Almanac Teams: The Eclectic Six (1980- )


Mario Bortolotto of Carlton. [Source: Author]


A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 6 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 6, mostly from 1980 onwards, but I have made exceptions, such as Denis Pagan.


It is a light-hearted team based on cult figures, forgotten/lesser known players or stats/cameos associated with them. Players known for other deeds, sons, fathers and brothers and forgotten players.


My criteria, similar to my previous efforts, was:


  • Attempt to include one player per club
  • I have tried to create as balanced a side as possible but this was not a priority



Stats are based on their time in that number



FB:           Denis Pagan (SM)            Tony Campbell (Foots)                  Dwayne Russell (Geel)


CHB:       Leigh Fisher (St.K)            Mario Bortolotto (Carl)                Paul Tuddenham (Coll)


C:             Luke Power (GWS)           Geoff Raines (Ess)                          Scott Thompson (Mel)


CHF:       Neale Daniher (Ess)         Arnold Briedis (NM)                      Tony Hall (Haw)


FF:           Jack Gunston (Adel)        Mark Williams (Haw)                    Stephen Patterson (Coll)


Ruck:      John Ironmonger (Fitz)   Silvio Foschini (Syd/St.K)            Barry Mitchell (Coll)


Interchange:   Ron Alexander (Fitz), Peter Bedford (Carl), Gary Malarkey (Geel), Brett Scott (Syd)



Gary Sidebottom a late out as nobody picked him up



There are no players from Brisbane, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, Richmond or West Coast.



Games in Number 6 (Years played)

Denis Pagan 23 (1975-1976)

Tony Campbell 35 (1992-1993)

Dwayne Russell 50 (1987-1991)

Leigh Fisher 45 (2006-2008)

Mario Bortolotto 30 (1981-1983)

Paul Tuddenham 38 (1988-1991)

Luke Power 20 (2012)

Geoff Raines 14 (1986)

Scott Thompson 39 (2001-2004)

Neale Daniher 71 (1979-1985)

Arnold Briedis 161 (1972-1983)

Tony Hall 97 (1988-1993)

Jack Gunston 12 (2011)

Mark Williams 111 (2002-2009)

Stephen Patterson 96 (1995-2000)

John Ironmonger 43 (1988-1990)

Silvio Foschini 21 at Sydney (1982) 66 at St Kilda (1983-1986)

Barry Mitchell 13 (1993)

Ron Alexander 133 (1976-1981)

Peter Bedford 7 (1977)

Gary Malarkey 30 (1984-1986)

Brett Scott 26 (1983-1987)

Gary Sidebottom 7 (1981)




Denis Pagan – Best known as a North Melbourne player of 120 games over eight seasons before coaching North. Denis had two seasons at South Melbourne after being forced out of North Melbourne aged 27 in 1975. Is also now known as a VRC winning horse trainer.



Tony Campbell – Recruited from Melbourne in 1992, Tony had a very good season at Full Back in 1992 for a resurgent Footscray team. Campbell is best known as one of the first players to wear gloves, which he also tried to sell as a business. Campbell had two years at the Bulldogs before trying a career in the NFL as a punter. When that did not work Campbell returned in 1996 to Footscray, wearing number 21.



Dwayne Russell – Was a high profile recruit to Geelong after a successful career at Port Adelaide, Russell could play either end but managed 50 games in 5 years. Is better known as a TV commentator for Fox, radio commentator and newspaper columnist.



Leigh Fisher – Had several hamstring injuries at St Kilda, restricting him to 55 games in nine years. After retiring aged 26, Leigh went on to become an umpire, where he officiated his first match in 2013 and has since umpired 152 games, including one final.



Mario Bortolotto – Maybe the first Mario to play in the VFL/AFL, Mario crossed to Carlton after being delisted by Geelong after 14 games. Mario found out in an unusual way of his delisting. He was at a club function after doing preseason at Geelong when he saw someone else being awarded his number 29 jumper at the jumper presentation. Mario was then recruited by Carlton and despite only playing 30 games, was lucky enough to play in two premierships. In 1981 he came back into the Carlton side in Round 21 where he had 16 touches, this followed by zero disposals in Round 22, three disposals in the semi-final and zero in the Grand Final, where he spent most of the match on the bench. In 1982 Mario was recalled for the Preliminary Final after Rod Austin was injured. Mario had perhaps his best game in the 1982 Grand Final, restricting Richmond captain David Cloke to nine disposals, three marks and three goals. He was named one of Carlton’s best players.



Paul Tuddenham  – Son of Collingwood great Des, he had five years at Collingwood where he was in and out of a good side for that era. Paul mainly played HFF but could play on ball or HBF. He was drafted by Carlton after being delisted by Collingwood but did not play a game.



Luke Power  – Best known as a three-time Brisbane premiership player, Luke crossed to GWS for their first season, where he was co-captain and also passed 300 games.



Geoff Raines – Best known as a Richmond premiership player who then crossed to Collingwood in 1983. In 1986 Collingwood had financial concerns and asked players to take a 20% pay cut. Raines and Mike Richardson refused and after playing the first two games for Collingwood, both were cleared to reigning back-to-back premiers Essendon. The move to Essendon was unsuccessful and short lived with Essendon losing the Elimination Final and Raines and Richardson being transferred to Brisbane in 1987.



Scott Thompson – Best known for 269 games at Adelaide including two best & fairests. Scott was drafted by Melbourne in 2000 and spent four seasons there for 39 games, before being traded to Adelaide for Pick 12.



Neale Daniher – Neale looked destined for a great career at Essendon. he made his debut in 1979 and played 66 games in his first three seasons. He is best remembered for being best on ground against Carlton in Round 20 1981, where he moved forward at three-quarter time to kick three goals. Neale was Best & Fairest in 1981 and appointed Essendon captain in 1982 aged just 21. Sadly Neale injured his knee in the preseason and would not play a game as captain, missing the entire 1982-1984 seasons. Neale would play five games in 1985 wearing Number 6, but after injuring his knee again, he retired. Neale was redrafted before 1989 season where he played four games wearing number 36 (Anthony had Number 6) and then seven games in 1990, including playing with his three brothers in Round 22. This was his last game, aged 29. He finished with 82 games all up. Neale would later coach Melbourne for 223 games over ten seasons including one grand final and became the face of Fight MND and the ‘Big Freeze’ after his diagnosis in 2014.



Arnold Briedis – One of North’s best forwards in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Arnold played in the 1975 and 1977 premierships, kicking five goals in both grand finals, but is best known for kicking 0.7 in the 1977 drawn Grand Final. Arnold was a great finals footballer who kicked 38 goals from 18 matches. After winning North Melbourne’s goal kicking in 1980 with 53 majors, Briedis only played 29 more matches in the next three seasons before retiring aged 28.



Tony Hall – Almost made the best of side for Number 6, Hall was a highly skilled forward who had a great first year in 1988 in a dominant Hawthorn side, playing all 24 games and polling 15 Brownlow votes. Sadly Hall never really reached those heights again after injuring his knee playing for South Australia against Victoria in 1989 at the MCG. The sad part was that it was Hawthorn teammate Andy Collins playing for Victoria who tackled him on the loose MCG turf.



Jack Gunston – Best known as a champion three-time premiership Hawk, Gunston was drafted by Adelaide and played two seasons there wearing the Number 6. In his second season he played 12 games for 19 goals before requesting a trade to Hawthorn.



Mark Williams – A small forward who played Full Forward in 2005 and 2006 for 63 and 60 goals before the emergence of Franklin and Roughead. Despite these impressive numbers he is best known for his shotgun celebrations after kicking a goal.



Stephen Patterson – Former Collingwood small forward and rover, Patterson was a regular inclusion in the Collingwood side. Patterson is the former Mayor of Holdfast Bay and is now a State MP and Minister for Trade and Investment in South Australia.



John Ironmonger – Ironmonger was a huge man at 200cm and 110kg. Ironmonger won a Sandover Medal in 1980 and joined Sydney in 1985 playing 45 games, before joining Fitzroy in 1988. Ironmonger was a cult figure and is best remembered for a spear tackle on Graeme Wright in 1990 which he received two weeks for. He was also the face of the VFL when he had his picture taken eating raw meat for promoting overseas matches in 1987. Ironmonger was then a Swan but was transferred to Fitzroy in late 1987. Ironmonger moved to the USA after his career and played footy over there.



Silvio Foschini – Silvio wore Number 6 for Sydney and St Kilda and was a promising rover for Sydney. He is best remembered for in 1983 taking the VFL to court for saying the VFL clearance rules breached the restraint of trade rules. Silvio won the case on the Friday and played for St Kilda the next day with an uncleared Paul Morwood. His son Matthew played soccer for Melbourne Victory.



Barry Mitchell – Mitchell was a star rover for Sydney and was an All Australian and Best & Fairest winner in 1991. In 1993 Mitchell wanted to be traded to Carlton but this did not happen, so he nominated for the preseason draft with a big price tag on his services. However Collingwood had an earlier pick and drafted Mitchell, who struggled for roving duties behind Tony Francis and Scott Russell and was traded to Carlton the next year.



Ron Alexander – Alexander was a champion WAFL ruckman who joined Fitzroy in 1976, playing 133 games, captaining the club in 1979-1980, and winning the Best & Fairest in his last year (1981). Alexander went back to the WAFL to coach East Fremantle, winning a premiership in 1985. Alexander was appointed the West Coast Eagles inaugural coach in 1987 and won 11 games from 22, but was surprisingly dumped as coach after one year.



Peter Bedford – Bedford was a champion Swans player, playing 178 Games, captaining the club for four seasons, winning the 1970 Brownlow Medal and snagging five Best & Fairests. In 1977 Bedford joined Carlton aged 30 and played eight games over two years. Bedford was also a very good cricketer, playing 39 games for Victoria, making 1602 runs at 28 and taking 45 wickets with leg spin at 33. His top score was 134 n.o. and his best bowling figures were 5/40.



Gary Malarkey – Is recognised as one of Geelong’s best ever full backs, playing 172 games in a 10-year career and was named in the VFL team of the year in 1983. Malarkey wore Number 5 in his first seven seasons. Before the 1984 season he had decided to move back to Western Australia, but when that fell through the Number 5 jumper had already being allocated to a promising player called Gary Ablett, so Malarkey spent his last three years wearing Number 6.



Brett Scott – Looked a promising centre for Sydney, playing 19 games in his second season in 1982. However, once Scott was given Number 6, shoulder and hamstring injuries started to hit and he played only 28 games in five years. In 1993, when Sydney sacked Gary Buckenara as coach, Brett Scott was appointed caretaker coach for two games for two losses (93 points and 124 points) before Ron Barassi took over.



Gary Sidebottom – Was set to be named, but nobody picked him up. Sidebottom will forever be remembered for not being picked up by the team bus at Lara on its way to VFL Park (Waverley) for the 1981 Preliminary Final. Sidebottom was apparently not told he was playing in the final and when the bus pulled over at the designated spot near his farm at Lara, Sidebottom was not there. This meant Peter Johnston, who was an emergency and already at the ground, had to play despite already having eaten half a chicken and chips with a strawberry milkshake.



Some forgotten Number 6s are James Byrne (Adel), Murray Vance (Carl), Graeme Williamson, Jeremy Guard (Fitz), Phil Gilbert, Dion Woods (Freo), David Spriggs (Geel), Alik Magin (GCS), Robert Elliott (Mel), David Palm (Rich) and Alistair Ford (Foots).





The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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