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Part 4: Dees top 100 of the past 50 years 21-40


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Part 4: Dees top 100 of the past 50 years 21-40

In my second part of the series, I made the point that while we struggled to produce flags, we have been the home of quality ruckman. The following list makes it clear that we also have been a great nursery for wingmen.

Based on Ed Langdon’s and Angus’ effort last season, the gut-running role is now regaining the status it once had, even if the All-Australian selectors keep overlooking true wings for midfielder masters.

But how can four outside runners – Stretcher, Stinga, Stanley and Trappa - make our top 30 and theres still two more to come next week?

As we near the finish, the quality of the players on the list continues to rise and in one sense that makes it easy to rank players.

But one player many of you will query is Allen Jakovich. Let us know what you think. 

21 Steven Stretch 86-93 164 games, 71 goals Ok, so we all have heard about how he almost jumped the fence to avoid a Dipper tackle in the 1988 grand final. But don’t let that fool you, Billy’s dad was a ripping talent and one of the key reasons why we had success under Northey. Drafted as a 22-year-old from West Torrens, he arrived in 1986 and immediately gave us outside dash and run in a manner that Ed Langdon has in the past two seasons. He was good in the air and a long drop punt kick to boot – a bit of a Craig Bradley type. He won our B&F in 1987 and had been in our best against Dipper and Pritchard in our win against the Hawks early in 88, but come grand final, Swooper got panicky about Dunstall on Danny Hughes and with Strawb suspended, sent Stretch to full-back. To this day I have no idea why you’d want to mess with a winning line-up. He played five more seasons for us and was always prolific, even when playing off half-back on occasions and then with his numbers and influence falling, he was traded to Fitzroy. 

22 Cameron Bruce 00-10 224 games, 210 goals I still wonder what he might have been had we spotted him a bit earlier than we did as a 19-year-old playing amateurs with Melbourne High Old Boys. I mean he just had this elegant way of turning and baulking out of traffic. He kicked a goal with his first kick in Rd 1 of 2000 and only an injury in our preliminary final cost him a spot in our grand final line up. He had an amazing tank, which is why the Reverend often employed him as a “gentlemen’s’ tagger, but by 2005 he was just so hot as an onballer that he had eight Brownlow votes in the first three rounds, before Brent Guerra injured him in a tackle. Built a bit like Robbie Flower, he just oozed class and was at his best in our 2006 elimination final win against St Kilda. He won our B&F in 2008, but by 2010, things at the Dees had got messy and even though he was then our highest-paid player, he opted to transfer to the Hawks, where he was plagued with soft-tissue injuries.

23 Russell Robertson 97-09 228 games, 428 goals It’s hard to believe that a video of him taking hanger for Burnie that appeared on the Footy Show led to Robbo being drafted in 1996. A dismal finish to 97 saw Robbo gifted the last three games that year and he showed a penchant for kicking goals, even back then as a half-forward. In ensuing years, “Robbo, keep your feet” became Daniher’s catchcry as he flew for everything before invariably falling to the ground, but by 2000 he’d become indispensable snagging 44 goals playing third fiddle to Neiter and Schwarter. He won our B&F in 2003 and kept getting better at his craft and if you want to see him at his finest, watch a replay of how he almost single-handedly took down Geelong at Kardinia Park with seven goals in 2005. He kicked 73 goals for us that year. By 2008 his body started breaking down a bit with his achilles tendon snapping and he retired in 2009 with a Rd 21 cameo five goals against Carlton. 

24 Brad Green 00-12 254 games, 350 goals A Launceston boy who oozed sporting talent being a member of Australia’s under-15 cricket team and trialling with Manchester United as a 15 year old. But after a couple of years with the Tassie Mariners, footy took priority and we took the brash youngster with pick 19 and it paid immediate dividends with his awareness around goal in the 2000 qualifying final leading us to an upset of Carlton. Such was his rising celebrity, that Sheeds sent Dean Wallis to brutally wipe him out in the first minute of the granny. He loved goals, especially ones soccered off the ground and he was a beautiful left-foot kick. Daniher sent him to the wing in 2006 in order to get him more in the play, but he probably was a yard short of pace to really make it there and at 182cm, not tall enough to play a key post, although he did a pretty good job of it in 2010 when he converted 55 goals mainly from full-forward in a Bayley Fritsch style role. He won our B&F that year, narrowly missing an AA spot. He was made captain in 2011 and then somewhat rudely cast aside by Mark Neeld for the role the following year. Maybe it was the way he celebrated, but he always seemed to have a smile on his face.

25 Stan Alves 65-76 226 games 174 goals He was skipper for four years from 73-76 and won two B&F in that time and was part of the most amazing centreline of all time – Alves, Wells and Flower – I only caught the tailend of Clay, Barrot and Bourke and our guys were more skillful. Stan’s 1975 was amazing, he even kicked five against the Tigers one game and finished runner-up to Gary Dempsey by one vote in the Brownlow, although he didn’t win our B&F that year. The problem was that the rest of our side was flawed at that stage and he ended up realising that at 30, if he didn’t jump ship to the Roos for 1977, then a flag wasn’t going to be on his resume and starting in 1965, he’d just missed our golden era. He was ahead of his time when it came to fitness and his battles with the likes of Schimma, Keith Greig and Ricky Barham were invigorating back then. 

26 Allen Jakovich 91-94 47 games, 201 goals Ok, so I’m sure Gen Ys and X’s will be saying how can you rate a player with just 47 games so highly. But Jako was special. He was our version of Phil Carman, except that it took Swooper nine weeks to realise it. Jako was the older, smaller brother of Glen, and after two stunning seasons at Woodville in the SANFL kicking 101 goals in 1990, the 23-year-old played round 1 of 1991 for us against a niggardly, nasty Eagles side under Mick Malthouse that won their first 12 games. We only kicked two goals in Subiaco that day, and Jako was sent to the reserves where his freak show at the lower level began. His second game in Adelaide came in Rd 10 and it wasn’t much better so back he went to the magoos. But after 60 goals in 10 games back there, he was promoted for a third time and was handy against the Hawks and then the show began with successive hauls of 8,6,6,8,7 and 11 against the Roos that included a scissor kick goal and one from the boundary and a fine for backchatting from the umps. Like Willow, he had bigger than normal hips and that meant that even at 193cm he could outbody opponents and he could turn on to either foot and kick 50m on the run. He ended up with 71 goals from just 14 games in 1991 including eight in our elimination final win against Essendon, but from then on he had the odd issue with injuries, the occasional suspension from umpires and even a few dressing downs from Northey who clearly felt he was way too selfish for his liking. His final game in 1994 was an eight-goal effort against the Hawks in Rd 17, but injuries meant he missed the finals that year and we didn’t renew his contract so he took his show off to Footscray, which only lasted seven more games.

27 Travis Johnstone 98-07 160 games, 111 goals The grandson of Lions great Norm Johnstone lived in Chelsea and was taken with pick No.1 in 1997 and clearly could play – he had amazing vision and could hit targets with such ease. But he wasn’t noted for training his heart out and while part of that could be attributed to groin and hamstring injuries, it’s probably more true that Trappa never really had the work ethic because he was naturally so good and depending on your rumour file, liked a bit of the green stuff. He played in our 2000 GF but it was his four-goal final in 2002 against Adelaide that was truly memorable – what a precocious talent. It wasn’t until 2005 that he really put a good season together for the Reverend and won the Bluey Truscott, but in 2006 he was back to his lazy, laconic ways. Our demise in 2007 led to him being traded, heading to Brisbane to get his Lions jumper. His final game for us was against Carlton in the Kreuzer Cup and he compiled 42 disposals, so you can imagine what he could have been had he embraced hard work. 

28 Sean Wight 85-95 150 games He arrived at the club in 1984 as part of Barry Richardson and Barassi’s Irish experiment and did a year playing with such talents as John Fidge in our Under 19s. He got a handful of games in 1985 and 86 and to much laughter from fans, kicked three goals against the reigning premier Bombers at Windy Hill in his first year. But a knee injury and his somewhat weird manner of tapping the ball backwards in the air, meant that it wasn’t until 1987 that Northey put faith in his dash and played him down back. He was unbelievable in our win against Footscray that year and a cult hero throughout that finals campaign. He was toyed with as a forward in 88 and kicked four goals in our prelim win over the Blues, but when fit he became our pack-crashing full-back from 1991. In 94 he enjoyed a memorable victory at the MCG over Gary Ablett keeping him to six touches. Payback from Gazza came later that year with 10 down at Kardinia Park.

29 Stephen Tingay 89-00 162 games, 84 goals I am not sure Melbourne initially thought Stinga was that good. Firstly after drafting him from Shepparton with pick 50 they made him play a season with our under-19s and then gave him No.52. He came off the bench in Rd 1 of 89 and had just one kick – but it was the matchwinner against Fitzroy so he knew how to get attention. Later he expanded things to a weight-room induced six-pack and peroxide locks and a bit of nude modelling – hate to think what he’d have done nowadays with Instagram and TikTok. By 1990, he’d became a very confident, dashing wingman who loved taking a bounce and thumping the ball into our forward 50. He played a starring role in our Rd22 win over the Hawks. His battles with Collingwood’s Darren Millane back then were pretty special, and off-season he suffered similar adversity falling through a plate glass window and severing tendons in his right wrist that almost ended his career. It wasn’t until 1994 that he really came of age, wearing Robbie’s No.2 and making the All-Australian side and finishing behind only Garry Lyon in the Bluey. Freo tried to steal him and he often hit the news for the wrong reasons. A lingering hip/buttock problem from his window accident seemed to limit his involvement, although he was a key member of our 98 finals campaign under the Reverend. Injuries cost him in 2000 and it’s fair to say he didn’t quite achieve what he could have.

30 Shane Woewodin 97-02 138 games Ok, so let’s get one thing straight. Woey had an outstanding 2000 and it wasn’t just because he’d started dying his hair. He’d been diligently building his game since being taken pre-season as a dour defender from East Fremantle. He played every game that year and in our bounce back 1998 and was one of our best in our loss to the Roos in the prelim. In ’99 when thing went awry, Daniher threw him into the middle for the last few games and realised he had something and a star of the new millennium was born. If you happened to be at the MCG in our come from behind win over the Cats in 2000, you would have probably backed him for the Charlie. He had 35 disposals and kicked four goals as he became an elite member of our running brigade with his ability to baulk on to his left. He probably hadn’t slept for five days come the granny given the number of interviews he did post Brownlow night, so 19 disposals against the Dons wasn’t that bad really. I think his numbers plummeted like the Twin Towers in 2001 and I still recall him going back with the flight in our QB Pies clash and getting crunched on the wing by a pack that included Sav. Like many I was shocked when we traded him to the Pies at the end of 2002 as the club tried to squeeze out of its contract with him – it put me off drinking my Woey Brownlow port bottle for some time.

31 Aaron Davey 04-13 178 games, 174 goals Everyone loved Aaron from the moment we were able to snaffle him via the rookie draft. He’d come from Darwin and North Melbourne had got him to play a season at Port Melbourne just to be sure, but on the back of a shocking season we had pick 3, well before North’s pick 7. The Reverend knew straight away he was on a winner promoting him for round 1 against the Dawks. Nicknamed the Flash (the Whiz was already taken), he was just so lively from the outset bouncing this way and that way and then turning on to his left foot and snagging the goal of the week. But it was his amazing chase down tackles on unsuspecting defenders that rejigged coaching methods and forced all clubs to search for similar prototypes. He probably should have won the Rising Star in 2004, but he did win our B&F in 2009 when Bailey sent him down back, possibly to reduce his susceptibility to hamstring strains.

32 Laurie Fowler 75-81 140 games A tough, old school defender, Fowler achieved infamy in four years at Richmond by knocking out Carlton ruckman John Nicholls soon after the bounce of the 1973 grand final, but he was left out of the Tigers 1974 grand final side and casted off to Melbourne, where he became a fixture in the back pocket and even had the odd game as ruck rover kicking three goals in a gritty win over the Saints in 1976 and  winning our B&F in 1979 and 80, ahead of a cast that included Robbie Flower and Greg Wells. He played for Victoria a couple of times as well. His career-high 29 kicks came against the Tigers in 1977 and the umps loved the way he put his body (and head) on the line, giving him more free kicks than Joel Selwood. By the end of 1981, he surprisingly left to go to the VFA – not sure if his departure was ever fully explained but Barassi’s style did have its detractors.

33 Jake Lever 18- 61 games It’s rumoured that he would have been taken by us with Angus in 2014 if not for the Saints decision to opt for McCartin ahead of Petracca. And it’s not his fault that he proved a costly recruit when we had to give up two first-rounders for the Adelaide grand final youngster. Our footy department was obviously always keen on the Romsey lad so picking up a then 21-year-old with a moustache was no big deal. He was coming off a great season with the Crows and he was useful in the 2017 grand final against the Tigers, even though his defection meant he was spitefully told to skip their B&F count. Initially a lot of us wanted him to be the tall key defender that May currently is but he’s not that sort of player – he just reads the game so well and is the master of the intercept mark having amazing aerial judgment on top of being courageous. He was a big part in us making the 2018 finals but when he went down with knee issues against the Dogs, it probably cost him two years as it wasn’t until 2020 that he started looking super confident, baulking when needed and directing traffic. He didn’t miss a game in 2021, won an All-Australian spot, and set an AFL record for most intercepts. He’s 33 here, but two more seasons like he’s just had and he’s top 10 all-time material.

34 Steven Febey 87-01 258 games 40 goals One of only nine Dees to play more than 250 games, I used to wonder if Febes could have made the Australian Olympic team as a middle-distance runner. The boy from Devonport came via the No.3 pick in the first official draft and played in two grand finals – 1988 and 2000, although I’m not sure he’ll care to remember too much about them. But as a half-back he was incredibly reliable – always getting back to help – he and twin brother Matthew once combined for 74 disposals against Brisbane in 1994 and yes, they did look for each other as all twins do. Post career hasn’t been easy on Febey, he was caught up in the aftermath of the Bail bombings with Steven Armstrong and has had to battle depression but it was nice to see him back cheering on the lads in 2021. 

35 Christian Salem 14- 130 games He started out as a small forward and memorably kicked the matchwinner after the siren against Essendon in his first season but with his ability to quickly put the ball so precisely on his left foot, there was only one spot for him as our defensive safety net. He had a couple of years being taught the tricks by Jordy Lewis, but what he worked on more than anything is his one-on-one defence – he’s now more than capable of shutting down his man as well and let’s face it, most of the time he’s up against a taller, quicker opponent – yet he reads it so well and that’s why Salo can’t be exploited going the other way, unlike fellow quarter-back Daniel Rich who often is at Brisbane. He had a career-high 39 disposals against Richmond this year and snagged an early goal against the flow, so as good as Trac was that evening, I think the wrong “Christian” got the Anzac medal.    

36 Bayley Fritsch 18- 85 games 118 goals – 59 in 2021 It’s going to be hard now separating the true Bayley Fritsch and the one who kicked six goals in our epic grand final win. He kicked 59 goals for the year, only Tom Hawkins kicked more for the year. And he lifted for the finals, kicking four including a memorable mark and conversion in our win over the Lions. Only six years earlier he was playing at Coldstream and looked likely to follow in his father’s 360-game footsteps at the Eastern Footy League club. After missing out on the draft, thankfully he decided to try his luck at Casey and the Dees realised the lovely left-footer had a fair bit of talent and flair. But with no early picks and his reputation growing after 42 goals in the Frosty Miller VFL medal, we had to offload Jack Watts for a second-rounder and It’s fair to say it paid off big time. Fritta wears No.31, Ron Barassi’s famous guernsey that appeared jinxed until he was given it. Remember Tom Scully among many abject failures. 

37 James McDonald 97-10 251 games It’s hard to downplay a 251 gamer who became skipper at an incredibly unstable time, but here goes - Junior was never a star of our club. But he was incredibly loyal and hardworking and that’s why he featured in the guts for almost all of his games, the exception being his first three years when he came off the rookie list and was plonked on a flank and told to give the Wiz some room to move. As with brother Anthony, he had to travel a hard road to AFL via Old Xavs, but once he got his tank up to speed he became very useful as a tagger and in 2000 became a regular, even starring against the Swans before a knee injury cost him a spot in the finals – would he have done a better job on James Hird than Brent Grgic … rhetorical question. He set a then AFL record for tackles (143) in 2006 and claimed the first of two Bluey Truscott Medals. He was also All-Australian that year and averaged 23 touches so he was no hack. But such was his work ethic that he was captaincy material, taking over from David Neitz in 2008. He was pushed out of the club at the end of 2010 in a manner that still irks many today. 

38 Colin Sylvia 04-13 157 games, 129 goals So here’s a player who’s hard to rate. I mean on his day he was everything that Christian Petracca is nowadays – like the time he slammed home five against the Tigers in 2010. He was thickset and should have become a Dusty type, but he never seemed to have quite the training application – being a bit of a country lad. He’d played in Merbein’s flag side as a 15-year-old and I reckon he would have drunk quite a few beers that night. It’s unfair to Junior and Cam Bruce to say that he didn’t have the right role models around him back then, but there was definitely an issue of trust and he always seemed the one blamed for not applying the zone defence correctly or for failing to man up when needed and he also had a habit of turning up sozzled at training sessions. As a result he didn’t achieve anywhere near the carnage on the field that he looked capable of when drafted from the Pioneers with pick No.3 in 2003. Eventually management got jack of him and we sent him to Fremantle as part of the Bernie Vince deal. His death in a car accident near Mildura in 2018 was a sad end. Those that knew him reckon Col was a loveable, knockabout character. I prefer to remember him on song nailing 55m drop punts or the day he kicked three goals in three minutes on his way to 37 touches and three Brownlow votes in our loss to the Hawks in 2009. 

39 Steven May 19- 48 games There is a case to be made that he’s our best true full-back … full stop. I mean Tassie Johnson had stints up forward while Sean Wight began as a livewire half-back and up forward before replacing Danny Hughes. But best FB in history is a big call given he only came to our club as a 27-year-old in 2019 and in his first season copped a whack from Goody for being unfit and “beer’ prone. But given he’s one of our highest paid players – his original deal is said to have been $750K a year – a few questions were being raised, especially given Ben King looked so good. But Maysie got down to working hard to reduce weight and is now so revered that he’s a member of our leadership group. He’s also the most classy full-back we’ve ever had, with a measured left-foot that can travel 60m or 25m bang on target. On top of that he seems to relish shutting down the star forwards – it’s just so nice to have someone who can play on Hawkins, Lynch and Dixon and win most of the time. He’s just turned 30, so hopefully he can be just as frugal for a few more years yet. If so a spot in our Best Team of 150 years awaits. 

40 Steven Smith 74-85 203 games, 144 goals He was still 20 in 1976 when he seemed destined for greatness as our CHF, part of a spine that included Ray Biffin, Greg Wells and Gary Hardeman. At that stage he appeared to glide through the air and take marks all over the ground - a bit like Garry Lyon in his heyday. But 1977 was a bad year for everyone and he missed half of it with injury and he never really developed into a star up forward, so Barassi sent him down back where he won our B&F in 1981. Being a nice kick and a smart player he was pretty useful as our full-back, but he also infamously became another Leigh Matthews victim at Princes Park in 1984. A bit of a surprise choice of opponent that day given his size, Smith had aerial superiority and outplayed the champ before being dispatched in Lethal fashion. Not sure he was awake for the club song that day but given wins against the Hawks were a bit of a rarity back then, I’m sure it was a rousing one. He's one of four players to have played over 200 games that never appeared in a final along with Saints Trevor Barker, Geoff Cunnighman and our own Gary Hardeman.

 

 
 
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Nice work Deespic. This list is the most controversial IMO. To say that Travis Johnstone "put his first good season together" in 2005, and yet he is rated so highly. And whilst Steven Stretch had a fine career, I'd rate Stinga and Stan Alves ahead of him.

I'm curious to find out who the 2nd wingman in your top 20 is aside from Robbie. Surely not Langdon, based on 2 seasons at the club. Maybe Tom Flower gets a nod to complete the Flower, Wells, Flower centreline.

Your ranking of Allen Jakovich at 26 is fair. He was an absolute freak.

 

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1 hour ago, Demonstone said:

Excellent work as always, Deespicable.

Steven Smith fun fact - he was the first Little League player to play a VFL senior game.

Steven Febey sad fact - he was the only player to appear in both the 1988 and 2000 GF debacles.

Think he was also lucky enough to snag Playboy model

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Not a criticism, but Stan Alves is top 10 material, Colin Sylvia way too high and for Steven Stretches great play and highlights real that jump out of the way was for me concerning. Did Paul Callery get a gig somewhere?

Edited by picket fence
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7 hours ago, mo64 said:

Nice work Deespic. This list is the most controversial IMO. To say that Travis Johnstone "put his first good season together" in 2005, and yet he is rated so highly. And whilst Steven Stretch had a fine career, I'd rate Stinga and Stan Alves ahead of him.

I'm curious to find out who the 2nd wingman in your top 20 is aside from Robbie. Surely not Langdon, based on 2 seasons at the club. Maybe Tom Flower gets a nod to complete the Flower, Wells, Flower centreline.

Your ranking of Allen Jakovich at 26 is fair. He was an absolute freak.

 

Doesn't have to name another wingman in top 20. It's not a complete team but no but no doubt we will all have our go on that one.

Reckon Stretch Sylvia maybe James Mac and possibly Stephen Febey could be a bit high. Reckon  T Mac might be a bit low and Lingers is not in out top 20 

Reckon Lingers will stand up well in our Top5 wingers from 1972 in a couple of years.

Maysie is high snd really has only put together 2 years of great footy and hard to place in longevity compared with Stephen Smith as a longer term defender  who undoubtedly was hampered by hamstring injuries for the last half of his career.

Reckon we could almost pick the next 20 players but the order???

Stynes Todd and Jack Viney Robbie Flower Jeff White Mark Jamar??? Greg Wells Gary Hardemann Gary Lyon Whiz Gawny Trac Clarry Gerard Healey 
Neiter Schwarta Brett Lovett Jonesy.  Brian "Wilow" Wilson. 

I have forgotten at least one other player probably a ruckman or midfielder. 
Anyone??? 

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We’re now into jumer-number-games-record-holder territory. Yes, this is my super-power. I can name them all from memory - although I can’t remember much about what happened yesterday 😀

Bruce (32), Robertson (24), Green (18), Alves (15), Johnstone (16), Wight (27) [along with Rivers], Davey (36), Stephen Febey (21), James McDonald (23), Smith (35).

Wonderful players who’d have been champions in any team.

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1 hour ago, 58er said:

Doesn't have to name another wingman in top 20. It's not a complete team but no but no doubt we will all have our go on that one.

Reckon Stretch Sylvia maybe James Mac and possibly Stephen Febey could be a bit high. Reckon  T Mac might be a bit low and Lingers is not in out top 20 

Reckon Lingers will stand up well in our Top5 wingers from 1972 in a couple of years.

Maysie is high snd really has only put together 2 years of great footy and hard to place in longevity compared with Stephen Smith as a longer term defender  who undoubtedly was hampered by hamstring injuries for the last half of his career.

Reckon we could almost pick the next 20 players but the order???

Stynes Todd and Jack Viney Robbie Flower Jeff White Mark Jamar??? Greg Wells Gary Hardemann Gary Lyon Whiz Gawny Trac Clarry Gerard Healey 
Neiter Schwarta Brett Lovett Jonesy.  Brian "Wilow" Wilson. 

I have forgotten at least one other player probably a ruckman or midfielder. 
Anyone??? 

Ditterich

Alan Johnson

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1 hour ago, Big Carl said:

Ditterich

Alan Johnson

Good gets Big Carl. Alan Johnson would be the 2nd wingman aside from Robbie in his top 20, but I tend to think of AJ as a back pocket.

I'm surprised that Big Carl made the top 20. Whilst he certainly scared the living daylights out of the opposition, it didn't necessarily translate to wins. 

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8 minutes ago, mo64 said:

Good gets Big Carl. Alan Johnson would be the 2nd wingman aside from Robbie in his top 20, but I tend to think of AJ as a back pocket.

I'm surprised that Big Carl made the top 20. Whilst he certainly scared the living daylights out of the opposition, it didn't necessarily translate to wins. 

Agree. Both Alan Johnson (dual B&F) and Ditterich should be in the top 100.

Big Carl won’t be in top 20 which means he has been overlooked.

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5 hours ago, picket fence said:

Not a criticism, but Stan Alves is top 10 material, Colin Sylvia way too high and for Steven Stretches great play and highlights real that jump out of the way was for me concerning. Did Paul Callery get a gig somewhere?

I'm a big Stan fan as well 'picket'...

I think the list is great but I would have him at a minimum heading up this group.

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A request I have is could you list number 20 at the top of your post and number 1 at the bottom?

It adds an air of anticipation to things if you do it that way.

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Fascinating reading.

Surely number 1 comes down to 4 of them:

Flower - the only reason half the people over 40 still barrack for Melbourne

Gawn - Only premiership captain and stood up like a premiership captain at every chance

Oliver - Our B&F in a drought breaking premiership year, coaches association award in a premiership year and most selfless player that changed the team dynamic

Trac - Norm Smith medalist. One of the greatest games of a Melbourne player in the last 50 years on the day that counts.

Great work @Deespicable look forward to the last 20. Agree with the above post can you do it in reverse order so we count down to 1

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9 hours ago, 58er said:

Doesn't have to name another wingman in top 20. It's not a complete team but no but no doubt we will all have our go on that one.

Reckon Stretch Sylvia maybe James Mac and possibly Stephen Febey could be a bit high. Reckon  T Mac might be a bit low and Lingers is not in out top 20 

Reckon Lingers will stand up well in our Top5 wingers from 1972 in a couple of years.

Maysie is high snd really has only put together 2 years of great footy and hard to place in longevity compared with Stephen Smith as a longer term defender  who undoubtedly was hampered by hamstring injuries for the last half of his career.

Reckon we could almost pick the next 20 players but the order???

Stynes Todd and Jack Viney Robbie Flower Jeff White Mark Jamar??? Greg Wells Gary Hardemann Gary Lyon Whiz Gawny Trac Clarry Gerard Healey 
Neiter Schwarta Brett Lovett Jonesy.  Brian "Wilow" Wilson. 

I have forgotten at least one other player probably a ruckman or midfielder. 
Anyone??? 

would think Yze would be in the top 20

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18 hours ago, Deespicable said:

Part 4: Dees top 100 of the past 50 years 21-40

In my second part of the series, I made the point that while we struggled to produce flags, we have been the home of quality ruckman. The following list makes it clear that we also have been a great nursery for wingmen.

Based on Ed Langdon’s and Angus’ effort last season, the gut-running role is now regaining the status it once had, even if the All-Australian selectors keep overlooking true wings for midfielder masters.

But how can four outside runners – Stretcher, Stinga, Stanley and Trappa - make our top 30 and theres still two more to come next week?

As we near the finish, the quality of the players on the list continues to rise and in one sense that makes it easy to rank players.

But one player many of you will query is Allen Jakovich. Let us know what you think. 

21 Steven Stretch 86-93 164 games, 71 goals Ok, so we all have heard about how he almost jumped the fence to avoid a Dipper tackle in the 1988 grand final. But don’t let that fool you, Billy’s dad was a ripping talent and one of the key reasons why we had success under Northey. Drafted as a 22-year-old from West Torrens, he arrived in 1986 and immediately gave us outside dash and run in a manner that Ed Langdon has in the past two seasons. He was good in the air and a long drop punt kick to boot – a bit of a Craig Bradley type. He won our B&F in 1987 and had been in our best against Dipper and Pritchard in our win against the Hawks early in 88, but come grand final, Swooper got panicky about Dunstall on Danny Hughes and with Strawb suspended, sent Stretch to full-back. To this day I have no idea why you’d want to mess with a winning line-up. He played five more seasons for us and was always prolific, even when playing off half-back on occasions and then with his numbers and influence falling, he was traded to Fitzroy. 

22 Cameron Bruce 00-10 224 games, 210 goals I still wonder what he might have been had we spotted him a bit earlier than we did as a 19-year-old playing amateurs with Melbourne High Old Boys. I mean he just had this elegant way of turning and baulking out of traffic. He kicked a goal with his first kick in Rd 1 of 2000 and only an injury in our preliminary final cost him a spot in our grand final line up. He had an amazing tank, which is why the Reverend often employed him as a “gentlemen’s’ tagger, but by 2005 he was just so hot as an onballer that he had eight Brownlow votes in the first three rounds, before Brent Guerra injured him in a tackle. Built a bit like Robbie Flower, he just oozed class and was at his best in our 2006 elimination final win against St Kilda. He won our B&F in 2008, but by 2010, things at the Dees had got messy and even though he was then our highest-paid player, he opted to transfer to the Hawks, where he was plagued with soft-tissue injuries.

23 Russell Robertson 97-09 228 games, 428 goals It’s hard to believe that a video of him taking hanger for Burnie that appeared on the Footy Show led to Robbo being drafted in 1996. A dismal finish to 97 saw Robbo gifted the last three games that year and he showed a penchant for kicking goals, even back then as a half-forward. In ensuing years, “Robbo, keep your feet” became Daniher’s catchcry as he flew for everything before invariably falling to the ground, but by 2000 he’d become indispensable snagging 44 goals playing third fiddle to Neiter and Schwarter. He won our B&F in 2003 and kept getting better at his craft and if you want to see him at his finest, watch a replay of how he almost single-handedly took down Geelong at Kardinia Park with seven goals in 2005. He kicked 73 goals for us that year. By 2008 his body started breaking down a bit with his achilles tendon snapping and he retired in 2009 with a Rd 21 cameo five goals against Carlton. 

24 Brad Green 00-12 254 games, 350 goals A Launceston boy who oozed sporting talent being a member of Australia’s under-15 cricket team and trialling with Manchester United as a 15 year old. But after a couple of years with the Tassie Mariners, footy took priority and we took the brash youngster with pick 19 and it paid immediate dividends with his awareness around goal in the 2000 qualifying final leading us to an upset of Carlton. Such was his rising celebrity, that Sheeds sent Dean Wallis to brutally wipe him out in the first minute of the granny. He loved goals, especially ones soccered off the ground and he was a beautiful left-foot kick. Daniher sent him to the wing in 2006 in order to get him more in the play, but he probably was a yard short of pace to really make it there and at 182cm, not tall enough to play a key post, although he did a pretty good job of it in 2010 when he converted 55 goals mainly from full-forward in a Bayley Fritsch style role. He won our B&F that year, narrowly missing an AA spot. He was made captain in 2011 and then somewhat rudely cast aside by Mark Neeld for the role the following year. Maybe it was the way he celebrated, but he always seemed to have a smile on his face.

25 Stan Alves 65-76 226 games 174 goals He was skipper for four years from 73-76 and won two B&F in that time and was part of the most amazing centreline of all time – Alves, Wells and Flower – I only caught the tailend of Clay, Barrot and Bourke and our guys were more skillful. Stan’s 1975 was amazing, he even kicked five against the Tigers one game and finished runner-up to Gary Dempsey by one vote in the Brownlow, although he didn’t win our B&F that year. The problem was that the rest of our side was flawed at that stage and he ended up realising that at 30, if he didn’t jump ship to the Roos for 1977, then a flag wasn’t going to be on his resume and starting in 1965, he’d just missed our golden era. He was ahead of his time when it came to fitness and his battles with the likes of Schimma, Keith Greig and Ricky Barham were invigorating back then. 

26 Allen Jakovich 91-94 47 games, 201 goals Ok, so I’m sure Gen Ys and X’s will be saying how can you rate a player with just 47 games so highly. But Jako was special. He was our version of Phil Carman, except that it took Swooper nine weeks to realise it. Jako was the older, smaller brother of Glen, and after two stunning seasons at Woodville in the SANFL kicking 101 goals in 1990, the 23-year-old played round 1 of 1991 for us against a niggardly, nasty Eagles side under Mick Malthouse that won their first 12 games. We only kicked two goals in Subiaco that day, and Jako was sent to the reserves where his freak show at the lower level began. His second game in Adelaide came in Rd 10 and it wasn’t much better so back he went to the magoos. But after 60 goals in 10 games back there, he was promoted for a third time and was handy against the Hawks and then the show began with successive hauls of 8,6,6,8,7 and 11 against the Roos that included a scissor kick goal and one from the boundary and a fine for backchatting from the umps. Like Willow, he had bigger than normal hips and that meant that even at 193cm he could outbody opponents and he could turn on to either foot and kick 50m on the run. He ended up with 71 goals from just 14 games in 1991 including eight in our elimination final win against Essendon, but from then on he had the odd issue with injuries, the occasional suspension from umpires and even a few dressing downs from Northey who clearly felt he was way too selfish for his liking. His final game in 1994 was an eight-goal effort against the Hawks in Rd 17, but injuries meant he missed the finals that year and we didn’t renew his contract so he took his show off to Footscray, which only lasted seven more games.

27 Travis Johnstone 98-07 160 games, 111 goals The grandson of Lions great Norm Johnstone lived in Chelsea and was taken with pick No.1 in 1997 and clearly could play – he had amazing vision and could hit targets with such ease. But he wasn’t noted for training his heart out and while part of that could be attributed to groin and hamstring injuries, it’s probably more true that Trappa never really had the work ethic because he was naturally so good and depending on your rumour file, liked a bit of the green stuff. He played in our 2000 GF but it was his four-goal final in 2002 against Adelaide that was truly memorable – what a precocious talent. It wasn’t until 2005 that he really put a good season together for the Reverend and won the Bluey Truscott, but in 2006 he was back to his lazy, laconic ways. Our demise in 2007 led to him being traded, heading to Brisbane to get his Lions jumper. His final game for us was against Carlton in the Kreuzer Cup and he compiled 42 disposals, so you can imagine what he could have been had he embraced hard work. 

28 Sean Wight 85-95 150 games He arrived at the club in 1984 as part of Barry Richardson and Barassi’s Irish experiment and did a year playing with such talents as John Fidge in our Under 19s. He got a handful of games in 1985 and 86 and to much laughter from fans, kicked three goals against the reigning premier Bombers at Windy Hill in his first year. But a knee injury and his somewhat weird manner of tapping the ball backwards in the air, meant that it wasn’t until 1987 that Northey put faith in his dash and played him down back. He was unbelievable in our win against Footscray that year and a cult hero throughout that finals campaign. He was toyed with as a forward in 88 and kicked four goals in our prelim win over the Blues, but when fit he became our pack-crashing full-back from 1991. In 94 he enjoyed a memorable victory at the MCG over Gary Ablett keeping him to six touches. Payback from Gazza came later that year with 10 down at Kardinia Park.

29 Stephen Tingay 89-00 162 games, 84 goals I am not sure Melbourne initially thought Stinga was that good. Firstly after drafting him from Shepparton with pick 50 they made him play a season with our under-19s and then gave him No.52. He came off the bench in Rd 1 of 89 and had just one kick – but it was the matchwinner against Fitzroy so he knew how to get attention. Later he expanded things to a weight-room induced six-pack and peroxide locks and a bit of nude modelling – hate to think what he’d have done nowadays with Instagram and TikTok. By 1990, he’d became a very confident, dashing wingman who loved taking a bounce and thumping the ball into our forward 50. He played a starring role in our Rd22 win over the Hawks. His battles with Collingwood’s Darren Millane back then were pretty special, and off-season he suffered similar adversity falling through a plate glass window and severing tendons in his right wrist that almost ended his career. It wasn’t until 1994 that he really came of age, wearing Robbie’s No.2 and making the All-Australian side and finishing behind only Garry Lyon in the Bluey. Freo tried to steal him and he often hit the news for the wrong reasons. A lingering hip/buttock problem from his window accident seemed to limit his involvement, although he was a key member of our 98 finals campaign under the Reverend. Injuries cost him in 2000 and it’s fair to say he didn’t quite achieve what he could have.

30 Shane Woewodin 97-02 138 games Ok, so let’s get one thing straight. Woey had an outstanding 2000 and it wasn’t just because he’d started dying his hair. He’d been diligently building his game since being taken pre-season as a dour defender from East Fremantle. He played every game that year and in our bounce back 1998 and was one of our best in our loss to the Roos in the prelim. In ’99 when thing went awry, Daniher threw him into the middle for the last few games and realised he had something and a star of the new millennium was born. If you happened to be at the MCG in our come from behind win over the Cats in 2000, you would have probably backed him for the Charlie. He had 35 disposals and kicked four goals as he became an elite member of our running brigade with his ability to baulk on to his left. He probably hadn’t slept for five days come the granny given the number of interviews he did post Brownlow night, so 19 disposals against the Dons wasn’t that bad really. I think his numbers plummeted like the Twin Towers in 2001 and I still recall him going back with the flight in our QB Pies clash and getting crunched on the wing by a pack that included Sav. Like many I was shocked when we traded him to the Pies at the end of 2002 as the club tried to squeeze out of its contract with him – it put me off drinking my Woey Brownlow port bottle for some time.

31 Aaron Davey 04-13 178 games, 174 goals Everyone loved Aaron from the moment we were able to snaffle him via the rookie draft. He’d come from Darwin and North Melbourne had got him to play a season at Port Melbourne just to be sure, but on the back of a shocking season we had pick 3, well before North’s pick 7. The Reverend knew straight away he was on a winner promoting him for round 1 against the Dawks. Nicknamed the Flash (the Whiz was already taken), he was just so lively from the outset bouncing this way and that way and then turning on to his left foot and snagging the goal of the week. But it was his amazing chase down tackles on unsuspecting defenders that rejigged coaching methods and forced all clubs to search for similar prototypes. He probably should have won the Rising Star in 2004, but he did win our B&F in 2009 when Bailey sent him down back, possibly to reduce his susceptibility to hamstring strains.

32 Laurie Fowler 75-81 140 games A tough, old school defender, Fowler achieved infamy in four years at Richmond by knocking out Carlton ruckman John Nicholls soon after the bounce of the 1973 grand final, but he was left out of the Tigers 1974 grand final side and casted off to Melbourne, where he became a fixture in the back pocket and even had the odd game as ruck rover kicking three goals in a gritty win over the Saints in 1976 and  winning our B&F in 1979 and 80, ahead of a cast that included Robbie Flower and Greg Wells. He played for Victoria a couple of times as well. His career-high 29 kicks came against the Tigers in 1977 and the umps loved the way he put his body (and head) on the line, giving him more free kicks than Joel Selwood. By the end of 1981, he surprisingly left to go to the VFA – not sure if his departure was ever fully explained but Barassi’s style did have its detractors.

33 Jake Lever 18- 61 games It’s rumoured that he would have been taken by us with Angus in 2014 if not for the Saints decision to opt for McCartin ahead of Petracca. And it’s not his fault that he proved a costly recruit when we had to give up two first-rounders for the Adelaide grand final youngster. Our footy department was obviously always keen on the Romsey lad so picking up a then 21-year-old with a moustache was no big deal. He was coming off a great season with the Crows and he was useful in the 2017 grand final against the Tigers, even though his defection meant he was spitefully told to skip their B&F count. Initially a lot of us wanted him to be the tall key defender that May currently is but he’s not that sort of player – he just reads the game so well and is the master of the intercept mark having amazing aerial judgment on top of being courageous. He was a big part in us making the 2018 finals but when he went down with knee issues against the Dogs, it probably cost him two years as it wasn’t until 2020 that he started looking super confident, baulking when needed and directing traffic. He didn’t miss a game in 2021, won an All-Australian spot, and set an AFL record for most intercepts. He’s 33 here, but two more seasons like he’s just had and he’s top 10 all-time material.

34 Steven Febey 87-01 258 games 40 goals One of only nine Dees to play more than 250 games, I used to wonder if Febes could have made the Australian Olympic team as a middle-distance runner. The boy from Devonport came via the No.3 pick in the first official draft and played in two grand finals – 1988 and 2000, although I’m not sure he’ll care to remember too much about them. But as a half-back he was incredibly reliable – always getting back to help – he and twin brother Matthew once combined for 74 disposals against Brisbane in 1994 and yes, they did look for each other as all twins do. Post career hasn’t been easy on Febey, he was caught up in the aftermath of the Bail bombings with Steven Armstrong and has had to battle depression but it was nice to see him back cheering on the lads in 2021. 

35 Christian Salem 14- 130 games He started out as a small forward and memorably kicked the matchwinner after the siren against Essendon in his first season but with his ability to quickly put the ball so precisely on his left foot, there was only one spot for him as our defensive safety net. He had a couple of years being taught the tricks by Jordy Lewis, but what he worked on more than anything is his one-on-one defence – he’s now more than capable of shutting down his man as well and let’s face it, most of the time he’s up against a taller, quicker opponent – yet he reads it so well and that’s why Salo can’t be exploited going the other way, unlike fellow quarter-back Daniel Rich who often is at Brisbane. He had a career-high 39 disposals against Richmond this year and snagged an early goal against the flow, so as good as Trac was that evening, I think the wrong “Christian” got the Anzac medal.    

36 Bayley Fritsch 18- 85 games 118 goals – 59 in 2021 It’s going to be hard now separating the true Bayley Fritsch and the one who kicked six goals in our epic grand final win. He kicked 59 goals for the year, only Tom Hawkins kicked more for the year. And he lifted for the finals, kicking four including a memorable mark and conversion in our win over the Lions. Only six years earlier he was playing at Coldstream and looked likely to follow in his father’s 360-game footsteps at the Eastern Footy League club. After missing out on the draft, thankfully he decided to try his luck at Casey and the Dees realised the lovely left-footer had a fair bit of talent and flair. But with no early picks and his reputation growing after 42 goals in the Frosty Miller VFL medal, we had to offload Jack Watts for a second-rounder and It’s fair to say it paid off big time. Fritta wears No.31, Ron Barassi’s famous guernsey that appeared jinxed until he was given it. Remember Tom Scully among many abject failures. 

37 James McDonald 97-10 251 games It’s hard to downplay a 251 gamer who became skipper at an incredibly unstable time, but here goes - Junior was never a star of our club. But he was incredibly loyal and hardworking and that’s why he featured in the guts for almost all of his games, the exception being his first three years when he came off the rookie list and was plonked on a flank and told to give the Wiz some room to move. As with brother Anthony, he had to travel a hard road to AFL via Old Xavs, but once he got his tank up to speed he became very useful as a tagger and in 2000 became a regular, even starring against the Swans before a knee injury cost him a spot in the finals – would he have done a better job on James Hird than Brent Grgic … rhetorical question. He set a then AFL record for tackles (143) in 2006 and claimed the first of two Bluey Truscott Medals. He was also All-Australian that year and averaged 23 touches so he was no hack. But such was his work ethic that he was captaincy material, taking over from David Neitz in 2008. He was pushed out of the club at the end of 2010 in a manner that still irks many today. 

38 Colin Sylvia 04-13 157 games, 129 goals So here’s a player who’s hard to rate. I mean on his day he was everything that Christian Petracca is nowadays – like the time he slammed home five against the Tigers in 2010. He was thickset and should have become a Dusty type, but he never seemed to have quite the training application – being a bit of a country lad. He’d played in Merbein’s flag side as a 15-year-old and I reckon he would have drunk quite a few beers that night. It’s unfair to Junior and Cam Bruce to say that he didn’t have the right role models around him back then, but there was definitely an issue of trust and he always seemed the one blamed for not applying the zone defence correctly or for failing to man up when needed and he also had a habit of turning up sozzled at training sessions. As a result he didn’t achieve anywhere near the carnage on the field that he looked capable of when drafted from the Pioneers with pick No.3 in 2003. Eventually management got jack of him and we sent him to Fremantle as part of the Bernie Vince deal. His death in a car accident near Mildura in 2018 was a sad end. Those that knew him reckon Col was a loveable, knockabout character. I prefer to remember him on song nailing 55m drop punts or the day he kicked three goals in three minutes on his way to 37 touches and three Brownlow votes in our loss to the Hawks in 2009. 

39 Steven May 19- 48 games There is a case to be made that he’s our best true full-back … full stop. I mean Tassie Johnson had stints up forward while Sean Wight began as a livewire half-back and up forward before replacing Danny Hughes. But best FB in history is a big call given he only came to our club as a 27-year-old in 2019 and in his first season copped a whack from Goody for being unfit and “beer’ prone. But given he’s one of our highest paid players – his original deal is said to have been $750K a year – a few questions were being raised, especially given Ben King looked so good. But Maysie got down to working hard to reduce weight and is now so revered that he’s a member of our leadership group. He’s also the most classy full-back we’ve ever had, with a measured left-foot that can travel 60m or 25m bang on target. On top of that he seems to relish shutting down the star forwards – it’s just so nice to have someone who can play on Hawkins, Lynch and Dixon and win most of the time. He’s just turned 30, so hopefully he can be just as frugal for a few more years yet. If so a spot in our Best Team of 150 years awaits. 

40 Steven Smith 74-85 203 games, 144 goals He was still 20 in 1976 when he seemed destined for greatness as our CHF, part of a spine that included Ray Biffin, Greg Wells and Gary Hardeman. At that stage he appeared to glide through the air and take marks all over the ground - a bit like Garry Lyon in his heyday. But 1977 was a bad year for everyone and he missed half of it with injury and he never really developed into a star up forward, so Barassi sent him down back where he won our B&F in 1981. Being a nice kick and a smart player he was pretty useful as our full-back, but he also infamously became another Leigh Matthews victim at Princes Park in 1984. A bit of a surprise choice of opponent that day given his size, Smith had aerial superiority and outplayed the champ before being dispatched in Lethal fashion. Not sure he was awake for the club song that day but given wins against the Hawks were a bit of a rarity back then, I’m sure it was a rousing one. He's one of four players to have played over 200 games that never appeared in a final along with Saints Trevor Barker, Geoff Cunnighman and our own Gary Hardeman.

 

 
 

Thanks for the fantastic work on this Deespicable.

I would just like to acknowledge that No 26 , - Jacko -,  I think also holds the all-time AFl/VFL record for the quickest first 50  career goals which he did in hist inaugural season with us.. Done in his first 9 games, of which one game (his first was goaless) .

At 71 Goals 57 behinds for the season,  imagine what might have been with better accuracy, or was this a sign of trying the impossible shot too many times.

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My favourite thing about reading these is that I’m shocked at the strength of my reaction, and then I read the description and talk myself around. Steven Stretch! Too high. Fritsch! Gone way too early. Stan Alves! Far too low. Johnstone, Sylvia and Davey all too high! 

It’s brilliant fun. Thanks so much @Deespicable

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12 hours ago, 58er said:

Doesn't have to name another wingman in top 20. It's not a complete team but no but no doubt we will all have our go on that one.

Reckon Stretch Sylvia maybe James Mac and possibly Stephen Febey could be a bit high. Reckon  T Mac might be a bit low and Lingers is not in out top 20 

Reckon Lingers will stand up well in our Top5 wingers from 1972 in a couple of years.

Maysie is high snd really has only put together 2 years of great footy and hard to place in longevity compared with Stephen Smith as a longer term defender  who undoubtedly was hampered by hamstring injuries for the last half of his career.

Reckon we could almost pick the next 20 players but the order???

Stynes Todd and Jack Viney Robbie Flower Jeff White Mark Jamar??? Greg Wells Gary Hardemann Gary Lyon Whiz Gawny Trac Clarry Gerard Healey 
Neiter Schwarta Brett Lovett Jonesy.  Brian "Wilow" Wilson. 

I have forgotten at least one other player probably a ruckman or midfielder. 
Anyone??? 

One missing is Ooze Yze our master midfield coach who had enormous skills.

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