Almanac Teams: Fab Fours (1980- )


A team of best players to wear the Number 4 jumper since 1980.



The criteria is:


  • 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 number for example Gavin Wanganeen Number 1 & 4
  • Stats are based on their time in that number.



I 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:           Andrew Collins (Haw)            Peter Giles (Melb)                                Ross Thornton (Fitz)


CHB:       Andrew Mackie (Geel)            Ross Glendinning (VC) (NM/WCE)  Gavin Wanganeen (DVC) (Ess/PA)


C:             Marcus Bontempelli (WB)     Paul Haselby (Freo)                              Daniel Hannebery (Syd)


CHF:        Toby Greene (GWS)                Stephen Kernahan (C) (Carl)             Dustin Martin (Rich)


FF:           Alan Didak (Coll)                     Tony Lockett (St.K/Syd)                      Craig McRae (Bris)


Ruck:       Matthew Clarke (Adel)           Jobe Watson (Ess)                                Daniel Kerr (WCE)


Interchange: Daniel Cross (WB), Mick Martyn (NM), Paul Salmon (Haw), Peter Sumich (WCE)


Emergencies: Leon Baker (Ess), Bryce Gibbs (Carl), Brodie Grundy (Coll), Geoff Raines (Rich/Coll)


Coach: Darrel Baldock


Ross Glendinning was picked for North Melbourne but also wore Number 4 at West Coast

Gavin Wanganeen was picked for Port Adelaide but also wore Number 4 at Essendon

Tony Lockett was picked for St.Kilda but also wore Number 4 at Sydney




Games in Number 4 (Years played)


Andrew Collins 97 (1989-1993)

Peter Giles 113 (1980-1987)

Ross Thornton 121 (1981-1989)

Andrew Mackie 280 (2004-2017)

Ross Glendinning 190 at North Melbourne (1978-1986) 40 at West Coast (1987-1988)

Gavin Wanganeen 68 at Port Adelaide (2001-2006) 127 at Essendon (1991-1996)

Marcus Bontempelli 145 (2014- )

Paul Haselby 208 (2000-2010)

Daniel Hannebery 208 (2009-2018)

Toby Greene 139 (2013- )

Stephen Kernahan 251 (1986-1997)

Dustin Martin 223 (2011- )

Alan Didak 218 (2001-2013)

Tony Lockett 90 Games at St. Kilda (1988-1994) 95 at Sydney (1995-1999)

Craig McRae 195 (1995-2004)

Matthew Clarke 118 (2000-2006)

Jobe Watson 220 (2003-2017)

Daniel Kerr 201 (2002-2013)

Daniel Cross 186 (2005-2013)

Mick Martyn 265 (1989-2002)

Paul Salmon 100 (1996-2000)

Peter Sumich 150 (1989-1997)



The strength of the Number 4 team can be seen when a Best & Fairest player in a premiership year is listed as an emergency. Geoff Raines won the Best & Fairest in 1980 and also won in 1978 & 1981 but in fairness to the side he misses out because Richmond’s Number 4 is Dusty who also won a Best & Fairest in a premiership year plus a Brownlow and three Norm Smith Medals. Also against Raines is that the side is based from 1980 and I have little memory of watching him live. From watching a replay of the 1980 Grand Final, in my opinion Raines and Mark Lee had better games than Kevin Bartlett. Raines would go on to wear Number 4 at Collingwood and also play for Essendon and Brisbane, but not to the level he played at Richmond.



A few clubs had several options for the Number 4 spot, Adelaide’s choice was hard with Clarke, Tippett and Jenkins being very good players. Clarke got the nod as rucks for Number 4 were not as strong as forwards and Tippett was more of a forward/second ruck at Adelaide. Russo, Collins and Salmon was a hard choice at Hawthorn too, especially as Andy Collins moved to Number 5 in 1993 but he did win a Best & Fairest, play for Victoria and Team of the Year wearing Number 4. While Dustin Martin was a standout for Richmond, Geoff Raines, Craig Lambert and Matthew Rogers were all very close to a bench spot. West Coast had Ross Glendinning, Peter Sumich and Daniel Kerr as greats of the Number 4 and Footscray/Western Bulldogs had Brad Hardie, Daniel Cross and Marcus Bontempelli.



The backline lacks a true full back with Peter Giles the nominated selection. Giles was better known as a half back, but he was tall at 188cm and did make the Victorian squad. Mick Martyn is named on the bench and could come on the ground to help play that role. Ross Glendinning is the North Melbourne pick for Number 4. A brilliant player, Glendinning could play centre half back (where he won a Brownlow in 1982) or centre half forward. When at West Coast he played mainly at full forward. Ross Thornton was a Best & Fairest winner in 1984 and very good player in a good Fitzroy era. Andrew Mackie is a taller option at half back flank, while Collins plays the defensive small back pocket and Gavin Wanganeen provides brilliance down back. Wanganeen won a Brownlow at Essendon and played all over the ground at Port Adelaide.



The midfield starts with Matthew Clarke in the ruck and Paul Salmon (at Hawthorn) as backup; Salmon made the Hawks’ team of the century as a backup ruckman and just gets the nod over Brodie Grundy. Hasleby, Watson and Hannebery may lack a bit for speed in the middle but all have been very hard players who could get their own ball and set up Daniel Kerr and Marcus Bontempelli to give run through the midfield. Daniel Cross off the bench can play a defensive run-with/onballer role.



The forward line consists of two of the best key forwards of the 1980s and ’90s in Tony Lockett and Stephen Kernahan. Lockett won a Brownlow wearing Number 14 but moved to Number 4 the next year, and made five All Australian Sides and four Coleman Medals wearing Number 4, kicking 127, 132, 110, 121 and 109 goals. Kernahan could play in either key forward position but made his name at centre half forward. Peter Sumich is the backup option off the bench; he kicked 90 goals in his second year, then 111, 82 and 76 goals. Toby Greene and Dustin Martin are better known as midfielders but as they are goal kicking midfielders, they can both play one out of the goal square. Craig McRae and Alan Didak are premiership goal kicking small forward and are very dangerous crumbers close to goal. I would say this is the best forward line of my teams so far.



The bench had many options as can be seen from the quality of emergencies and unlucky players.



While may look unbalanced, it could work. Salmon just pipped Grundy for the ruck spot. Mick Martyn is picked as I needed a full back and he was very good in an era against Lockett, Kernahan, Dunstall, Ablett etc. Daniel Cross just got the nod over Bryce Gibbs for the midfield spot and while Lockett and Kernahan are greats, Peter Sumich was a very good player in two premierships for West Coast in a classic era for them and deserved his spot; he could perhaps come on and provide a mismatch.



There are five club captains here in Glendinning, Wanganeen, Bontempelli, Kernahan and Watson. Kernahan though was easy choice as Captain with West Coast’s first leader Ross Glendinning as Vice and Port Adelaide’s inaugural skipper Gavin Wanganeen as Deputy Vice.



The unlucky players were Josh Jenkins, Kurt Tippett (Adel), John Gastev (Bris), Terry Bright (Geel), Peter Russo (Haw), Shaun Higgins (NM), Paddy Ryder (PA), Craig Lambert, Matthew Rogers (Rich), Andrew Thompson (St.K) and Brad Hardie (Foots)



Phil Dimitriadis has provided his own version of an all time list HERE 





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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Interesting team Rodney, however I believe Leon Baker should be in the best 20, and in the centre. He was sensational for the Bombers in his short career.

  2. New criteria noted, If Jack Martin had avoided injury I argue he could sneak in as an Emergency. Very strong team forward of centre.

    I must admit the Collingwood factor put me off following Pert’s exploits closely after he left the Roys, but how did he figure in your reasoning, Rodney?

  3. Matt Zurbo says

    1980+ is a great idea. Go from living memory. And not compare apples and oranges.

  4. Thanks Colin, Baker was definitely in the mix. Jobe Watson was my automatic pick for Essendon in the starting 18. Leon Baker was in the mix for an interchange spot. I picked Daniel Cross ahead of him, more for a defensive midfield which thought the side lacked. Had Baker as an emergency and if did not the the criteria of one per club then Baker would be in the side. While never saw him live, his game in 1984 Grand Final is what I do remember of him, hence he makes a team I did based on Grand a Final Moments.

    Thanks for your help again Jarrod, I think the new criteria is better though has cost Jack Martin a spot. Judging by his game against Richmond he may make the number 21 team in a few years. With Pert he was behind Didak and Grundy. I see some of his games at Collingwood as my family is Collingwood, thought he was a bit cumbersome and not athletic or had the run as Fitzroy days. Age and two knee reconstruction will do that though and having just read the Death of Fitzroy book, he was told to bulk up I think. I may have treated him harsh by not having him as an unlucky player.

    Thanks Matt for commenting, feel chauffeur coming from a fine writer like yourself whose footy books I have immensely enjoyed.

  5. You are harsh on Geoff Raines but the argument you make is reasonable. As a Tiger supporter i would love to see him and Dusty in the one side…imagine that.

  6. Thanks Dan, Dusty was the automatic Tiger for this team. Raines like Baker was considered close. Sadly for Raines career he is remembered as a football journeyman rather than his football talent, this may count against him getting a deserved Hall of Fame spot so far.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Ripper forward line mate. Glendinning was superb in the goal square too in his latter years.

    Any team with A.Didak in it is a good team.

  8. Grundy was unlucky Luke but I carry grudges and I remembered the 2018 Preliminary Final :?

  9. Grundy was unlucky Luke but I carry grudges and I remembered the 2018 Preliminary Final :?

  10. I’m sure Rulebook would agree with me about Norwood’s fantastic number 4, namely Matthew PANOS. Panos began as a deadeye dick forward but under former Coach Cotton developed into a sensational midfielder forming a fantastic partnership with duel Magarey Medalist, Mitch Grigg. At the moment Panos is recovering from a serious knee injury and will miss a few games at the start of the season. If not for his injury Panos could well have given the Magarey a real shake last season.

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