Welcome readers to part two of our new series here at The Mongrel Punt; The Mongrel Drafts.
The way this is going to work is that a question has been posed to three of our writers, they have each then drafted five players in a snake draft order. After their pick, each Mongrel will give justification as to why they picked who they did. Now that that’s out of the way, today’s question is “Who are the best players to ever wear #3?” Mongrels drafting are: HB Meyers, Trent Adam Shields and Alex Docherty.
Alex will begin the draft.
Pick 1. Alex Docherty. Ted Whitten:
I went into this draft with a plan to secure two of the best Bulldogs to wear the number three. It probably does Leigh Matthews a disservice because he can arguably stake a claim to be the best player of all time. But I’m a Doggies man and that takes precedence over anything else here. And besides, a man that was branded the nickname of ‘Mr. Football’ doesn’t happen overnight.
His ability to not just thrive as a centre-half back, which was where he played in the 1954 premiership, but also provide a strong scoring option as a centre-half forward is part of what made him great to watch. He won five club best and fairest awards at Footscray, including one in the premiership season and was a four-time club leading goal kicker. Add to the fact that he took a no-nonsense approach to his game made him one of the more feared and respected players in his era.
Pick 2. Trent Adam Shields. Leigh Matthews:
The man widely regarded as the greatest of all time recently quipped that “Dusty’s the only player I don’t get insulted being compared to” as the latter was presented with his record third Norm Smith Medal. Possessing equal parts leadership, sublime skill, brutality, balance, timing and temperament Lethal Leigh could be described as a cross between the prolific consistency of Gary Ablett Jnr, and the electrifying impact of Gary Snr.
Playing 300+ games primarily as an on-ball rover and returning over 900 goals clearly illustrates his dominance, for comparison Tom Hawkins was a runaway winner of the Coleman Medal with a goals per game average of 2.3 this season as a stay at home full forward. To further prove the point, Matthews won the Coleman in 1975, and added a career high 90 goals in 1977, even the AFLPA MVP award bears his name. No player has been as adept in the wet, the dry, the mud, in the air, on the ground, during home & away fixtures or on the finals stage, versus talls or shorts, ball players or stoppers – simply we will never see another unstoppable force like him.
Pick 3. HB Meyers. Michael Voss:
Tough, hard, inspirational… Michael Voss had everything you needed as an on-field leader. Dished it out and copped his whack when it was his turn to go, only to bounce up and continue playing the game.
A three-time premiership captain, Voss had the type of career anyone would aspire to. A Brownlow in the mix to go along with five AA selections and two MVP awards, Voss made those around him walk taller. A leader of men.
Pick 4. HB Meyers. Chris Judd:
Has there ever been anyone who burst from a stoppage quite like Chris Judd?
If there was a signature move in footy, Judd’s acceleration and breakaway from the pack with two or three blokes trying in vain to clutch at his jumper would be one of them. You had Capper’s screamers, Derm’s bumps, Matera’s running bounces and Judd’s acceleration away from packs.
Wasted no time in establishing himself as the dominant player in from the 2001 National Draft despite being pick three, and commenced a career-long Judd v Hodge debate that plenty still chime in on when the subject comes up.
Two Brownlows for two clubs indicate just how good he was across his entire career. An absolute rock star of footy.
Pick 5. Trent Adam Shields. Dick Reynolds:
Clearly the finest player to have donned the sash of one of the oldest and most successful clubs in the ‘King Richard’ is one of just four men to have won three Brownlow Medals, which he added to his seven club awards, four premierships and holding the captaincy for 12 seasons.
A highly skilled midfielder/small forward he retired with a then record 320 matches, when the AFL announced a Hall of Fame to coincide with the 100th season in 1996, the selection panel unanimously named the Bombers number 3 as an inaugural legend of the game, and rightly so.
Pick 6. Alex Docherty. Chris Grant:
I thank both HB and Trent for leaving him open for me to select with my next pick. This one means a lot to me as Chris Grant was the one player that helped me pledge my allegiance to the sons of the West. It would be around the time where he was remarkably wronged and denied the Brownlow Medal in 1997, but even then there was much more to him than just that year.
His first year saw him kick 51 goals at the age of 17, that won’t be done again for a long time, if not ever in this day and age. He played predominantly as a centre-half forward type player but also played some time across the half-back line, especially towards the back-end of his career. He was dubbed the ‘Rolls-Royce’ by another Bulldog legend in Doug Hawkins, if you ever watched him play, it was hard to argue against it.
Pick 7. Alex Docherty. Nathan Burke:
I suppose we’ll continue the Bulldogs theme by selecting current AFLW coach in Nathan Burke, who alongside Lenny Hayes, was perhaps one of my favourite Saints players to watch growing up, and that’s saying something considering the number of really good players they’ve brought in over the years. Also he was one of the rare few to play with a helmet, which is another quirk I absolutely love in football.
As a footballer, he was as tough as they came as far as midfielders went. He was strong, attacked contests head on and he still possessed the class required to be one of the game’s elite and it showed as he was named a member of St Kilda’s team of the century, as well as being named a three-time club best and fairest and a four-time All-Australian.
Pick 8. Trent Adam Shields. Paul Salmon:
The beanpole from Melbourne’s far east burst on to the scene in the mid-80s drawing comparisons with the great John Coleman as he raced to the top of the goal kicking tally after 12 rounds with 63 goals in just his second season. Making his average more impressive was his ability to switch with Simon Madden in the ruck, but in round 13 at Victoria Park it all went awry as he collected a loose ball after the bounce and as he went to boot it deep into the Essendon attacking zone he was partially smothered with his knee buckling under the strain.
A late return in 1985 ended triumphantly as Salmon added six goals in the premiership rout, a tally he almost replicated in the Bombers 1993 success. The years in between however were full of inconsistency and frustration from fans as his body didn’t support a permanent forward role, and Madden stood in the way of his desire to play on the ball more often. A late career trade to his beloved boyhood team of Hawthorn saw a reincarnation as a dominant ruckman renowned for his excellent skills, pack marking and capacity to influence matches until the final siren.
Pick 9. HB Meyers. Darren Jarman:
I have never seen a player more naturally gifted than Darren Jarman. Perfectly balanced, with the ability to hit a leading target on the chest with apparent ease, Jars was a delight to watch. There was nobody better at selling candy to the opposition – none! I remember watching him against Fitzroy in the early 90s. He danced around three players on the run, sending all of them sprawling as he held the ball out, made them commit and then stepped around them to slot a goal. He was so good it was almost embarrassing.
Not a fitness fanatic, Jars would later move forward and tear finals apart for the Crows as he racked up flags two and three in a fantastic career. One of my favourite ever players to watch.
Pick 10. HB Meyers. Jimmy Bartel:
He could genuinely do anything. Need a defensive stop? Throw Jimmy down back. Need a clearance? Into the middle he goes. Need someone to stand up inside 50 and take a mark? Guess who bobs up and kicks a point to sink your team and break your heart?
Jimmy Bartel was a footballer. Others may have been athletes who learnt the game, but he was a born and bred footballer. There was no real weakness to his game and on his day, he’d not only be the match winner, but make those around him better as well.
As a Hawthorn man, it pains me to say it, as it is against my nature, but there were a couple of Geelong players who would put that team on their back and will them over the line against us all the dam time. One was Joel Selwood and the other was Jimmy Bartel. We simply could not prevent him from doing that…
… and given how good he was, there is no shame in that at all.
I want to add in a little footnote here to the Jimmy Bartel section, I think it was my cousin that said it a good decade ago now that Jimmy was like JB HI-FI, high class, always reliable, never a good special but always there when you need them. Just wanted to add that in, I’m not sure there will ever be another JB HI-FI in the midfield like Jimmy was, best comparison today would be Mitch Duncan, but not even Mitch can hold a candle to the mantle of the AFL’s JB HI-FI. – Julian Russo
Pick 11. Trent Adam Shields. Gerard Healy:
A prototype ruck-rover of the modern era, taking Michael Tuck’s mantle as the pre-eminent exponent of this craft as he moved from Melbourne to the flamboyant Edelsten Swans in the mid-to-late 80s. Good enough to have 133 shots on goal in 1982, Healy became one of the highly prized recruits of the Sydney Swans for the 1986 season as they sought to establish themselves in the northern market.
Once paired with Greg Williams and Barry Mitchell in the centre and supported by running machines David’s Bolton and Murphy on a wing, Healy became one of the best players in the league, averaging over 25 touches and a goal in his Sydney career. He was in integral cog in the exciting, high scoring teams that unfortunately ran out of steam as they entered the ‘86 and ‘87 finals but were every bit as good as any other side in that era. The 1988 Brownlow Medal and numerous star showings for Victoria at a time when that was considered the pinnacle of the game fair acknowledgement of his legacy.
Pick 12. Alex Docherty. Jarrad McVeigh:
In a Sydney Swans teams that boasted names such as Goodes, Kirk, Parker, Kennedy, Hall and O’Loughlin, Jarrad McVeigh is perhaps one of the more underrated stars emanating out of Sydney during both the 2000s and the 2010s. Yes he was taken pick five in the 2002 National Draft, but there is no questioning McVeigh’s skill, consistency, leadership and hard approach for the contest when called upon.
A two-time club best and fairest winner, McVeigh’s peak years were definitely during the 2010s period. He was the captain in Sydney’s 2012 premiership triumph, the following year he won his second Bob Skilton Medal, along with his one and only All-Australian selection. All in all, he played 325 games for the Swans between 2004-2019 and was consistently solid for the most part of that.
Pick 13. Alex Docherty. Garry Lyon:
Leave your thoughts about Garry Lyon the media personality and lunch-cutter at the door on this one, because this is simply about the player that Garry Lyon was. Admittedly, I didn’t watch a lot of him in my younger years because it was towards the late 1990s that his career was coming to an end. The 1998 season was probably the only chance I got to see him as he faced ongoing back injuries in ’96, ’97 and ’99, which is where he ultimately called time on his career.
But Garry was bloody good across the half-forward line: A two-time club best and fairest, in 1994 and ’95, he kicked over 70 goals in each season en route to two of his three All-Australian selections. He was tall, powerful and mobile in the way he moved around the ground and he was just as strong overhead. If he wasn’t plagued with injury, he could’ve been a much better player than what we saw, but even then, what we saw was quite the impressive player – Nice Garry!
Pick 14. Trent Adam Shields. Dale Weightman:
Debuting at 18, the ‘Flea’ Dale Weightman was a premiership star by the time he turned 21, contributing a massive 560 disposals and better than a goal a game in the Tigers then record-winning flag. As the one mighty team was rapidly disbanded in the coming years, Weightman stayed loyal, despite strong overtures from the cashed-up Swans to become the Tigers best and most consistent player for a decade.
With finals action no longer a given at Punt Rd, Weightman saved his absolute best for the fearsome interstate clashes of the ‘80s, winning three best afield medals and the Tassie Medal for player of the carnival. While exceptionally skilled with a sharp shooters eye at goal, the Tiger rover was undersized but able to hold his own with a ferocious desire and occasional errant elbow or fist.
Pick 15. HB Meyers. Jim Krakouer:
I was impressionable at the time and that probably feeds into this pick, but I have some memories of Jim Krakouer in North Melbourne colours, doing things with the footy I did not know were possible at the time. It has been written about time and time again, but the connection and communication with his brother was almost other-worldly.
They would find each other in traffic or in the open field and the other would just seem to be perfectly positioned every time. It was amazing and it is a shame that more full games of these two playing together aren’t available.
Jim had a temper and it would get him in trouble in several ways, but as a football talent, he was absolutely elite.
And that wraps up this draft on what will be an ongoing series here at the Mongrel. We have plenty to look forward to. Have a topic you’d like us to draft? Leave it in the comments and we’ll see what we can do.
As always folks, Stay Mongrel.
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