Almanac Teams: Twenty-twenty hindsight (1980- )



Richmond’s Jim Jess [Source: Author]



A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 20 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 20, 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:           Mark Athorn (Foots)                Darren Gaspar (Syd)          Tony Burgess (Coll)


CHB:        Troy Broadbridge (Melb)       Jim Jess (Rich)                    Ed Richards (WB)


C:              Ray Card (Geel)                        Mick Dwyer (St.K)              Sam Gibson (Adel)


CHF:        Jim Edmond (Bris)                  John Barnes (Ess)               John Klug (Adel)


FF:           Matthew Powell (Adel)            Ross Brewer (Coll)              Graham Teasdale (Coll)


Ruck:       Aaron Keating (Adel)               Jackson Merrett (Ess)        Tony Buhagiar (Ess)


Interchange:   Justin Murphy (Geel), Peter Quirk (Syd), John Stevens (Syd), Clinton Wolf (Freo)


No players from Fitzroy, Gold Coast, GWS, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide or West Coast.



Games in Number 20 (Years played)

Mark Athorn 8 (1988-1989)

Darren Gaspar 21 (1994-1995)

Tony Burgess 21 (1985-1986)

Troy Broadbridge 40 (2001-2004)

Jim Jess 223 (1976-1988)

Ed Richards 63 (2018- )

Ray Card 110 (1977-1987)

Mick Dwyer 80 (1986-1995)

Sam Gibson 5 (2018)

Jim Edmond 17 (1987-1988)

John Barnes 12 (1987-1990)

John Klug 26 (1991-1992)

Matthew Powell 16 (1993-1995)

Ross Brewer 47 (1979-1981)

Graham Teasdale 6 at Richmond (1973) 121 at South Melbourne (1975-1981) 14 at Collingwood (1982-1983)

Aaron Keating 6 (1997-1998)

Jackson Merrett 55 (2013-2018)

Tony Buhagiar 83 (1981-1984)

Justin Murphy 18 (2001)

Peter Quirk 7 (1987)

John Stevens 78 (1997-2001)

Clinton Wolf 4 (1995)



Mark Athorn – Athorn was a journeyman footballer who played for four clubs in seven years; he ran out in 83 games with his last match being 1993 Grand Final. Best known as tagger/back pocket Athorn was recruited from Footscray zone East Keilor and made his debut in 1987. He first wore Number 52 and played nine games. He then moved to Number 20 and played eight more games in two seasons before he was delisted. Fitzroy picked up Athorn with Pick 51 in the 1990 Preseason Draft, while he missed Round 1, he went on to play the remaining 21 games averaging 16 disposals before finding himself off Fitzroy’s list in 1991 (I couldn’t find if he was delisted or quit). In 1991 Athorn was drafted by Sydney with Pick 8 in the 1991 Preseason Draft where he played 15 games for the year but once again was without a club for some unknown reason. Athorn was drafted by Carlton with Pick 5 in the 1992 Preseason Draft (his fourth club in four years) where he spent three season, though he did not play a game in 1994. Athorn played 20 games in 1992 and 10 games in 1993, in his last match he had a stint on Norm Smith Medallist Michael Long.



Darren Gaspar – Gaspar was the Number 1 draft pick in 1993, drafted by Sydney as a key defender from South Fremantle. Gaspar played five games in his first year and then 20 games in his second. Gaspar did not want to stay at Sydney and when he came out of contract nominated for the draft – he hoped to get to Richmond at Pick 3, rather than his hometown club Fremantle at Pick 2. Gaspar got to Punt Road and played 207 games at Richmond, he won a Best & Fairest and was a two-time All Australian.



Tony Burgess – Burgess joined Collingwood in 1985 aged 24 after having success for West Adelaide as a key defender. Burgess wanted to join the Pies in 1984 as he had moved to Melbourne for work reasons and trained with the club but West Adelaide declined to clear him. Burgess was swapped by West Adelaide for Ron Andrews, Derek Shaw and Dale Woodhall in 1985. Burgess played nine of the first 10 games in 1985 before a neck injury cut short his year and then 11 out of first 12 games in 1986. Despite showing some promise, he was offered to Brisbane as one of Collingwood’s three compulsory players. Burgess declined and went back to West Adelaide where he finished with 185 games.



Troy Broadbridge – Broadbridge was recruited by Melbourne in 1999 Rookie Draft. Broadbridge made his debut in 2001 and showed promise as half back flanker in 40 games in three seasons. His best season was his final one, with his last game being Elimination Final against Essendon where he had a reasonable match on James Hird. Troy got married December 18, 2004 but was sadly killed on his honeymoon in Thailand during the Boxing Day Tsunami a week later.



Jim Jess – Jim Jess was a big cult figure of not only Richmond but perhaps the VFL/AFL. Jess was more than his cult status and could play. The ‘Ghost’ was great footballer over 223 games and 175 goals, including the 1980 premiership. Jess was capable of playing CHB or CHF and often played in both positions in the same game. Jess was originally rejected by St Kilda so stayed on in the Wimmera playing for Avoca and St Arnaud. Richmond recruited Jess and he made his debut in 1976 aged 21. He stood out for his blonde hair and beard and this was the source of his nickname. A tough footballer who laid his fair share of shirtfronts, he famously got one back from one of the smallest players in the league, Gary Wilson. Jess was also known for his long torpedo kick, either kicking out from full back or having a shot on goal at CHF. Jess kept playing country footy until his mid-forties and won two Best & Fairests at Avoca…first as a 17-year-old and then a 41-year-old.



Ed Richards – Richards is a promising wing/half back with great pace for the Western Bulldogs. He is however connected to Collingwood royalty through his grandfather Ron Richards, great uncle Lou Richards and great grandfather Charlie Pannam.



Ray Card – Card was the son of George Card who played 46 games for Geelong between 1946-1948. Card had struggled for games in 1982 and was a member of Geelong reserves premiership. After being sought out to join Melbourne in 1983, Card was convinced to stay by new coach Tom Hafey. Card subsequently won the Best & Fairest, however he would only play 13 more games in next four seasons due to knee injuries which forced him to also miss all of 1986. Card is best remembered for big shirtfront on Keith Greig in 1978, which if happened today would surely result in several weeks on the sidelines.



Mick Dwyer – Dwyer was commonly known as Mick but was christened Mark, which did cause confusion as in 1988 there were two Mark Dwyers at St Kilda. Both of them played in the same side only once: Round 17, 1988. Mick had a 10 year career at St Kilda for 80 games before joining Fitzroy in 1996 for eight games. Dwyer’s best year was 1989 where he played all 22 games, he also won the Gardiner Medal in 1992 despite playing just 12 games. In seven of his 10 years at St Kilda he played fewer than 10 games. He also had an uncanny resemblance to Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice.



Sam Gibson – Gibson was initially rookie listed by Hawthorn in 2007 but did not play for the club. In 2012 he was rookie listed by North Melbourne with Pick 63, picked up from Box Hill. Gibson made his debut in Round 12 for North Melbourne against Gold Coast. From there Gibson went on to play 130 games in a row for North Melbourne, never missing until his delisting from the club after the 2017 season finished. This was longest streak at the time of any current player and second longest streak ever in the VFL/AFL from debut. Gibson was traded to Adelaide, given Number 20 and was named in Round 1 2018, which would have kept his streak going. However Gibson was a late withdrawal and would not make his debut for Adelaide until Round 9. He played five games in a row but after Round 13 he didn’t play another.



Jim Edmond – Edmond made the best of Number 20 team for his 154 games at Footscray from 1977-1985 including a stint as captain from 1983-1985. Edmond was one of the big name recruits under Dr Geoffrey Edelstein for Sydney in 1986 and played 17 games before leaving due to a contract dispute. In 1987 Edmond joined Brisbane in their inaugural year and played 17 games in two seasons. Edmond’s time at Brisbane is highlighted by a crude elbow to Russell Morris that knocked the Hawk out cold and left Edmond with a six-week suspension…and the scoreboard attendant at Carrara without a job for flashing up ‘Cop That’.



John Barnes – Barnes started his career at Essendon from 1987-1991 as a forward but struggled for a regular games; he played just 20 games for 12 goals, with six games in his debut season in 1987 his highest. In 1992 he was traded to Geelong for Sean Denham in one of the best trades ever for two players that were not getting regular games. Barnes at 193cm played as an undersized mobile ruckman with a great leap. He went on to play 144 games including three Grand Finals and represented Victoria. Barnes left Geelong in 1999 and returned to Essendon, this time wearing Number 6 and played 46 games between 2000-2001 including being first ruck in the 2000 Premiership. Barnes was an Essendon runner for many years afterwards.



John Klug – Klug started at Richmond in 1984, he kicked 41 goals in the U19s and then 58 goals for the Reserves as a CHF/FF in 1985 but surprisingly never played a senior game despite their struggles at the time. Klug went back to Tasmania then to Woodville in 1988, from there he made the Adelaide inaugural list in 1991. He debuted at age 25 playing 20 games for 28 goals and came eighth in the Best & Fairest. In 1992 Klug played just six games due to injury but was still delisted and later drafted by Brisbane, but never played a game for the Bears.



Matthew Powell – Powell had three seasons at Adelaide from 1993-1995 but was unable to hold a regular spot. Powell though had success at Sturt, he won the Jack Oatey Medal in Sturt’s 2002 Premiership, which was also his 200th game. He is also the father of North Melbourne’s promising onballer Tom Powell who was drafted as Pick 13 in 2020.



Ross Brewer – Brewer is 17 years younger than his brother Ian Brewer. Ross would have been five years old when his brother won a Premiership and Coleman Medal with 78 goals in 1958. Brewer started his career with Melbourne in 1972 having been recruited from Melbourne zone Bentleigh. He played 12 games for 196 goals in seven seasons. In 1979 Brewer crossed to Collingwood in a swap for Phil Carman. In three seasons at Collingwood he played in the 1979 and 1981 grand finals. His best year was 1980 where he played 21 games for 44 goals including his personal best haul of eight goals, however he missed the finals due to injury. In the 1981 Semi Final against Fitzroy, Collingwood had a lead of 45 points in third quarter before Fitzroy fought back and had a lead of 10 points late in the final quarter. Brewer was the one who passed to Peter Daicos for the next goal, then kicked a snap goal to give Collingwood a two point win. Brewer would be traded to Richmond in 1982 for six games in two seasons.



Graham Teasdale – Teasdale wore Number 20 at three clubs in his 141 game career from 1973-1983. Teasdale debuted at Richmond aged 17 as a key forward and kicked six goals, followed by five the next week. He kicked bags of five in his next four games before being dropped to the seconds to play in the 1973 Reserves Premiership, however he would not play another senior game. In 1975 Teasdale was traded to South Melbourne with Francis Jackson and Brian ‘Whale’ Roberts for John Pitura. Teasdale played in the ruck at South Melbourne and won the Brownlow Medal in 1977, he also kicked 38 goals, 17 of which came in first two rounds of the season. This Brownlow Medal would be famous for two reasons, the first for totalling the most votes (59) at a time when two umpires gave votes per game and the second being his dress attire for the night; a brown velvet suit. Teasdale then had a falling out with South Melbourne in 1981 and crossed to Collingwood where he played 14 games in two seasons before retiring due to a knee injury aged 28.



Aaron Keating – Aaron is the older brother of triple-premiership Lion ruckman Clark. Aaron was drafted in 1996 and made his debut in the ruck in Round 1 against Brisbane where he had two disposals and 10 hit outs. Keating was dropped and did not reappear again until the 1997 Preliminary Final against the Western Bulldogs for an injured David Pittman. When Pittman was available for the Grand Final, Keating stayed in as Tony Modra was injured. Keating had five disposals and eight hit outs in the Preliminary Final and zero disposals and three hit outs in the Grand Final. While he had minimal impact he was a premiership player after three games and followed up with a premiership with Norwood the following week. Keating played three more games early in the 1998 season but would play no more after and was delisted at the end of the year.



Jackson Merrett – Jackson is the older brother of Essendon star Zach who played 56 game between 2012-2018. Merrett is also the grandnephew of Collingwood legend Thorold Merrett. Merrett was a regular player for Essendon between 2013-2015 over 42 games in this period, however with the emergence of his brother Zach and Darcy Parish, he struggled for games and was delisted at end of 2018. In 2019 he joined Peel in the WAFL and won their Best & Fairest in 2020.



Tony Buhagiar – Season 1981 saw an influx of talented players join the VFL from SA and WA. Those from the WAFL included Ken Hunter, Peter Bosustow, Brian Peake, Peter Spencer, Phil Kelly and a 166cm rover called Tony Buhagiar at Essendon. Buhagiar or ‘Budgie’ was a popular player for both Essendon and opposition supporters. Buhagiar was a rover initially, before playing in the forward pocket. He knew where the goals were and kicked totals of 42, 41 and 39 goals in his first three years. In his first year he won best first year player, came eighth in the Brownlow and third in The Age’s player of the year. Budgie played in the 1983 Grand Final loss but for Essendon’s 1984 Premiership he was dropped after having played in the Preliminary Final. He was named emergency as there were concerns over his recovery from a knee injury. Buhagiar crossed to Footscray and played 25 games for 26 goals before his retirement aged 30. Buhagiar is also famous for tossing Bruce Doull’s headband into the crowd in 1983.



Justin Murphy – Murphy is best known as Carlton player, but he did this over stints from 1996-2000 and 2002-2003 for 115 games. In 2001 Murphy played 18 games for Geelong, where he was swapped for Pick 11 in 2000 and back for Pick 23. In seasons 2000 to 2004 Murphy had a different coach each year; 2000 David Parkin at Carlton, 2001 Mark Thompson at Geelong, 2002 Wayne Brittain at Carlton, 2003 Denis Pagan at Carlton and 2004 Kevin Sheedy at Essendon.



Peter Quirk – Quirk made his debut for Sydney aged 26 having being recruited from Narrandera in the Riverina. Quirk played seven games in 1987 but spent most of those matches on the bench; in four of them he gathered a max of two possessions. Quirk came third in the Sydney to Melbourne ultra-Marathon in 1990, a race made famous by Cliff Young’s win in 1983.



John Stevens – Stevens joined Sydney from the amateurs as Pick 10 in the 1997 Preseason Draft. Stevens’s football career is amazing considering he had tachycardia (racing heartrate) which resulted in surgery when he was 18 years old. Despite this setback Stevens was a regular for the Swans on a wing or flank and in one game in 1999 he took 20 marks which at the time was the second most ever in a VFL/AFL game.



Clinton Wolf – Wolf was a ruck and was on Fremantle’s inaugural list in 1995. A cult figure given the nickname ‘the Wolfman’ by commentators, Wolf struggled for games behind Matthew Burton and Jeff White. He once used as a tribunal defence that he was ‘too uncoordinated’ to hit someone deliberately.



Some of the forgotten Number 20s are Lachlan Sim (Bris), Andrew Eccles (Carl), Ben Wilson (Coll), Peter Berbakov (Ess), Duane Rowe (Fitz), Darren Denneman (Geel), Joshua Toy (GCS), Rhan Hooper (Haw), Jamie Elliott (Rich), Dean Herbert (St.K), Jim West (Syd) and Paul Dooley (WB).





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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    I’d forgotten all about Clinton Wolf! Saw him play against Collingwood at Victoria Park in 1995, was certainly regarded as a cult figure despite just playing 4 games.

  2. Thanks Luke, definitely needed more Wolfman action

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