Almanac Teams: Seventh Heaven (1980- )



Gary Ayres [Source: Author]



A team of best players to wear the Number 7 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:           Gary Ayres (C) (Haw)                    Nigel Smart (Adel)                   Dean Solomon (Ess)


CHB:       Dennis Carroll (DVC) (Syd)         Shane Morwood (Coll)             Scott McIvor (Bris)


C:             Michael Gale (Fitz)                        Paul Couch (Geel)                     Adam Simpson (VC) (NM)


CHF:       Chad Fletcher (WCE)                    Nicky Winmar (St.K)                Wayne Johnston (Carl)


FF:          Peter Burgoyne (PA)                      Nathan Brown (Rich)               Brian Wilson (Melb)


Ruck:      Ben McEvoy (Haw)                        Nathan Fyfe (Freo)                    Scott West (WB)


Interchange:  Doug Hawkins (Foots), Lenny Hayes (St.K), Brett Ratten (Carl), Harry Taylor (Geel)


Emergencies: Fraser Gehrig (WCE), Zach Merrett (Ess), Rhys Palmer (GWS), Nathan Van Berlo (Adel)


Coach: Adam Simpson



No Gold Coast or GWS player in the starting 18.



Games in Number 7 (Years played)

Gary Ayres 267 (1979-1993)

Nigel Smart 278 (1991-2004)

Dean Solomon 158 (1998-2006)

Dennis Carroll 205 (1982-1993)

Shane Morwood 195 (1983-1993)

Scott McIvor 101 (1990-1997)

Michael Gale 105 (1986-1993)

Paul Couch 259 (1985-1997)

Adam Simpson 241 (1999-2009)

Chad Fletcher 161 (2001-2009)

Nicky Winmar 230 (1987-1998)

Wayne Johnston 209 (1979-1990)

Peter Burgoyne 195 (2000-2009)

Nathan Brown 82 (2004-2009)

Brian Wilson 154 (1982-1990)

Ben McEvoy 131 (2015- )

Nathan Fyfe 169 (2011- )

Scott West 284 (1995-2008)

Doug Hawkins 329 (1978-1994)

Lenny Hayes 297 (1999-2014)

Brett Ratten 254 (1991-2003)

Harry Taylor 280 (2008-2020)



The Number 7 is the first team to have two players from the one club selected in the starting 18. Gary Ayres was the obvious selection for Hawthorn but with the team lacking height and a ruckman Ben McEvoy comes into the starting 18. Lenny Hayes and Doug Hawkins are probably the best players not in the starting 18 but Ben McEvoy was the only starting ruckman I could find that wears Number 7 since 1980. This meant Gold Coast and GWS did not have anyone in the team. Karmichael Hunt played the most games for Gold Coast with 44 but was not really considered (I still carry a grudge from 2012). Rhys Palmer played 69 games for GWS and my unwritten rule is generally not to rule a team out with a player over 50 games, but team balance meant Palmer was omitted. Overall the team is a strong team except for a height issue up forward. It has multiple options in defence for height, run and defensive jobs. Some of the defenders can play midfield, the named wingers can play in defence and all the forward names can play midfield. Fyfe is the only midfielder that could play up forward.



St Kilda and Western Bulldogs had two great options for the Number 7, making it hard to pick which player from each team would be in the starting 18 (though made two easy choices on the bench). Both selections were picked for team balance, Winmar picked as he could pinch hit as a key forward. West was picked for a need for small rover/on baller and midfield pace. Hayes and Hawkins both make very good bench players. Teams with multiple options were Adelaide with Nigel Smart/Nathan Van Berlo, Carlton Wayne Johnston/Brett Ratten, Essendon Dean Solomon/Zach Merrett/Chris Daniher, Melbourne with Brian Wilson /Jack Viney, North Melbourne with Adam Simpson/Jack Ziebell, Port Adelaide with Peter Burgoyne/Brett Ebert and West Coast with Chad Fletcher/Craig Turley/Fraser Gehrig.



I like the defence for this Number 7 team, the key position players Nigel Smart, Shane Morwood and Harry Taylor are all premiership defenders and All Australian/Team of the Year defenders (Morwood was named in the 1988 team of the year; All Australian selection started in 1991). All three are also capable of playing forward and kicking goals if needed. Smart kicked 116 goals with his best being five in a match, Morwood 111 goals with his best being six and Taylor kicked 75 goals with his best also six. Ayres and Solomon can play on either small or tall forwards and once again both are All Australian Premiership defenders. Scott McIvor and Dennis Carroll are both very good running half backs than can also play wing or ruck rover. Back up defenders would come from wing Michael Gale, Adam Simpson and Peter Burgoyne.



Ben McEvoy is the sole ruckman in the team, with no recognised second ruckman listed. Fortunately McEvoy has good endurance for this team. Paul Couch in the centre is only really behind Greg Williams as a ball winner of the late 1980s into early 1990s. Nat Fyfe is a two-time Brownlow winner who has all the assets in the midfield but can also play up forward, Scott West is five-time All Australian making for a very good starting midfield. As mentioned earlier Gale and Simpson can play wing or swap with HBF with Simpson being able to provide a run with role. There is plenty of help for the midfield with Hayes and Ratten able to play onball and the man who has his own wing named after him  Doug Hawkins all named on the bench. All the forwards listed have also spent plenty of time in the midfield.



The forward line looks classy but lacks height and may rely on one of the key defenders to alternate up forward to be a tall option. Nicky Winmar at 183cm is named at CHF and Nathan Brown at 181cm at FF. Winmar was a very good aerial mark and though rarely played key forward because Lockett and Loewe were there, he was always a dangerous forward kicking bags of nine and eight; he kicked 43 in a season. Brown had 34 goals after 10 games in 2005 before breaking his leg alternating one out in forward line with Matthew Richardson. He did kick 143 goals for Richmond though after the broken leg he rarely played FF liked he did in 2005 or earlier at the Bulldogs, he is still the best option in this team. Chad Fletcher is best known on a wing but named HFF here for balance. Peter Burgoyne maybe considered more of a defender but did kick 41 goals in 2002 as a small forward and could be swapped between forward and defence. Brian Wilson won a Brownlow Medal in the centre and kicked 27 goals that year, he later played in the forward pocket and kicked 208 goals for Melbourne, while Wayne Johnston is recognised as one of the best Half Forwards of the 1980s and is best known as a great finals player.



The bench had plenty of options as can be seen with the emergencies and unlucky players, though Fraser Gehrig, Ben Graham and Jarrod Molloy are the only talls. Doug Hawkins and Lenny Hayes were automatic in the team after just missing out on 18, Harry Taylor I thought was the best tall available who could play either end. Ratten is similar player to Paul Couch and maybe a risk picking two players with lack of leg speed but thought he was better player than Merrett and Van Berlo and did win a Best & Fairest in a premiership year.



The players that have been club captains in the team are: Gary Ayres, Dennis Carroll, Adam Simpson, Wayne Johnston, Nathan Fyfe, Brett Ratten, Doug Hawkins, Lenny Hayes and now Ben McEvoy. No premiership captains, so I went with Gary Ayres who was vice captain under Michael Tuck in four premierships. Adam Simpson and Dennis Carroll captained their clubs to a finals campaign. To those who may think Mick Malthouse should be coach; Mick wore a few different numbers at St Kilda and comes up in one of those.



The unlucky players were Adam Treloar (Coll), Chris Daniher (Ess), Ben Graham (Geel), Jack Viney (Melb), Jack Ziebell (NM), Brett Ebert (PA), Michael Malthouse and Michael Mitchell (Rich), Craig Turley (WCE), Jarrod Molloy (Fitz/Bris/Coll).



Phil Dimitriadis has an all-time version HERE





To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.




Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.




Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.

One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE.

Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE.

Leave a Comment