WHAT ABOUT THOSE FORGOTTEN AFL PLAYERS

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When you hear the names John Coleman, Ron Barassi, Roy Cazaly and Tony Lockett, you automatically think of the legends of AFL. Some of the best the game has ever known. But, what about everyone else, the many others that ran onto the glorious M.C.G and were great and important in their own right? Then there are the players who were good enough to reach the lofty heights of becoming an AFL player, but for some reason couldn’t put their best foot forward resulting in lackluster careers.

There are so many footballers that have fallen out of our memories. Some players only played a handful of games, and had a short shelf life. Other players were on highly skilled teams where it was too hard to even tell if they contributed or existed. Remember the Brisbane Lions three-peat on the early 00’s? What about the Adelaide Crows back-to-back premiership teams in 1997 and 1998? The guys you remember are probably Andrew McLeod and Darren Jarman. Truth is: those teams had eight superstars when they were dominating.

We, at The Fifty, believe those forgotten players that carved out careers in the AFL that didn’t get the recognition they deserved, need to be identified and celebrated – or at the very least, name dropped. And that’s why this irregular ongoing column exists. There will be no Tony Lockett or Michael Voss or Dane Swan on this list. Even the players that didn’t carve out magnificent careers, but had something to give football in one form or another, those guys will get praise here. Let’s dive into these seven players in Part I.

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Damian Cupido: The Lion-turned-Bomber holds a nice Anzac Day stat line: five goals from 16 touches. In contrast, the ’05 season saw the South African kick six goals from 11 games. This summed up the life of Damian Cupido. Every time the small forward with quick feet left us in awe, moments later, we’d be cursing his inept brain fades. Best known for doing a fairly accurate Matthew Lloyd impression. The mouthie extrovert could have made it as a boxer, given his showboat skills and flamboyant athleticism. I will always remember that ANZAC Day, though.

Wayne Weidemann: Crows fans will file the 182cm forward under many things: cult hero, lovable man-eating Viking, journeyman or workman-like combatant. Ang Christou had the “woof”, Weidemann owned the “Weeeed”. He crashed packs for a living. My most vivid memory of The Weed was when he crunched Darren Jarman in the Crows’ first final against the Hawks in ’93. He played 68 games. Most of which weren’t memorable for any reason at all.

Mick Martyn: A consistent cog in North Melbourne’s backline for 15 seasons, which saw them win two premierships. He became pivotal when the Roos needed a big-body match up for, say, someone like Tony Lockett, Barry Hall or Stewart Loewe, where one-on-one wrestling duels were frequent. Full back became an evolving position in the ‘90s, an era full of versatile key forwards. Martyn’s best work was tailored more toward physical fracas. Even as forward lines diversified during the hulking backman’s reign, there was always a tall or big body for him to nullify or consider.

Allen Jakovich: I always thought Jakovich was a soccer player trapped inside a footballer’s body. He kicked 208 goals in 54 games and most of them, from what I recall, were off the ground. The small forward loved a celebration. Two that stand out:  the “aeroplane” against Collingwood and the famous kiss he gave his brother Glen when the Demons took on West Coast at the M.C.G. Football misses Allen Jakovich.

Danny Del-Re: The curly-haired forward produced minor miracles for Footscray in ’92 and ’93. You probably won’t know this or, at the very least, you’ve simply forgotten about it: in ’92 he bagged a more-than-reasonable 70 goals. He also kicked eight in a final against Geelong and 13 during the ’92 finals. Del-Re played a stabilizing role inside the fifty in an era where the club struggled for iconic forward-line figures. Chris Grant debuted in ’90, but that was well before Chris Grant became Chris Grant.

Doug Barwick: A Roy-boy, then Pie, Barwick finished three games shy of 150. The half forward with a super intense stare, averaged one-and-a-half goals per game and 15 disposals. The gritty Tasmanian had a prodigious kick for his size and was integral to Collingwood’s ’90 premiership, though Daicos, Brown and McGuane are three standout players from that team.

Ty Zantuck: His Wikipedia page describes himself as a “strong unit” and this Big Footy thread coined him “a bigger nuisance than Merv Hughes on speed.” When he moved to Essendon, during a match against Port Adelaide, Zantuck had a shot for goal from the corner pocket, close to the boundary. He hooked it out on the full. Robert Walls called it the worst shot on goal he’s ever seen. On the flip side, when playing for Richmond, Zantuck kicked a goal soccer-style against Collingwood and Dermott Brereton said Eric Cantona would have been proud of it. There are many layers to Ty Zantuck.


What About Those Forgotten AFL Players is an ongoing, irregular series. You can follow Justin Robertson on Twitter @justinjourno

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