Almanac Teams: On Cloud Nine (1980- )


Richmond’s Trent Cotchin [Source: Author]


A team of best players to wear the Number 9 jumper since 1980.



The criteria is:


  • 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 number for example Gavin Wanganeen Number 1 & 4
  • Stats are based on their time in that number.




I 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 etc.




FB:           Tyson Edwards (Adel)                       Peter Mann (Freo)                      Shane Heard (Ess)


CHB:       James Kelly (Geel)                              Ken Hunter (Carl)                      Nick Malceski (Syd)


C:             Shane Crawford (DVC) (Haw)         Lachie Neale (Bris)                     Tom Scully (GWS)


CHF:       Lindsay Gilbee (WB)                          David Neitz (VC) (Melb)            Matthew Larkin (NM)


FF:          Fraser Gehrig (St.K)                            Brian Taylor (Coll)                      Robbie Gray (PA)


Ruck:      Nic Naitanui (WCE)                            Trent Cotchin (C) (Rich)            Gary Ablett Jnr (GCS)


Interchange: Wayne Campbell (Rich), Ben Cousins (WCE), Robert DiPierdomenico (Haw), Matthew Rendell (Fitz)


Emergencies: Shaun Burgoyne (Haw), Patrick Cripps (Carl), Rory Sloane (Adel), Michael Turner (Geel)


Coach: John Northey



No Fitzroy player in the starting 18.



Games in Number 9 (Years played)

Tyson Edwards 292 (1997-2010)

Peter Mann 77 (1995-1999)

Shane Heard 157 (1977-1987)

James Kelly 273 (2002-2015)

Ken Hunter 147 (1981-1989)

Nick Malceski 171 (2006-2014)

Shane Crawford 305 (1993-2008)

Lachie Neale 43 (2019- )

Tom Scully 121 (2012-2018)

Lindsay Gilbee 197 (2002-2012)

David Neitz 286 (1994-2008)

Matthew Larkin 162 (1985-1993)

Fraser Gehrig 145 (2001-2008)

Brian Taylor 97 (1985-1990)

Robbie Gray 167 (2013- )

Nic Naitanui 183 (2009- )

Trent Cotchin 251 (2008- )

Gary Ablett Jnr 110 (2011-2017)

Wayne Campbell 285 (1992-2005)

Ben Cousins 200 (1998-2007)

Robert Dipierdomenico 239 (1978-1991)

Matthew Rendell 164 (1981-1991)




This Number 9 side is very strong for midfield and depth players, which can be seen with names like Burgoyne, Sloane, Cripps and Turner listed as emergencies and the quality of players detailed as unlucky below. In fact there are two Brownlow Medallists named on the bench. Hawthorn was always going to have one in either Dipper or Crawford on the bench. I chose Naitanui over Cousins as I needed a first ruck, though I could also have chosen Rendell first ruck and Cousins on wing with Scully on the bench.



The weakness in the side maybe its spine. Peter Mann was more a CHB, Ken Hunter did play CHB sometimes but was a bit undersized at 183cm, Neitz started off as a CHB and was a prominent FF, but is named CHF for balance, Taylor was only ever a Full Forward and Fraser Gehrig did play in defence in his first two seasons at St Kilda kicking only 15 goals before being moved to Full Forward.



As mentioned earlier there is plenty of depth in the Number 9 jumper with several teams having multiple options. Adelaide with Tyson Edwards and Rory Sloane was a hard pick, Lachie Neale I chose over Ash McGrath; while the latter was a good player for Brisbane, Neale has the class, with two All Australians and a Brownlow at Brisbane. Cripps was unlucky to miss out: first to Hunter and then due to midfield depth on the bench. Essendon had Heard, Kickett and Ramanauskas, Hawthorn had DiPierdomenico, Crawford and Burgoyne, Melbourne Neitz and Alan Johnson, North Melbourne’s choices were two club captains in Matthew Larkin and Andrew Swallow, Richmond had Wayne Campbell and Trent Cotchin, West Coast had Cousins and Naitanui and the Western Bulldogs had Paul Hudson and Lindsay Gilbee to choose from.



The backline is not as strong in key position players but does have some depth if needed. Ken Hunter at 183cm maybe undersized but was a champion for Carlton in a successful era and one of the most courageous players ever to play; he could also play up forward, winning the goal kicking one year. Peter Mann was a Best & Fairest for Fremantle and could be CHB/CHF. Neitz and Gehrig can play as a key defenders if needed. Shane Heard was one of the best taggers in the 1980s and would provide the lockdown role in defence. Edwards, Kelly, Malceski are premiership defenders with Kelly and Edwards also able to play midfield. Gilbee and Campbell can also help in HBF roles.



Nic Naitanui was chosen for first ruck, which meant Ben Cousins was picked on the bench, alternative is Cousins starts with Matthew Rendell first ruck and Tom Scully on the bench with Nic Nat. The centre square consists of three Brownlow Medallists in Neale, Cotchin and Ablett with Cousins helping from the bench and another Brownlow Medallist in Shane Crawford on one wing with Dipper named on the bench who also played on the wing. Tom Scully though not a Brownlow Medallist, was a very good endurance wingman for GWS, making the All Australian squad. Matthew Rendell is the second ruckman and midfield depth is Campbell, Dipierdomenico, Cousins, Kelly, Edwards, Larkin, Gray and Gilbee.



The Forward line has three Coleman medallists with Taylor, Gehrig and Neitz. Neitz never really played much at CHF but imagine he could if needed as he had mobility to play CHB and Gehrig could play there as well. Rendell can play up forward as he kicked 45 goals in his first year and did kick eight goals in a game once and kicked over five goals on six occasions. Robbie Gray is a recognised goal kicking small forward who has also been named an All Australian. Lindsay Gilbee is best known as a defender but did kick 109 goals in his career with six goals being his best result. Matthew Larkin is more of a midfielder than a forward but he too kicked a bag of five. Ablett and Cotchin are midfielders that can play forward as well as Mann and Hunter who are named as defenders.



The bench was hard to select. Ben Cousins was an easy pick as one of the best players in last 20 years. Both Dipper and Burgoyne could have being easily in there, but with so many options available, I limited it to one Hawk – Dipper. The only other tall Number 9 in the frame was Matthew Rendell who would be ruck/forward. Wayne Campbell probably gets the last spot over an unluckly Rory Sloane, Patrick Cripps, Michael Turner and the unlucky players below.



Club Captains in the team are Peter Mann, Shane Crawford, Matthew Larkin, David Neitz, Trent Cotchin, Gary Ablett Jnr, Ben Cousins, Wayne Campbell and Matthew Rendell. Cotchin as a three-time premiership captain is leads the side, David Neitz as a Grand Final captain is vice captain and Shane Crawford is DVC.




The unlucky players were Ashley McGrath (Bris), Adrian Hickmott (Carl), Derek Kickett, Adam Ramanauskas, Brendon Goddard (Ess), Matthew Carr (Freo), Alan Johnson (Melb), Andrew Swallow (NM), Jack Steele (St.K), David Ackerly (SM) and Paul Hudson (WB).



Phil Dimitriadis has an all-time version HERE





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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Very strong team, quality list of unlucky players too. It will be a very long time before Derek talks to you again.

  2. Thanks Luke, the best team of midfielder and depth so far. Derek may get a run next week

  3. Phil Carman surely!

  4. Sorry Budge never saw Phil and have based the team from 1980 after Phil’s time at Collingwood finished

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