Almanac Teams: The Brightest Brians


Since Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ there is an attached humour and irreverence to the name Brian: “He’s not the messiah, he’s a naughty boy !” is a line from the film that has been quoted with much mirth over the last 40 years.


Yes folks, the ‘Life of Brian’ is now 40 years old.


What better example of a Brian capable of incredible metamorphosis that Brian Harris/Lake?


He was both naughty boy and messiah at Hawthorn. Who would have thought that Brian Lake would have retired as a Norm Smith Medallist and a triple premiership player after he left the Bulldogs at the end of 2012?


Will he be the last Brian to play in the AFL?


No one named Brian has represented Fremantle, GCS, GWS, Port Adelaide, West Coast and University in VFL/AFL history. Shame.


Brian is another one of those names that seemed to be everywhere in the 1960s and 70s. The name still had a solid representation through the 1980s and then fell by the wayside as we reached the 1990s.


I wonder why some are spelled with an ‘i’ while others have the ‘y’ ?


Also, why isn’t the surname spelled as O’Brian rather than O’Brien ?


Any info would be most welcome.


Among the Brians in this team there are terrific footballers and wonderful characters.


Therefore, Almanackers I encourage you to release your favourite Brians !





B: Brian Pert (Fitz)                       Brian Lake (WB/Haw)                      Brian Gray (Coll)



HB: Brian Cordy (Foot)               Brian Sierakowski (StK)                   Brian Douge (Haw)



C: Bryan Wood (Rich/Ess)            Brian Wilson (Melb)                         Bryan Cousins (Geel)



HF: Brian Quirk (Carl)                   Brian Gilmour (Foot)                      Brian Walsh (StK)



F: Bryan Martyn (NthM)                Brian Taylor (Rich/Coll)                 Brian Sampson (Ess)



Ruck: Brian Roberts (Rich/SthM)      Brian Peake (Geel)                   Brian Royal (Foots)



IC: Brian Leys (Rich)  Bryan Beinke (Adel)    Brian Winton (Ess)   Brian Gleeson (StK)



Coach: Brian Dixon (NthM)


Umpires: Bryan Sheehan      Brian Woodhead                     Brian Hood


Entertainment: “ Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life “



For more of Phil’s work, CLICK HERE:


About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. John Butler says

    Another notable Navy Blue Brian:

    Brian Buckley – 116 games as Ruck/back pocket/full back in the 50’s & 60’s.

    Cheers LB

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Port Adelaide’s Brian “Bucky” Cunningham is a SANFL standout

    Many of the players you’ve picked wore Brian-nylon body shirts in their heyday.

    Keep ’em comin’ Phil

  3. G’day Phil.

    I remember meeting Brian Walsh who played with Carlton and Essendon.

    He once kicked 8 in a game for Carlton V South Melbourne. When i asked him his favourite opponent it was the chap he played on that day: Brian Woodman !!!

    It’s good seeing the name of Brian Gleeson. I can’t think of any other Brownlow Medalists from Berrigan.


  4. Colin Ritchie says

    Brian Mynott from St Kilda was a handy CHB.

  5. Bryan Kenneally 171 games for Melbourne 1959-69, 1960 & 64 premierships – does Chris Bryan qualify???

    Sam Kekovich’s brother Brian had his two year career at Carlton cut short by a bad back injury.

  6. G’day Col, i recall Brian Mynott as a ruckman. He’s also one of the few English born players to grace our fields.

    Brian Martella played a game for Geelong in 1971. It was early in the season @ Windy Hill. If my memory is still working he was another of the Geelong red heads.

  7. One of my favourite Brians is the now late Brian Brooks. Brooks, a Goodwood Indians major league baseballer was better known as “Slam”. Brian worked for Coca-Cola and designed the mobile Coca-Cola Night Baseball scoreboard Whenever a player hit a home run over the Coca-Cola sign it was Slam’s job to present that player with Coke’s trophy. Presentations took place during intermission. However Slam’s first ever big hit, a three run shot in night baseball finally came in season ’58 / ’59. And was, would you believe, over his firm’s sign, Meaning Brian couldn’t really present himself with his prize. Someone else had to be found to do the deed. After years of representing Indians in the outfield, Brian went on to become a successful coach and administrator. I have heard it said that Kingsley “Duke” Wellington and Brian “Slam” Brooks were the best of enemies.

  8. I almost forgot former Major league baseballer and A grade cricketer Brian Illman. This Brian initially played with some success for Goodwood Indians either at shortstop or left field but chose to concentrate on his cricket. I would be surprised if Rulebook dosen’t remember him.

  9. Brian Illman played cricket for Glenelg and only passed away last year.

  10. Swish mentions Brian Cunningham as a SANFL standout – but what about 1969 All Australian Brian Colbey from Glenelg!

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    JB – Brian Buckley almost made it. Definitely an emergency. Brian Kekovich also close. Not many great Brians at Carlton. Some handy Bruces, but that’s a team for another day. Cheers

    Swish – Another famous Cunningham from SA. Is South Australia Australia’s Wisconsin ?

    Glen! Love stories like that. Poor Woodman. Brian Gleeson’s career could have been huge if not for injury.

    Colin – How did I miss Brian Mynott ? Have to swap him for Siera at CHB. Great get !

    Gerry – Brian Kenneally should be in the 22. Excellent nomination. Chris Bryan ? Yeah, nah.

    Fisho – Great story about Brian Brooks. ‘Slam’ is an impressive nickname.

    Some other sporting Brians:
    Brian Clough – Subject of one of my fave books/films ‘The Damned United’
    Brian Lara – West Indian batting maestro
    Brian Teacher – 1980 Aus Open Tennis Champion

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Another fantastic team and theme LB.
    Even 40 years on, “Life Of Brian” is a masterpiece that holds up well to repeated viewings. Can’t wait for my kids to be at an age to be introduced to it.

    Of course the greatest substitute of all time is a Brian, Bon Scott’s replacement in AC/DC, Brian Johnson.

    A Test cricketing Brian XI-

    Bryan Young (New Zealand)
    Brian Luckhurst (England)
    Brian Booth (Australia)
    Brian Lara (West Indies)
    Brian Close (England)
    Brian Hastings (New Zealand)
    Brian McMillan (South Africa)
    Brian Taber (Australia) WK
    Brian Murphy (Zimbabwe)
    Bryan Strang (Zimbabwe)
    Brian McKechnie (New Zealand)

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Just looked up to confirm that Brian McKechnie had played Test cricket but sadly he didn’t. But he deserves a place in the Brian XI alongside the others due to his role in the infamous “underarm incident”. Plus the fact he played 10 Tests as an All Black.

  14. DBalassone says

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the name, but I wonder if that great Monty Python satire has slowly driven the name out of existence. Parents are too scared to name their kids Brian now because of Python stigma. Most of your team was born prior to ’79, perhaps Brian Lake is the rare exception.

    Good work too Luke. I’m one of those in the minority who always preferred Lara to Tendulkar.

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Brian Adamson, West Perth and Norwood

  16. Les Everett says

    Nice one again.

    Club secretary/treasurer is easy: Brian Cook. Interesting that he and the Brians Sampson, Sierakowski and Douge all headed to WA. Samson played in a premiership with West Perth (1969) and Siera with Subiaco (1973).

    There was another Brian Cook. He played 187 games for Perth and in the 1976 and 1977 premierships – a stylish CHB.

    Boulder boy Brian Macgregor was a long kicking full back who played 150 games for East Perth.

    And yes Swish Brian Adamson was a classy CHF.

  17. Good one Phil. Evening up the typical Eastern States bias. Brian Mulvihill was a fine mark and key forward who played 160 games (mostly for my West Torrens) in the 60’s and 70’s. Was an unreliable kick who could hoof it a mile, but didn’t kick through the ball from close range. Played more at CHF than FF for this reason. Played 24 games in 2 seasons at North Melbourne in 71/72. Crio (is he still around) would have plenty of Mulva yarns.
    Brian Livesey was a fine wingman/half forward flanker for West Torrens playing 152 games in the 50’s and 60’s. Played interstate footy 5 times for SA.
    Brian Woodcock was the middle brother of three to play for Norwood. Younger brother Roger (267 games) is in Rulebook’s team of the century. Won the Seconds Magarey Medal in 1966 but played only 4 league games as considered too light. Older brother Don played 68 games.

  18. Brian Sawley played 138 games for Norwood and starred on a half forward flank for SA in their first ever MCG victory in 1963.
    Hawthorn’s John Peck evened things up in the rematch on a muddy Adelaide Oval. Guess the Tribunal penalty given the “extreme provocation”………

  19. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Luke, Awesome assemblage of Cricketing Brians. Brian McKechnie would have made a great caber tosser.
    Brian Johnson huge among many musical Brians. Last night I watched ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and it confirmed just what a wonderful guitarist Brian May (Also a PhD in Astrophysics) was for Queen.

    DB – Yes, I reckon the film certainly dissuaded those becoming parents in the 1980s ! Probably didn’t want their kids to get teased.

    Les – Didn’t know Douge, Siera and Sampson went to WA. Great local noms. Cheers.

    PB – Fine noms and of course the names ‘Roger’ and ‘Don’ have all but disappeared, too. Brian Sawley might have been a handy footballer, but he didn’t know how to kick arse effectively.

  20. Brian “Pongo” Sawley was a gifted footballer in more ways than one. A friend of mine, the late Geoff Sara was a wing man for West Adelaide and he once told me that Sawley, when chasing, could kick you with each foot and retain balance. However he did it once to often with Peck. Meanwhile, the late Brian Hill was a champion A grade baseballer with Sturt, Goodwood and Glenelg. His power hitting was a real pleasure to watch as he collected numerous home run trophies while playing Night Baseball in the fifties and sixties. Brian was a brilliant catcher and caught the great southpaw pitcher, Peter Box at Goodwood, winning 2 successive premierships. After transferring to Glenelg he caught the famous Jimmy Cocks. Many people, me included, believe Brian’s influence went a long way to making Jimmy the All Australian he was to become. Brian Hill also , besides his home run trophies, won numerous awards in Night baseball – a true champion of the game.

  21. Slight correction on Brian Hill story. As a district baseballer with Glenelg, he then played Night Baseball with Sturt Tigers, a combination of district teams Sturt and Glenelg and so caught Cocks who played with Sturt in the winter. Regarding Brian Mulvihill, in 1970, when Carman was doing his thing at Norwood, Torrens and the Legs clashed , i believe at Norwood. Wynne, at centre half forward was not going all that well whereas Mulva had the upper hand against Fabulous Phil at centre half back. Coach Bob Oatey then switched the two. The story goes that, in a pack, two eight ripped Mulva’s shorts down, saying , “You’re just a bloody big sheila”. Apparently half back flanker, Ross Porritt couldn’t stop laughing. Torrens won the game.

  22. G’day Phil,

    You have created a good team selection of Brians. I had not been aware of no current player named Brian after Lake.

    I’m so lucky to play on Lake at the IMPACT Invitational Cup in Kobe last July. He helped creating my good footy record and is a cool bloke.

    It’s good that you mention him at the first chapter of the selection article.



  23. Should the team be called the Brions – a term sometimes used for the Brisbane Lions?

  24. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers Yoshi ! You may have the distinction of playing footy with the last Brian to play in the AFL.

    Dave – Not sure if the ‘Brions’ will catch on. Did you ever see Brian McKenzie and Brian Gray play for the Pies?

  25. Good morning Phil. I’m unsure how many redheads are in your team but is it worth asking Brian Cadd to sing ‘Gingerman’ to them ?


  26. You are really excelling yourself with these teams, LB.
    The Life of Brian is one of the all time great films.
    I too loved The Damned United. Excellent film.

  27. Good stuff,Phil v enjoyable and extremely well played,Luke.Fisho is a gun re baseball and fishing
    ( We were on KI tried to go fishing didn’t excel so Daniel my son about 10 at the time went and did a WEA
    fishing course where Fisho was the teacher he was brilliant re Daniel a incredible fisherman and good bloke
    We became friends and thru originally my Norwood articles he has now become involved on the almanac site )

  28. DBalassone says

    A team of Bruces. I’d like to see that.

    Another name that is now considered daggy.

    Over to you Phil.

  29. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Glen ! Brian Cadd an underrated talent. Not sure about Gingerman, but parents have certainly ‘Let Go’ when it comes to naming their sons Brian.

    Cheers Smokie, Damned United is a ripper story. 44 eventful days at Leeds for Cloughie. His achievements at Derby and Nottingham Forest incredible.

    Rulebook – Great stuff. Fisho is a beauty. Love his comments. Thanks for introducing him to FA !

    Damo – Now there’s a challenge ! Will see what I can come up with over the weekend. Bruce Abernethy half back or centre?

  30. I was actually thinking the wing for Bruce Abernethy. Class player. Never forget that centreline for the ’84 final series: Abernethy, Raines, and a first year kid called Millane.

  31. Brien Hennessy says

    I have a first name Brien. Spelling based on Mothers maiden name…O’Brien.
    No big time footy, but I did play for the Dusties, and Ky.

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