I need your ideas.
Some of you would be aware that I’m in the final throes of completing my Master of Journalism at Queensland University of Technology. During the course of my studies, I’ve managed to spend most of my time talking and writing about footy. I’m currently preparing for my major project, which will be the production (and hopefully publication) of a series of short stories or magazine features about former Aussie Rules players and their reflections on ‘missing out’ on the ultimate prize in Australian football – an AFL Premiership.
The goal is to profile former players, thinking about the larger disappointment of an elite sports career which can be as equally compelling, if told in an engaging fashion, as the triumph and joys of playing the game at the highest level.
My long list of players includes the following:
1993 Grand Final – Derek Kickett (Essendon): Having played every match of the 1993 season, Kickett was a shock omission from the Essendon side to take on Carlton in the ’93 Grand Final. The ‘Baby Bombers’ were victorious but Kickett subsequently walked out on the club, finishing his career with Sydney (where he played in the losing 1996 Grand Final side).
1996 Grand Final – John Longmire (North Melbourne): One of North Melbourne’s favourite sons missed the 1996 Grand Final through injury. He was later seen in tears as his teammates received their premiership medallions. He went on to play in North’s 1999 premiership side before tasting further success as the Swans’ 2012 Premiership coach.
1997 Grand Final – Tony Modra (Adelaide): The high-flying Adelaide forward won the Coleman Medal in the 1997 season, and was also selected in the AFL All-Australian team. However, a knee injury sustained during the preliminary final caused Modra to miss the Crows first Premiership when they defeated St Kilda in the Grand Final. After returning from the injury in 1998 Modra failed to regain form and was not considered for the Grand Final, which the Crows won. He was thus one of the few leading Adelaide players who did not receive a premiership medallion in either of the club’s Premiership years of 1997 and 1998.
2001, ’02 and ’03 Grand Finals – Richard Champion (Brisbane): A dependable defender, ‘Champs’ retired the year before Brisbane’s golden era from 2001 to 2003 when they won three Premierships in a row. Champion didn’t just miss out on a Grand Final or Premiership. He missed out on a Premiership era!
2004 Grand Final – Matthew Primus (Port Adelaide): The Port captain missed the first ever non-Victorian Grand Final due to persistent injury. He played no part in Port’s only premiership-winning year to date.
2010 Grand Final – Leon Davis (Collingwood): Davis played in the ‘first’ Grand Final against St Kilda but had little influence on the drawn match. He was dropped for the replay the following week which Collingwood won convincingly. In 2011, in one of his best seasons, Davis played in the losing Grand Final against Geelong. He subsequently left the Club and never played in the AFL again.
There would obviously be others, including big names like Gary Ablett Senior and Tony Lockett or Paul Kelly.
Any suggestions to add to this list are most welcome.