Almanac Teams – Twenty-one jump(er) street (1980- )



Fitzroy’s Frank Marchesani [Source: Author]



A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 21 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 21, mostly from 1980 onwards but I have made exceptions, such as Glynn Hewitt in the 19 team.



It is a light-hearted team based on cult figures, forgotten/lesser known players or stats/cameos associated with them, players known for other deeds, sons, fathers & brothers and forgotten players.


My criteria, similar to my previous efforts was:


  • Attempt to include one player per club
  • I have tried to create as balanced side as possible but this was not a priority


Stats are based on their time in that number





FB:        Luke McDonald (NM)            Michael Christian (Coll)       Tim McGrath (NM)


CHB:    Josh Bootsma (Carl)               Paul Bulluss (Rich)                Ken Fletcher (Ess)


C:          Frank Marchesani (Fitz)        Craig Bradley (Carl)               Mark Yeates (Geel)


CHF:    Daniel Metropolis (WCE)      Drew Petrie (WCE)                Ahmed Saad (St.K)


FF:        Robert Dickson (Haw)           Courtney Johns (Ess)            Jacob Townsend (Rich)


Ruck:    Trent Ormond-Allen (Adel), Daniel Harris (GCS), Shane O’Bree (Bris)


Interchange:  David Brown (Adel/PA), Matthew Buntine (GWS), John Cassin (Fitz), Greg McAdam (St.K)


No players from Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney or the Western Bulldogs.



Games in Number 21 (Years played)

Luke McDonald 137 (2014- )

Michael Christian 131 (1987-1995)

Tim McGrath 4 (1991)

Josh Bootsma 14 (2012-2013)

Paul Bulluss 97 (1993-1998)

Ken Fletcher 264 (1967-1980)

Frank Marchesani 16 (1980)

Craig Bradley 375 (1986-2002)

Mark Yeates 154 (1980-1990)

Daniel Metropolis 6 (1992-1993)

Drew Petrie 16 (2017)

Ahmed Saad 29 (2012-2013)

Robert Dickson 17 (1988-1990)

Courtney Johns 21 (2005-2008)

Jacob Townsend 20 (2016-2019)

Trent Ormond-Allen 42 (1997-1999)

Daniel Harris 11 (2011)

Shane O’Bree 19 (1998-1999)

David Brown 69 at Adelaide (1991-1996) 22 at Port Adelaide (1997-1998)

Matthew Buntine 67 (2012-2021)

John Cassin 2 (1982)

Greg McAdam 10 (1985)



Luke McDonald – McDonald has being a regular for North Melbourne since making his debut in 2014. McDonald is the son of former North Melbourne forward/ruckman Donald McDonald who played 155 games from 1982-1992 and also coached Hawthorn in 2004 after Peter Schwab stepped down. Donald stepped back from a football role at North Melbourne to avoid a conflict of interest. Luke went on to win the 2020 Best & Fairest at North Melbourne and also finished third in 2014’s Rising Star.



Michael Christian – Christian joined Collingwood in 1987 from WA with Craig Starcevich, having being signed up before the draft. Christian was a regular in the Collingwood side as a tall defender, however late in 1990 he found himself dropped from the side before earning a reprieve for the Qualifying Final replay against West Coast where he was one of the best on. Christian kept his spot and played in the 1990 Grand Final win, he beat Paul Salmon at FB. Since retiring in 1995 Christian has worked as a football caller on radio and Channel Ten, presenter on RSN927 and racehorse owner and breeder and as of 2017 is in charge of the AFL’s match review panel.



Tim McGrath – Tim is the son of Dennis McGrath who played 36 games for North Melbourne between 1965-1968. Tim started at North Melbourne and in 1988. He won the Morrish Medal and was a member of the 1988 U19 Premiership side with Wayne Carey under Denis Pagan as coach. Tim debuted in 1989 aged 18 in Number 51 and played three games, he was then given Number 21 but finished up with only seven games in three years. Tim was then taken with Pick 12 in 1992 preseason draft by Geelong. His first game for Geelong was Round 1 against Hawthorn; he played on Jason Dunstall who kicked 12 goals on him. McGrath though got better and played all 26 games including the Grand Final that year and finished second in Geelong’s Best & Fairest. McGrath played 216 games for Geelong until his retirement in 2002.



Josh Bootsma – Josh is the son of Former Docker Brad Bootsma who played 23 games between 2000-2001. Josh was drafted by Carlton with Pick 22 in 2011. He showed promise as a defender in his 14 games, however he was sacked due to inappropriate behaviour on social media.



Paul Bulluss – Bulluss was considered a mature aged recruit at 23 when drafted by Richmond from Woodville-West Torrens. He stood out in his first year for his long ponytail, which later developed into a mullet. Bulluss was a staple in Richmond’s side at CHB over 97 games in six seasons before being a surprise delisting by Jeff Gieschen at end of 1998 aged 28; he had played 18 games in 1998. Bulluss booted 20 goals in his career and for a defender not known for his clean disposals he was a good set shot at goal. Another role he played was as tagger on Glen Jakovich at CHF with some success, he kept Jakovich quiet and kicked two goals twice.



Ken Fletcher – Fletcher played 264 games for Essendon from 1967-1980 with a career highlight the 1978 Best & Fairest. Ken is now better known as Dustin’s father and with the latter’s 400 games, they hold the record of most appearances between a single father and son. Ken also coached at Essendon Grammar in 1993 when Dustin played there while also playing for Essendon’s ‘Baby Bombers’.



Frank Marchesani – Marchesani debuted for Fitzroy in Round 5 of 1980, he played 16 games for 17 goals including two bags of four and averaged 18 disposals. Marchesani was voted the 1980 Recruit of the Year. One of his bags of four goals was against Carlton in Round 22 in a four-point loss where Carlton were second on the ladder and Fitzroy last. Carlton liked what they saw and poached Marchesani to join them in a trade for Peter Francis. Carlton were very strong in 1981 when Marchesani joined they were on the way to back-to-back premierships – they also had a host of similar players in the ‘mosquito fleet’. Marchesani played three games in 1981 and had his best season at Carlton in 1982 with 16 games, that total included the Preliminary Final. Unfortunately for Frank, the next week he made way for Jim Buckley. Marchesani struggled with injuries after that and missed all of 1984 and then played only three games in 1985. He made the 1985 Elimination Final side, which turned out to be his last game. Marchesani did play some reserves for Essendon in 1986 but never added to his senior tally of 52 games. His son James plays golf on the Australia PGA tour.



Craig Bradley – Bradley is listed as playing the most national games at senior level with 501. It includes 98 games for Port Adelaide from 1981-1985, 375 for Carlton from 1986-2002, 19 for South Australia and nine for Australia. Bradley debuted at Port Adelaide at age 17 and his last game was at 38 years 11 months. His honour roll includes two premierships, four All Australians, three Best & Fairests, Carlton’s games record, Carlton captain 1998-2001, four Fos Williams Medals, SANFL Premiership at Port Adelaide and three Best & Fairests with his first aged just 18. Bradley was also a very good cricketer playing U19s for Australia with Craig McDermott while in South Australia. Bradley played two Sheffield Shield matches for South Australia aged 19 and then two more for Victoria five years later, he was a top order bat who averaged 18 and had a top score of 46.



Mark Yeates – Mark Yeates is the son of former player John Yeates who played 86 games between 1959-1965. Mark was a mainstay of the Geelong side between 1980-1990 on a wing or HBF. His second game ever was the 1980 Preliminary Final where he had 17 possessions and was one of Geelong’s best. Yeates played 154 games and also played for Victoria but will be forever remembered for his bump on Dermott Brereton at the start of the 1989 Grand Final when Brereton notoriously suffered internal bleeding and bruised kidneys.



Daniel Metropolis – Metropolis started his career wearing Number 21 before moving to Number 8; he played 106 games from 1992-2000 for West Coast and six at Fremantle in 2001. Metropolis mainly played as a defender, however he had a debut to remember against St Kilda in Round 3 where he kicked six goals including four with his first four kicks. In his 114 games he kicked 48 goals.



Drew Petrie – Petrie played 316 games between 2001-2016 with North Melbourne, mainly as a forward, where he kicked 428 goals. At age 34 he was not offered a new contract at North Melbourne, however West Coast offered him one year as a replacement for Nic Naitanui who suffered a knee injury. Petrie played Round 1 against North Melbourne but after injury he did not reappear until Round 10. He played the remaining 15 games including the finals, he 16 goals with a best of four goals. Petrie remained in the west as an assistant coach and in 2019 played for West Coast’s WAFL team due to injuries.



Ahmed Saad – Saad was picked as a mature recruit in 2012 as a small forward after kicking 50 goals for Northern Bullants in 2011 and winning the most promising talent in the VFL. Saad played 16 games in 2012 for 28 goals with a best haul of four. In 2013 Saad played 13 games but received an 18 month suspension for testing positive to a banned substance methylsymephrine which was in an energy drink. He was redrafted as a rookie in 2015 but only played four more games before he was delisted.



Robert Dickson – Dickson was a fringe Hawthorn player in a successful era at Hawthorn playing as half forward/midfielder. Dickson made his debut in 1988 aged 24 after a few years in the reserves and played the first six games of the season. He only made one more appearance for the season and 17 in total at Hawthorn before going to Brisbane where he played two games in 1991 and was a member of their reserves premiership. Known around Hawthorn for his video camera work, he pursued his passion after his AFL career finished. Rob and his brother Peter became accomplished sport documentary film makers and directors. Dickson was commissioned by the AFL to do a documentary to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Australian Rules in 2009. Dickson also won the inaugural Australian Survivor season in 2002. Sadly Robert passed away in a car accident in South Africa in 2009, along with his two sons. Fortunately his brother Peter has continued the quality documentary making in sports but especially Aussie Rules.



Courtney Johns – Johns was a cult figure at Essendon based on his blonde dreadlocks and the love Kevin Sheedy showed him in constantly pumping up his tyres. Johns was a tall forward who was rookie listed in 2002. Johns missed most of 2003-2005 with a fractured labrum (hip joint) but Sheedy had faith that he could be Essendon’s full forward even with Lloyd and Lucas there. Johns made his debut in 2005 but continued to suffer from injuries including an ACL. He was delisted after 2008 with 21 games and 18 goals.



Jacob Townsend – Townsend started his career at GWS as a midfielder, he debuted in their inaugural game in Round 1, 2012 and played 11 for the year. Townsend made 28 appearances in four years at GWS before being traded to Richmond. Townsend played four games in 2016 and until Round 22, 2017 had not played a game for the year. Townsend was named as Josh Caddy was out injured, he then kicked six goals against Fremantle and five the next week against St Kilda. He kept his spot for the finals and kicked five goals more, including two goals in the Grand Final. Townsend played only 11 more games in two seasons at Richmond left as a premiership player. He he since played 12 games for Essendon in 2020 and two for Gold Coast in 2021. At end of 2021 Townsend had 10 years in the AFL, four clubs, 62 games, 44 goals and one premiership.



Trent Ormond-Allen – Ormond–Allen was drafted by Melbourne with Pick 10 in the 1993 Draft as a half back/wing but played just eight games in two years and was traded to Adelaide. Ormond-Allen played 18 games in his first year in 1997 playing in the semi-final and preliminary final but sadly missed the following week’s premiership due to glandular fever. In 1998 Ormond-Allen played 15 games but was dropped after Round 21 and was not picked for the entire finals campaign. In 1999 he did not get picked until Round 14 and while he played the last nine games was delisted at end of the year after 50 games. Why is Ormond-Allen named first ruck when he was only 180cm or 5’11”? In a Round 18 match against St Kilda, Adelaide had only one ruck in Lucas Herbert who was injured early. Adelaide had only some key position players like Bryan Beinke, Ken McGregor, Mark Stevens and Rod Jameson as other tall options. Malcolm Blight went with Ormond-Allen (who had a great leap) in the ruck against Peter Everitt. Everitt had 22 hit outs for St Kilda’s total of 43, Ormond-Allen got four hit outs in Adelaide’s total of 20 (Herbert and McGregor also got four).



Daniel Harris – Harris was a ball magnet at North Melbourne over 149 games from 2001-2009, his peak was 2007’s Preliminary Final. Harris fell out of favour in 2009 and was delisted after 10 games that year, aged 27. No then AFL club picked up Harris and he was taken by Gold Coast with Pick 1 after 2010 lists were finalised. After a good year in 2010 in the VFL for the Suns, Harris played in Gold Coast’s inaugural game in 2011 and played 11 games for the year (he had 30 touches in his first game), he then retired at the end of the year.



Shane O’Bree – O’Bree was drafted by Brisbane with Pick 10 in the 1997 Draft, recruited from Beaufort. O’Bree played seven games in his first year as ball magnet to complement Voss, Akermanis and Lappin who were already there and Simon Black who was drafted at Pick 31 in the same draft. In 1999 O’Bree played in Round 1 and collected 27 disposals and a Rising Star nomination. He played the first 10 games for the year before returning for the semi-final and preliminary final, however O’Bree wanted to come back to Victoria and nominated for the preseason draft where he was taken by Collingwood with Pick 1. O’Bree played 227 games for Collingwood between 2000-10 but missed out on 2010 premiership due to form; he played just six games in his final season.



David Brown – Brown played 91 games for Adelaide and Port Adelaide between 1991-1998 and wore Number 21 in all of them. Brown was a rover/forward pocket who was on the first lists of both Adelaide and Port Adelaide. Brown played 182 games for Port Adelaide in the SANFL, including six premierships including 1999 as captain and won a Jack Oatey medal in 1996.



Matthew Buntine – Buntine was an inaugural Giant, Pick 5 in the 2011 Draft. Buntine struggled with injuries and played just 67 games; his best year was 2016 with 12 games. Buntine’s possible ‘best’ achievement was in 2015 winning the Cleo Bachelor of the Year award, famously Dermott Brereton was the only other AFL player to win.



John Cassin – Cassin was the son of two-time Essendon premiership player Jack Cassin who played 150 games between 1936-1947. John debuted for Essendon in 1971 and played 51 games until 1974, then went to West Torrens for 1976-1977. Cassin joined North Melbourne in 1977-1981 and played 78 games including the 1977 Premiership. In 1977 Cassin was the only player to play 27 games for the season and remains the only player in VFL/AFL history to do so. Cassin joined Fitzroy mid-1981 aged 30 and wore Number 3 over three games. In 1982 he wore Number 21 in his two games for the year.



Greg McAdam – Greg is six years older than brother Gilbert and 10 years older than Adrian. Greg joined St Kilda in 1985 after 113 games at North Adelaide from 1977-1983. A goal-kicking on-baller/half forward who played 10 games for 13 games before returning home. McAdam kicked three goals and had 28 disposals on Debut in Round 1 against Sydney, then had 25 disposals and two goals in Round 2 and then followed up with five goals in Round 6 against Geelong. His last game was in Round 11.



Some of the forgotten Number 21s are James Gallagher (Adel), John Parker (Bris), Mark Austin (Carl), Brent Tuckey (Coll), Doug Cox (Ess), David Muir (Freo), Jeremy Taylor (GCS), Glenn Nugent (Haw), Peter Tossol (Melb), Tony Furey (NM), Clinton King (Rich), Jodi Arnol (St.K), David O’Connell (WCE) and Patrick Wiggins (WB).




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  1. Would Frank Marchesani be one of those players who never reached his full potental. That would be a good team on paper at least.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Ormond-Allen playing in the ruck gets a mention on the Coodabeens social media question very, very regularly.

    After 10 minutes of the 1990 Grand Final I thought Salmon was going to kick 15 goals, Christian did a great job on him from that point onwards.

  3. He definitely would be Dan, seemed to be curse to win best fist year player and not kick on in 1980s.. Marchesani, Phil Walsh, Justin Pickering

    Ormond- Allen is like Richmond playing Pickett in the ruck

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