The annual AFL Hall of Fame evening has been run and won, with 5 modern day champions and one player from the past honoured.
This year, due to the numerical rules around the HOF, there wasn’t a Legend announced. However, as the numbers will increase in 2015 past 260 members, and Legends can only be at 10% of the HOF club, there will be a Legend announced then.
So, as much as every year, there will be consternation about who has been missed (seldom is there discussion of the merits of who was included), and we face a twelve month wait until the unveiling. As the Legend must come from existing ranks, we at least know who is in the mix, and it will be interesting to see who they go with.
Ablett Snr is the emotional discussion that arises every few year, with the debate being what role character plays in the nomination. Whilst not ready yet, that argument will undoubtedly happen eventually with Carey, as it seems to be happening with HOF inclusion with Cousins. In a similar way, Lou Richards is championed by Collingwood and others as a potential Legend, although the criterion focusses the consideration to on-field performances, which doesn’t allow for his role in the media to be assessed.
Anyone who makes it will be worthy. Anyone who misses will be stiff. A quick look at the names of those in the 25 Legend spots already shows no passengers are allowed, and again, you are arguing more about who has been left out rather than who has been let in.
The last Legend inducted was Royce Hart in 2013, an enigmatic figure but a champion of his or any era. Before him, Barry Cable was elevated in 2010, Ken Murray in 2008.
With that, I’ll start the debate by picking 5 names from the player category that I think the next Legend will come from. Then, a few coaches. I don’t admit to knowing the records of the Umpires, Media or Administrators well enough, but would hazard a guess that the 26th AFL Legend will be either a player or coach.
My top 5 chances, in no particular order (stats and comments taken from the HOF site), for the 2015 Legend are:
Malcolm Blight (Woodville/North Melbourne) Inducted to HOF: 1996
Enigmatic forward who is remembered for his ability to perform the impossible. Also a master coach.
Playing career: 1968-1985 (W’ville 1968-73, 1983-85, NM 1974-1982) Games: 341 (W’ville 163, NM 178) Goals: 803 (W’ville 359, NM 444)
Player honours: Magarey Medal 1972; Brownlow Medal 1978; NM best and fairest 1978; NM leading goal-kicker 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982; Coleman Medal 1982; NM Premierships 1975, 1977; All-Australian 1972, 1982, 1985; Kang/NM Team of the Century; Victoria (7 games, 19 goals); South Aust (1 game, 4 goals).
Coaching record: NM 1981 (16 games, 6 wins, 10 losses); Geel 1989-1994 (145 games, 89 wins, 56 losses); Adelaide 1997-1999 (74 games, 41 wins, 33 losses), Premierships 1997, 1998). St Kilda 2001 (15 games, 3 wins, 12 losses).
Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) Inducted: 1996
Holds the games and premierships records in AFL football. Was a skinny ruck-rover with great stamina.
Playing career: 1972-1991 Games: 426 Goals: 320 Player honours: Captain 1986-1991; Premierships 1976, 1978, 1983, 1983, 1986 (Captain), 1988 (Captain), 1989 (Captain), 1991 (Captain); All-Australian 1979, 1983, 1990; Hawthorn Team of the Century; Victoria (11 games, 5 goals).
Russell Ebert (Port Adelaide (SANFL)/North Melbourne) Inducted: 1996
Skilful centreman who dominated South Australian football during his era.
Playing career: 1968-1985 (Port Adelaide (SANFL)1968-1978, 1980-1985, NM 1979) Games: 416 (PA (SANFL) 391, NM 25) Goals: 310 (PA (SANFL) 295, NM 15) Player honours: Magarey Medal 1971, 1974, 1976, 1980; PA (SANFL) best and fairest 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981; PA (SANFL) leading goalkicker 1968; PA (SANFL) captain 1974-1978; PA premierships 1977, 1980, 1981; South Aust (35 games 0 goals).
Jack Titus (Richmond) 3/3/1908-19/4/1978 Inducted: 1996
Quick lead and brilliant evasive skills made him a star forward. Set a consecutive games record (204) for that was broken by Jim Stynes.
Playing career: 1926-1943 Games: 294 Goals: 970 Player honours: Best & Fairest 1929, 1941; Leading goalkicker Medal 1940; club leading goalkicker 1929, 1930, 1934-1942; premierships 1932, 1934; Richmond Team of the Century, Victoria (11 games, 35 goals). Coaching record: Rich 1937, 1941, 1965 (17 games, 11 wins, 6 losses).
Jack Worrall (Carlton/Essendon) 12/05/1863-17/11/1937 Inducted: 1996
First coach ever appointed and a brilliant leader. Coached Carlton to three premierships and Essendon to two. Fitzroy player pre-1901.
Playing career: Fitzroy 1884-1893 (VFA)
Coaching record: Carlton 1902-09 (144 games, 100 wins, 43 losses, 1 draw); Premierships 1906, 1907, 1908; Essendon 1911-15, 1918-20 (135 games, 65 wins, 67 losses, 3 draws), Premierships 1911, 1912.
These five alone represent 1 Brownlow, 5 Magarey medals, and 2 Colemans (or equivalents). They have played in 15 premierships, coached another 7 flags and won 9 B&Fs, and played over 1500 games. Impressive.
There are names that could be smokeys, including Lockett, Stynes, Dunstall and even Williams, but I’d be surprised if the name announced wasn’t from one of the 5 above. If I had to pick my next favourite outside this lot, I’d go with:
Neil Kerley (West Adelaide/South Adelaide/Glenelg) Inducted: 1997
Legendary hard man who represented South Australia in 32 games with great distinction.
Playing career: 1952-69 (West Adelaide 1952, 1955-1963, South Adelaide 1964-1966, Glenelg 1967-1969) Games: 260 (West Adel 149, South Adel 56, Glenelg 55) Goals: 123 (West Adel 87, Glenelg 36) Player honours: West Adelaide Best & Fairest 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962; West Adelaide captain 1959-1962; South Adelaide captain 1964-1966; Glenelg Best & Fairest 1967; Glenelg captain 1967-1969; All-Australian 1961; South Aust (32 games).
As to coaches, where to start? Names such as Kennedy, Sheedy, Jeans, Parkin and Hafey could be considered, and to look beyond the AFL, Fos Williams’s 9 flags and John Cahill’s 10 in SA must go close.
Whoever gets in, will be a worthy winner. Whoever misses out, will be unlucky.
Who would you go with?