Almanac Teams: Fifteen love (1980- )



Carlton’s Val Perovic [Source: Author]

This is a team of best players to wear the Number 15 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 Gavin Wanganeen in 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




FB:             Graeme Hinchen (Fitz)       Mal Michael (Bris)                Sam Taylor (GWS)


CHB:         Val Perovic (Carl)                 David Pittman (Adel)            Jayden Short (Rich)


C:               Paul Hopgood (Melb)          Ryan Crowley (Freo)            Peter Riccardi (Geel)


CHF:         Jack Billings (St.K)              Jamie Cripps (WCE)            Byron Pickett (PA)


FF:            Alan Ezard (Ess)                   Malcolm Blight (NM)           Wes Fellowes (Coll)


Ruck:       Scott Wynd (VC) (Foots)     Luke Hodge (C) (Haw)        Keiren Jack (DVC) (NM)


Interchange: Ben Allan (NM), Bernie Evans (Syd/Carl), Bernard Toohey (Geel/Syd) Dayne Zorko (Bris)


Emergencies: Leon Cameron (Rich), Kelvin Moore (Haw), Ross Smith (NM), Michael Wilson (PA)


Coach: Malcolm Blight


No Gold Coast player in the starting 18.



Games in Number 15 (Years Played)

Graeme Hinchen 77 (1981-1987)

Mal Michael 140 (2001-2006)

Sam Taylor 44 (2018- )

Val Perovic 97 (1980-1985)

David Pittman 131 (1992-1999)

Jayden Short 104 (2016- )

Paul Hopgood 96 (1994-2000)

Ryan Crowley 188 (2005-2014)

Peter Riccardi 288 (1992-2006)

Jack Billings 128 (2014- )

Jamie Cripps 173 (2013- )

Byron Pickett 55 (2003-2005)

Alan Ezard 176 (1984-1993)

Malcolm Blight 178 (1974-1982)

Wes Fellowes 60 (1985-1989)

Scott Wynd 236 (1989-2000)

Luke Hodge 305 (2002-2017)

Keiren Jack 254 (2008-2019)

Ben Allan 82 (1991-1994)

Bernie Evans 148 at Sydney (1978-1985) 37 at Carlton (1986-1988)

Bernard Toohey 94 at Geelong (1981-1985) 129 at Sydney (1986-1991)

Dayne Zorko 196 (2012- )




The Number 15 is another team (like the Number 14) with a lack of depth in the forward line but the main forward is an extraordinary talent. Malcolm Blight is that talent; he could make anything happen up forward. Also like the Number 14 team, this side has one of the best captains ever in triple premiership skipper Luke Hodge. Number 15 does have three rucks in the side, though David Pittman did play in a premiership as a CHB in 1997. There are no Gold Coast players but Noah Anderson may be there in a couple of years.



Teams that had tough decisions for the starting 18 were Carlton between Val Perovic and Sam Docherty, Geelong between Bernard Toohey and Peter Riccardi, North Melbourne between Malcolm Blight and Ross Smith, Port Adelaide between Byron Pickett and Michael Wilson, Richmond between Leon Cameron and Jayden Short and Sydney between Keiren Jack, Bernie Evans and Bernard Toohey. While Luke Hodge is obvious choice at Hawthorn, Kelvin Moore and Ben Allan were also very good players in Number 15.



The backline is led by Mal Michael who was a key player of the Brisbane triple premiership team and one of the best full backs of the 2000s, David Pittman is named as CHB, he was more known as a ruck but played one of his best games ever at CHB on Stewart Loewe in the 1997 Grand Final and if played against forwards as tall as the current crop like the King twins, Pittman would be handy. Val Perovic at 192cm can play a key position but often played as third tall and for those who can remember him, he liked to run and kick a long ball and hear the crowd go: ‘Woof!’ Sam Taylor has just started his AFL career and I nearly made a captains pick and had no GWS or Gold Coast player but I do like Taylor he is good mark can provide attack or do a defensive job. Maybe my bias is showing but he does always seem to play well against Richmond. Jayden Short is a small running defender who is very good kick and Best and Fairest winner in a premiership side, which probably pushed him ahead of another fine ball user in Leon Cameron. Graeme Hinchen gets in for Fitzroy; while he had a few injuries he did provide shut down roles on small forwards in 1983 and 1986 finals campaigns. Other players who can play in defence are Paul Hopgood, Ryan Crowley, Byron Pickett, Alan Ezard, Keiren Jack, Luke Hodge, Bernard Toohey and Ross Smith.



Scott Wynd is a Brownlow winning ruck and was one of the best of the 1990s, he is supported by Wes Fellowes who won 1986 Best and Fairest but faded after that. Wynd and Fellowes are only really rucks and not terribly mobile. Luke Hodge is a great midfielder that really made his mark as a HBF. The midfield apart from Hodge and maybe Riccardi lacks pure class, silk and run. Jack is another ball winner at the bottom of the pack that could also provide a defensive role. Ryan Crowley is a negating on baller or could play in backline as with wing Paul Hopgood who was more of a defender. Peter Riccardi though was a natural winger for his whole career with midfield help coming from Jack Billings, Alan Ezard, Bernie Evans, Dayne Zorko and even Malcolm Blight.



The forward lacks height in key posts with Blight at FF and Cripps at CHF. While Blight stands only 182cm he was an amazing talent that could play anywhere on the field, though mainly HFF/RR. In Blight’s last season at North Melbourne he won the Coleman Medal at Full Forward with 103 goals. Jamie Cripps is 183cm and named at CHF, he usually plays HFF in a side with Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling but is good mark for his size (though not really a pack marker) and is a noted goal kicker. Fellowes was not really a forward and is picked in this side as Collingwood’s representative where he showed early promise in the ruck. Jack Billings is more of a midfielder but could provide class up forward. Byron Pickett won a Rising Star at Back Pocket for North Melbourne and Norm Smith as a small forward. Alan Ezard in the forward pocket kicked 200 goals including two bags of seven – significant for a player that swapped roving duties with Darren Williams. Other players that could play forward are Luke Hodge, Bernard Toohey, Dayne Zorko and Bernie Evans.



The interchange was the hardest decision; who to select between Bernie Evans, Bernard Toohey, Ben Allan, Dayne Zorko, Ross Smith, Kelvin Moore and Michael Wilson? Any of them could have been included but I went for players that would help with the weaknesses in the team. Bernard Toohey while mainly a defender at 188cm, could play as a key forward as he did kick 115 goals in 263 games winning the goal kicking in 1989 at Sydney with 27, though 21 of these came in last five weeks including a bag of eight. Bernie Evans was a goal kicking rover and small forward with a bit class and pace that once kicked nine goals in a match. Dayne Zorko is another midfielder/forward and has won four Best and Fairests while Ben Allan is another who won a Best and Fairest in a premiership year 1991 and also earned two All Australian nods at Hawthorn. I thought I had enough defenders which meant Wilson, Moore and Smith were extremely unlucky. Michael Wilson won a rising star in Number 15 but changed to Number 21 halfway through his career. Kelvin Moore I never saw live, but did play 95 games in the 1980s. I don’t remember him playing, but he did miss the 1983 Grand Final, so that might be why. He was one of the best full backs of the 1970s with Geoff Southby and David Dench however. Ross Smith was a very good small defender for North Melbourne especially during North’s early finals campaigns of 1993-1995 but misses out to team balance with Hinchen, Short, Hopgood and even Pickett able to play his role. Perhaps if I did drop a player from starting 18 (like Fellowes) then Smith would be in the team.



Club Captains in the side are Luke Hodge, Keiren Jack, Scott Wynd and Dayne Zorko. Hodge is the obvious choice to lead the side as a triple premiership captain, Scott Wynd I chose as vice captain and Keiren Jack as deputy.



The unlucky players were Jason Torney (Adel), Sam Docherty (Carl), Courtney Dempsey (Ess), David Rodan and Karl Amon (PA), Frank Coghlan and Darryl Wakelin (St.K) and Murray Rance (WCE).





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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Picked Mal Michael as a real talent when he was playing in Collingwood’s reserves team in the mid 1990’s. Grumpy Mick trying to play one of the best spoiling, one-on-one defenders as a Centre Half Forward in 2000 was almost as farcical as trading him for Jarrod Molloy. We know how that ended. Look forward to Mal getting a gig in your team of 48’s.

    Bernard Toohey was a very fine player and looked more like Ian Botham than Ian Botham did. Glad you got him in your best 15’s.

  2. Thanks Luke
    Mal is a good chance for Best of 48
    I remember you saying before he played a game he looks a good player

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