Almanac Teams: The 27 Club (1980- )



Essendon’s Simon Madden [Source: Author]


This is a team of best players to wear the Number 27 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 number 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:                  Jason Blake (St.K)                           Alipate Carlile (PA)                   Darcy Gardiner (Bris)


CHB:              Les Parish (Fitz)                               Glen Jakovich (WCE)                 Sean Wight (Melb)


C:                    Keith Greig (DVC) (NM)                Matthew Liptak (Adel)               Stuart Maxfield (Rich)


CHF:              Stephen MacPherson (Foots)        Harry Himmelberg (GWS)       Craig Starcevich (Coll)


FF:                  Dennis Armfield (Carl)                   John Barker (Haw)                    Jason Ball (Syd)


Ruck:              Simon Madden (C) (Ess)               Lachie Neale (Freo)                    Andrew Bews (VC) (Geel)


Interchange: Jack Darling (WCE), Tom Lynch (Adel), Clark Keating (Bris), Brenton Sanderson (Geel)


Emergencies: Darren Crocker (NM), Will Minson (WB), Jared Rivers (Melb), Matthew Stokes (Geel)


Coach: David Parkin


No player from Gold Coast.



Games in Number 27 (Years Played)

Jason Blake 206 (2001-2013)

Alipate Carlile 167 (2006-2016)

Darcy Gardiner 133 (2014- )

Les Parish 83 (1981-1985)

Glen Jakovich 260 (1992-2004)

Sean Wight 150 (1985-1995)

Keith Greig 294 (1971-1985)

Matthew Liptak 116 (1991-1999)

Stuart Maxfield 89 (1990-1995)

Stephen MacPherson 188 (1982-1995)

Harry Himmelberg 105 (2016- )

Craig Starcevich 124 (1987-1993)

Dennis Armfield 145 (2008-2017)

John Barker 113 (1998-2006)

Jason Ball 90 (2000-2005)

Simon Madden 378 (1974-1992)

Lachie Neale 135 (2012-2018)

Andrew Bews 201 (1983-1993)

Jack Darling 236 (2011- )

Tom Lynch 158 (2012-2021)

Clark Keating 137 (1996-2006)

Brenton Sanderson 199 (1995-2005)



The Number 27 side is very strong for rucks and ruck depth, tall and midsize defenders and has plenty of  tall forwards. The midfield is solid but lacks depth and there are limited players for the small back pocket or forward pocket roles.



Clubs with multiple options are: Adelaide with Matthew Liptak, Scott Stevens and Tom Lynch, Brisbane with Clark Keating and Darcy Gardiner, Carlton with Des English, Darren Hulme and Dennis Armfield, Essendon with Simon Madden and Stephen Alessio, Geelong with Andrew Bews, Brenton Sanderson, Matthew Stokes and Sam Menegola, Melbourne with Sean Wight and Jarred Rivers,  North Melbourne with Keith Greig and Darren Crocker, St Kilda with Rodney Owen, Jason Blake and Joshua Bruce, West Coast with Glen Jakovich and Jack Darling and Western Bulldogs with Stephen MacPherson and Will Minson.



The defensive strengths are the key posts with Alipate Carlile a very reliable full back over a long period of time at Port Adelaide and of course Glen Jakovich who is probably recognised as the best CHB in the 1990s and has claims on being the best since 1990. Jason Blake at 189cm was mobile enough to play on smaller opponents or played key position post and ruck. In this side he would likely play on a smaller forward changing with Darcy Gardiner. Darcy Gardiner at 194cm is also mobile and versatile having seen him against Richmond I know he has played on Riewoldt, Martin and even Castagna at various times; all are different sizes and have different strengths. Sean Wight at 185cm was known as a third tall rebounding half back and maybe needed to play an attacking role from defence. Les Parish is best known as an onballer/wing but could play half back however he would not have played as a small back pocket. The small back pocket role is hard to pick; any of the four back pockets or half backs could play there if needed, Bews or Sanderson could also fit. Other options in defence include Dennis Armfield as a small defender while John Barker could play as a tall defender.



The midfielder has a couple of stars in ruck Simon Madden and wing Keith Greig but lacks depth and class in the midfield. Simon Madden is named first ruck and considered to be the best of the 1980s. Madden was so versatile he kicked 575 goals and topped his career with a Norm Smith Medal. Lachie Neale (the Freo edition) and Andrew Bews form a very good roving division, Neale has peaked in form at Brisbane but was a very good footballer at Fremantle while Andrew Bews was a rover for Victoria a lot with Dale Weightman and Brian Royal but could play in defence or play a tagging role on ball. Matthew Liptak is named in the centre, he played there occasionally but mainly played as half forward. Keith Greig was a dual Brownlow Medal winner wing in 1973-1974 but still played plenty of good football until his retirement in 1985. Stuart Maxfield had a better career at Sydney as a captain but at Richmond he was just starting to emerge as a fine footballer when Richmond were emerging in 1995-1996. Other options in the midfield are Clark Keating as second ruck as well as Jason Ball and even Jason Blake, a lack of depth in the midfield means only Steve MacPherson and Les Parish can play through the middle. Out of the emergencies and unlucky players, Sam Menegola is the only midfielder and he is probably number four Cat in line.



The forward line has plenty of options that can play CHF or FF with perhaps the two best key forwards named on the bench due to the team requirements rules. At Full Forward is John Barker who was versatile utility who hit peak form when used as forward. Barker kicked 115 goals from 113 games at Hawthorn with his best year 47 in 2001 when Hawthorn finished top four. Himmelberg at CHF has been a key player in GWS’s forward line and is now the longest serving current forward at GWS, his best year netted 38 goals in 2019, the year they made the Grand Final. Jason Ball made the Number 26 team as a West Coast CHF, at Sydney he played mainly as a ruck but did kick 45 goals in 90 games with best being 25 goals in a year. With Simon Madden and Clark Keating being mobile rucks, Jason Ball fits in well being able to change with these players. Dennis Armfield is the small forward who would be considered a defensive forward picked for his pressure more than his ability to kick crumbing goals. Starcevich was a mobile CHF capable of playing half forward and did kick six goals in a match and until he was knocked out was almost best on ground in 1990 Grand Final. Stephen MacPherson is the classy creative small half forward needed in this time whose best year was 39 goals when Footscray finished third in 1985. Other forward options are Tom Lynch, Jack Darling, Simon Madden, Clark Keating and Matthew Liptak.



The bench looks a bit lopsided but there were not really any small to mid-sized options except for at Geelong. Clark Keating gets the second ruck role just ahead of an unlucky All Australian Will Minson. Tom Lynch was a very good CHF at Adelaide who peaked in 2017 as a marking forward connecting the defence/mids to the full forward and Jack Darling at CHF or FF is probably the best forward on the list. Darling only missed because of Jakovich while Lynch missed out to Liptak due to a lack of midfielders. Geelong provided the last bench spot between Sanderson the small defender, Stokes the small forward and Menegola the midfielder. I chose Sanderson as the team does not have a small defender while Stokes’ and Menegola’s spots are sort of filled. Rivers is perhaps unlucky but I think his role (and also Crocker’s) has depth and Lynch and Darling were better players.



There are three club captains in the side. Simon Madden 1980-1981 at Essendon and Andrew Bews 1990-1991 at Geelong.  Madden as the better footballer I chose as skipper, while Keith Greig is deputy as he was captain of North Melbourne 1976-1979 and my loose criteria is that selection is based on 1980 onwards.



The unlucky players were: Scott Stevens (Adel), Des English (Carl), Darren Hulme (Carl), Stephen Alessio (Ess), Sam Menegola (Geel), Stephen Gilham (Haw), Anthony Ingerson (Melb), Jarred Poulton (PA), Rod Owen (St.K), and Joshua Bruce (St.K)




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