Almanac Teams: The Wright stuff or an Ace up the sleeve? Best of 47 (1980- )



North Melbourne’s Alan Jarrott [Source: Author]

This is a team of best players to wear the Number 47 jumper since 1980.


  • Starting 18 will be one player from each club. I have tweaked it after the Number 3 team. Brisbane Bears and 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 numbers 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:        Michael Nettlefold (St.K)                  Mark Austin (WB)                  Lewis Stevenson (WCE)


CHB:    Alan Jarrott  (C) (NM/Melb)            Josh Bruce (GWS)                  Andrew McKinnon (Carl)


C:          Mark Fraser (Coll)                              James Kelly (VC) (Ess)           Ricky Olarenshaw (Ess)


CHF:     Luke Breust (Haw)                             Jay Van Berlo (Freo)              Martin Christensen (Geel)


FF:         Ben Beams (Melb)                             Daniel Gorringe (GCS)           Matthew Wright (Adel)


Ruck:     Ivan Soldo (Rich)                              Jack Crisp (Bris)                      Leon Higgins  (DVC) (Syd/Haw)


Interchange: Dermott Brereton (Haw), Jack Hayes (St.K), Darren Morgan (Geel) Ben Nason (Rich)


Emergencies: Chris Dalkin (Coll), Doug Koop (NM), Zac O’Brien (Bris), Hewago Paul Oea (GCS)


Coach: Chris Fagan


There are no players from Port Adelaide or Fitzroy and two from Essendon in the starting 18.



Games in Number 47 (Years Played)

Michael Nettlefold 29 (1979-1981)

Mark Austin 29 (2012-2014)

Lewis Stevenson 10 (2010)

Alan Jarrott 79 at Melbourne (1977-1981) 91 at North Melbourne (1982-1986)

Josh Bruce 14 (2012-2013)

Andrew McKinnon 15 (1989-1990)

Mark Fraser 29 (1992-1993)

James Kelly 40 (2016-2017)

Ricky Olarenshaw 77 at Essendon (1993-1998) 1 at North Melbourne (2001)

Luke Breust 17 (2011)

Jay Van Berlo 32 (2009-2012)

Martin Christensen 48 (1985-1987)

Ben Beams 18 (1999-2000)

Daniel Gorringe 8 (2011-2012)

Matthew Wright 41 (2011-2012)

Ivan Soldo 22 (2017-2019)

Jack Crisp 12 (2012-2013)

Leon Higgins 121 at Sydney (1987-1995) 1 at Hawthorn (1996)

Dermott Brereton 2 (1982)

Jack Hayes 5 (2022)

Darren Morgan 14 (1994)

Ben Nason 19 (2000)



The Number 47 jumper is not highly sought after judging by this team and it features a member who played only two games (though both of those were finals). Just three players have 50 or more games to their name and 11 have 20 or fewer. Notable names that went on to lower number or another club are Nettlefold, Bruce, Fraser, Breust, Wright, Soldo, Higgins, Brereton and Morgan. James Kelly went the other way and finished his career in the Number 47. Well done to Alan Jarrott and Leon Higgins who played their whole career in 47 (Ricky Olarenshaw wore Number 9 for five games at Collingwood). Olarenshaw and Ivan Soldo also won premierships in the jumper.



Clubs with multiple options are Collingwood with Chris Dalkin and Mark Fraser, Essendon with Ricky Olarenshaw and James Kelly, Geelong with Darren Morgan and Martin Christensen and Richmond with Ben Nason and Ivan Soldo.



Mark Austin is the FB at 193cm, he played 15 games in four years at Carlton before he was rookie listed by the Bulldogs where he had three seasons with 11 games the most in a year. Austin mainly played as third tall and had best of 18 disposals. Josh Bruce is at 197cm at CHB, in his two years at GWS and first at St Kilda he mainly played as defender in 24 games, he kicked just seven goals with three of them in the last game of his first season at the Saints. Lewis Stevenson is the third tall in the side, he was drafted in 2008 and had no games 2008-2009,  made his debut and played ten games in 2010, none in 2011-2012 and was then traded to Port Adelaide where he played nine games in 2013 and none again in 2014. He averaged 15 disposals and only got under ten twice. Michael Nettlefold was an onballer and small defender and in this side he is picked to play on a small forward. The half backs are both dashing players. Alan Jarrott debuted in 1977 with eight games including a qualifying and semi-final and in 1978 after playing all finals was dropped for the Grand Final. Jarrott must have loved playing under Ron Barassi though as he joined him at Melbourne in 1982. McKinnon like Jarrott was a ruck rover/half back who showed promise before a foot injury ended his career. In McKinnon’s second last game he got 37 disposals. Other defenders are James Kelly, Martin Christensen, Leon Higgins and Darren Morgan as small defenders that can also play as running half backs. Jay Van Berlo could be alternative tall defender.



Ivan Soldo is first ruck and he wore Number 47 for 14 games including a premiership in 2019 before he changed to Number 20. Soldo’s form was very good towards the end of 2019 as he averaged 25 hit outs and kicked a goal in the Grand Final. Jack Crisp played 18 games at Brisbane with 12 of those in Number 47; while  he didn’t reach great heights at the Lions with a best of 17 disposals, he has become a great running player at Collingwood capable of playing on ball. Since the move, Crisp’s best return has been 36 disposals and he has also won the last two Best & Fairests. Leon Higgins is first rover, he was known for pace and able to play wing or either flank. Higgins had a best of 30 disposals and four goals. James Kelly was a triple premiership player at Geelong as a half back/midfielder. Kelly retired aged 32 in 2015 but joined Essendon in 2016 as a top-up during the supplement scandal and averaged 23 disposals with a best of 33 mainly as a defender but in this side he is required to add some class in the midfield. On the wings is some genuine pace with Mark Fraser on one wing from his debut stint at Collingwood. Fraser was genuinely quick and exciting to watch at Collingwood when he started and kicked some nice goals from his wing runs. Ricky Olarenshaw had an impact as a ‘Baby Bomber’ when he started in 1993 and won a premiership in just his 16th game. Olarenshaw averaged 20 disposals in his first year and was possibly up there with Michael Long on the other wing for best on ground at half time in the Grand Final. Sadly Olarenshaw was hampered by injuries for most of his career which restricted him to just 83 games in ten years. Daniel Gorringe and Jack Hayes can play second ruck. Other midfield options are Michael Nettlefold, Alan Jarrott, Andrew McKinnon, Darren Morgan and Martin Christensen.



Key position forwards are an issue especially in terms of goal kicking but I have a young wildcard on the bench. Gorringe is FF and at 200cm he was able to play any position – though in this team I need him at full forward. In 26 games in total he kicked 11 goals with a best haul of two. Jay Van Berlo was only 186cm but he could play third tall in defence or forward and he will be required to start at CHF. Van Berlo played 32 games for ten goals with a best haul of four. Ben Beams is in one forward pocket, where he played as a late in for the 2000 Grand Final. Beams kicked 17 goals from 23 games with a best of three. Matthew Wright wore Number 47 in his first two seasons at Adelaide over 41 games and 33 goals, he went on to be the leading goal kicker at Carlton with a best game of five goals. Breust wore Number 47 in his first year and played 17 games for thirty goals with a bag of five his best in his first year. He has been one of the best small forwards in the AFL over the last ten years and is great shot at goal; he has kicked 481 goals from 260 games with a best of six goals (four times). Martin Christensen is on the half forward flank. Christensen had a lot of pace but mainly played as a defender or second rover but in this side I have him changing with Leon Higgins. Other forward in the side are Jack Hayes and Dermott Brereton as talls, Ben Nason and Leon Higgins.



On the interchange bench I have Jack Hayes who joined St Kilda as a mature aged rookie this year, who looked good in his five games before he injured his knee and missed the remainder of the season. Hayes was a backup ruck who also kicked three in his first game. Darren Morgan wore Number 47 in 14 games in his first year for 16 goals as wing/half forward with best of 29 disposals and four goals. Morgan was a regular for Geelong in his first three years and in 1989 he played 21 games but was dropped after the first final. Ben Nason was a small pressure forward for two seasons at Richmond; his first season was his best with 14 goals and two bags of three. The wildcard on the bench is 18 year old forward in Dermott Brereton who made his debut in a semi-final against North Melbourne with five goals and 17 disposals. Despite a quiet prelim I think the kid might turn out okay…



There are no club captains in the side so I made Alan Jarrott who has played most games in Number 47 skipper, James Kelly is vice captain and Leon Higgins deputy vice. There are no coaches who have worn 47 in the league so Chris Fagan is named coach.



The unlucky players were Allan McKellar (Rich) and Kasey Green (WCE).




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.




  1. Steve Fahey says

    As a lover of obscure sporting trivia, this was a great read, thanks Rodney

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    At a very interesting stage with the teams now Rodney! Great effort with this one. Leon Higgins was a very good player, remember Mark Fraser bursting on to the scene in 1992 with his explosive pace. Even early on though always felt he was Essendon bound given his heritage.

  3. Some very underrated footballers Rodney. Always thought of the song ”Ricky don’t you lose that number” when watching Ricky Olarenshaw play for Essendon.

  4. Thanks for your kind words Steve, Luke & Dan

Leave a Comment