Almanac Teams: Fourteen karat pyrite (1980- )

Footscray’s Robert Groenewegen [Source: Author]




A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 14 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 14, mostly from 1980 onwards but I have made exceptions, such as Barry Round.



It is a light-hearted team based on cult figures, forgotten/lesser known players or stats/cameos associated with them, players known for other deeds, sons, fathers & brothers and forgotten players.


My criteria, similar to my previous efforts was:


  • Attempt to include one player per club
  • I have tried to create as balanced side as possible but this was not a priority



Stats are based on their time in that number




FB:            Kristian Bardsley (St.K)              Martin Leslie (Bris)                        Ben Buckley (NM)


CHB:        Rodney Grinter (Melb)                 Danny Dickfos (Bris)                      Jim O’Dea (St.K)


C:              David Clarke (Geel)                      Richard Hadley (Bris)                    Dean Polo (Rich)


CHF:        Brad Plain (Ess)                            Robert Groenewegen (Foots)       Bruce Tempany (Rich)


FF:           Steven Allender (SM/Haw)          Brett Spinks (Geel)                         Scott West (Foots)


Ruck:       Michael Byrne (Melb)                   Phil Kelly (NM)                              Callan Ward (WB)


Interchange: Danny Craven (St.K), Scott Cummings (WCE), Justin Plapp (Rich) Barry Round (Foots)



No players from Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Fitzroy, Gold Coast or GWS.




Games in Number 14 (Years played)

Kristian Bardsley 53 (1994-1998)

Martin Leslie 11 (1989)

Ben Buckley 74 (1986-1993)

Rodney Grinter 134 (1985-1994)

Danny Dickfos 65 (1996-1999)

Jim O’Dea 154 (1968-1980)

David Clarke 76 (2000-2003)

Richard Hadley 41 (2001-2007)

Dean Polo 56 (2006-2010)

Brad Plain 46 (1988-1993)

Robert Groenewegen 79 (1978-1986)

Bruce Tempany 87 (1977-1983)

Steven Allender 28 at Sydney (1981-1983), 2 at Hawthorn (1984)

Brett Spinks 19 (1998)

Scott West 40 (1993-1994)

Michael Byrne 56 (1977-1982)

Phil Kelly 61 (1981-1985)

Callan Ward 60 (2008-2011)

Danny Craven 33 (1989-1992)

Scott Cummings 46 (1999-2001)

Justin Plapp 18 (1998-1999)

Barry Round 135 (1969-1975)




Kristian Bardsley – Kristian started his AFL career at North Melbourne where he played five games under the name Kristian Anning. Kristian changed his name from Anning (his biological father’s name) to Bardsley (his stepfather who raised him’s name). In 1996 Bardsley copped a big hit from Gary Ablett which resulted in a wound that needed 18 stitches and two weeks off injured; Ablett served a five week suspension.



Martin Leslie – Leslie is recognised as the first ever Number 1 Draft Pick. While he was drafted by Brisbane in 1986, he would not come to play for the Bears until 1989 at age 26. Leslie wore Number 14 in his first year before switching to Number 17 for the next six years. Leslie played 107 games and won the 1990 Best & Fairest before he retired in 1995 due to a back injury.



Ben Buckley – Buckley was a regular for North Melbourne and played 34 games in his first three years at the club. In his fourth year (1990) Buckley was appointed vice captain, a position he held until 1992. Buckley retired in 1993 due to injuries aged 26 where then started an impressive post-playing CV that included Nike’s director of marketing, AFL General Manager, CEO of Football Australia from 2006-2012 and North Melbourne president since 2016. His son Jack plays for GWS and has shown promise as a key defender.



Rodney Grinter – Grinter played plenty of games for Melbourne during the period when they were finalists each year (1987-1991). He was a strong man in Melbourne’s defence who made his presence known, though as a result was a regular visitor at the tribunal. Grinter was suspended seven times for a total of 31 weeks, including a seven-week (with three games suspended), two six-weeks and one five-week suspension. Round 2 of 1988 is the most well-known suspension, when Grinter received six weeks for striking Terry Wallace. No umpire reported it on the day and the VFL’s investigation concluded a week later. The hit was brutal and despite Wallace losing several teeth, undergoing facial surgery and 80 stiches being applied to his mouth he still played the next week, while Grinter missed due to injuring his hand in the incident.



Danny Dickfos – Dickfos had a cult following at Brisbane, maybe partially to do with his name but he also had a great story. He was beloved for his dashing style in what was a very good Brisbane team at the time. Dickfos was drafted by Fitzroy in 1993 after being one of Queensland’s best in a Stage of Origin match. Dickfos rejected Fitzroy as well as his local AFL team Brisbane, he was happy playing local footy with the Zillmere Eagles. However when his team was kicked out of the state league for financial reasons after having just won the flag, he joined the Brisbane Bears in 1996 as Queensland Zone player aged 25. Dickfos played 22 games in his debut year including all finals and 22 again in 1997 including one final appearance and came fifth in the Best & Fairest. While Dickfos played 19 games in 1998 he only played two in 1999 due to injury and retired from Brisbane to continue playing in the QAFL.



Jim O’Dea – O’Dea had a 14-year career that concluded in 1980 with 167 games. He is best known for a terrible incident with Collingwood champion John Greening in 1972, where he struck Greening behind play in a manner that left Greening in a coma for 24 hours, intensive care for 12 days and gave genuine fears for his life/possible brain damage. O’Dea was suspended for 10 weeks. At the time Greening was 21 and had played 94 games, despite not playing the last matches of the 1972 season Greening polled 14 Brownlow votes and finished seventh. Greening did not play again until 1974 but only managed nine games in his last three years; he was not at his previous level and retired in 1976 aged 25.



David Clarke – Clarke is the son of former Geelong and Carlton champion David, who played 202 games for Geelong and then 9 games for Carlton before he was dropped for the 1982 Grand Final. Like his dad David Junior also wore Number 14 and played 89 games for Geelong from 1999-2003 (he wore Number 51 in his first year) and then spent two seasons at Carlton. Like his younger brother Tim he was very good endurance runner, which obviously ran in the family as his younger sister Georgie represented Australia at the 2000 Olympics in the 1,500m.



Richard Hadley – Hadley had a great affinity with the Gabba from early on; he took 9/52 against Australia in 1985. Hadley retired from cricket in 1990 with a then world record 431 test wickets. Hadley would return to Brisbane to play footy (after a hasty surname spelling change) and in Round 3 of 2001 made his AFL debut. That was his only game in 2001 and Hadley next game would come nearly two and a half years later in the 2003 Semi Final against Adelaide. Hadley kept his spot for the rest of the season and was a premiership player after four games (including three finals) in three years. Hadley played 23 games in 2004 including the Grand Final. He then missed 2005 and 2006 due to two knee reconstructions. After 41 games with Brisbane, Hadley moved again to Carlton in 2008 where he played another 25 games in three years.



Dean Polo – Polo made his debut for Richmond against Essendon in the 2006 edition of the Dreamtime match. He had 28 touches and kicked three goals including the match-winner. Polo was best on ground and won the Yiooken award that year. That turned out to be a career high for disposals and goals. While Polo played the rest of the season in the firsts, from 2007-2010 he was in and out of the side and finished with 56 games in five seasons for Richmond and further 21 games in two seasons at St Kilda.



Brad Plain – Brad Plain is another stereotypical HFF; long sleeves, drifted in and out of games, enigmatic talent. Plain debuted in 1988 for just one game in Round 22 after having come to Essendon from Tasmania. He was a regular in 1989 and played 19 games for 27 goals including all three finals. Plain played just four games in 1990 and missed most of the season due to an ankle injury in Round 6 which plagued the rest of his career. In his first game of 1991 he kicked eight goals, the next week four and the following week two goals…and seven behinds. Plain would only play 11 games in 1991, four games in 1992 and then in Essendon’s premiership year he played seven games for 23 goals, but none of these games were after Round 16. Plain played one year at Collingwood for nine games in 1994 and one game for North Melbourne in 1996 after being swapped for Adrian McAdam. He finished with 56 games for 96 goals.



Robert Groenewegen – Groenewegen played 79 games in nine years as a depth key position player, with his best outing 17 games in 1985. He is best known for a footy trip to Hawaii in 1985 where legend has it he got on the plane’s intercom and said: ‘This is your Captain Groenewegen speaking, I hope you are enjoying your flight as it will be your last, the plane is going down.’



Bruce Tempany – Tempany was injury prone footballer for Richmond. He could play half forward or wing and was good enough to play for Victoria in 1980. Bruce had bad luck in Grand Finals, missing the 1977 reserves Grand Final due to a broken collarbone, in 1980 he injured his achilles in the semi-final and missed the Grand Final and in 1982 Grand Final loss he broke his arm. Tempany retired in 1983 at only 25 years old.



Steven Allender – Allender was the youngest winner of the JJ Liston Medal (VFA’s B&F) for Port Melbourne at age 20. Though living in South Melbourne, he was residentially tied to Carlton until 1983 (he lived in Carlton’s zone until 1979). South Melbourne were fined $20,000 in 1981 for playing Allender. Despite this he showed promise in his first year; he played 10 games in 1981 and 14 games for 18 goals in 1982. After four games in 1983 Allender moved from Sydney back to Melbourne to Hawthorn but struggled for games playing only two more in a very strong Swans side.



Brett Spinks – Spinks arrived at Geelong in 1998 as their main forward hope after the retirement of Gary Ablett and Bill Brownless. He had crossed from West Coast after four years and 21 games where he was behind Sumich and Mitchell White. Spinks kicked 17 goals in his first four games for Geelong including a bag of six. After 27 goals from his first 10 games he only kicked eight more goals from the next 10.  Spinks still shared the goal kicking award with Ronnie Burns, however he missed 1999 due to a hip injury which forced his retirement from the game.



Scott West – West in one of the Bulldogs all-time greats, he won seven best & fairests, five All Australian selections and was twice runner up in the Brownlow, all done while wearing Number 7. West started in Number 14 as nippy forward pocket/on-baller playing for 40 games including 17 games for 21 goals in his debut season. In his fourth game against Essendon he kicked six goals which would remain his personal best with three goals his next best. West took over Number 7 from Doug Hawkins and now his son Rhylee plays for the Bulldogs and also wears Number 14.



Michael Byrne – Byrne played 167 games; 56 games for Melbourne, 90 for Hawthorn (including the 1983 Premiership and 1984 Grand Final loss) and 21 games for Sydney. Byrne switched to Hawthorn from Melbourne mid-1982. After his retirement Byrne became a skills coaching in Rugby Union for England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia.



Phil Kelly – Phil Kelly won the 1978 and 1979 Sandover Medals before joining North Melbourne in 1981. Kelly had five seasons for North Melbourne for 61 games before retirement due to hamstring injuries. Sadly for North Melbourne the hamstring injuries meant Phil did not play the required 100 games for Father-Son and his son Josh, who was taken with Pick 2 in 2013 draft, has turned into a very good player for GWS.



Callan Ward – Ward was taken by the Western Bulldogs in the 2007 Draft with Pick 19 from Spotswood/Western Jets. Ward played 60 games for the Bulldogs between 2008-2011 and won a Rising Star nomination. It was considered a surprise that Ward – a local lad – would join GWS in 2012 as co-captain aged 22. Ward captained the Giants for eight years and won a Best & Fairest in 2012 and the AFLPA’s most courageous player in 2018. Ward has never been selected All Australian and is probably one of the most underrated players in the AFL.



Danny Craven – Craven was a cult figure at St Kilda; at just 162cm he was behind Tony Liberatore as smallest player in the league. Craven debuted in 1989 but broke his leg in his fifth game which forced him out for 18 months. In 1991 he played 18 games including the final as a second rover. However 1992 Craven was in and out of the side for 10 games and was delisted after 33 total. Craven moved to Brisbane for three years after being drafted at Pick 78 in the Preseason Draft and played another 25 games.



Scott Cummings – Cummings played 128 games for 349 goals over nine years at four different clubs. Cummings debuted in Round 14 of 1994 and kicked eight goals against Sydney – back page headlines shouted that he was the ‘new Coleman.’ He played 10 more games that year for 32 goals. In 1995 Kevin Sheedy decided to play Cummings in defence and in 1996 he kicked 38 goals from 15 games, however was deemed surplus as a forward with Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas in the team. In 1997 Cummings kicked 70 goals for Port Adelaide but after an average 1998 season he was traded to the West Coast Eagles. In 1999 he kicked 95 goals and won the Coleman Medal. After 47 goals in 2000, Cummings kicked just 16 goals from his next nine games and was delisted. His old coach Mick Malthouse gave him another chance at Collingwood where made a great debut kicking 5 goals in Round 1, however he only played four more games (and kicked one goal) for the Pies; his career was finished aged 28.



Justin Plapp – Justin Plapp was drafted by Richmond in the 1997 Rookie Draft. Plapp developed cult status at Richmond being a key member of Richmond reserves premiership in 1997 as well winning the Best & Fairest and kicking the side’s most goals (50). Richmond supporters wanted him in the senior side but financial constraints stopped his selection that year. Plapp was elevated to the senior list in 1998 and after early season injuries kicked three goals in his first game and five in his second…three weeks later he kicked four goals to give him 14 goals from eight games. Plapp struggled in 1999 and played just 10 games for eight goals, he was then traded to St Kilda where he played 26 games in three years.



Barry Round – Round was champion ruck who won the 1981 Brownlow Medal and played 328 games. While mainly recognised as a South Melbourne/Sydney legend, Round started his career at Footscray after being recruited from their zone. He played 135 games over eight years with Footscray before shifting to South Melbourne. Round continued on at Williamstown after his VFL career finished and played 110 games there before retiring for good at age 41; in 1990 (aged 40) he was adjudged best on ground in a premiership. His son David played two games for the Western Bulldogs in 1997.




Some of the forgotten Number 14s are:  Allen Bartlett (Adel), David Gallagher (Carl), Cameron Doyle and Luke Rounds (Coll), Graeme Schultz (Ess), Geoff Everett and Frank Bizzotto (Fitz), Paul Maher (Freo), Stephen Handley (Geel), Kim Kershaw and Harry Miller (Haw), Roger Ellingworth (Melb), Brady Anderson (NM), Darren Keighran (Rich), Tony Francis (St.K) Billy Picken (Syd), David Allday (Foots)




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  1. Ta Rodney.

    I did my BA in the same years with Robert Groenewegen. We obviously went off on different paths.

    Steven Allender had one great season with Port Melbourne, but did not have the same result when in the VFL. Pity as a tall versatile player in those days was a very useful addition to any team.

    Brett Spinks started 1998 well @ the Cattery. 4 goals on debut, with bags of 5 and 6 in his first four games. Then winter arrived.

    Re the forgotten number 14’s some were quite well known.

    Graeme Schultz had a good first year in 1971, spending a decade playing at the highest level. However his career was spaced out, firstly with Essendon, followed by a lengthy spell in the West,before returning to Essendon.

    Stephen Handley played some good games early in his debut season @ Geelong, However he couldn’t maintain that high standard, though was a multiple grand final player. No flags for Geelong in that era, however.

    Billy Picken had a sterling career at Collingwood, though his two seasons wearing number 14 in Sydney didn’t set the world on fire. He returned to Collingwood for a final year in the black and white.


  2. Thanks Glen for your words
    Hope Groenewagon behaved himself better than he did in any class than he did in a footy photo.
    Allender I remember briefly for being in the news for his contract issues and the hype/hope for Spinks.

    I could picture Schultz as a player but unsure how good he was.
    Handley was more for my Geelong supporting brother who was not a fan of Handley & Mensch. He kicked 3 in 1995 Grand Final
    I had Picken in 2 obscure team as number he wore then. Is likely to be in best of team for 25, but forgotten that he played at Sydney.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice work slotting the Gabba specialist for all seasons in mate.

    I’ve still never quite gotten over Lethal Leigh thinking he could replace the Macedonian Marvel with B.Plain in 1994.

  4. Was hoping you would like Hadley in the team Luke.
    Amazing you were able to trade Plain though for Adrian McAdam

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