Almanac Teams: Imperfect tens (1980- )



A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 10 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 10, mostly from 1980 onwards but I have made exceptions, such as Sam Kekovich in the Number 8 team.



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 and 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:          Rupert Betheras (Coll)                  Mick Martyn (Carl)               Steven Baker (St.K)


CHB:      David Polkinghorne (Haw)          Jonathon Robran (Haw)      Jesse Smith (NM)


C:            Nathan Freeman (St.K)                 Michael James (Carl)           Daniel Ward (Melb)


CHF:       Blake Caracella (Coll)                   John Roberts (SM)                Michael Roberts (St.K/Rich)


FF:          Peter Moore (Melb)                       Jeff Hogg (Fitz)                      Mitch Morton (Syd)


Ruck:      Stephen Hooper (Geel)                Chris McDermott (Adel)       Peter Filandia (Syd)


Interchange:     Brett Backwell (Carl), Dean Dugdale (NM), Warren Jones (St.K) Peter Keenan (Melb)




No players from Essendon, Fremantle, Gold Coast, GWS, Port Adelaide, West Coast or the Western Bulldogs.



Games  in Number 10 (Years played)

Rupert Betheras 47 (2001-2003)

Mick Martyn 13 (2003)

Steven Baker 155 (2003-2011)

David Polkinghorne 164 (1975-1984)

Jonathon Robran 75 (1995-1999)

Jesse Smith 27 (2005-2008)

Nathan Freeman 2 (2018)

Michael James 12 (1991)

Daniel Ward 107 (2001-2007)

Blake Caracella 27  (2005-2006)

John Roberts 50 (1980-1982)

Michael Roberts 70 at St Kilda (1980-1985) 12 at Richmond (1986)

Sean Charles 1 (1998)

Jeff Hogg 40 (1994-1996)

Peter Moore 16 (1983)

Stephen Hooper 21 (1991-1993)

Chris McDermott 117 (1991-1996)

Peter Filandia 50 (1996-2000)

Brett Backwell 11 (2000)

Dean Dugdale 12 (1983-1985)

Warren Jones 31 (1986-1988)

Peter Keenan 30 (1981-1982)




Rupert Betheras – A popular cult figure at Collingwood, Betheras made his debut in 1999 aged 23. He could play either end and had very good final series in 2002 playing in the Grand Final and was one the best players in the Qualifying Final. The next year Betheras struggled for games and was delisted after 85 games. Betheras is also a recognised artist having exhibitions in Alice Springs and Darwin and has had work displayed in Paris.



Mick Martyn – Mick Martyn is a North Melbourne legend over 287 Games and two Premierships. After 2002 season, Martyn was with Jason McCartney in Bali when McCartney was seriously hurt in the Bali Bombing. While McCartney stayed on the list, Martyn was delisted. Carlton’s coach Denis Pagan drafted his former premiership player Mick Martyn who was 34 years old with pick 84. Martyn would play 13 games including his 300th and last against Essendon in Round 18.



Steven Baker – Is recognised as one of the toughest taggers in the AFL in the 2000s. Baker was a Best & Fairest winner in 2005, Baker also had a long tribunal record missing 28 games through suspension. He received seven weeks for head-butting Jeff Farmer in 2007 (his priors increased his sentence) and nine weeks for four charges on Steve Johnson in 2010. The charges were one for misconduct and three for striking, the misconduct was for hitting an injured player which Johnson had an injured hand which Baker kept hitting. Baker is also best remembered for two incidents, one was when Fraser Gehrig kicked his 100th goal in 2005 Preliminary final in Adelaide his father jumped the fence to congratulate Gehrig and talk to Baker. The other incident was finding out he was retired after a press conference from Ross Lyon after Saints lost Elimination Final in 2011.



David Polkinghorne – Was a solid defender who could also play as on ball tagger over 164 Games in 10 years and two premierships in 1976 & 1978. Polkinghorne is best remembered for being the victim in a tribunal case in 1982. In the 1982 Qualifying Final Hawthorn v Carlton, Wayne Johnston was reported for striking Polkinghorne. Until then, there was an unwritten agreement that you would try and help the reported player get off or a lesser suspension especially in the Finals. Polkinghorne said at the tribunal ‘He hit me and it really hurt’. Johnston was suspended for two weeks and missed the Semi and Preliminary Final, before returning for the Grand Final (as a Tigers supporter I think he should have being suspended for three).



Jonathon Robran – Son of Barrie, brother of Matthew, Jonathon was drafted by Hawthorn with Pick 11 in 1992. This was a bit of surprise as Matthew had just being traded from Hawthorn to Adelaide, due to home sickness. Jonathon though joined Hawthorn and played his first game in 1995 and between 1997-99 only missed eight games and was traded to Essendon, though Hawks did have Hay and Croad in the key defensive posts. Essendon was very strong in 2000-01 and Robran managed just eight games.



Jesse Smith – Jesse is son of former North Melbourne star Ross Smith. Jesse looked a fine prospect with North Melbourne playing 19 games in his second season in 2007, including a best on ground performance in the Semi Final win against Hawthorn. Smith though would only play two more games suffering numerous ankle and hamstring injuries. In 2010 Smith was drafted by St Kilda but retired aged 24 without playing a game for the Saints.



Nathan Freeman – Was drafted by Collingwood in 2013 with Pick 10 but after two injury plagues seasons at Collingwood, Freeman requested a trade to St Kilda. Freeman spent three years at St Kilda and still suffered from hamstring issues. He did manage two games in Round 20 & 21 in 2018 but was deemed a risk with his injury history and was delisted at season end.



Michael James – Is the son of 1961 Brownlow Medallist John James who played 195 games for Carlton and won a Best & Fairest in 1955, 1960 & 1961. James joined Carlton after being drafted Pick 96 as a Father Son pick in 1988. In 1991 James made his debut playing 12 games and winning best First Year Player. In James’s first game he had 26 touches against Richmond, 31 touches in his sixth game, 30 in his ninth and in his twelfth and last game in Round 24 he had 33 touches. He averaged 22 touches a game, yet James never played another game losing interest and leaving Carlton at end of 1991.



Daniel Ward – Ward was a fine running HBF/wing for Melbourne over 11 years and 136 games for Melbourne. Ward was on Fitzroy supplementary list in 1996 and won the Reserves Best & Fairest that year.



Blake Caracella – An Essendon premiership player in 2000, Caracella was traded to Brisbane in 2003 for Pick 15 and Damian Cupido. After another premiership at Brisbane, Caracella was delisted by Brisbane in 2004 due to salary cap concerns. Caracella was picked by Collingwood with Pick 2 in preseason draft and played 27 games in two seasons before retiring aged 29 after suffering a serious neck injury. Caracella has built a fine reputation as an assistant coach at Collingwood in 2010, Geelong in 2011 and Richmond 2016 & 2019 premiership sides.



John Roberts – Roberts had a great start to his career kicking the winning goal after the siren in his first game. Roberts had joined South Melbourne from Woodville after 120 games. Roberts was known as a high flying forward and in his first two seasons he had topped South Melbourne goal kicking with 67 & 51 goals and was also All Australian in 1980. In 1982 Roberts only played seven games for 17 goals and returned to the SANFL where he was leading goal kicker in 1987.



Michael Roberts – Son of St Kilda 1958 Brownlow Medallist Neil Roberts, Michael was a promising Half Forward in 1980-81 playing 40 games and making the Victorian Squad. Michael was part of St Kilda well-tanned blonde players who was also a model on Sale of the Century. The next four seasons Roberts struggled with injuries playing only 30 games before joining Richmond aged 28, wearing number 10 and playing 12 games and then joined Fitzroy wearing number 55.



Peter Moore – Peter Moore joined Melbourne from Collingwood in 1983, however in 1983 he wore Number 10 as Number 30 had been worn by Peter Hamilton since 1976 over 52 Games. Moore would regain number 30 in 1984 and would win another Brownlow. Sadly for Melbourne fans Moore retired in 1987 after playing only 77 games, which meant son Darcy was picked up by Collingwood.



Jeff Hogg – Hogg was captain of Richmond in 1993, was leading goal kicker for Richmond from 1988-93 except 1990 and kicked 57 goals in 1993 despite spending time in the backline. Hogg though was traded to Fitzroy with a draft pick for Michael Gale, Matthew Dundas, Paul Broderick and another draft pick. Sadly Hogg had back and hamstring issues that restricted him at Fitzroy 40 Games for 41 goals.



Mitch Morton – Was drafted in 2004 under Father-Son rule where his dad Noel played 171 games for Claremont (the rules changed afterwards as his brothers had to go through the draft). Mitch played 12 games over three years in a very strong Eagles side. In 2008 Mitch found himself at Richmond and won Richmond’s goal kicking in 2009 with 41. Mitch joined Sydney in 2012 and only came in for Round 21 that year. Mitch found himself in the right place at right time and kicked two goals in the Qualifying Final and two goals in five minutes in the second quarter of the Grand Final to help Sydney win by 10 points. He also ranked in top 100 in world in Padel tennis.



Stephen Hooper – Came to Geelong in 1991 after the Cats traded 1989 Grand Final Players Shane Hamilton and David Cameron to Brisbane for Pick 1 in the draft. Hooper was aged 21 and came from East Perth and looked promising in 1991, playing really well in Elimination Final against St Kilda. Hooper suffered a knee injury in 1992 and missed the season and then played seven games in 1993 but struggled and went back to WA in 1994.



Chris McDermott – The inaugural captain of Adelaide in 1991, McDermott was fine player and captain in the team’s first four years. He almost made the best Number 10 team and was All Australian in 1992. He was initially drafted by Fitzroy in 1981 and Brisbane in 1986 but remained loyal to South Australia. Sadly for him he struggled with injury in 1996 and aged 33 was delisted 12 months before Adelaide would win a flag.



Peter Filandia – Filandia started off his career at Essendon playing 13 games in three seasons and had most votes in 1992 Gardiner Medal (AFL reserves) but was ineligible. Filandia was traded to Sydney and played 70 games in six seasons (wore 37 in his first year). Unfortunately he is best remembered for biting Chad Davis testicle in a reserves match and received a 10 match suspension.



Brett Backwell – Played 18 Games in three years after being recruited from Queensland. While at Carlton he won the 2001 JJ Liston Medal (the then best player in the reserves). Backwell went to the SANFL in 2002 and won the Magarey Medal in 2006, this was great effort considering in 2005 he had his left ring finger amputated. This created a lot of publicity including a live appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman in New York.



Dean Dugdale – Son of North Melbourne, Dean and his brother Glen played at North Melbourne. Dean was a rover and was 15cm shorter than his older brother. Dean started in Number 40 and played 30 games over five years with 1982 being his best year, he played 13 games.



Warren Jones – Jones started his career at Carlton playing 92 games in eight years including 1982 premiership year. In 1986 Jones joined St Kilda for 31 games in three years. Jones was a cult figure for his big mo’ and tattoos which were rare at the time. Jones was nicknamed ‘WOW’ and legend has it that it was because he had the letter W tattooed on each bum cheek, forming the word ‘wow’ when he bent over. Jones has denied this legendary story.



Peter Keenan – Named Peter Patrick Pius Paul, he is more commonly known as ‘Crackers’. Keenan started his career at Melbourne in 1970 playing 101 games, in 1976 he joined North Melbourne for 51 games and the 1977 Premiership. Keenan then moved to Essendon for 31 games in 1979 over two years before re-joining Melbourne again in 1981 for 30 games over two years. Keenan played total of 213 games and was a long time 3LO commentator and ruck coach at Collingwood and was there for the 1990 Premiership.



Some of the forgotten Number 10s are: Jarran Jacky (Adel), John Fidge (Bris), Rod Waddell, Mark Buckley, Dylan McLaren & Matthew Watson (Carl), Mark Orval (Coll), Darren Troy (Geel), Steve Malaxos (Haw), Cale Morton (Melb),  Tim Gepp & Allister Scott (Rich) and Russell Shields (Foots)






Read more of Rodney’s teams HERE.




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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Any mention of the great man Rupert Betheras brings a smile to my face. Loved him in the black & white stripes.

    Steve Baker took the Under 14.5’s at training at his original club South Colac a few weeks back, great to see guys like that putting time back to local footy.

  2. Thanks Luke, great of Baker to come back. Hope he didn’t teach about his tribunal record

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