Almanac Teams: Mambo Number 5s (1980- )

A team of best players to wear the Number 5 jumper since 1980.



The criteria is:


  • Starting 18 will be 1 player from each club. I have tweaked it after the Number 3 team. Brisbane Bears & Brisbane Lions will be 1 club, with Fitzroy, Gold Coast and GWS competing for the last 2 spots in 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 number for example Gavin Wanganeen Number 1 & 4
  • 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 etc.





FB:         Jarrod Harbrow (GCS)               Jason McCartney (NM)         Brad Sheppard (WCE)


CHB:     Andrew McKay (Carl)                 Garrick Ibbotson (Freo)         Rohan Smith (WB)


C:          Geoff Cunningham (St.K)           Sam Mitchell (VC) (Haw)       Ryan O’Keefe (Syd)


CHF:     Gary Ablett snr (Geel)                 David Schwarz (Melb)            James Hird (C) (Ess)


FF:         Brad Hardie (Bris)                      Bernie Quinlan (Fitz)               Brad Ottens (Rich)


Ruck:    Brendon Lade (PA)               Nathan Buckley (DVC) (Coll)           Scott Thompson (Adel)


Interchange:  Terry Daniher (Ess), Austinn Jones (St.K), Chris Judd (Carl), Nick Maxwell (Coll)


Emergencies: Matthew Boyd (WB), Dwayne Lamb (WCE), Gary Malarkey (Geel), Dylan Shiel (GWS)


Coach: Nathan Buckley



No GWS player in the starting 18




Games in Number 5 (Years played)


Jarrod Harbrow 188 (2011- )

Jason McCartney 107 (1998-2003)

Brad Sheppard 178 (2012- )

Andrew McKay 244 (1993-2003)

Garrick Ibbotson 157 (2009-2017)

Rohan Smith 286 (1993-2006)

Geoff Cunningham 185 (1980-1989)

Sam Mitchell 277 (2004-2016)

Ryan O’Keefe 281 (2001-2014)

Gary Ablett snr 242 (1984-1996)

David Schwarz 167 (1992-2002)

James Hird 249 (1993-2007)

Brad Hardie 101 (1987-1991)

Bernie Quinlan 189 (1978-1986)

Brad Ottens 129 (1998-2004)

Brendon Lade 169 (2002-2009)

Nathan Buckley 260 (1994-2007)

Scott Thompson 269 (2005-2017)

Terry Daniher 294 (1978-1992)

Austinn Jones 185 (1997-2005)

Chris Judd 145 (2008-2015)

Nick Maxwell 113 (2008-2014)



The Number 5 team starting 18 has a very strong forward line and midfield, though the defence lacks height & speed but does have help on the bench and in the emergencies. The team lacks a true small forward and has Ryan O’Keefe as a wingman, but he and James Hird have played on ball before. Garrick Ibbotson is a small CHB but back up options in Terry Daniher and Nick Maxwell exist on the bench.



Carlton had Ken Sheldon, Andrew McKay and Chris Judd as Number 5 options. I chose McKay who was a four-time All Australian ahead of Chris Judd, plus I felt the team needed more defenders. Geelong with Gary Ablett Snr was an easy choice, though Travis Varcoe and Gary Malarkey were unlucky to miss out. West Coast had Dwayne Lamb, Tyson Stenglein and Brad Sheppard as very similar options.



The defence is rather small with Garrick Ibbotson at CHB and Jason McCartney as the sole tall defender in the starting 18. Rohan Smith started as a HBF and can play wing or up forward. Harbrow, McKay and Sheppard are very good small defenders that provide run and lock down roles, Austinn Jones on the bench is also a defender/winger. James Hird and Nathan Buckley played some games in defence, while Brisbane’s Brad Hardie was a goal kicking forward rather than a defender.



The midfield starts with Brendon Lade as an All Australian ruckman, Brad Ottens when at Richmond was more a forward/ruck who plays as second ruck. Ryan O’Keefe won a Norm Smith medal in 2012 as a midfielder/forward but probably lacks the speed to play on the wing. Geoff Cunningham played for Victoria eight times on the wing and was a very good player in a weak St Kilda team. Buckley, Sam Mitchell and Scott Thompson are all very good ball winners in the midfield and get help from Chris Judd on the bench. Other options to help are Jones, Smith and Hird. The team lacks a defensive run with role with Matthew Boyd just missing out and perhaps more speed.



The forward line is very good, though lacking a true crumbing forward. Bernie Quinlan won two Coleman Medals at FF; Gary Ablett Snr won three and a Norm Smith playing mainly at Full Forward but did start his career as a dynamic HFF. Richmond’s version of Brad Ottens was an All Australian forward/ruck who played in a Preliminary Final team. James Hird was a Brownlow Medallist, Norm Smith Medallist and Premiership Captain as HFF and is one of the best players ever at Essendon. David Schwarz suffered three knee reconstructions but did later play for Victoria. Brad Hardie kicked 192 goals for Brisbane while winning their goal kicking twice. Terry Daniher, Rohan Smith and Ryan O’Keefe are other forward options.



The interchange bench is very good with two premiership captains in Nick Maxwell and Terry Daniher and midfield speed in Chris Judd and Austinn Jones. They probably help to cover the starting 18’s weaknesses, with Matthew Boyd the really unlucky one who misses out.



There are six club captains in the side; Hird, Maxwell and Daniher were premiership captains (Judd was at West Coast) and Buckley and Ablett were captains of runners up sides. I chose James Hird as captain as he was very strong inspirational leader, with Sam Mitchell as vice and Nathan Buckley as deputy vice. Daniher and Maxwell I ruled out as they were not in the starting 18.



The unlucky players were Kym Koster (Adel), Brad Scott (Bris), Brent Stanton (Ess) Travis Varcoe (Geel), Andrew Collins (Haw), Brandon Ellis (Rich), Ian Roberts (Syd), Tyson Stenglein (WCE)




Phil Dimitriadis gave his version of an all time list HERE.



For more of Rodney’s teams, click HERE.





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  1. Matt Zurbo says

    Lotta work went into this, good on ya! Judd, surely ahead of Thompson. TD surely CHF. I understand you’re working on balance, but, yeah, that’s my gut reaction. A top effort, mate!

  2. Thanks Matt
    Agree definitely TD at CHF and Judd ahead of Thompson though Thompson was a very good player.
    Just had Hird as my first Bomber selection and Andrew Mackay as Carlton in starting 18. Therefore making Daniher and Judd on the bench.

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