield from many pundits in that club's 1979 grand final win over arch rival South Fremantle, and finishing runner-up to Brian Peake in the following season's Lynn Medal voting.  He also represented Western Australia in interstate and state of origin matches and earned All Australian selection after the 1979 Perth carnival before moving to Essendon in the VFL in 1981.  In four seasons and 83 games with the Bombers Buhagiar became a firm fan favourite for his pluck, determination, skill and never-say-die attitude.  His feat in kicking 135 goals during those four seasons highlights another key aspect of his play, namely the immense danger he posed to opposition sides when resting up forward.

The final phase of Tony Buhagiar's VFL career came with 25 games and 36 goals for Footscray in 1985. The 1986 season saw him back home with East Fremantle and he rounded off his playing days by bringing his final tally of games with that club to 138 by the end of the 1986 season.

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Ned Bull (East Perth)

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Physically diminutive, but big on courage and resolve, Ned Bull was an East Perth stalwart throughout a decade that yielded both mediocrity and outstanding achievement.  Virtually all of his football was played in the backlines, with the highlights being his participation, on a half back flank, in the winning grand finals of 1956 against South Fremantle and 1958 against East Fremantle.  His excellent performance in the latter game earned him the Simpson Medal.  Ned Bull played a total of 132 senior games for the Royals between 1952 and 1961, kicking 3 goals.  

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Horrie Bullen (Hawthorn & Carlton)

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Of quite hefty build at 185cm and 91kg, Horrie Bullen failed to establish himself during his first stab at league football with Hawthorn in 1926.  After managing just 2 senior games for the year he quit the VFL scene to join Doncaster, where he spent the next five seasons.  Carlton eventually spotted his potential, and enticed him back to the big time in 1932, when he was aged twenty-six; at the end of that year he played as a ruckman and kicked a couple of goals in the Blues' losing grand final team against Richmond.  A sturdy, reliable, efficient performer, he went on to give solid service in 59 VFL games between 1932 and 1934 and in 1936-7.  He booted 38 goals.  Most commonly used as a follower, he could also hold down a key defensive position.

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Haydn Bunton junior (North Adelaide, Norwood, Launceston, Swan Districts, Subiaco, South Adelaide, Sturt)

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Following in the footsteps of a famous father is never easy, even at the best of times, but Haydn Bunton junior, son of the player whom some regard as the most audaciously gifted of all time, had more obstacles to overcome than most.  As a boy he had suffered from Perthe's disease, and had spent six years trapped within leg-irons or a frame before making use of crutches in order gradually to re-acquire the ability to walk.  By the time he was fifteen he was not only playing high school football with and against boys who were, on average, two or three years older than he was, he had also made some telling adaptations to his style of play in order to compensate for his perhaps understandable lack of leg speed.  Chief among these adaptations was his uncanny proficiency at handball, which in terms of its accuracy and the speed with which it could be implemented was ahead of its time.  Quick to note its effectiveness, Bunton would later, when coaching, accord intelligent use of handball pride of place among his arsenal of attacking weaponry.  He was also one of the first coaches in Australia to discourage and eventually ban completely the use of the erratic and unreliable drop kick by his players.

Bunton commenced his league career as a seventeen year old with North Adelaide in 1954 and two years later was one of South Australia's best players at the interstate carnival in Perth, earning All Australian selection and the plaudits of team mates and opponents alike.  At the end of the season he finished first in North's best and fairest voting, but was controversially stripped of the honour when he asked for a clearance to Norwood - a club which, ironically, he had loathed as a Port Adelaide-loving youngster.  Although still aged only nineteen, Bunton already had coaching aspirations, and aware of this the Redlegs had offered him the job of senior coach for 1957.

Bunton coached Norwood for two years, the first in a strictly non-playing capacity after North refused to clear him, and in 1958 he steered the side to a losing grand final against Port Adelaide.  In 1959 he moved to Tasmania as coach of Launceston, but after suffering horrendous injuries in a car accident prior to the start of the season it was feared he might never walk again.  However, the same determination that had helped him shrug off the effects of Perthe's disease returned to the fore again, and Bunton not only walked once more, he returned to the football field.  In that season's final series he picked himself at centre against City-South and managed over 30 disposals, all but 4 of them handpasses.

After spending the 1960 season back with Norwood, Bunton embraced the greatest challenge of his career to date by accepting an offer to coach WANFL club Swan Districts, which at that point in time had yet to win a senior flag.  Bunton's achievement in lifting Swans from last place in 1960 to an odds-defying grand final defeat of East Perth in 1961 seems, if anything, even more miraculous in hindsight than it probably did at the time.  Further premierships followed in 1962 and 1963, and Haydn Bunton's reputation as a master coach was born.  Perhaps even more miraculously, the man who just three and a half years earlier had been groaning semi-conscious in a crushed vehicle, with shattered ribs, mangled kneecap, and profuse internal bleeding, was in 1962 awarded the Sandover Medal as Western Australia's pre-eminent footballer.

The 1965 season saw Bunton back at Norwood where, although he failed to achieve success in premiership terms, he played a major part in establishing the youth policy that would prove to be the foundation of the club's eventual return to greatness in the 1970s.  It was a similar story at Bunton's next port of call, Subiaco, where he remained from 1968 to 1972, the last two years of which saw him coaching from the sidelines.  In 1973, with Bunton's replacement Ross Smith at the helm, the Lions broke through for their first flag in almost half a century, but few people were in any doubt that it was the man affectionately dubbed 'the little master' who was in actual fact the prime architect of the victory.

Haydn Bunton's coaching reputation was further enhanced by stints at South Adelaide (from 1975 to 1982) and back again at Subiaco, where he masterminded premierships in 1986 and 1988.  Only at Sturt, where he failed to lift the club off the bottom in 1993 and '94, could he be said to have under-achieved.  In many ways the antithesis of his flamboyant, some would even say egotistical father, Haydn Bunton junior was like him in one respect: his contribution to the game he loved was significant, unique and enduring.

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Haydn Bunton senior (Fitzroy, Subiaco, Port Adelaide, North Adelaide)

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In the opinion of many Haydn Bunton senior was, quite simply, the finest Australian footballer ever.  It is therefore extremely ironic that he was born in Albury, New South Wales, a state where rugby has traditionally been the king of winter sports.

Bunton's outstanding performances in the Ovens and Murray Football League, where he played initially for Albury and later West Albury, attracted the attention of all twelve VFL clubs but it was Fitzroy which ultimately secured his signature.  However, he was then forced to sit on the sidelines throughout the 1930 season while claims that the Maroons had been guilty of offering him illegal financial inducements were investigated (and ultimately proved).  (During this time, he was allegedly approached by two VFA clubs, Oakleigh and Yarraville, who wanted to secure his services on a temporary basis; Bunton, however, declined.) 

Playing mainly as a rover, Bunton was a stunning success from the start, winning Brownlows in each of his first two league seasons.  Averaging close to 30 kicks a game he was possessed of all the offensive skills in the book and his extraordinary fluidity and grace of movement made him a delight to watch.  Bunton won a further Brownlow Medal in 1935 before moving to Subiaco three years later.  Once again he was adjudged the fairest and best player in the competition in each of his first two seasons, and again in 1941.  World War Two curtailed Bunton's career, preventing what might have been still greater success, although he did return briefly to Fitzroy in 1942, taking his final tally of senior games with that club to 119.  His four season stint in the west netted him 72 league games.

After playing briefly with Port Adelaide (16 games) in 1945, Bunton spent a season as a field umpire before assuming the coaching reins, on a non-playing basis, at North Adelaide in 1947.  Bunton spent two seasons with North, but was unable to steer his charges into the finals.

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Tony Burgan (Sturt)

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One of only two South Australians to achieve All Australian selection after the 1972 Perth carnival, Tony Burgan had overcome a slow start to his league career, during which he had had difficulty breaking into the all powerful Sturt line-up, to become one of the finest, and most adaptable players, in the SANFL.  Quick, resourceful and highly skilled, Burgan was equally at home across half back, centre and half forward, or as an on baller.  He made his Sturt debut in 1967, the second year of the club's halcyon 'five flags in a row' era, but did not play in a premiership team until the following season (as 19th man) when the Blues comfortably overcame Port Adelaide.  In the 1969 grand final annihilation of Glenelg, Burgan began in a back pocket, and later had stints on the ball, while in 1970, again against the Bays, he was at half forward right.

All told, Tony Burgan played a total of 248 SANFL games for the Blues, plus 8 for the state.  He was selected on a wing in Sturt's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Fred Burge (Richmond)

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Fred Burge was a nippy and skilful rover who was particularly dangerous near goal.  He joined Richmond from Castlemaine and gave the Tigers good service in 118 VFL games between 1942 and 1950.  During that time he kicked 105 goals, with 55 of them - enough to top the club's list - coming in the 1945 season.  Burge was a member of Richmond's losing grand final team against Fitzroy in 1944.

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Reg Burgess (Essendon)

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A superb all round footballer - pacy, assured, highly skilled and tough - Reg Burgess was beyond question one of the finest centreline players of his day.  Hailing from Apsley, for whom he won a Kowree-Naracoorte Football League best and fairest award in 1952 (a premiership year for the club), Burgess joined Essendon in 1954 and made his mark immediately.  A regular VFL representative, he achieved All Australian selection after the 1958 Melbourne carnival.  He won Essendon's best and fairest player award in 1957 and 1960, and was runner-up in 1956.  After 124 VFL games for the Dons he moved to Casterton as captain-coach in 1961 and was successful in guiding the club to three consecutive flags.  He finished his playing career in 1964-5 with his home town club of Apsley.

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Gerard Burke (Carlton)

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A tremendously versatile performer, especially effective at either full forward or full back, Gerard Burke played a total of 87 VFL games for Carlton, kicking 116 goals, between 1953 and 1955, and 1957 and 1960.  He was the Blues top goal kicker in 1957 with 37 goals.  After retiring as a player he eked out a noteworthy career for himself as a football commentator on radio.

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Nathan Burke (St Kilda)

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As St Kilda's games played record holder with 323 appearances between 1987 and 2003, it goes without saying that Nathan Burke was the epitome of consistency and durability.  He was also a supremely gutsy and talented footballer who was an inspiration to team mates with his attitude and demeanour.  A triple club best and fairest winner, Burke's status as one of the game's premier on-ballers was emphasised with his selection in no fewer than four AFL All Australian teams.  He was St Kilda's co-captain along with Stewart Loewe from 1996 to 1998 and skippered the side in his own right in 1999 and 2000.  In 2002 he was selected in a forward pocket in the Saints' official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Gar Burkett (West Adelaide & West Broken Hill)

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Clever, quick and abundantly talented, Gar Burkett had a somewhat spasmodic career at the top level but it was nevertheless enough to stamp him in most observers' minds as a rare talent.  A centreman in most of his 92 games with West Adelaide and West Adelaide-Glenelg, Burkett was close to best afield in the winning grand final team of 1947, while his 4 interstate appearances for South Australia included games at the 1947 Hobart carnival.  His league career began with West Adelaide-Glenelg during the final year of wartime competition, 1944, and ended, after several highly successful intervening stints with West Broken Hill, plus two West Adelaide best and fairest awards, eleven seasons later.  During the Broken Hill phases of his career, Burkett played interstate football for New South Wales.  His nephew John Burkett later also enjoyed a successful career with Westies.

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John Burkett (West Adelaide)

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Half forward flank specialist John Burkett gave West Adelaide a decade of consistent service and if he was perhaps not quite in the top echelon as a player he was nevertheless capable of bursts of real brilliance. He commenced with Westies in 1964, and between that season and 1973 played a total of 146 senior games, and kicked 139 goals. Burkett was the nephew of former West great Gar Burkett.

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Greg Burns (St Kilda)

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North Ballarat product Greg Burns was a reliable and highly effective player for St Kilda for more than a decade. Tough, hard at the ball, and relentlessly determined, he won a club best and fairest award in 1986, and played a total of 169 VFL games between 1978 and 1989. He booted 114 goals. Burns could do an effective job in a number of positions but was best known as a centreman.

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John Burns (East Launceston, East Perth, North Melbourne, Geelong)

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Centreman John Burns enjoyed an auspicious league career in three states.  He began with NTFA side East Launceston where he enjoyed a particularly successful 1969 season, earning Tasmanian interstate selection at the Adelaide carnival, and winning both his club's best and fairest award and the Hec Smith Memorial Medal for best and fairest in the Association.  Between 1970 and 1973 Burns played 71 WANFL games for East Perth, including the winning 1972 grand final against Claremont, in which he starred in the centre.  He also represented Western Australia twice.  Midway through the 1973 season he joined North Melbourne where he was a prominent performer in three successive grand finals - the win against Hawthorn in 1975, sandwiched in between losses to Richmond in 1974 and Hawthorn in 1976.  A conspicuously skilled and polished footballer, Burns played 95 VFL games and kicked 68 goals for the Kangaroos from 1973 to 1976 and in 1978.  He finished his league career at Geelong, where he added 17 games and 10 goals in 1979 and 1980.

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Peter Burns (South Melbourne & Geelong)

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Recruited by South Melbourne from Ballarat Imperials in 1885, Peter Burns went on to enjoy virtually unrivalled popularity in the Victorian game until his retirement as a player eighteen years later.  His combination of a neo-Herculean physique, immense courage, fervent athleticism, and irreproachable on field behaviour perfectly encapsulated the 'ideal of manhood' which was in vogue at the time.

On the field of play, Burns was an instant success, helping South to a premiership in his first season with the club, and to further flags in 1888-89-90. Burns was equally effective whether positioned at full back, or in the ruck, in which latter case he was perfectly capable of remaining on the ball all day.

The 1892 season saw Burns crossing to Geelong and he went on to give the Pivotonians excellent service for another ten years.  He captained Geelong in 1896 and 1900, and also captained Victoria's intercolonial team.  In 1902, at the age of thirty-six, he was compelled to retire after sustaining a serious leg injury, but he maintained his involvement in football until 1941 by acting as Geelong's official timekeeper.

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Robert Burns (Subiaco)

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Robbie Burns was a speedy, blond-haired left footer from Cunderdin who made a big impression during his debut season with Subiaco in 1963.  A firm favourite among Subi supporters, he made 71 league appearances for the club between 1963 and 1967, after which, with plenty of good football still left in him, he departed to take on the role of captain-coach amateur club Collegians.  Undoubtedly one of the liveliest players of his era, he was considered by some unfortunate never to achieve state selection.

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Ronnie Burns (St Marys, West Perth, Geelong, Adelaide)

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Following Gary Ablett's retirement at the end of the 1996 season, Territorian Ronnie Burns was ready and waiting in the wings to assume the mantle of 'Geelong Excitement Machine'.  Having ventured such an opinion, however, it must at once be admitted that the styles of the two players, whilst having some similarities, are ultimately very different.  Moreover, Ronnie Burns, who finished his AFL career with two largely disappointing seasons at Adelaide in 2003-4, only intermittently managed to match the exploits and never the consistency of the man referred to by the Kardinia Park faithful simply as 'God'.

Perhaps it is unfair to make such comparisons any way, for if a certain Mr. Ablett is left entirely out of the equation then Ronnie Burns emerges, in his own right, as a highly talented, if frustratingly spasmodic, performer.  Possessed of lightning pace, sharp reflexes, and a Peter Daicos-like ability to find the goals from the most seemingly impossible of angles and situations, a spectacular video could readily be compiled of the highlights of his career so far.  Sadly, the considerable number of comparatively inconsequential games he played would prevent him from being regarded as an out and out champion, but for sheer skill and the potential to create havoc and excitement he has had few recent equals in the modern game. 

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William Burns (Geelong, Richmond, West Perth, East Fremantle)

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Originally from South Bendigo, William Burns had a first stab at VFL football in 1904 with Geelong, but he managed just a couple of games before returning home.  Four years later he resumed his league career when he appeared on a half back flank for Richmond in that club's first ever VFL fixture at home to Melbourne.   In 1909 his career appeared to be over when he was suspended for life for kicking an opponent, but this does not appear to have prevented him from playing 3 games for West Perth in 1910.  In 1912, following an appeal, the VFL officially rescinded the ban and he resumed with the Tigers.  Hardy, tenacious and quick, he spent the 1914 season with East Fremantle, and was on a half forward flank in the winning grand final against local rivals South Fremantle.  He also represented Western Australia at the 1914 Sydney carnival where he played in all 5 matches and booted 4 goals.  Burns returned to Richmond in 1916, taking his final tally of VFL games with the club to 52.  From 1917 to 1923 he was a key member of a powerful East Fremantle combination that won the 1918 premiership and then played off in four of the next five grand finals, only to lose them all.  Popularly known as 'Poet', Burns was a wingman for most of this time, and ended up playing a total of 107 WAFL games (all but 3 for Old Easts).

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Chris Burton (Footscray, Richmond, Williamstown)

'Pommie' Burton (he was born in England ) was an effective and capable footballer with three dubs. Footsc ray picked him up from Sunshine Heights and handed him his senior VFL debut in 1980. Quick, canny and assured, he played most of his 67 games with the Bulldogs as a wingman.  In 1985 Burton crossed to Richmond where he added another 50 VFL games in four seasons. Many of his best performances came in a back pocket where his pace allied to smooth ball handling and excellent anticipation served him well. After leaving the Tigers Burton rounded off his career with prominent VFA club Williamstown.

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Sydney Burton (North Adelaide)

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A formidable all round footballer, Syd Burton could play as a follower or in any key position with equal effectiveness.  He took his league bows with North Adelaide in 1930, and at the end of the season, playing at centre half forward, was close to best afield in a stirring 4 point challenge final victory over Port Adelaide.  In the following season's premiership decider - the first to take place under the Page-McIntyre finals system - he performed even better, and, fronting up this time at centre half back, was a popular choice as the most damaging player on view as the red and whites comfortably accounted for Sturt.  Always an eye-catchingly vigorous performer, he finished joint 4th in the Magarey Medal voting in 1932, and came 4th in his own right two years later.  His versatility and big game mentality helped make him an invaluable interstate player, and he represented South Australia a total of 17 times, including games at the 1933 Sydney carnival, during the course of his nine season SANFL career.  In 1936 he served as club skipper, leading the side as far as the preliminary final.  He was made a playing life member of the club when he retired in 1938, and later became a life member of the SANFL as well.

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William Busbridge (Essendon Association, Essendon, Geelong Association)

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Bill Busbridge commenced his senior career with Essendon Association in 1902, aged just fifteen.  By his second season he was universally recognised as one of the finest players in the VFA, and few people can have been surprised when he crossed to the Essendon league side in 1904.

Nicknamed 'Buzzy', there can be little doubt that Busbridge was one of the very finest players of his era.  Renowned as the best centre half back in the game, he was also a superb ruckman, combining great aerial prowess with superb anticipation and great dash.  In 1908 he represented the 'Big V' at the inaugural Australasian championships in Melbourne, and  in 1911 he starred across half back as the Same Old downed Collingwood by a goal in a dour, low-scoring final.  Busbridge had made a late start to that 1911 season after injuring a knee, and when the same knee went early the following year he was compelled to retire after a total of 103 VFL games in nine seasons.

Bill Busbridge was non-playing coach of Geelong Association in 1925, but the side managed just 1 wins from 14 matches and finished last.  He later served as a Geelong committeeman.  

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Alf Bushby (Port Adelaide, South Melbourne, South Adelaide)

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An extraordinarily versatile and highly skilled player who, during a halcyon era for his second club South Adelaide, was allegedly "recognised as the finest player in South Australia, and second only to A.J. Thurgood of Essendon, Victoria, as the champion footballer of Australia" (see footnote 1).  Always a threat near goal, Bushby topped the SAFA goal kicking list with 25 goals in 1897.

Bushby actually began his senior career with Port Adelaide where he was a member and captain of the club's runner-up combination in 1889. Three years earlier he had been leased to South Melbourne for its final match of the season against Geelong, an encounter which would decide the destiny of the 1886 VFA premiership.  In front of a then record crowd of 34,121, Geelong won comfortably, 4.19 to 1.5 (behinds not counting).

During his time with the blue and whites in the early to mid-1890s the club won 4 premierships and was once runner-up. 

Footnotes

1.  South Australian Football: The Past And The Present 1860-1965 edited by C.K.Knuckey, page 89.  Return to Main Text

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Percy Bushby (Essendon & Coburg)

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Hailing from Narrandera, Essendon's Perc Bushby was a tough, vigorous footballer who, after an aborted start to his VFL career in 1936, when he played just 1 game, returned three years later to give the Dons sterling service in a further 141 games spread over ten seasons.  Between 1939 and 1941 he alternated between the seniors and the reserves, and indeed was a member of the club's 1941 reserves premiership-winning team.  In 1942 he had the satisfaction of emulating this achievement at senior level when he lined up in a back pocket, changing in the ruck with Hugh Torney, as Essendon overcame the grand final challenge of Richmond by 51 points.  Bushby later also played in the winning grand final of 1946 against Melbourne as well as in the losses to Richmond in 1942, Carlton in 1947, and Melbourne, in a replay, in 1948.  The sort of player who improved with age, he won Essendon's best and fairest award in 1944, and represented the victorious VFL side at the 1947 Hobart carnival.  After leaving the Bombers he coached various country teams, most notably Ararat, whom he led to a Wimmera Football League record four successive flags from 1955 to 1958, while from 1964 to 1968 he served as non-playing coach of VFA club Coburg, with 3rd place in 1st Division in his first season the closest he came to overseeing a premiership.  Bushby was also coach of the VFA representative side at the 1966 Hobart carnival

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Harry Bushell (Subiaco)

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Harry Bushell joined Subiaco in 1909 having played mostly soccer - or "British Association" as it was commonly known at the time - as a youngster, but despite this handicap he soon developed into a fine performer for the Maroons.  Equally capable of playing either as a defender or across half forward, he was a key factor in the club's breakthrough premiership success of 1912, when East Fremantle was beaten by 9 points in a torrid challenge final.  He did not play in the Maroons' 1913 premiership team but was back in 1915 when Perth was downed in a low scoring final, 3.3 (21) to 2.7 (19).  Bushell carried on playing until 1922, but his form after the war was patchy compared with what had gone before.  He played a total of 151 WAFL games.

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William 'Joe' Bushell (North Fremantle, Sturt, St Kilda, Subiaco)

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Christened William, but more usually referred to as 'Joe', Bushell commenced his senior league career with North Fremantle where he made a favourable impression as a dashing, purposeful defender.  In 1908 he was selected in the Western Australian squad for the inaugural Australasian championship series in Melbourne, and although not actually selected to play in any of the state's matches, he found himself the focus of attention in another sense when Arthur Thomas, secretary of the Sturt Football Club, sought to procure his services.  The upshot was that Bushell agreed to play with the Blues in 1909, becoming in the process one of a group of footballers known in retrospect as 'Dempsey's Immigrants', so called because the recruiting drive had been funded by John Dempsey, a local tramways official and ardent Sturt supporter.

Bushell's time with the Blues was scarcely a roaring success, though; he played 10 matches for the year without really shining, and in 1910 transferred to St Kilda, where he fared even worse.  In 1911, with just 1 VFL game with the Saints under his belt, he returned home to Western Australia with his football career clearly at the crossroads.  He ended up joining his brother Harry at Subiaco, which, like Sturt a couple of years earlier, was just beginning to flex its economic muscles in a bid to establish itself as a bona fide league force for the first time.  By 1912, with Joe Bushell proving an outstanding success as a hard running, creative half back flanker, the Maroons had started to display many of the hallmarks of greatness, a status they confirmed by taking out that season's premiership with a hard fought 5.8 (38) to 4.5 (29) challenge final defeat of East Fremantle.  Bushell was a significant contributor to Subiaco's victory that day, as he was a year later when another premiership was secured, this time at the expense of Perth.  When Perth was vanquished again in the premiership decider of 1915, Harry Bushell could claim the rare distinction of having contributed to each of the Maroons' first three flag successes.  He continued playing until 1920, by which time he had amassed 153 league games in the Subi colours, as well as emphatically obliterating the memory of his somewhat stuttering early progress in the game.

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Gil Butchart (Norwood)

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Born in eastern Scotland, Gil Butchart moved with his family to Australia while still a youngster.  Settling in Mount Gambier, he soon showed an aptitude for Australian football, and at the age of just fifteen made his senior debut for West Gambier.  Three years later, in 1966, he was recruited by Norwood, where he soon became a regular player, tending to be used wherever the team needed bolstering.  A strong, confident, no frills footballer, he was perhaps best suited to centre half back, although he also played many fine games at centre half forward, particularly in his club best and fairest award-winning year of 1969.  Butchart continued to give good service to the Redlegs until 1974, which ironically was the season before the club broke through for a long overdue premiership.  He played 152 SANFL games.

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Jack Butcher (Geelong & South Melbourne)

Elegant in a way and to a degree that only left footers ever seem capable of, Jack Butcher was a standout member of generally mediocre Geelong sides in the late 1930s and early to mid-1940s. He was adaptable, and could do a better than serviceable job in numerous positions, but probably played his best football across half back. Recruited from Drysdale, Butcher made his senior VFL debut for the Cats in round 2 1938 against St Kilda at the Junction Oval. When Geelong was forced into temporary recess in 1942 because of wartime travel restrictions he transferred to South Melbourne for whom he played 32 games and kicked 16 goals in two seasons. When Geelong resumed in 1944, Jack Butcher was appointed captain, a role he retained the following season, which proved to be his last.  He played 86 VFL games for the Cats in all, kicking 18 goals

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Neil Button (Norwood)

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A superb ruckman who gave tremendous value all over the ground, Neil Button gave distinguished service to the Norwood Football Club in what, at the time of his retirement in 1985, was a Redlegs record 283 senior games.  During the 1970s in particular he was without doubt one of the two or three best big men in the SANFL, a status he emphasised with outstanding performances in Norwood's victorious finals campaigns of 1975 and 1978.  In the 1975 grand final defeat of Glenelg he was most observers' choice as best afield, and his display in the premiership-clinching victory over Sturt three years later (reviewed here) was only marginally inferior.  Button also helped the Redlegs to victory in the 1982 grand final against Glenelg in which he lined up at centre half forward.  Two years earlier he had undergone a knee reconstruction, and he would be prevented by further injury problems from participating in a fourth flag-winning side in 1984.

Neil Button's 9 interstate appearances for South Australia included games at the 1972 Perth carnival when he was in only his second league season.  Away from football, he enjoyed success as an oarsman, with the strength he derived from that sport standing him in good stead repeatedly on the various suburban ovals of the SANFL on Saturday afternoons.  Button's immense reputation at the Parade, where he was universally known as 'The Bear', was endorsed a decade and a half after his retirement as a player when he was named at centre half forward in Norwood's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.

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Ray Button (Glenelg)

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A Ballarat boy who moved with his family to Adelaide when he was fifteen, Ray Button was a mercurial and remarkably gifted Glenelg half forward who never quite managed to fulfill his extraordinary potential.  In 135 games for the Tigers between 1963 and 1972 he booted 245 goals, topping the club's goal kicking list on three occasions (once jointly).  His best tally in a game was 11, kicked against Woodville at Woodville in 1967.  At his peak during the mid-1960s, Button, who originally hailed from country Victoria, was selected in the 1966 and 1967 'Advertiser' Teams of the Year.  Although technically a half forward flanker, he was typically given freedom to roam wherever he wished throughout the forward lines.  A tremendous favourite among Glenelg's supporters, there were times when he seemed to be playing football on a higher plane to everyone else, but equally there were occasions when he barely looked league standard. 

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John Buttrose (North Adelaide & Sturt)

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After commencing his league career as a fringe player with North Adelaide, 'Ossie' Buttrose moved to Sturt in 1903 in search of greater opportunities.  In four years with the fledgling SANFL club he went on to play 45 senior games, with his career highlight coming in 1906, his final season, when he led the Blues onto Adelaide Oval in a final for the first ever time.   Sadly, it was far from an auspicious major round debut as Sturt managed just 2.10 (22) for the match, to opponent Norwood's 10.10 (70).  However, given that Buttrose had reluctantly stepped into the captaincy breach mid-season when nothing was going right for the club it has to be seen, in hindsight, as a worthy and memorable achievement.

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Fred Buttsworth (West Perth & Essendon)

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After seeing older brother Wally embark on what would develop into an illustrious football career with West Perth and, later, Essendon, young Fred was determined to do the same.  In 1942 he joined West Perth's war time under age side and helped the Cardinals to a premiership; two years later he won a club fairest and best award, but the following year he was old enough to enlist, and joined the navy.  As chance would have it, he was posted to Melbourne for a time and Essendon, fully aware of his talent, gave him the opportunity to play in the VFL alongside his brother.

Strongly built and hard to beat, especially in the air, Fred Buttsworth played much of his early football on the half forward lines, but when he resumed in the WANFL - which had by then reverted to a full scale senior competition - in 1946 it was as a centre half back, and it was in that position that he really made his name.

West Perth during the immediate post-war period boasted an immensely powerful side, with Fred Buttsworth's indefatigable performances on the half back line often a key to its success.  When the Cardinals won flags in 1949 and 1951, Buttsworth's contributions were telling, as they were on numerous occasions for Western Australia, notably in the famous 1947 carnival win over the VFL, and in a 1951 meeting with the Vics when he earned a Simpson Medal.

That 1951 season was easily Buttsworth's most memorable.  In addition to the Simpson Medal and a premiership, he won his second West Perth and best award, and finished a comfortable 7 votes clear of runner-up Frank Treasure in the Sandover Medal voting.  Given this, it seems somewhat surprising that, just two years later, after 182 WANFL games, but still aged only twenty-five, and fighting fit, Fred Buttsworth retired.  Perhaps he felt he had nothing left to achieve, but his untimely departure left the football world in general, and West Perth in particular, the poorer.

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Wallace Buttsworth (West Perth & Essendon)

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Wally Buttsworth's senior football career began with West Perth in 1935.  After being named as 19th man in the Cardinals' flag-winning team that year his career blossomed over the next couple of seasons when he became a regular Western Australian interstate representative and, in 1937, won West Perth's club champion award.

In 1938 Buttsworth headed east to Essendon but was forced to stand out of football for a season awaiting a clearance.  He made his VFL debut in 1939 only to suffer a broken arm which kept him out for much of the year.  On his resumption, however, he soon established himself as one of the key cogs in an Essendon machine which was tuning up to become the dominant force in Victorian football for much of the ensuing decade.

Three times an Essendon best and fairest award winner, Buttsworth was a formidable, resolute defender who was rarely beaten.  Whilst rugged to the point of ferocity in his overall approach, there were nevertheless aspects of his play, such as his high marking and exemplary drop kicking, which brought to mind contrasting adjectives like 'graceful' and 'elegant'.  Formidably powerful, it was a rare player indeed who was able to stop him when, body hunched low, he embarked on one of his trademark, careering runs out of defence before propelling the ball deep into his team's attacking zone.

Buttsworth was at his best in important games and his name featured prominently among the best players in all but one of the six VFL grand finals in which he participated.

After leaving Essendon he captain-coached Leeton from 1950 to 1952 and then Beckon.

Brother Fred was an equally accomplished footballer who stayed with West Perth for most of his career, winning the 1951 Sandover Medal. He joined his brother briefly at Windy Hill while stationed in Melbourne during the war.

Both of the Buttsworth brothers were also highly proficient cricketers, representing Western Australia, while Fred was a Victorian representative at lawn bowls.

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Don Byfield (South Fremantle)

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Had South Fremantle not boasted one of the greatest teams in football history during the early 1950s Don Byfield might well have made his senior debut somewhat earlier than he did, in which case he might feasibly have finished his career with approaching 300 games under his belt.  As it is, when he retired at the end of the 1963 season, his actual tally of 239 games had been exceeded by only one South Fremantle player, Frank Treasure.

Byfield made his league debut in 1950, but did not become a regular until 1953, the season after he had helped the seconds to a premiership.  He made the victorious league grand final side in '53, as twentieth man.  The following season saw him lining up in a back pocket on grand final day as South trounced arch rivals East Fremantle by 78 points to claim their fifth senior flag in seven years.  After that, it was all downhill as far as club achievements went, although later in the decade Byfield would embark on a successful interstate career that saw him installed as Western Australia's first choice permanent back pocket player between 1957 and 1959.  All told, he represented his state 9 times, including games at the 1958 centenary carnival in Melbourne.  He also played 2 games for Western Australian no. 2 sides against visiting clubs from interstate.

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Garry Bygraves (East Perth)

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At a time when Western Australian football was bursting at the seams with top quality rovers, East Perth's Garry Bygraves was among the best.  Between 1968 and 1976 he played a total of 166 WANFL games and booted 379 goals for the Royals, as well as representing Western Australia against South Australia at Subiaco in 1973.  Nicknamed 'Cowboy', he was an energetically eye catching footballer who was especially hard to contain when resting in a forward pocket.  He topped East Perth's goal kicking list in 1970 with 56 goals, and in 1976 with 65.  After producing a fine performance in a losing team against West Perth in the 1969 grand final he again came up with the goods three years later when the Royals beat Claremont to secure their first senior flag since 1959.  East Perth beat the Tigers 9.17 (71) to 8.8 (56), with Bygraves, who booted 4 goals, his team's only multiple goal kicker.  Three of his goals came during the 3rd term, when the Royals were kicking into the wind, and these ultimately proved decisive in determining the eventual result of the match.  Garry Bygraves' last game in a Royals jumper came in the 1976 grand final against Perth, but it proved to be a sour ending to a fine career as the Demons won comfortably by 23 points.

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Bevan Byrne (East Perth)

A locally produced rover who struggled at first to get a regular game with East Perth, Bevan Byrne did not shrink from the challenge, and his reward was membership of two league grand final winning teams.  In the first of these, in 1958, he was among the best players afield as the Royals edged out East Fremantle by a couple of points.  The following year, against Subiaco, he was less prominent, but still an important contributor, as East Perth won comfortably by 23 points.  His senior career with the Royals comprised exactly 50 games between 1958 and 1961 and saw him boot 44 goals. 

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Ray Byrne (Carlton, Collingwood, Geelong)

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Defender Ray Byrne had the singular misfortune to play in no fewer than four losing VFL grand final teams, one with Carlton and three with Collingwood. He commenced his league career with the Blues, whom he joined from Golden Square, in 1973, and his debut season culminated in his first losing grand final appearance, against Richmond. Over the course of his five and a half season, 81 game stint with Carlton he developed into a highly resourceful and dependable permanent back pocket.  After crossing to Collingwood midway through the 1978 season he further enhanced his reputation during another five and a half season stint which yielded 121 senior appearances. Included among these were the losing grand finals of 1979 against Carlton, 1980 against Richmond, and 1981 against Carlton once more. Byrne's last port of call was Geelong, for whom he added a final 17 VFL games in 1984.

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