Almanac Teams: Knights, Rookes and Royals; the Best of Number 33 (1980- )



Melbourne’s Greg Healy [Source: Author]


This is a team of best players to wear the Number 33 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 Eddie Betts number 18 and 19.



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:             Rowan Warfe (Syd)                              Darren Mead (PA)                             Darryl White (Bris)


CHB:         Aaron Hall (GCS)                                  Robert Elphinstone (St.K)               Brodie Smith (Adel)


C:               Brett Allison (NM)                                Matthew Knights (VC) (Rich)         Glenn Hawker (Ess)


CHF:         Cyril Rioli (Haw)                                   Brett Stephens (Fitz)                         Max Rooke (Geel)


FF:             Jeff Farmer (Melb/Freo)                     Peter McConville (Carl)                   Phil Matera (WCE)


Ruck:        David Cloke (DVC) (Rich/Coll)          Brian Royal (Foots)                           Greg Healy (C) (Melb)


Interchange: Darcy Byrne-Jones (PA), Blake Caracella (Ess), Bruce Nankervis (Geel), Aaron Naughton (WB)


Emergencies: Brett Ebert (PA), Ryan Houlihan (Carl), Kamdyn McIntosh (Rich), Adam McPhee (Ess)


Coach: Matthew Knights


No player from GWS in the starting 18. Jeff Farmer is picked for Fremantle but also wore it at Melbourne, David Cloke is picked as Collingwood but also wore it at Richmond.




Games in Number 33 (Years Played)

Rowan Warfe 84 (1997-2004)

Darren Mead 122 (1997-2002)

Darryl White 268 (1992-2005)

Aaron Hall 103 (2012-2018)

Robert Elphinstone 157 (1980-1989)

Brodie Smith 208 (2011- )

Brett Allison 219 (1987-1999)

Matthew Knights 279 (1988-2002)

Glenn Hawker 200 (1978-1988)

Cyril Rioli 189 (2008-2018)

Brett Stephens 133 (1987-1993)

Max Rooke 155 (2002-2010)

Jeff Farmer 118 at Melbourne (1995-2001) 111 at Fremantle (2003-2008)

Peter McConville 140 (1978-1985)

Phil Matera 179 (1996-2005)

David Cloke 176 at Richmond (1974-1982) 114 at Collingwood (1983-1989)

Brian Royal 199 (1983-1993)

Greg Healy 141 (1984-1993)

Darcy Byrne-Jones 134 (2016- )

Blake Caracella 126 (1997-2002)

Bruce Nankervis 263 (1970-1983)

Aaron Naughton 83 (2018- )



This side is highlighted by the talented small forwards in the team: Jeff Farmer, Phil Matera and Cyril Rioli. Number 33 does have a lot of depth with multiple options for the HB/HFF and the wings. The depth in these positions can be seen on the bench, emergencies and unlucky players.



Clubs with multiple options are Adelaide with Brent Reilly and Brodie Smith, Brisbane with Darryl White and Zac Bailey, Carlton with Peter McConville, Matthew Hogg and Ryan Houlihan, Essendon with Glenn Hawker, Blake Caracella and Adam McPhee, Geelong with Bruce Nankervis and Max Rooke, Melbourne with Greg Healy and Jeff Farmer, Port Adelaide with Darren Mead, Brett Ebert and Darcy Byrne-Jones, Richmond with David Cloke, Matthew Knights and Kamdyn McIntosh, West Coast with Phil Matera and Josh Hill, Western Bulldogs with Brian Royal and Aaron Naughton.



There is no real recognised FB in the side with Mead and Elphinstone more known as CHBs and Warfe and White as third talls. I have selected Darren Mead at FB as the tallest and probably strongest of the defenders at 193cm. Mead was 26 when he debuted having initially being drafted in 1988 and his impact was immediate; he won the Best & Fairest in Port Adelaide’s first year in the league. Robert Elphinstone at CHB in a struggling St Kilda side was good enough to play for Victoria in 1983. As third tall defenders I have Rowan Warfe and Darryl White. Warfe was a good intercept marker that could play a tight defensive role on a tall or small forward. White as the other tall was known for doing the spectacular and was often left to play a creative role in the backline; he notably flew for speccies and went for runs. The two HBFs are known for their run as well. Aaron Hall while not really defensive, did provide run from the half back line and was a big possession earner. Brodie Smith is another running player with an elite kick. Smith or Warfe may play on the small forward. Other options in defence are Brett Stephens and Peter McConville as possible tall options, Bruce Nankervis as a small defender and Glenn Hawker, Max Rooke and Darcy Byrne-Jones as half backs.



David Cloke in his first stint at Richmond was a CHF, the Collingwood version was a ruck who came runner up in the 1984 Brownlow to Peter Moore and later on was known to play his best footy in the ruck in June/July rather than a dry track. Matthew Knights was a classy centre and would be the player you want delivering the ball into the forward line. Brian Royal and Greg Healy complete the starting four midfield, although both were predominately rovers. Both Healy and Royal stood at 175cm , both averaged more than one goal a match, both won a Best & Fairest – Royal also played for Victoria while Healy was plagued by injuries. Brett Allison and Glenn Hawker are on the wings and both are flexible enough to play elsewhere on the ground with Hawker capable playing HBF and Allison playing his later career as a forward. Other midfield options are Max Rooke, Cyril Rioli, Brodie Smith and Aaron Hall on a wing and Darryl White although ‘only’ 189cm did play some early matches at Brisbane as a ruck.



The forward line is laden with talented small goalkicking forwards. Jeff Farmer at 174cm is specialist forward pocket; he kicked 483 goals with a best of 76 goals in 2000 (a grand final year) with a best of nine goals (all in the second half!). Phil Matera was 171cm and sometimes played as a very small full forward. Matera kicked 389 goals with a best season of 62 goals and seven in a match. Cyril Rioli at 177cm kicked 275 goals with a best of 47 goals and six goals in a match. All three of them have being All Australians. At full forward is Peter McConville who was capable of playing either end, having been named HBF in the 1979 Premiership and FF in 1981. McConville was 185cm and 35 goals was the most he kicked in a year (1981) with five goals the best in a match. Brett Stephens is at CHF, he was best known as a defender – he only kicked 52 goals in 133 matches but did kick seven in a match. Stephens could swap with Darryl White who did play ruck/forward early days, with 37 goals the most in a year and seven goals most in a match. Max Rooke is the extra forward who was the ultimate utility at 189cm able to play almost anywhere on the ground. Rooke’s most goals in a season was 24 but being a big body and with a great defensive work ethic, he would be an ideal foil for the small forwards. Other options up forward are Aaron Naughton, David Cloke and Darryl White as tall forwards, Blake Caracella and Brett Allison as half forwards and Greg Healy and Brian Royal can both rest up forward and kick a goal.



There was plenty of options for the bench, especially wings and flankers. I chose Aaron Naughton in the side as the side perhaps lacks a tall forward and Naughton is the current Bulldogs FF star who is capable of kicking five or six goals to help turn a game. Blake Caracella is another smaller forward but at 186cm is taller than others – he was played as a classy half forward whose best in a game is six goals. Bruce Nankervis was a great player for Geelong in the 1970s and early 1980s, where he won two Best & Fairests as a HBF/BP player. The last player selected is Darcy Byrne-Jones; a HBF who was All Australian in 2020, he could play a running attacking role or play as a tight defender. Brent Reilly probably the most unlucky, but he moved to Number 3 and played better in that number.



Greg Healy, Matthew Knights and David Cloke (at Richmond) are the club captains in the side. I went with Healy as captain as he was captain of the 1988 Grand Final team, Matthew Knights is vice-captain and David Cloke as deputy. Though Cloke also captained Richmond to a Grand Final, technically he is in this side for his time at Collingwood.



The unlucky players were Brent Reilly (Adel), Zac Bailey (Bris), Matthew Hogg (Carl) Cameron Sutcliffe (Freo), Kris Barlow (Haw), and James Gwilt (St.K) and Josh Hill (WCE).




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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Jack Ginnivan very unlucky!!!

  2. He looks good, does he get a lower number next year

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