Almanac Teams: Stars on 45; Best of 45 (1980- )



Brisbane’s John Gastev [Source: Author]

This is a team of best players to wear the Number 45 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 numbers 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:           Anthony Banik (Rich)             Andrew Lockyer (WCE)                  Matthew Whelan (Melb)


CHB:       Conor McKenna (Ess)             Steven May (VC) (GCS)                   Michael Ford (Foots)


C:             John Gastev (DVC) (Bris)       Anthony Franchina (Carl)              Clinton Young (Haw)


CHF:       Ricky Henderson (Adel)          Peter Jonas (NM)                             Cameron Hitchcock (PA)


FF:           Brad Gotch (Fitz)                      Warren McKenzie (Carl/Syd)        Gavin Mitchell (Freo)


Ruck:       Trent Knobel (Bris)                 Cameron Ling (C) (Geel)                 Matthew Ryan (Coll)


Interchange: Brad Close (Geel), Jack Frost (Coll), Ricky Jackson (Melb), Aaron Joseph (NM)


Emergencies: Stuart Cochrane (NM), Stuart Crameri (Ess), Hugo Ralphsmith (Rich), Paul Kelly (Syd)


Coach: Grant Thomas


There are no players from St Kilda or GWS and two from Carlton and Brisbane in the starting 18.



Games in Number 45 (Years Played)

Anthony Banik 18 (1990)

Andrew Lockyer 78 (1987-1992)

Matthew Whelan 150 (2000-2009)

Conor McKenna 79 (2015-2020)

Steven May 17 (2011-2012)

Michael Ford 96 at Footscray (1985-1991) 2 at St Kilda (1992)

John Gastev 19 (1989)

Anthony Franchina 105 (1997-2003)

Clinton Young 40 (2005-2007)

Ricky Henderson 90 (2010-2016)

Peter Jonas 49 (1985-1988)

Cameron Hitchcock 17 (2010)

Brad Gotch 40 (1982-1984)

Warren McKenzie 67 at Carlton (1985-1990) 21 at Sydney (1991-1992)

Gavin Mitchell 36 (1996)

Trent Knobel 13 (2000-2001)

Cameron Ling 246 (2000-2011)

Matthew Ryan 45 (1985-1989)

Brad Close 53 (2020- )

Jack Frost 54 at Collingwood (2013-2016) 2 at Brisbane (2017)

Ricky Jackson 80 (1986-1991)

Aaron Joseph 73 (2009-2013)



The Number 45 side is headlined by a premiership captain in Cameron Ling, Best & Fairest winner in John Gastev and Number 1 draftee in Anthony Banik. The strength of the team is the pace off the half back line and wings in Whelan, McKenna, Young and Henderson and this extends to the midfield run-with players in Ling, Joseph and Franchina.



Teams with multiple options were Carlton in Warren McKenzie, Anthony Franchina and Aaron Joseph, Collingwood with Matthew Ryan and Jack Frost, Geelong with Cameron Ling and Brad Close and Melbourne with Ricky Jackson and Matthew Whelan.



Andrew Lockyer is at FB in the side; Lockyer started his AFL career as a forward, he kicked 17 goals in the Eagles’ first year and in 1991 he played twenty games including the Grand Final. Steven May is at CHB. While he only played 17 games in Number 45, he showed a lot of promise early, which earned him a lower number, the Gold Coast captaincy and an All Australian blazer. The remaining four defenders are recognised more as small defenders. Conor McKenna will provide the run and dash off half back. Michael Ford was a strong half back that had a bit of dash and ran in straight lines. Matthew Whelan in the back pocket was a very good player on the small forwards and was known for his tackling with the nickname of ‘Whelan the Wrecker’. Anthony Banik was a Number 1 draft pick who started his career in the backline and was hoped he would become a midfielder. Banik wore Number 45 before he moved to 15 in his second year. Banik played eighteen games and looked composed with 16 disposals in his first game and only twice in his 18 games he collected less than 10 disposals. Other players that can play in defence are Jack Frost and Warren McKenzie as key position defenders, Ricky Henderson as a dashing half back and Aaron Joseph, Antony Franchina and John Gastev as small defenders.



Trent Knobel as first ruck was the only ruck in the squad and though he only played thirteen games at Brisbane, he did go on to play 75 games in total with further stints at St Kilda and Richmond. His best game at the Lions consisted of 23 hit outs. Cameron Ling is ruck rover and was recognised as the premier tagger of his era who was still capable of getting his own ball. With others in the side that can tag, Ling would be required to be a high disposal getter. Ling’s best game was 39 disposals and as an U18 player for the Geelong Falcons he played as a key forward. In his AFL career his best year was 28 goals with three goals on seven occasions his best haul. Matthew Ryan is first rover and he showed a heap of early promise; 1987 was his best year when he came second in the Copeland, made the Victoria squad and kicked 28 goals. Anthony Franchina is in the centre and will be required to play a tagging role to allow Ling to be more of a ball winner. John Gastev crossed from the Eagles in 1989 and wore Number 45 in 1989 before moving to Number 4 in 1990. In 1989 Gastev played in several positions and even kicked seven goals in his second game on his way to winning the Bears’ Best & Fairest. The Pacey Clinton Young wore 45 in his first three seasons before he moved to Number 11; he had a breakout year in his third season in 2007 with 23 games and an average of 20 disposals. The backup ruck might be Warren McKenzie in this side while other midfielders are Ricky Henderson on a wing, Aaron Joseph as a tagger, Brad Gotch, Brad Close, Gavin Mitchell and Cameron Hitchcock.



Warren McKenzie is at FF and he made his name at both ends of the ground. McKenzie kicked 56 goals from 88 games and kicked four goals twice. Peter Jonas is only 184cm but played taller and was a very good mark. Jonas started with Number 18 before he went the opposite direction to most players to Number 45. He had his best year in 1985 – 24 games for 31 goals with best of seven goals. Henderson at 188cm is best known as a wing who was a good mark. Henderson could play forward and has a personal best haul of six goals and 79 career goals from his 159 games. Hitchcock on the other flank at 176cm is one of three small forwards in the team. Hitchcock kicked 31 goals from 35 games. Gavin Mitchell at 171cm kicked 18 goals from 36 games at Fremantle but at St Kilda he kicked 64 goals in 52 games with 34 his season and five goals his best in a match. Gotch at 166cm kicked 60 goals from 40 games at Fitzroy and 122 goals in total from 96 his best year was his first with 38 with seven goals in a match. Other options up forward are Steven May as a tall forward or Cameron Ling as marking forward, Brad Close, Ricky Jackson and John Gastev as small forwards.



On the bench is Jack Frost who is a tall defender and can help with the small-sized overall defence that is named, or allow Steven May to play as a forward. Aaron Joseph is a run with midfielder or defender and he may allow Cameron Ling to be more of a ball hunter. Brad Close is a current small forward for Geelong who is playing well in the top side. While the side has plenty of small forwards, Close could spend some time in the midfield or on the wing. Ricky Jackson is probably the best small forward in the team, he played 80 games for 131 goals in a Melbourne golden era of finals footy with a best season of 43 goals in 1988 and best game of six goals. Jackson also kicked five goals in the 1988 Preliminary Final win. Jackson was traded to the Bulldogs but broke his leg there in a practice match and never played a game there.



The 2011 Premiership captain Cameron Ling is obvious choice as skipper. Steven May captained Gold Coast in a different number but that’s enough for the vice captaincy in this side while John Gastev is DVC.



The unlucky players were Damien Peverill (Ess) and Jayden Short (Rich).




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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Still not too bad a team for such a high number. Matty Ryan showed a ton of promise but unfortunately faded very quickly. Was always a fan of Gastev, have no memory of him wearing 45!

  2. It’s a shame that Peter Jonas’ stint at North was marred by a couple of broken legs early on. He never got to show just how good he really was.

  3. Thanks Luke Gastev just the one year in 45 I see

    Thanks Greg, Jonas looked good from replay an World of Sport memories, was he like a Stevey J type

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