Almanac Teams: Notable Number 9s


It’s sometimes hard to believe that before he started ‘wow weeing’ and zipetty doodahing’, Brian Taylor was a great full-forward who on his day could have the crowd buzzing. I loved watching BT play when he was on song at Vic Park. A cult figure who was also a damn fine footballer.


Phil Carman, Michael Turner, Dipper, Cousins, Val Perovic and BT in the same team? Temperamental and freakish talents.


I wonder how Fitzroy fans would have described Jimmy Freake early in the 20th century? Today we’d call Freake a freak for his ability, but the word ‘freak’ was derogatory back then. People change, language evolves, and talented footballers remain in our memories.



Jim Freake.



David Ackerly was my coach in the last competitive game of footy I played for Northcote High way back in 1986. He was softly spoken, mild-mannered and most of the boys in the huddle were taller than him. He could play though and was one of the most dependable and attacking back pockets of the 1980s.



Who are some of your most memorable Number 9s ?



B: Basil McCormack (Rich)       Val Perovic (StK)      Shaun Burgoyne (Haw)


HB: Tyson Edwards (Adel)       Ian Synman (StK)     Ken Hunter (Carl)


C: Michael Turner (Geel)      Trent Cotchin (Rich)      Robert Dipierdomenico (Haw)


HF: Phil Carman (Coll)     David Neitz (Melb)     Laurie Sandilands (Foot)


F: Jimmy Freake (Fitz)     Brian Taylor (Coll)     Ben Cousins (WCE)


Ruck: Matthew Rendell (Fitz)     Brian Dixon (Melb)      Shane Crawford (Haw)


IC: Matthew Larkin (Nth)     David Ackerly (Syd)     Ash McGrath (Bris)      Shane Heard (Ess)


Coach: Barry Cable (Nth)




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. recently-retired James Kelly, Wayne Campbell, Trent Cotchin, Fraser Gehrig, Swooper Northey, Paul Hudson, did you do number 8????

  2. Andrew Else says

    Derek Kickett doesn’t make the cut……again

    Strong team though. He’s not unlucky to miss

  3. Dave Brown says
  4. As a kid I loved watching Ken Hunter do outrageous things, regularly. Every week he seemed to take an impossible grab in Carlton’s forward pocket.

    Thanks Phil.

  5. A couple of other interesting ones: Sir Doug Nicholls (Fitzroy) and a certain Gary Ablett Jr (Gold Coast).

    Agree with Wayne Campbell, one of my favourites at the struggling Tigers.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hey Gerry. Cotchin is in the centre in this team.
    Here are the 8s :

  7. Peter Fuller says

    Heartily endorse your observation about Ken Hunter, just about my all-time favourite Blueboy. I would question the forward pocket, as he was usually named on half-back flank, although he played just about everywhere, and Garrie Hutchinson once described him as giving himself a lot of latitude – and longitude.
    KH was in my recollection the original exponent of the ghost mark entering the pack sideways, and he was legitimately regarded as one of the bravest players to take the field, given another description of his slight frame as a bag of bones.
    Another favourite quote was one attributed to a Richmond official, when Carlton secured his signature. The Tigers to their cost fuelled my schadenfreude with the contemptuous remark “We don’t chase half-back flankers.”
    Thanks Phil for your excellent memory/research in including KH.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice team LB.
    BT was second only to the legend of Daics in my very early Pie following days. Was so willing him into a GF berth in 1990. Reckon we’d have won even with him in the team.
    Now totally can’t stand him as a broadcaster.
    Jon Ballayntyne was as good a full back as you’d see for us in the number 9 until he did his knee.
    Glen Freeborn was serviceable. Jesse White absolutely and totally frustrating.
    Really like what I’ve seen from Sam Murray in his 3 games in the number.

  9. Oops, apologies Phil, missed that, also missed your team of number 8’s somehow ……

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Those looking for a great series to watch on NETFLIX. Inside Number 9 is a beauty:

  11. Casting my mind back to the early 1970’s, 1971 to be exact,i’m thinking of the number 9’s in the Hawthorn V St Kilda grand final.

    John McIntosh, father of Ashley, was number 9 for the Saints, Michael Porter wore 9 for Hawthorn.

    Luke, i concur with your view of BT as a commentator. Was Jon Ballantyne the full forward from Footscray?


  12. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Hate to sound like a broken record PD but … Malceski?

  13. Jim Kesselschmidt says

    As a Collingwood supporter Colin Tully cannot be overlooked. Not many better exponents of the “drop kick” and part of the magnificent centreline of Watt Price Tully.

  14. What, no Andrew Tarpey? ;)

  15. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers folks and thanks for the suggestions.
    Andrew – Adam Ramanauskas was close. Kickett stiff to miss again.
    Mickey – Ken Hunter was probably the only Carlton player I couldn’t dislike as a Pie fan. He was crazy courageous for someone with such a lean frame, either in the back or forward pocket.

    Jarrod – Sir Doug Nicholls and Wayne Campbell excellent nominations. Gazza at the Suns? Ok a Brownlow, but worthy of a place here? Nah. Wait until we get to Number 29.

    Peter – As mentioned above. In an era when Carlton v Collingwood meant something, I don’t remember K. Hunter ever getting booed by Collingwood fans. Such was the respect for him as a player. Eric Huxtable , Berkeley Cox, Adrian Hickmott and Greg Towns also wore the number with some distinction. Patrick Cripps could be the best of lot in years to come. So much talent.

    Glen ! – No love for Ray Sterret? John Devine should probably have gotten a guernsey, but not as coach !
    Luke – BT really had that ability to rouse the crowd when he would out-wrestle an out-mark his opponents. His 2 goals in the 1990 Qualifying were priceless in the scheme of things. I agree, still reckon we would have won with him in the big one. He would have loved the Quarter-time brawl too !
    Jon Ballantyne was very unlucky. His first few games in 1994 were so promising. Beautiful kick. Freeborn was stiff not to become a Collingwood premiership player in 2002. He had a really good year.
    Jesse White had to come up as the 2014-2017 whipping boy, but as mentioned by JD, Andrew Tarpey had no peer in that department. Marty Clarke another nomination that never really kicked on after good early signs. Jack Anthony?

    Mathilde – N. Malceski should indeed be in the best 22 here. Unconscious bias due to FYROM issue perhaps?

    Jim – Colin Tully a fine nomination. Ron Kingston wore number 9 with distinction throughout the 1950s.

  16. Playing the Beatles’ excruciating Revolution 9 as I type this. Can’t let this topic go without give Lindsay Gilbee’s long leg a mention! Always good for a goal from outside 50 after a run from the backline.

  17. Thanks for including the great Matthew Larkin, LB.
    He was a star in a poor North Melbourne era.

  18. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Aha, yes.
    At first I thought FYROM was a very current acronymic millennial text expression you were somehow knowing how to use … then I realised it was the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. These regional European spats cause definite biases when team picking. But I thank you for recognising his dues …
    He was superb!

  19. Really Phil, no reaction to my song suggestion?

    As for the Macedonia argument, I attended Ged Kearney’s Preston Town Hall meeting in her run to become the elected Batman representative. She had inadvertently upset the Macedonia community with a printing mistake and they were outraged. The Macedonia issue cuts much deeper than expressed here. Like, much deeper.

  20. Luke Reynolds says

    Glen, yes Ballantyne was the Full-forward from Footscray. Don’t recall him lining up forward for the Pies, but as Phil stated, he was wonderful at Full-back in 1994 until doing his knee. Then sadly never got back to where he was.

    Phil- forget the premiership medal, what a shame BT missed the brawl!!

  21. FYI:
    David Ackerly is currently the defensive line coach at my old club Williamstown CYMS.
    His son Russell won the club’s B & F last season.

  22. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Gigs – Yes, Lindsay Gilbee a worthy contender. 1954 Premiership player Don Ross notable along with the brilliant Les Bamblett who wore 9 from 1984 to 1988.

    Smokie – Matty Larkin was a fine player in the Kennedy years at North. Often carried the midfield and could kick a nice goal too. Bill Findlay, Johnny Gregory and Ken Dean a few worth considering. Great to hear David Ackerly is still coaching. Was good value when he crossed to North. He almost got us into the semis of the then Herald Shield in 1986.

    Mathilde – Yes, these pesky centuries old feuds shouldn’t interfere with the serious business of picking teams. I lost my sense of perspective there. Good lesson for next time !

    Rick – Give me 9 million reasons never to listen to Dickie Lee again. That was awful…
    Macedonia issue reaches flashpoints and then dies down. Interestingly, Peter Daicos, loved and idolised by the Collingwood Greeks, always identified as ‘Macedonian’. It would irk some Greek fans but because he was a champion, they let it pass for the greater good of Collingwood.

    Luke – What about that ‘towering’ ruckman Matthew Francis from the Shawry years ? Julian Rowe ? Let’s hope Sam Murray can find a spot in the team a few years from now !

  23. No Paul Sproule? Or did he already make the cut in the baldies team? (Ah, commiserations to Derek Kickett once again.)

  24. John Butler says

    Just put Paddy Cripps in now.

    It’ll save you having to do it later on.

    Honorable mention to Adrian Hickmott. Very under rated.

  25. G’day Phil.

    Ray Sterrett came across as the number 6 pick in the draft, had a few injuries, and after his three years at the club went back to the West.

    Shayne Breuer inherited the number nine. He looked good in his initial games,kicking a few goals, but then tapered off, eventually heading back to Port Adelaide for their initial season in the AFL. not long after i gave up on Geelong, the AFL per se, so i don’t know who inherited the number.

    John Devine !?!?! He inherited a club on the up, yes they lost Toohey, Bolton, Williams, but the years 1986-1988 the club wasted. The club has not chosen any more ex-Cats as the senior coach. That’s Devine’s legacy.


  26. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hey Adam – Paul Sproule made the ‘Baldies’ Team. He wore number 26 at Essendon and number 6 at Richmond.

    JB – Cripps is something isn’t he? Hope Carlton don’t expect him to do everything as they did Judd. Shame if the kid is burnt out at 25.

    Glen ! Breuer was one of those ‘opportunists’ who didn’t really kick on. Played in the 1995 GF and got a goal. At least he can say he kicked a goal in a Grand Final. Still chuckle at the footage of John Devine trying to motivate the Cats with fire and brimstone words and gesticulations while the players sucked on their oranges and barely paid attention.

    Couple of late inclusions:
    Milan Faletic (StK)
    Ron Andrews (Coll)
    Stuart Stewart (Haw)
    Brendan Edwards (Haw)
    Greg Sewell (Ess)
    Wayne ‘Moose’ Henwood (Syd)

  27. Another ripper Phil.

    Laurie Sandilands was reported in Rd 15 1972 for striking St Kilda debutant Michael Malthouse. Future Footscray captain booked for punching future Footscray coach. Sandilands beat the charge. Fittingly, for this piece, Malthouse made 9 appearances in his rookie season for the Saints.

    Lessie Bamblett. I have wonderful memories of his outstanding 51 goal effort in the “almost magical” season of 1985. Along with Tony Buhagiar and Simon Beasley formed the “Killer Bee’s” forward line. Went down with a knee injury in the 1986 pre-season and was finished by the age of 25. Absolute tragedy.

    Non Aussie Rules nomination – Stuart “Pancho” Pearson – Man United (1974-79). Superb strike put United one up in the 1977 FA Cup Final against Liverpool. They went on to win 2-1.

    Keep ’em coming.


  28. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers Mic. Sandilands/Malthouse story a beauty. Les Bamblett was terrific in 1985. Remember him kicking 5 against the Pies at the G that year. Beasley kicked 6 and we got toweled.
    Pancho Pearson fine soccer nomination. Could do a piece on the number 9 strikers alone. As an NUFC fan I have a bias for Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.

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