A Team of Champions without a Premiership

Matthew Priddis and Nick Riewoldt retired this year without a premiership to their name after long and distinguished careers. Jack Graham was a premiership player after 5 games. Quirk of fate? Right place at the right time? Sheer luck?

I started thinking about putting a team together of the best footballers in most appropriate positions from each club that didn’t get to the top of the mountain.

These are my, admittedly subjective nominations. Who would you choose?



What do you think of Phil’s other teams ?

The Daryl Freame team of Premiership Purloiners

September Specialists

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Garry Wilson.

  2. G’day Phil,

    It’s an interesting stuff.

    I am just wondering:

    1. Why is Nick Riewoldt a half forward while Jobe Watson is a full forward?

    2. Can Rodney Eade be a suitable coach? But sorry I can’t find alternative coach…



  3. What about Jim Stynes?

  4. The Gentle Giant – Roy Wright (Rich). Two Brownlows.

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Like it. Interesting to contemplate. Nathan Buckley as coach or Alan Richardson

  6. Neil Anderson says

    I was going to list the dozens of Bulldog’s names starting with Chris Grant, Brad Johnson and Robert Murphy, but I ran out of time. The sun is shining, it’s the off-season of footy and I have to mow the lawns.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Paul Roos in for Mark Graham (wtf?)

  8. Trevor Barker

  9. From this year’s retirees: Drew Petrie.

    From your mob, LB: Bill Picken, Peter McKenna, Len Thompson.

  10. Neil Anderson says

    Did I say off-season? Footy never sleeps. Thinking about the list whilst on the mower, I think my nominations were from the ‘good-blokes’ list and not necessary the players missing the premierships.

  11. How about those Tommy Hafey trained Collingwood sides. The had some out and out guns. Peter McKenna was the best kick on goal I’ve ever seen – from many angle and any distance. And Tully & Price were extreme deliverers of the Pigskin.

  12. Paddy Grindlay says

    Might’ve taken Joel Bowden over Carlisle, but apart from that very happy with this. Plus my bias as a very proud Richmondite may be enforcing itself here.

  13. Completely off topic – or maybe not – but JTH, would it be possible to have a register of Nackers and their tribal affiliation?

  14. I’m always pleased to find that FIGJAM and I have the same number of premiership medals.

  15. Paul Couch would be a better fit than Matt Priddas.

  16. Nice progression Phil from your Premiership Purloiners team.

    I reckon Rene Kink deserves an honourable mention – 6 GF’s for 5 losses and a draw. Pretty decent player too when he felt like it.

  17. Great idea and team, Phil. Has to be Gary Pert at full back instead of Richard Champion. Imagine coming to Collingwood in 1991!! Yikes, and then getting half a lifetime in the office next to Eddie as his gofer? No wonder the bloke quit in tears.

  18. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Minor one-eyed Pie oversight – Len Thompson also played for South Melbourne and Fitzroy, while our beloved FIGJAM had a season with Brisbane in 1993 before making the worst decision in his footballing life – besides much ordinary coaching.

    Patrick Dangerfield? Too soon?

  19. I reckon it should be one club players. Pot hunters don’t count. (See Paddy Dangerfield) The welling up of Richo & Benny Gale on Saturday tell the real story of long & distinguished careers. The likes of Chris Judd & G. Ablett Jnr qualify for a separate category: Turncoats Who Pulled The Wrong Rein.

  20. Robert Allen says

    OK, call me biased but what about Roy Cazaly in the ruck? He did pretty much everything except play in a premiership side: 99 games at both St Kilda and South Melbourne; South’s leading goalscorer twice; captain at both; best and fairest at both; and played in several finals at both – including a GF in 1913 – but no premiership.

  21. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for your excellent contributions folks.
    Dips – Garry Wilson before Haydn Bunton? What about that PC averse fossil Sam Newman? We forget that he wasn’t a bad player in over 300 games for the Cats.

    Yoshi – Hard to find the best spot for Jobe Watson, so I plonked him in the pocket. Probably the best Essendon player in the modern era not to land a flag. Rodney Eade coached 377 games without a premiership, surely the longest in VFL/AFL history? Jim Stynes was very close. Great call !!

    Thanks Wrap – Roy Wright a great old timer – Super nomination. And yes, the one club concept could be a future project. Benny Gale would be right up there. His tears of relief a powerful image in the GF.

    Yvette – StKilda has had so many great champions who haven’t had luck. Lenny Hayes, Stewart Loewe, Nathan Burke, Leigh Montagna and of course the great Trevor Barker who didn’t get to play in one final.

    Neil – Like Yvette and the Saints, many unfortunate Doggies to choose from. Brad Johnson, Scott West, Rohan Smith, Libba Snr, Stephen Wallis, Brian Royal and one a great full-back in Rick Kennedy.

    Swish – Hawthorn was the hardest team because of their bloody success over the last 50 years. Nick Holland, Angelo Lekkas, Ben Dixon from the 1992-2007 years. Paul Roos should get a guernsey, correct.
    Gerry -as stated above, poor Trevor Barker didn’t even get to play in one final. That’s tough. Excellent choice.

    Smokie – Yes, Drew definitely a contender. Ross Glendinning stiff after crossing over in 1978. Others from North – Matthew Larkin, Peter German, The Krakouer brothers. Going further back, Noel Teasdale, Les Foote, Laurie ‘Twinkle Toes’ Dwyer.

    Thanks Paddy – Have you come down from the dizzy heights yet? Bowden a solid nomination. Played many fine games for the Tigers in ordinary sides. Chris Newman, Wayne Campbell, Matthew Knights also gave excellent service, but can you really go past Richo?

    Rabid Dog – Bet you’re not alone with that sentiment !!

    Dennis – Paul Couch definitely a consideration. Had to find a West Coast rep so Priddas got the gig, especially after landing the Brownlow.

    JD – Rene Kink did play in a premiership side – as Tank O’Donohue in ‘The Club’ in front of 130,000 people no less. Was he really a champion though? 6 GF’s and not one of them worth a cracker in the non-fiction world.

    PB – Perty a super nomination. However I wanted to include a Bad News Bear in the team. Champion gave lots of good service from the mid to late 1990s. Martin Leslie a fine defender who held his head high in many ratshit sides.

    Robert – Of course !! The master whose name resonates with the spirit of the game more than any other. Must find a spot for Roy Cazaly. Great get with bias utterly justifiable.

    I was tempted to create a side of Brownlow Medalists that missed premierships, but I thought it would narrow the field too much. Throw in names like Quinlan, Bedford, Gerard Healy, Paul Kelly, Paul Couch, Libba Snr, Scott Wynd, Jimmy Stynes, Peter Moore, Kelvin Templeton,Barry Round, Neil Roberts, Fred Goldsmith, Ron Clegg and you’d have a formidable combination.

  22. Shane John Backx says

    Des Tuddenham Peter McKenna Wayne and Max Richardson Ross Dunne Ted Potter. Bill Picken Peter Moore Rene Kink. Bit of a common theme there….

  23. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Too true Shane. I could rattle off a Collingwood A and B side of premiership-less Pies.
    What do you think of this team?:

    B: Scott Burns – James Clement – Stan Magro
    HB: Ted Potter – Billy Picken – Frank Tuck
    C: John Greening – Barry Price – Ricky Barham
    HF: Phil Carman – Ross Dunne – Des Tuddenham
    F: Leon Davis – Peter McKenna – Wayne Richardson

    Ruck: Len Thompson – Nathan Buckley – Ray Shaw
    IC : Peter Moore – Max Richardson – Mark Williams – Anthony Rocca

    Makes me want to cry…

  24. I’ll create a post – and we can transfer it to something more permanent on the site.

  25. Shane John Backx says

    Surely the coach of such a team has to be Bob Rose. 3 GFs lost by a total of 15 points, plus 6 other kamikaze finals campaigns in 8 years coaching. Plus a losing final at Footscray too.

  26. Chris Grant anyone?

  27. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers JTH – Who would you pick out of all the Catter failures of the 70s, 80s and 90s ?

    Shane – It would have to be Bob Rose. Cruel luck. He got to be Collingwood Premiership player at least.

    Matthew – Grant a fine nomination. How about Spud Firrito ? 275 games for your Roos.

  28. Garry Hocking (despite his crazy 1989 GF). Gary Malarkey. Paul Couch. Micky Turner. Dennis Marshall from the 1960s.

  29. Dave Brown says

    Some great discussion. Covered some similar but different ground here: https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/afl-paper-games-premiers-v-team-of-champions/

    Since then Bob Murphy, Adelaide’s Scott Thompson, Nick Riewoldt, Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo, and Brendon Goddard displace Nathan Buckley, Tony Lockett, Andrew Bews, Richo, Libba and Richard Osborne on premiershipless games played.

  30. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    JTH – Yes, Buddha/Whiskas a fine servant. Mick Turner on his day was electrifying. Great mates with Ricky Barham and they rarely played on each other. Classic wingman. Gary Malarkey (An inspiration to your publishing empire) and one of the best kicks from full back I’ve seen. Denis Marshall interesting one as he only played 84 games. Bobby Davis regarded him as the best Geelong footballer he’d seen. Huge praise.

    Dave – Great idea. I missed many excellent pieces in 2014 as I took a sabbatical from all things footy. Richard Osborne and Andrew Bews for longevity. Scott Thompson was considered. So consistent, 308 games in 17 seasons. Rates.

  31. DBalassone says

    Kink also missed the ’84 flag with injury and was dropped on the eve of the ’85 finals. So unlucky.

    Could almost do a side entirely of Pies 77-81 and Cats 89-95.

    Presti full-back?

  32. Phil Carman surely?

  33. I haven’t hd time to go over it all again; surely we haven’t left out Richo.

  34. Gerard Healy

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