Big Macs of Footy

Imaginary teams with 6 Degrees of Separation have been all the go on the Almanac lately.


Noel McPhee’s “Family Team” of brothers – extended into uncles and cousins by other Knackers – got me thinking. Then Swish’s 1980 Interstate Carnival piece mentioned one of my favourites growing up – Kevin McSporran played 190 games for my West Torrens Eagles – winning 4 B&F’s in 2 stints in the 70’s/80’s. In between and after he went back to Port Augusta and played 221 games winning 7 flags and 4 Madigan Medals for West Augusta.


So I decided to spend a last night in Barcelona with a bottle in front of me and the AFL/SANFL/WAFL records (Is it still Trade Week? – Avenging Eagle) and construct a team of Macs/Mc’s.


The etymology of names tells me that Mc/Mac is Gaelic for ‘son’. “Fitz” is the same. We can see that most clearly in McDonald and Fitzpatrick. With the passage of time it’s not so clear in other names, but you can generally see the elements of a father’s christian name in the modern name.


I started out looking at games played in the AFL/VFL and then extended it to SANFL and WAFL. WAFL is a bit of a fizzer with only recently retired South Fremantle goal sneak Toby McGrath totalling over 200 games. But I have included some Croweater names both on performance and out of sentiment.


Here is my biggest Macs/Mcs of Australian footy. Thoughts, memories and additions welcomed.


F: M McLean (Dogs Brisbane) P McKenna (Cwood) D McMahon (Fitzroy)


HF: K McSporran (West Torrens) C McKernan (NM) J McCartney (NM)


C: G McIntosh (Norwood) A McLeod (Adelaide) Tom MacKenzie *(W Torrens & Nth Ad)


HB: G McKenna (WCE) J McGovern (WCE) A McKay (Glenelg & Carlton)


B: A McIntosh (WCE) Ian McKay**(Nth Adelaide) J McVeigh (Sydney)


Rucks: Don McKenzie (Essendon)  B McGregor***(West Adel) T McGuinness (Adelaide & Glenelg)


Interchange: Barry McKenzie**** (Fitzroy & West Torrens) L McPharlin (Freo) S McCann (NM)
E Mackenzie***** (WCE)


Coaches: Jock McHale****** (Collingwood); Brendan McCartney (recruiting & development); Robert “Bones” McGhie (fitness)


Club President: Alan McConnell (Collingwood) (sorry Eddie – you’ll make the big time one day)


Venue: Mc’G


Sponsors: Hungry Jacks


Pre-match Entertainment: Paul McCartney


Commentators: Bruce McAvaney; Mark Maclure; Gilbert McAdam (sorry Hamish)


Almanac Lunch Speaker: William McInnes (sorry Gillon)


*Tom MacKenzie won 3 Magarey Medals – for my West Torrens in 1902 and for North Adelaide in 05/06. Played 200 games and is in the AFL Hall of Fame.

** Ian McKay was a champion SA full back of the 1950’s. His feats in containing John Coleman in state games are legendary. Wonderful high mark as captured in this Bernard Whimpress story and pix.

*** Bruce McGregor came from Broken Hill and won 6 B&F’s for West Adelaide in only 102 games. Won the 1926 and 1927 Magarey Medals. Also captain coached North Hobart. Father of Ken (West Adelaide star of the 50’s and Davis Cup tennis player).

**** Barry McKenzie got in by dint of his name and was a fave of my youth. Mobile ruckman who played 38 games for the RoyBoys before coming to West Torrens and winning the ’73 B&F under the “coaching” of Barking Bonkers Bustling Billy Barrott.

****** Eric Mackenzie – the point post got him in.

******* Jock McHale is the obvious coaching nomination. He coached Collingwood for 714 games and 7 flags between 1912 and 1949, including 4 in a row 27-30. Until researching this I did not realise he also played 261 games between 1903 and 1920.


Sandgropers: I have a memory that Ken McLeay the WA cricket all-rounder who played 16 ODI’s for Australia including the 1983 World Cup was also a handy footballer. Before my time in WA and can’t find any web records. Confirmation might sneak him in ahead of EMac.





  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Outstanding effort McBaulderstone (Does that name exist?) Love Bones McGhie as fitness coach. He’d keep the Sports Scientists honest.
    MacLure at CHF maybe?
    Allan MacAllister as President ‘Trumps’ McConnell and McGuire.
    Rod McGregor and Dave McNamara two of the early ‘Champions of The Colony’
    David ‘Swan’ Mckay
    Peter McCormack
    Ron McKeown
    Entertainment: Fleetwood Mac

  2. Peter, a beauty. Do you recall about 20 years ago when the Sunday Age named a team of McDonalds/Macdonalds/etc? They named Bunn on the bench!

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Couldn’t have McDermott and McGuinness in the same team these days, I guess.

    Craig McKellar, one of the early 70s SA to Vic exports

    Anyone remember MacGregor Grummett? Thought not.

    Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti probably wins the longest name award.

  4. You left out Trent MacCotchin & Dusty McMartin Mr McB. Then there’s Jack McRiewoldt and Alex McRance. And of course the greatest of them all, Jack McBlood Dyer.

  5. Dave Brown says

    Speaking of all rounders and rarities – Bob McLean played 74 games for Norwood and (gasp) 147 for Port Adelaide and three for St Kilda, as well as being a more than handy shield cricketer. Was a ruckman and later key forward.

  6. Arguably the best “McDonald” to play VFL or AFL footy. No.4 for Essendon in the 1950’s – Norm. McDonald. I reckon he’s worthy of a spot in the side.

    Like Phil, I also like the irony of Robbie McGhie as fitness coach. Bones liked the smokes from what I can remember. Played a few games with his brother Steve at Brunswick around 1983/84. Never a dull moment with Rob.

  7. Nice team. A bit disappointed that Kenny “drafted instead of Pav” McGregor didn’t get a guernsey,

    Speaking of McGregors, Bruce of the 3 asterisks also coached Glenelg to it’s first ever premiership in 1934.

  8. Also meant to mention that Kevin McSporran coming to my primary school in Whyalla for a clinic was one of the highlights of my junior footy days.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    And kudos for arranging the team correctly PB (ie forwards at the top)

  10. Speaking of Norm McDonald – I was at a match in the old Southern Stand many years ago – I was in the stand – the match was out on the oval – and when I looked behind me, there was Norm McDonald. I was just a kid when he was playing, but he was the Guy McKenna of his day. He was a dashing style of player who would fit with ease – after some aerobic training – into the modern game. Between 1948 & 1956 Billy Hutchinson won every Creighton Medal except two. John Coleman won one and Norm McDonald won the other one. And if they’d been handing out Norm Smith Medals back then he would have collected one in the 1952 GF against North.

  11. Paul Young says

    Speaking of Norm McDonald (take two) – Norm was a top class pro runner, coached by the legendary Cyril ‘Butch’ Roberts.

    Leading into the 1952 Stawell Gift carnival, McDonald won 6 races including four in the space of five days, a fortnight before Easter. He won a 120yd event at Maribyrnong on Tuesday 25th March, a 100yd race at Maribyrnong on Thursday 27th March and then the Swan Hill 130yd Gift and 75yd double at Swan Hill on Saturday 29th March.

    A fortnight later, running off 5yds McDonald easily won his Stawell Gift heat before running the equal fastest time of 12.0s with fellow Essendon footballer Lance Mann in their respective semi finals.

    McDonald was the backmarker in the 1952 Stawell Gift final conceding 2 ¼ yds to the favourite, Lance Mann (7 ¼). By all accounts he ran a mighty race, breaking 12secs, but losing by a foot to Mann who recorded 11 11/16sec.

    The week after Stawell, Mann won the Bendigo Easter Gift off 6 ¼yds, again beating McDonald (5yds) by a foot.

    A year later, McDonald (3yds) won the Footscray Gift in front of a crowd estimated to be 11,000, running 6yds inside even time (12.1sec), then a month later, he took out the Australian professional 100yds sprint title at Bendigo beating national professional sprint champion Frank Banner.

  12. Thanks for that Paul, I’d forgotten about his gift performances. The gifts were huge when I was growing up. A mate of mine went to work at Elders down in the Western District, as you did in those days. He won the Pura Pura & Vite Vite Gifts. He was a very good jalan lalanner. Boom! Boom! Now we can all get some sleep.

  13. Good stuff PB!

    Doesn’t Ben McEvoy have enough skills to be in your Big Macs team?



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