Almanac Teams: The Roaring Twenties (1980- )


Essendon’s Tony ‘Budgie Buhagiar [Source: Author]


This is a team of best players to wear the Number 20 jumper since 1980.


  • Starting 18 will be one player from each club. I have tweaked it after the Number 3 team. Brisbane Bears & Brisbane Lions will be one club, with Fitzroy, Gold Coast and GWS competing for the last two spots in the starting 18.
  • Teams will try to be as balanced as possible but if a number has several rucks as its best player an alternative will be picked. I will explain my selections below the team.
  • Players may appear under multiple numbers, for example Eddie Betts number 18 and 19.



Stats are based on their time in that number.



I also have two teams per number, one is a best of and the other is based on players picked for different obscure/unusual reasons like cameos, unknown brothers, fathers, known for other reasons.




FB:          Matthew Febey (Melb)              Geoff Southby (Carl)               Scott Maginness (Haw)


CHB:       Tyson Stenglein (Adel)             Jim Jess (Rich)                        Adam Tomlinson (GWS)


C:             David Armitage (St.K)              Simon Black (DVC) (Bris)     Wayne Schimmelbusch (C) (NM)


CHF:       Jim Edmond (VC) (Foots)       Sam Reid (Syd)                        Steve Johnson (Geel)


FF:           Justin Longmuir (Freo)           Chris Tarrant (Coll)                 Chad Wingard (PA)


Ruck:      Dean Cox (WCE)                       Fraser Brown (Carl)               Tony Buhagiar (Ess)


Interchange: Dean Brogan (PA), Drew Petrie (NM), Ben Reid (Coll), Matthew Young (St.K)


Emergencies: Luke Ablett (Syd), Col Garland (Melb), Ivan Maric (Adel/Rich), Jade Rawlings (Haw)


Coach: Wayne Schimmelbusch


No Fitzroy or Gold Coast players, so there are two Carlton players in the side.



Games in Number 20 (Years Played)

Matthew Febey 143 (1992-2000)

Geoff Southby 268 (1971-1984)

Scott Maginness 131 (1988-1996)

Tyson Stenglein 106 (1999-2004)

Jim Jess 223 (1976-1988)

Adam Tomlinson 140 (2012-2019)

David Armitage 169 (2007-2019)

Simon Black 322 (1998-2013)

Wayne Schimmelbusch 306 (1973-1987)

Jim Edmond 154 (1977-1985)

Sam Reid 159 (2010- )

Steve Johnson 253 (2002-2015)

Justin Longmuir 139 (1999-2007)

Chris Tarrant 161 (1998-2006)

Chad Wingard 147 (2012-2018)

Dean Cox 290 (2001-2014)

Fraser Brown 177 (1989-2000)

Tony Buhagiar 83 (1981-1984)

Dean Brogan 167 (2002-2011)

Jeremy McGovern 140 (2015- )

Ben Reid 152 (2007-2020)

Matthew Young 97 (1996-2001)



The Number 20 is a strong side in each area of the ground; the weakness of the side is its midfield depth, especially for clean ball users. The strength is in key position players and their flexibility; Jim Jess can play CHB/CHF, Justin Longmuir forward/ruck, Chris Tarrant was a forward who became a defender when at Fremantle, Drew Petrie forward/ruck and Ben Reid CHB/forward. Even Jeremy McGovern has played up forward and one of the best rucks in recent history – Dean Cox – can rest up forward and cause some damage if needed. Number 20 is a strong number for rucks with options of Cox, Brogan, Hale, Maric and even lesser extent Longmuir and Michael McCarthy.



Clubs with multiple options are Adelaide with Tyson Stenglein and Ivan Maric, Carlton with Geoff Southby and Fraser Brown, Collingwood with Chris Tarrant and Ben Reid, Hawthorn Michael McCarthy, Scott Maginness, Jade Rawlings and David Hale, Melbourne Matthew Febey and Colin Garland, North Melbourne Wayne Schimmelbusch and Drew Petrie, Port Adelaide Dean Brogan and Chad Wingard, Richmond Jim Jess, Ben Harrison and Ivan Maric, St Kilda Mick Dwyer, Matthew Young, David Armitage and lastly West Coast with Dean Cox and Jeremy McGovern.



The defence is very good and has multiple options. It starts with one of the best FBs of his era in Geoff Southby who throughout the 1970s and early ’80s was considered with David Dench and Kelvin Moore as the top of the tree. At CHB is Jim Jess who represented Victoria at CHB but later that year was a premiership CHF. Scott Maginness was a tight negating defender, who at 190cm could play small as well and was considered good enough to play on Gary Ablett at the start of 1989 Grand Final; he also played for Victoria. Adam Tomlinson at 193cm plays as an intercept marking/running defender and wing, Matthew Febey while probably needed to play on opposition small forwards can provide run as well. Tyson Stenglein made his name as tagging on-baller and could play that role, he may be needed for a half back/small defender role and is also capable of getting his own ball. Other players that could play in defence are the All Australian defenders on the bench: Ben Reid and Jeremy McGovern, with McGovern important as intercept marking defender if Tomlinson is on a wing. Chris Tarrant in his first stint at Collingwood was primarily used as a forward but in his last two years at Fremantle had success in defence. Matthew Young can also play HBF/wing.



The midfield is led by Dean Cox who was not only very good in the centre square but very mobile around the ground, he was adept at gathering possesions and capable of kicking a goal too. Next to Cox is Simon Black, one of the best midfielders in last 20 years with a list of accolades including a Brownlow Medal, Norm Smith Medal and three times All Australian. Black is pure silk and the ‘class’ of this side. Black’s skills complement the other two starting midfielders in hard nut Fraser Brown (who was very good at getting his own ball) and Tony Buhagiar (nicknamed ‘Budgie’).  Buhagiar at 166cm was a pure rover who started his VFL/AFL career very well by kicking 45 goals in his first year and coming eighth in the Brownlow, then equal seventh in 1982 – both years he totalled 14 votes. On the wings we have Wayne Schimmelbusch who could play wing, rover or HFF and David Armitage who is more suited to being on ball rather than the open space of the wing but was a fine player regardless. Other options for midfield spots are Dean Brogan as second ruck and then if really needed in ruck there is Justin Longmuir and Drew Petrie. Matthew Young can play on the wing as well as Matthew Febey and Adam Tomlinson, Tyson Stenglein can play a run with role on ball and Chad Wingard and Steve Johnson are capable of pinch hitting in the centre especially if Black is having a rest.



The forward line has multiple options to kick goals; Chris Tarrant starts in the goal square, but could really play anywhere – he had a season best of 54 goals in 2003 and was picked in the All Australian side. Sam Reid is at CHF and is great marking CHF, though not a noted goal kicker with his season best just 31 goals. Justin Longmuir is the third tall forward who is mobile enough to play ruck or float between CHF/FF, his best year had 47 goals. Chad Wingard is in the forward pocket. Wingard had immediate impact at Port Adelaide from his debut in 2012, making All Australian team in 2013 and 2015 with his best year yielding 53 goals. On one flank we have the special talent of Steve Johnson, a Norm Smith medallist and three time All Australian, his best: 63 goals. Jim Edmond takes the other flank, Edmond was a very strong half forward whose best year was 41 goals. Other options up forward are Ben Reid who was an All Australian but did play up forward and had personal best haul in a game of five; he kicked 25 goals from eight of the last 10 games in 2013. Drew Petrie was a great forward for North Melbourne at either CHF/FF, with his highest total 58 goals. Jim Jess regularly swung between CHB/CHF even in the same game and was monster kick of the footy, he kicked over five goals in a game six times, his best was seven. Wayne Schimmelbusch and Tony Buhagiar while named in the midfield can play as small goal kicking forwards as well.



The interchange I have picked the best three options which were all tall players. Dean Brogan is picked as second ruck which would allow Cox a rest or a stint up forward. With Longmuir and Petrie in the side I didn’t really need Brogan, but he was a very competitive and fine ruck for Port Adelaide when they were flying in the early 2000s. Drew Petrie and Jeremy McGovern are stars and cannot be left out, they only missed the starting 18 for their clubs because Dean Cox and Wayne Schimmelbusch are all time greats. Matthew Young is probably not the next best player but I needed a midfielder or extra running player and Young was the best option. I wish I could have put Ivan Maric in the side – one of my favourite Tiger players for his competitiveness, attitude and manner on and off the field but it may have looked biased…



There are three club captains in the side in Simon Black, Wayne Schimmelbusch and Jim Edmond. I went with Schimmelbusch as captain as he was from 1979-1987 North Melbourne’s skipper, Jim Edmond is vice captain and Simon Black gets deputy vice.



The unlucky players were Ray Card (Geel), Michael McCarthy and David Hale (Haw), Russell Richards (Melb), Ben Harrison (Rich), Mick Dwyer (St.K), and Glenn Coleman (Foots)





To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.



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.




Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.




Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.


One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE.


Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE.







  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Chris Tarrant gave us Pies fans so much excitement in his early years. I was at MCG for the first time he played Collingwood as a Fremantle player, he really copped it that night. Then he returned to us as a defender, was brilliant in that role.

    Ben Reid had a really good career, but like Aussie fast bowler Bruce Reid, it could have been a sensational career had it not been for the multiple injuries.

  2. Thanks Luke, unfortunately injuries seem to run in the Reid genes with Sam injury prone as well as Bruce (not the cricketer)

Leave a Comment