Almanac Poetry: A to Z of Footballers Past



A to Z of Footballers Past

(with a nod to Ogden Nash)



A is for Ablett,

Gary Senior is he.

He can tell great Gary Junior,

“You’re not better than me.”


B is for Bartlett,

Mr “Hungry”, KB,

who looked old as Methuselah

when he played 4-0-3.


C is for Carman,

“Fabulous Phil”.

He once led with his head,

forgetting the pill.


D is for Doull,

a bald, long-haired man,

who went apoplectic

when you stole his headband.


E is for Eade,

Hawk wingman, not in pocket.

Better known now for coaching,

and for giving a rocket.


F is for Farmer.

Who else could it be?

The Big Cat, great Polly,

who could jump over me. (And I’m six feet two!)


G is for Greig.

Two Brownlows for Keith.

He could dance down a wing

on Nureyev-like feet.


H is for Hart,

a high-flying choice.

Coach Tommy Hafey:

“Just kick it to Royce!”


I’s for Ishchenko.

His dad’s from Ukraine.

Prob’ly surprised that he’s here,

but here he’ll remain.


J is for Judd,

much-decorated Chris.

He could break apart lines

– as an athlete, sheer bliss!


K is for Kekovich,

charismatic “Slammin’ Sam”.

Missed a premiership photo.

At the time, “in a jam”.


L is for Long,

Michael the magician.

To work out his value

needed no statistician.


M is for Matthews,

Lethal Leigh, number three,

who could twig-snap a point post

then still ask, “Was that me?”


N is for Nash.

Let’s go right back to Laurie.

All-round super sportsman,

and he’d tell you, don’t worry!


O’s for Ongarello.

Tony from Fitzroy.

Last to goal from a place kick.

Wish I’d been there. Oh boy!


P is for Pavlich,

Fremantle forward star.

Six-times All-Australian.

Big man skills – wunderbar!


Q is for Quinlan,

the great Superboot.

For Footscray and Fitzroy,

a gentleman, a beaut!


R is for Rioli.

Which one? Take your pick.

Maurice, Dean or Cyril.

They could all get a kick.


S is for Sheedy.

Couldn’t go past Kevin.

Playing and coaching

– toughness, guile and grin.


T is for Tuck,

Hawthorn’s Michael, of course.

For twenty seasons,

such a durable force.


U’s for – wait a moment –

there are not many U’s,

but I’ll go for Ernie Utting (Pies, Hawks),

though it was hard to choose.


V is for Voss.

Yes, Michael the Lion.

Triple premiership captain,

determination of iron.


W is for Wade,

full-forward champ Doug,

a prodigious screw-punter,

with the goal kicking bug.


X is for X factor.

No X surname,

so I’ll go with a quality,

though it’s not quite the same.


Y is for Yze,

and it’s not pronounced “ooze”.

Adem of Melbourne,

but it was hard to choose.


Z is for Zanotti

(we are just about there),

a tough, pacy backman

– with very long hair.







Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, will be published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    ‘They could all get a kick’ !! Certainly could, it was a pleasure to have seen all three Riolis play, and need I say it…pure poetry in motion. Skilful ball handlers, a delight to watch, and very deserving of a verse in your terrific poem Kevin. We never saw the best of Dean Rioli though. Fit and injury free he could have been anything.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Colin! Glad you enjoyed the poem. Yes, the Riolis – what a footballing family! Comparable to the Abletts.

  3. Daniel Flesch says

    Great stuff , Kevin ! Though no surnames starting with X , Xavier Ellis (Hawthorn and West Coast ) was called “X” .He kicked the first goal in the 2008 Grannie , which i mention just to remind JTH. At one point in the match Ellis found himself at the bottom a pile of players and Denis Cometti remarked “X marks the spot.”

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Glad you liked my poem, Daniel. Yes, maybe I could’ve included Xavier Ellis at a pinch, given that I couldn’t find any X surnames. And Denis Cometti was just about my favourite commentator, too.

  5. Troy Ugle.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    I thought of Troy Ugle for the spot, Smokie, but when I compared his 43 (VFL/AFL) games to Ernie Utting’s 117, Ernie got the nod.

  7. DBalassone says

    Good fun Kevin. Any poem that can incorporate Mark Zanotti has my admiration.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Damian! Just my light-hearted contribution to the general mix.

  9. Rick Kane says

    A gold boot to Kevin
    but before we finis
    A tip of the old hat
    To Fred McGinis

    Good stuff Kevin!

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks, Rick regarding my poem. Yes, your four-liner about Fred McGinis – wonderful stuff! I just looked him up – 45 games for the Melbourne VFA side (1894-1896), then 84 games (1897-1901) for the Melbourne VFL team. Melbourne Premiership player in 1900. Born in Hobart, Tasmania. Acclaimed as a star of the era.

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