Almanac Teams: Hollywood FC

Jack Nicholson

Have you ever wondered how some Hollywood greats would go playing footy? What position would suit them best and what team do you picture them playing for? Here is my imaginary 22 of leading men as footballers.

James Cagney the nuggety back pocket who would give the opposing forward pocket hell. “You dirty rat.” Has to play for Hawthorn as he was a true Yankee Doodle Dandy. “Nothin’ but pig callin’ with frost on it.” (YDD)

John Wayne would defend and attack judiciously from full back and provide the true grit Footscray’s teams were renowned for in the 1950s and early 60s. “I was born game and I intend to go out that way” (True Grit)

Robert Mitchum in the other back pocket would be a perfect South Melbourne wharfie type, hard-working, hard drinking and would take no-nonsense from his opponent. In fact he’d put him of he’s game fairly quickly with a menacing: “I’ve got something planned for your wife and kid they aint ever gonna forget.” (Cape Fear)

Morgan Freeman provides the wisdom of hindsight, much like the Bombers and their recent woes, while having the toughness and dexterity to choose when to man up or when to take the game on. You could imagine him telling an opportunity-starved half-forward flanker: “ Hope is a dangerous thing.” (Shawshank Redemption)

Gregory Peck would be a classic Geelong character. Educated, but filled with homely advice stemming from a life on the farm with close enough proximity to the seaside. I can picture him telling a hapless young CHF: “”There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.” (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Like Dusty Martin in 2017, Jack Nicholson would be ideal as a Richmond icon(Part Jack Torrence, part Randle McMurphy) who flew into a cuckoos nest and saved them from themselves. A bit nutty, but filled with guile, bravura and loyalty. Adept at the rough stuff, he could also go on great runs from half back while leaving his opponent in his wake. “Which one of you nuts has got any guts?” (One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest)

Sean Connery would make a terrific Shinboner and a skilful, fast, yet tenacious wingman, like Schimma in their great 1970s teams. “Where’s your Shinboner spirit lad?” A mix of James Bond and Jim Malone, Connery would be tearing down the wing saying: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That’s the Chicago-Shinboner way.” (The Untouchables)

Robert De Niro would relish playing for Carlton. Super-talented, with pace and a penetrating stare, he would launch countless attacks forward and take no prisoners while doing it, ala Jimmy Buckley and Wayne Johnston. “I grew up in a tough neighborhood, and we used to say, you can get further with a kind word and a gun that you can with just a kind word.”(The Untouchable

Clint Eastwood would ride in from the wild west, filled with loot from WA’s mining boom and give plenty of drive from the other wing. He wouldn’t put up with fools who’d try to cross him either: “ You see in this world there are two kinds of people my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Could anyone be more Fitzroy than Michael Caine? Working class roots, streetwise yet not afraid to move with the times and get his hipster on when required. Also acutely aware of the predicament his team/type faces in this world. “I don’t know, it seems to me that if they ain’t got you one way, they’ve got you another. So what’s the answer? That’s what I keep asking myself. What’s it all about? Know what I mean?” (Alfie)

Jimmy Stewart as tall, mobile Melbourne Centre-Half Forward provides the class, leadership and courage needed for the contest with ability to take a big grab and bring others into the game. “I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules, if behind them they didn’t have a little ordinary everyday human kindness, and a little lookin’ out for the other fella, too.” (Mr.Smith Goes to Washington)

Johnny Depp would be the choice as a mercurial Freo half-forward flanker. Sometimes flaky, at other times electrifying, he would benefit from Jimmy Stewart’s guidance. As a Pirate/Docker after the game he would be inclined to ask: “Why is the rum always gone.” (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Al Pacino would excel as the opportunistic forward pocket that would happily feed off the crumbs left by Brando at full-forward. Like De Niro, the mafioso Carlton little man knows how to survive when he has to break the rules. “I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion: if everyone thinks one thing, then I say bet the other way.” (Glengarry Glen Ross)

Marlon Brando is a mixture of Ron Todd and Gordon Coventry at full forward. In his early days he could fly high like Todd. Coventry was John Wren’s favourite player and I reckon Brando as Vito Corleone would have gotten on well with Wren, if they could agree on who rules the city. Either way, these discussions would take place under the Grandstand at Victoria Park. “Someday – and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But, until that day, accept this justice as a gift.” (The Godfather)

In the other pocket, benefitting from Brando’s protection is the precocious James Dean, full of Port-like attitude and distaste for authority. On his day he could turn a game in a quarter, if he can keep his cool. “Please, lock me up. I’m gonna hit somebody and I don’t want to… ” (Rebel Without a Cause)

In the Ruck an apt Collingwood villain in Christopher Lee. Standing at 196 cms, Lee would have the opposition ruckman quaking before the first bounce. “I have good news for you, my lord. War has begun.”(Attack of the Clones)

Sailing into Sydney on the African Queen, holding court with the ladies and getting the hard ball as a talented ruck-rover, Humphrey Bogart shines as a Swan. A product of the bright lights, he would know how to handle himself if things got a bit willing in the ‘Cross’ and at the SCG. “Never say die. That’s my motto.” (The African Queen)

Robin Williams is classic St Kilda. A mix of street performer, poet, philosopher, comic and vulnerable social worker. He’d be an asset in the rooms before the game as a motivator and after the game for a laugh. Plenty of flair, but also not afraid to go in and get the pill. “In the words of Mahatma Gumby, ‘We are toys of tolerance, but there’s only so much that a toy can tolerate.’ “ (Toys)

On the bench for the students the nutty, intelligent, troubled and brilliant John Malkovich could come on at any time, steal the show and win the game off his own boot. “Considering my audience, I’m going to make this very quick and very simple.” (Con Air)

Tom Hanks would have to play for Gold Coast. His role as Chuck Noland in Castaway would prepare him for playing in front of small crowds that care little for the game or his suffering. “Now I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” (Castaway)

Brad Pitt has the right blend of early Brisbane cowboy lair (Thelma and Louise) and the maturity and ruthlessness of the Lions in the early 2000s ala Lt. Aldo Raine in ‘Inglouroius Basterds’. “ I’m gonna give you a little something you can’t take off.” (Inglourious Basterds)

Paul Newman takes the final position as a classy yet, resilient Crow. Like Pitt, started off as a pretty boy, but soon learned that he had to get down and dirty if he wanted to succeed in the big league. “Whatever I am, I am not part of your luggage.” (Sweet Bird of Youth)

As Coach/Director, I reckon only Quentin Tarantino can control this eclectic team comprised of ego, brilliance, flair, humour, violence, romance, swash-buckle, swagger and grit. “ When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.” (QT)


B: James Cagney (Haw) John Wayne (Foot) Robert Mitchum (Sth Melb)

HB: Morgan Freeman (Ess) Gregory Peck (Geel) Jack Nicholson (Rich)

C: Sean Connery (Nth) Robert De Niro (Carl) Clint Eastwood (WCE)

HF: Michael Caine (Fitz) James Stewart (Melb) Johnny Depp (Freo)

F: Al Pacino (Carl)       Marlon Brando (Coll)              James Dean (Port)

R: Christopher Lee (Coll) Humphrey Bogart (Syd) Robin Williams (StK)

IC: John Malkovich (University) Tom Hanks (GCS) Brad Pitt (Bris) Paul Newman (Adel)


Coach/Director: Quentin Tarantino


Over to you now Knackers. Who are your favourite leading men?

What position would suit them best?

What team would they play for? Why?

Memorable quotes are highly encourged.


Have a gander at our other Almanac teams here


About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Phil – Paul Newman MUST start on the ground. A legend. His famous line:
    “Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’s a real cool hand.” Identifies him as a classy and thinking centre man.

    Johnny Depp is a wasted talent.

  2. Clint Eastwood to the bounty hunter who was after him.:
    “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living boy.” CHB for mine. Pinch hit in the ruck. As he lines up the other ruckman before the bounce he’ll come out with:
    “You gotta ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya punk?”.

    I’d also have James Gandofini in there somewhere – as Tony Soprano. Probably team manager:
    “If our children find out we’re powerless, we’re fu****.”

  3. DBalassone says

    Burt Lancaster a high-flying CHF, has to be there.

    Belushi in the back pocket?

    Anthony Quinn on the HBF?

  4. Any team that Brando played in could have been a contender.

  5. Good list. Any team that has Robert Mitchem in a back pocket is going to be s strong team.

    No to Tarantino. He’s a pretender. Alfred Hitchcock or FF Coppola for example would eat him alive. IMHO.

    Was Cary Grant considered or John Garfield? Orson Welles as a captain coach?

  6. Sylvester Stallone ruthless uncompromising fighter may be Hawks back pocket player ?
    Thanks Phil loved it

  7. Great work, LB.

    I reckon Robert Downey Jr is a little stiff not to be in this team. What a talent.

    Malkovich playing for University – a very nice touch!

    And I agree with Rick – O Welles for coach.

  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Dips, I agree about Johnny Depp. Hence the reason he represents Freo. DiCaprio could take his place on the back of his performances in Blood Diamond, The Departed and Django. Paul Newman a fair call. Super actor. Where would you play him? James Gandolfini would be up there if we had a TV team.

    Damo, Yes, Zorba the Greek Anthony Quinn, who was actually Mexican, would add a rich multicultural flavour to the team. Maybe on the wing where he has space to do a dance and break plates. Belushi in the forward pocket next to Brando. One hell of an after-match there !!

    Gigs, That’s why Brando represents Collingwood.

    Rick – Tarantino has had a few misses and the selection is subjective because I like his casting, choice of music and humour. He won me after ending Django with Australian accents. Also a keen student of Australian films from the 70s, who he claims have influenced his ideas. Cary Grant stiff. Haven’t seen enough of John Garfield. How would Scorsese go directing this mob?

    Rulebook – Sly as in First Blood and Rocky 1 would be considered. Work fall away after that. A great actor from Rambo is Brian Dennehy – See ‘Belly of an Architect’.

    Smokie – Robert Downey Jnr is a terrific redemption story. Excellent nomination.

    Errol Flynn? Bruce Lee?

  9. Daniel Day Lewis
    Harry Dean Stanton
    Lawrence Olivier
    Mel Gibson
    Sean Penn


  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Jason Alexander could play as a Richmond small forward.

    Harris Glenn Milstead could coach Geelong.

    The entire cast of The Shawshank Redemption could prepare the Footy Record player profiles.

    Orry-Kelly could design the commemorative blazers.

    Peter Finch could provide the weekly MRP reports.

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Ripper Swish. George Costanza as a nuggety Richmond rover/forward pocket trying to read Kramer’s hit outs would be hilarious.
    You could make a 22 of male Seinfeld characters – Now there’s a challenge !!
    Coach: Larry David
    Head Chef: Frank Costanza
    High Performance Manager: Izzy Mandelbaum
    Footy Record Publisher: Jacobo Peterman
    Treasurer: Barry Prophet (The Sniffing Accountant)

  12. Another ripper concept team LB.

    Besides a resemblance to Ben Cousins, Tom Cruise a bit stiff not to get a gig – runs all day, a back flanker of some renown. And perhaps Angelina Jolie at half forward, based on her agile performance in Tomb Raider.

  13. I would have found a spot for Steve McQueen (fair resemblance to Barry Cable). Tough and brilliant. Every side needs a Great Escape (shades of Hawthorn.
    Humphrey Bogart should play Jock McHale/Phonse Kyne/John Kennedy senior as coach. Bogey has already got the gabardine overcoat. He would do a pretty good “Do. Don’t think. Act.” 3/4 time speech.
    Kevin Spacey? Great player, but disruptive of team harmony.

  14. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Rick – Sean Penn and perhaps Tim Robbins. How good were they in Mystic River? DDL and LO yes. Melvin Gibson? I don’t know. Harry Dean Stanton had a huge body of work. Great nomination.

    JD – I see what you mean with Tom Cruise, but I just can’t get past the couch jumping on Oprah. Maybe in a B team.
    PB – Steve McQueen was very close. Love ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Papillon’. Gone too young.
    Shame about Spacey’s recent sordid revelations. He was brilliant in ‘American Beauty’ and the first 2 seasons of House of Cards.

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