Almanac Teams – The Last of the Bruces?


At the suggestion of Almanacker and Collingwood fellow-traveller, Damian Balassone, I was given the challenge of coming up with a team of Bruces.


I thought that it would be an easier task than it turned out to be. About half of this team has A class Bruces and then it tends to fall away quite quickly. Would you believe that I couldn’t find a Bruce who has coached in VFL/AFL ?


Nobody named Bruce has played for Brisbane, Fremantle, Gold Coast, GWS, Port or West Coast in the AFL era.


This team definitely requires nominations from Australia-wide footy comps.


A number of famous Australian Bruces are linked with footy through the arts. For instance, Bruce Dawe inspired a generation of fans with his enduring footy poems, ‘Life Cycle’ and ‘High Mark’. Bruce Beresford directed the film ‘The Club’ in 1980. Character actor Bruce Spence featured alongside John Jarrat, Max Gillies and range of fine Australian actors in the 1975 footy film, ‘The Great McCarthy’.


For some reason the name Bruce was associated with a type of homo-eroticism in the 1970s and 80s. Not sure why, yet I do remember Graham Kennedy making fun of the name on Blankety Blanks. Bruce became Bruth and Cyril became Thyril in mock emulation of a stereotypical gay tone, that seemed funny at the time.


Life moves on and humour and names change. Although, I couldn’t find a Bruce of any note that represented Melbourne FC in 122 years.


Trivia Question: Who was the last Bruce to play in the AFL?


A team of the best Bruces I could muster. Now if we can only find someone to coach them?


B: Bruce Comben (Carl)                  Bruce Phillips (StK)              Bruce Nankervis (Geel)


HB: Bruce Andrew (Coll)                  Bruce Morrison (Geel)        Bruce Doull (Carl)


C: Bruce Abernethy (Nth/Coll)         Bruce Sloss (SthM)             Bruce Lang (University)


HF: Bruce Lindner (Geel/Adel)      Bruce Stevenson (Haw)       Bruce Monteath (Rich)


F: Bruce Ferrari (Geel)                    Bruce Lake (Ess/Foot)         Bruce Williams (Carl)


Ruck: Bruce Fountain (Foot)           Bruce Calverley (Fitz)           Bruce Duperouzel (StK)


IC: Bruce Reid (Foot/Carl)   Bruce Tempany (Rich) Bruce Anderson (Ess) Bruce Lennon (Rich)


Coach: Bruce Less


For more novelty teams click HERE



Entertainment: Bruce Springsteen (Trapped)


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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. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Lower the eyes Phil and you’ll see Rulebook’s piece on Bruce Winter

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Rugged Port Adelaide wingman Bruc(i)e Light #26

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    I’d think the last Bruce to play AFL/VFL is probably Bruce Abernethy.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Speeeecial team Phil.

    For mine, the equal greatest Bruce (with Springsteen) is The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne.

    A Test cricketing Bruce XI was hard to come up with but here we go-

    Bruce Francis (Australia)
    Bruce Laird (Australia)
    Bruce Edgar (New Zealand)
    Bruce Mitchell (South Africa)
    Bruce Murray (New Zealand)
    Bruce Taylor (New Zealand)
    Bruce French (England) WK
    Bruce Dooland (Australia)
    Bruce Yardley (Australia)
    Bruce Morrison (New Zealand)
    Bruce Reid (Australia)

  5. Bruce Tschirpig?

  6. DBalassone says

    Wonderful team mate. It’s amazing how the name has gone out of fashion post the 1980s.

    Bruce Linder could kick a footy. I recall him kicking a goal from the centre at the SCG in ’87. Rulebook will back me up on that.

    Luke, to back up your Batman reference, I think the Hulk was known as Bruce Banner in some movies.

    PS coincidentally, was just listening to the Boss while reading this – Jungleland and Backstreets back to back. The Boss never sounded better.

  7. It has long been rumoured that the rugged Port wingman had a big dust up with Fabulous Phil Carman in the car park at the back of the Norwood Oval. I’m not sure who supposedly won. During the match Phil had yanked Bruce’s long flowing locks. In the marvel comics the Hulk’s real name is Bruce Banner -it was changed to David Banner in the early films as it was thought Bruce was a bit sissy.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    A combination of American comedians deciding that Bruce was a “gay” name and British comedians deciding that it was an Australian bogan name lead to the decline of the name in the 70s. I am surprised that the popularity of Bruce Springsteen didn’t bring the name back in the 80s but it didn’t.

    This is what helped to kill “Bruce” as a name.

  9. Phil yes a touch of irony that my Bruce Winter article went up almost simultaneously I have hopefully made a strong case for his selection glad to see ex Ad Uni Coach Bruce Beatle Lennon make the side.
    Bruce Light was not only a bloody good player a top bloke our kids were in the same class at school got to him tragically he had health problems and left us way to young.Superb Luke thanks DB

  10. Monty Python was the beginning of the end for Aussie Bruces.

  11. Peter Vine says

    For a Melbourne entry I recommend Cameron Bruce

  12. BD Dutschke says

    How many were nicknamed ‘Loose’, like Bruce Lindsay?

  13. Bruce Lindner cut loose in the final term @ the SCG in 1987. Geelong were behind but in the last 15 minutes swamped the home side.

    The ‘Prez’ kicked 2 goals in this onslaught one from nigh on the centre of the SCG.

    He was a bloke with no half measures, he was unstoppable or………..


  14. Bruce Davis played for South Melbourne in the early 1970’s.

    He then spent time in the VFA including playing in a Port Melbourne flag during the trifecta of 1980-82.


  15. Glen, Bruce Davis also coached Seconds and Thirds premiership sides at Williamstown in the 90’s and 2000’s.

  16. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for the noms folks.
    Swish – Great that you could find a ‘rugged’ Bruce.
    Colin – Abernethy was one of a last handful. Bruce Lennon was the last Bruce to play in the AFL on the 28th of August 1993. We’ve had a quarter of a century without a Bruce at the highest level.

    Luke – Terrific effort in mustering a cricket XI. Bruce ‘Stumpy’ Laird one of my first cricketing memories in the old WSC doggedly facing the hostile pace of Roberts, Garner, Holding,Croft, Daniel and Garth Le Roux from South Africa. Bruce Reid was super bowler when fit. Always laugh when I think of the 12th Man Billy Birmingham saying he’d ‘snapped in half’. Bruce Wayne? Yes, although I do tend to picture Adam West camping it up more than the latter-day darker franchise. Childhood gold. Bruce Lee another childhood hero, esp in ‘Enter the Dragon’.

    Slim – Bruce Tschirpig a great get. 10 games for Richmond 8 In 1971 and 2 in 1976. That must be some sort of record between drinks?

    DB – Thanks for the inspiration. The toughest part of this gig was to get enough quality positionally. Top half rate highly and then it falls away. Couldn’t find a coach or any umpires named Bruce in 122 years of VFL/AFL. That surprised me. The Boss arguably the King of Bruces.

    Dave N – You’d think that Springsteen could do the trick and spawn a few, but as you show, Python killed many potential Bruces with that brilliant sketch.

    Fisho – Sissiness was unfortunately a thing that became associated with the name. Although Bruces Wayne, Banner, Willis and Lee would beg to differ.

    Book – Great article on Bruce Winter. Any South Australian Bruces that coached in SANFL?

    PB – Python at their best. Super funny. That would go a long way to killing off a species, let alone a name. Framing them as ‘Intellectuals’ with the ‘No Pooftas’ caveat. Hilarious, yet pointed satire of Australian masculinity in the 1970s.

    Peter Vine – Tempted to include CB, but had to be first name to qualify. Could not find a decent Bruce at Melbourne among a nest of Percy’s. Weird.

    BDD – ‘Loose’ Bruce brings in all sorts of images and connotations for minds with a tendency for the perverse. Best not to probe any further…

    Glen! and Gerry – Bruce Lindner personified the word ‘mercurial’ as a footballer. Loved watching him playe when he was in the zone. Bruce Davis an excellent nomination.

    Some other famous sporting Bruces:
    Olympian Bruce Jenner (He hated the name so much he changed his gender)
    Bruce Lee
    When Liverpool FC were last Champions of England in 1990, their Goalkeeper was Bruce Grobbelaar.
    Some of his best and most spectacular saves here:

  17. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Bruce McGregor went OK, coached three clubs in SA, plus one in Tassie. Could play a bit too.

  18. Very pleased to see Bruce Morrison make the side even at CHB just a stab kick away from his favoured FB spot.

    He won Geelong’s Carji Greeves medal in 1948, played in the premiership teams of 1951 and 1952 and lived to a pretty handy old age of 88.

    Even tho’ he only made it to 130 games I recall at least 2 Kardinia Park battles with John Coleman — the greatest footballer I’ve ever seen, the 2 Abletts, Locket, Lethal Leigh and Wayne Carey included.

    Bruce used a terrific spoiling ploy getting the ball away from Coleman in marking contests, thereby allowing 1951 Brownlow Medallist Bernie Smith to swoop on the ball and clear.

    Bombers supporters might have other stats but I don’t think Coleman ever kicked more than 4 goals when opposed to Bruce M.

  19. Has anyone mentioned Bruce McAvaney – he’s special

  20. george smith says

    South Australian version of the Bruce sketch:
    G’day Dean! G’day Dean!
    Is your name not Dean?
    What does new Dean teach?
    New Dean teaches viticulture and is also in charge of the Latvian dance troupe.
    Has anyone seen Dean? He was supposed to help with the Arts Festival.
    I think Dean went to Snowtown…and someone stuffed him in a barrel…

  21. DBalassone says

    It’s a bit ironic that the demise of the name Bruce is due to two entirely different reasons, as per Dave Nadel’s explanation above i.e. 1) considered “gay” by some in the homophobic era and 2) considered a “bogan” name by the Brits. We live in a strange world.

  22. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Onyer Swish. Can always rely on you to deliver the goods. And a New South Welshmen at that !

    Elijah – Good call on Bruce Morrison. Was a toss up between him and Phillips, who made State Full Back. I’m sure they can swap depending on the situation. Love the Coleman stories and his duels with the full backs of the era, including Bruces Morrison and Phillips. Cheers.

    Fisho – Well, McAvaney would certainly be team commentator/mascot/cheerleader etc

    George – Dean ! There’s another name that is going out of fashion. Last line a bit rough on poor Dean.

    DB – I’d like to meet a gay, Collingwood supporting bogan named Bruce one day. Could be an interesting conversation.

  23. Luke – Bruce Duperouzel should be in your cricket team as well as Phil’s footy team. He played 5 Sheffield Shield games for WA and 86 games for Claremont in the WAFL before crossing to the VFL for 164 games with St Kilda and latterly Footscray. Super Duper indeed. Must be an early photo on the Scanlens Card – I recall him as decidedly balding.
    (There is a team idea Phil – best Bald as a Stone footy side. My people willl call your people.)

  24. PB: Isn’t the term Bald as a Badger.

    Or is just the Brits who use it ??

    Thankfully the Great Full-Forward in the Sky has left me with a full head of hair.

    A little grey in patches but definitely, definitely NO white.

  25. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    PB, Thanks for the idea, but we’ve been through this with a fine toothless comb. You were on the match committee !

  26. Louie Louis says

    Phil, I’m surprised that Bruce McMaster-Smith wasn’t selected. Exciting little wingman who played for the Saints and Lions and my have had a run at the Blues too. A last quarter/ 19th man specialist…

  27. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Louis Louis – McMaster-Smith a worthy nomination. Was close. By the way, are you Richard Lewis’ cousin ?
    If so, he is still waiting for that kidney (Curb reference)

  28. Louie Louis says

    Not related to Richard Lewis. It’s Louis not Lewis. !
    Despite only playing 50 odd games, Bruce McM – Smith played in 2 grand finals (‘62 and’65).
    Must be lots of depth in your Bruce team!

  29. Now that we have a team of Bruces how would it go against the Royals or the Brians, Bills or even the Garys.
    Has anyone considered a team of Cyrils or Claudes?

  30. What about Reg, another almost extinct Aussie name? The last one i can recall was Reg Gleeson, who played with South from 1970-76. The coach picks himself, Reg Varney from On The Buses fame, of course.

  31. Reg Gleeson from Lockhart up in the Riverina.

    I have a ‘name’ side due to be launched in the next day or so,.

    Watch this space.


  32. Robert REGINALD Oatey, son of Jack Oatey and for a bit of comic relief Reggie Mantle, Archie’s rival.

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