Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
Demonland

THE BOOK OF NUMBERS - NUMBER EIGHT by Whispering Jack

Recommended Posts

The sudden departure earlier this month of Heritier Lumumba who retired from the game after incurring a number of concussions to the head during 2016 has left the club without a custodian for guernsey number eight, worn with pride by champion players and some interesting characters over more than 100 years since Fred Harris donned the jumper in 1912.

Harris played 25 games for the Saints between 1903 and 1905 and joined Melbourne in 1907 as a defender. He played 61 games (3 goals) and also wore number 29 in 1912.  Jack A "Dodger" Evans, another defender, also played 61 games for the club and donned number 8 in 1913 and again in 1915. In between, Albert "Bert" Trahair from South Bendigo wore the number for 18 games during the 1914 season.

When the club returned from its recess during the Great War, Charlie Lilley who had worn 6 in 1913 and 1915 and 11 in 1914 when he represented Victoria, took command and carried eight on his back for seven seasons  as Melbourne rose from the bottom to being a near contender. The clever midfielder from Elsternwick had an abundance of pace and was also used to great effect in defence in his 132 games (5 goals).

Diminutive Herbert White was a 168cm rover from Northcote and wore the number eight in Melbourne's second premiership in 1926. He played 67 games and booted 27 goals to 1929.

The number came out of recess in 1931 and was worn for two years by William "Bull" Adams from South Fremantle. Adams had been with Fitzroy from 1924 to 1926 and later carved out a coaching career where he coached the losing South Melbourne team in the 1945 "bloodbath" grand final against Carlton. He played 16 games and kicked 12 goals at Melbourne.

The burley Rowley Fischer was a late starter arriving from the Wimmera League at age 23 in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression when he claimed the number eight guernsey. He wore it with great distinction for nine seasons and was in the back pocket in the club's 1939 premiership. Fischer also played in the ruck and at centre half forward and also represented Victoria in 1937 and 1939. In all he played 137 games and kicked 34 goals for Melbourne.

Late in the 20th century, John Hewson and Mark Latham both unsuccessfully contested the Prime Ministership of the country. Another thing they have in common is that they had namesakes who wore the number eight for short periods during the war years at the Melbourne Football Club. Don Hewson from University Blacks was its bearer in 1942-3 and he was followed by Ralph Latham in 1945. Like the politicians, neither had a great impact. Both played only 16 games. Former Magpie Roy Stabb who carried number 22 in 1945 took on eight in 1946 and 1947. He played a total of 29 games in his career. 

Doug Heywood, later known as a sports commentator on both radio and television, wore 25 in 1943 and 26 in 1944 before his career was interrupted first by service and then by tennis. He was plucked out of amateur football by Denis Cordner to fill in a Demon side that was wracked by injury and wore the number eight in the 1948 preliminary final and the tied grand final. He was dropped for the grand final replay to make way for Bob McKenzie who returned from injury. His career continued until the 1951 season by which time he had played 54 games for 30 goals. 

The jumper changed hands in each of the next five seasons including twice in 1952 when Ian Toyne from Geelong had it for one game and Maurie Lehmann for six while Don Cameron played 2 games in the following season. Half back flanker, Geoff Collins, who wore the number three from his debut season of 1948 (and won a premiership flag) to 1952 and represented his state during that time, missed 1953 while serving in Korea as an Air Force pilot. He came back to captain the side in 1954 and wore eight in the year when the club rose from second last  to runner up against the Bulldogs. After one season as skipper, Collins retired and handed the jumper to Kevin Clarke who played only one game in 1955 before heading off to Carlton.

Jim "Little Bull" Sandral wore the number for two years. He joined the club in 1956 in time to play in a big premiership win over Collingwood but played only one more season before bowing out with 22 goals to his name. 

Season 1959 was a great year for the Demons. They won a flag and recruited some star players in Bob "Tassie" Johnson, Harold "Hassa" Mann and Bryan Kenneally. The former took the vacant number eight guernsey and wore it with distinction throughout the next decade in a career spanning to 1969 (when he was skipper) and including premierships in 1959, 1960 and 1964. Johnson stood out of football waiting for a clearance from North Launceston but immediately stepped into the team at full back. He had a magnificent drop kick that often saw the ball travel to the centre from his kick offs and was a regular state representative. Although only 189cm "Tassie" also was used as a fill in ruckman in a career that spanned 202 games.

Late AFL great Robert "Tassie" Johnson lives on in enduring love affair on the Sunshine Coast.

With the retirement of Johnson and the advent of a new decade, the club passed the jumper on to 198cm tall Assumption College schoolboy ruck prodigy Peter "Crackers" Keenan. The youngster could play but he was also something of a character and the club parted ways with him after six seasons when he joined North Melbourne in search of premiership glory. After a further stint at Essendon, he came back and wore the number 10 in 1981-1982 where he teamed up with some other left of field teammates in Brent Crosswell (who wore 8) and Mark Jackson. In all Keenan played 131 games for the Demons for 88 goals.

The club recruited key forward from Tasmania and perhaps hoping that Peter Johnston would emulate "Tassie's" career, awarded him the honour of jumper number eight on his arrival in 1976. However, Johnston's form was inconsistent and his kicking was unreliable and this saw him off to Geelong after three seasons including 42 games and 56 goals. 

Star St Kilda midfielder Glenn Elliott was lured out of retirement in 1979 after a knee injury had seemingly ended his career. A true professional, he managed 15 games in his only season at Melbourne. 
The next owner of the number eight guernsey was another former Tasmanian in the flamboyant Brent Crosswell who came to the club in 1980 after a decorated career with Carlton and North Melbourne. A protege of Ron Barassi, his was reunited with his old coach in the following season and finished his three seasons at the club with 48 games for 54 goals. 

Teenager, Les "Lally" Bamblett, arrived at Melbourne in 1982 as a prodigious talent from the club's country zone in the Goulburn Valley. He starred in the Under 19s under legendary junior coach Ray "Slug" Jordan, winning the Morrish Medal. The following year, he took over the number 8 but things simply didn't work out for the talented young forward who was cleared to Footscray after only one season in which he played 11 games for 12 goals. Another former junior in Peter Thorne took over from Bamblett in 1984. Thorne played in number 40 in 1978 and 1979 before moving to Perth for four years. He played 26 games and kicked 35 goals for the club.

The time had come for another long term wearer of the number eight. Graeme Yeats  who wore 45 in 1984 was handed the number eight in 1985 and wore it until 1995. Recruited from Prahran, Yeats was a reliable small defender who could also play on a wing. After playing 182 games (45 goals) he retired from AFL and moved on to play in a premiership with Springvale (kicking the winning goal just before the siren) and also coached Sandringham VFL to a flag before taking the coaching job with the Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup Under 18's competition. 

West Coast Eagle Craig Turley moved to the club in 1996 and played 16 games for eight goals. 

The number barely saw the light of day for some time after Turley's departure. Jeff Farmer who wore 33 for most of his career at the club wore it fleetingly in 1999 but quickly reverted to his original number. Eight then went to another former Tasmanian and another interesting character in James Cook who by now was at his third club and battling weight issues. He kicked eight goals in his three games.

Defender Alistair Nicholson who came to the club in 1997 switched from 44 to eight at the start of 2001 and wore the jumper for the remainder of his career. When he retired at the end of 2003, Nicholson had featured in 73 games for 4 goals.

The mantle of the number eight went to first round draft selection James Frawley in 2007 and he wore it proudly for eight seasons before seeking greener pastures at Hawthorn at the end of 2014. Frawley was an All Australian defender in 2010 and played 139 games and kicking 18 goals at the club.

Collingwood's Heritier Lumumba was recruited to the club in 2015, an All Australian defender, premiership player and an altogether different cat. He looked a million dollars in his first pre season but  he struggled to get it altogether once the season started, hit the wall early in 2016 and left the club in uncomfortable circumstances earlier this month.

If history is a guide, the next number eight is likely to be a defender and a real character to boot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Social Media

  • Match Previews, Reports & Articles

    SAME STORY, DIFFERENT SONG by George on the Outer

    Melbourne was still suffering from the same old story - a lack of AFL capable players from which to choose at the selection table - and the Western Bulldogs got to sing their song again. But wait, that wasn’t the Doggie’s song we’ve been hearing for the last 30 years, it was some other concoction and no-one knew the words to it but whatever it was, they got to mumble it with gusto after a huge 8 point win! The sad thing is that the Bulldogs (or Footscray or whatever they choose to call

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Reports

    DOGGED by KC from Casey

    On Sunday, the Casey Demons met the Footscray VFL under the roof at the same venue where their nemesis took them down in the 2017 grand final and the result left them with the same feeling of disappointment - this time with a seven point defeat that ended the club’s four game winning streak and made things a lot harder in terms of playing in this year’s final series.   And, as has so often happened this year, the Demons let the game get away from them with but failing to take advantage of th

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Casey Articles

    BARKING MAD by The Oracle

    There was so much hype proliferating about Melbourne’s prospects for season 2019 a mere four months ago, that one could be forgiven for thinking anyone contemplating the prospect of a bottom four finish for the Demons at the time was barking mad. That however, is the prospect that they face at the moment and a loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday would make it a virtual certainty.  The club’s downward spiral after several years of moving steadily on an upward trajectory has been well documented i

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Previews

    THE MELBOURNE WAY by George on the Outer

    Much has been made by the coaching staff of playing a “Melbourne way” style of play. The nail-biting finish by the Demons in the dying minute of the game could not have been any more the case in point.   Leading by a game-high 38 points late in the third quarter, and by five goals at the final change, this should have been the catalyst for a romp home to an easy win.   But that is not the “Melbourne way” and the supporters, especially those with a severe case of MFCSS (aka intense inse

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Reports

    PINK AND BLUE CAN’T KICK TRUE by KC from Casey

    The Casey Demons took on the Northern Blues at home on Saturday  in a game that was crucial in terms of their hopes for September and they took away the valuable four points on offer after some worrying moments. Most of those worries were self-inflicted as a result of some shocking inaccuracy in front of goal, sloppiness in play and a little bit of indiscipline that all combined to make the game a lot closer than it should have been. The final scoreboard showed the Demons winning the P

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Casey Articles

    GO FIGURE by Sam the Stats Man

    In May last year, a rampant Melbourne side demolished Carlton by 109 points at the MCG. The Demons did as they pleased and ran rings against a young, abysmal Blues combination. The Dees led in virtually every key performance indicator, notably entering the inside 50 metre mark 63 times to 33 and the superiority of their attack was highlighted by a 74% shooting accuracy rate (to 47%).  A little more than a year later the two sides face each other for the first time since that rout and the ta

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Previews 1

    GORN AT THE GABBA by George on The Outer

    With Melbourne leading the Brisbane Lions in the second term, and the game in the balance, a Max Gawn ankle injury signalled that the Demons were as good as gorrnnn for the match. Without a suitable 2nd ruck and (once again) forced to use either Tom McDonald, Tim Smith or Sam Weidemann in the ruck the Demons found themselves without a forward line that could kick a winning score. Not that anything really changed, as the forward line has been completely dysfunctional all season and one

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Reports

    GAMBIT by KC from Casey

    The opening gambit of Saturday afternoon’s game told us everything about who would be its main players and who would come out on top. The Casey Demons were eager to turn the tables on the Box Hill Hawks who beat them in last year’s grand final and then gave them a first up mauling at City Oval, Box Hill. Kicking with the aid of a strong breeze in the opening term, Braydon Preuss’ first hit out went straight to the diminutive Jay Kennedy Harris who pounced with a 70 metre shot at goal that sailed

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Casey Articles

    MURDER BY NUMBERS by Sam the Stats Man

    The respective ladder positions of this week’s combatants tell the story of one side on the rise and the other in steep decline. Since their most recent meeting which took place early last year, the Dees and the Lions have changed positions. They are opposed to each again on the former’s home turf with the locals in fine fettle after blowing St Kilda off the park at Marvel Stadium.  The Lions’ home ground advantage has been a major consideration so far this year. They have won five out of s

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Previews

    MUD HEAP by KC from Casey

    In the opening round of the 2018 VFL season, the Casey Demons enjoyed an emphatic 107 point victory over Coburg at Piranha Park. The team was loaded with Melbourne listed players (half a dozen of them were in the team that beat Fremantle on Saturday) and the side was in its way to a grand final appearance. A season and a half later, the club returned to the same venue in the hope of kick starting a season that had gone somewhat awry under new coach Sam Radford and while they tasted victory (as y

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Casey Articles

    PRETENDERS SENT PACKING by George on the Outer

    Fremantle, the Perth pretenders at sixth on the premiership table should have easily accounted for the Demons, sitting barely a game off the bottom of the ladder.   And for the majority of the game, it certainly looked that would be the case, until the final quarter, when the Demons stopped giving the Dockers easy chances, or making plain, dumb decisions. Not that their situation was helped by some simply appalling umpiring during the match, that kept gifting Fremantle easy scores.  Th

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Reports

    ORWELLIAN by Whispering Jack

    Please permit me to begin this rather tragic pathetic preview of Melbourne’s forthcoming game against Fremantle with some personal reflections.   Two years ago, we had visitors staying with us who are all sports fans so we arranged tickets for the entire family for the Melbourne vs Fremantle game at the MCG. The Dockers were struggling at the time while the Demons were on the up and up so I was fairly confident about the outcome. Naturally, we all left the ground bitterly disappointed.   

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Previews

×
×
  • Create New...