Crio’s Question: Famous numbers, forgettable players

The merry-go-round is already turning. Players are retiring – voluntarily or otherwise – or on the move… and jumper numbers will be up for grabs.
Here’s a talksport piece which should generate some responses:-

When famous numbers are worn by forgettable players.



  1. I loved the fuss made when Melbourne granted their prestigious Number 4 to Jack Watts. The number 4 previously worn with such distinction by Ben Holland, Craig Ellis and Brent Grgic. (Granted, Barass and the Red Fox also wore it – but I think the legend of the number had been somewhat diluted by the time Jack claimed it.)

  2. Surely Allen Jakovich tainted the legend of the no.13 at Footscray that was Baron Von Komp

  3. Comment from behind me as the dreaded Fevola person was dragged for blatant lack of effort some time round 2002:

    ‘You’re a disgrace to Jezza’s jumper, Fevola!’

    Later that quarter, after Fev was benched yet again, from the same voice:

    ‘You’re not even fit to wear Sam Smart’s jumper!’

    (Sam S, brother of Nigel, played one game for Carlton (in 1997) and did not register a stat,)

  4. I remember a hullabaloo when Frank Marchesani was given the No.25 at Carlton. Marchesani was a disappointment.

    Ian Herman also wore the 25 with no distinction after being built up.

    Every number has been worn without distinction at some stage.

  5. Chris Weaver says

    Barassi wore 31 at Melbourne – not 4.

    I actually can’t remember there being any fuss made about number 4 before Watts – that was really Cameron Schwab’s obsession with trying to find a link to a long-departed hero (Norm Smith).

    That 31 jumper hasn’t really seen much glory since Barassi left, either. A couple of years ago we decided to copy Richmond’s lead and dedicate our most famous number to our captain. Jack Grimes is likeable and hard-working, but hardly a star.

    During the quixotic recruiting sprees of the late 70s/early 80s, it was handed to Phil Carman and Kelvin Templeton.

    The year after Watts was drafted, it was then handed to some bloke who currently plays as a tagger at Skoda Stadium.

    Other recent incumbents include Paul Wheatley, Rod Keogh and Donald Cockatoo-Collins.

  6. The most famous number is probably Barassi’s No.31 at Melbourne.

    Much was made of it when Tom Scully was given the No.31 after being chosen first in the draft.

    The player he inherited it from was Paul Wheatley.

  7. From 1962 to 2002 only three different players wore no 21 at Carlton – three more have worn it since.

  8. Surely any player to wear no 52 and have a name that isn’t ‘Shaun Rehn’ fits straight into this category?

  9. Chris Weaver says

    I always associate 52 with the 19 year-old Stephen Tingay. But I know I’m very much in the minority!

  10. Bob Rose, John Greening, Tony Shaw & Steele Sidebottom have all worn #22 with distinction at the Pies. Rhyce Shaw, well he had his detractors but also played many fine games and is now a Flag-Swan.

    Then there’s Jason Wild. Collingwood supporters will know what I mean.

  11. Stan the Man says

    Sam (former Norwood) and Nigel Smart (South Adelaide) are NOT related. Sam did have a brother who in fact played for North Adelaide and Norwood. Sam may have never reached the dizzy heights in his footy career but he is a well established doctor these days. Maybe his priotities just were not footy related ??? What about those who wore Doc and Pluggers’ number 4 at St Kilda in recent years – the pyromaniac that wears it now should be given a number in the 100’s as punishment.

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    As long as no-one else besides Bob Neil wears “130” I’ll be happy

  13. I remember Sam was a medical student. The one game he played was as spare big man on a mud heap at the tail end of the season and he only played about 10 mins, so didn’t get that great a go. He was a laughably early draft pick – somewhere in the 20s – which meant he copped some Jack Watts -style attention, and the doubts must have started early for Carlton were scrabbling around for yet another ruckman by the time of the March draft – fortunately they fell over Mark Porter.

    In hindsight, Porter at 20-odd in November as a project and Smart in March as a fill-in would have looked a lot less ad-hoc. But Smart was a word with little application to Carlton’s recruiting between their last flag and first spoon.

  14. Murray Wilson says

    Ted Whitten was furious when Footscray recruited 16yo Alan Stoneham from VFA club Sunshine and gave him number 3. The quote went something like “gave my number to a seconds player” Stoneham had a fine career in the centre for the doggies and Essondon

  15. I seem to recall Stoneham saying years ago on Grumpy Old Men that at age 16 he hadn’t particularly wanted it either, but only accepted it because he though to refuse the honor would insult Ted, He also assumed Ted Jr, who he knew was on the verge of joining the club, would want it in a year or so anyway.

    Don Scott threw a similar mental when Hawthorn gave Paul Abbott ‘his’ no 23. Scott’s retirement from Hawthorn wasn’t the most amiable in AFL history and his opinion didn’t count for a lot at Linda Cres at that stage, but Abbott shrugged his shoulders, and played in two flags in 39 before ending his career with a couple of seasons at Fitzroy where (unless I’m very much Murray Walker) he wore 23.

    12 months after the Abbott fiasco, Scott’s 23 was still vacant but a there was a young bloke who’d started the year in the U19s and finished with two games in the seniors and looked quite promising, and was keen for a ‘promotion’ from the 40-something he’d started in the seconds with.

    This kid’s name was Dermott Brereton. I still fantasise about Dermie’s likely reaction if Difficult Don had tried the Abbott stunt again.

  16. Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls, one of my favourite top-ten draft picks at Richmond, managed 9 superb games in Kevin Bartlett’s #29. Thankfully things have turned around at Tigerland in the last couple of years! And apparently JON is going ok in the WAFL.

  17. Jarrad was part of East Perth’s winning first semi final team on Sunday at Bassendean Oval.

  18. Finding a worthy 22 after Derek Chadwick retired in 1972 was always going to be a problem for East Perth. The left-footer Brent Levitzke played 50 odd games, Glyn Williams played 100 – they were ok. Then came the high flying Troy Butcher who played in the three premierships that welcomed in the 2000s – he was good to watch. Ended up in the SANFL. Zac Clarke gave the 22 a good look in recent years and Scott Lycett kicked four goals in it last Sunday. None of them have quite been Chaddy – none have scored a Sheffield Shield century for a start – but they haven’t let the jumper down.

  19. Peter McKenna, Collingwood’s second greatest full-forward, wore #6. Peter McCormack, star full-forward from Assumption College was given his number. In the end McCormack proved to be better value as a full back but he still wore #6 with reasonable distinction. However he was followed into the number by Andrew Preston, who never played a game in the Firsts, Grant Fielke, who was apparently a good player in the SANFL but not in the VFL, Paul Tuddenham, who had none of his father’s skills, Barry Mitchell, who couldn’t or wouldn’t play the same way at Collingwood as he had at Sydney and was later to do at Carlton and Stephen Patterson who was apparently a good bloke. It wasn’t until Brodie Holland arrived from Fremantle that Collingwood finally had a number six who was worthy of Peter McCormack’s number if not Peter McKenna’s. Tyson Goldsack now wears #6. He’s no McKenna either but he has given Collingwood good service and deserves the number.

  20. Sam Smart trained with the Adelaide Crows in the early formation days (as a Year 12 Boarder and School Captian at Prince Alfred College) and was on their first list- he never played for them though. He was traded to Carlton a couple of years later and finished is Medical studies in Melbourne. He’s a doctor in country South Australia last I heard. One of his PAC team mates was Michael Godden (also a boarder) who went on to play for West Adelaide before becoming an SANFL league and SA state team coach.

  21. Since the retirement of Ian Nankervis, i can’t recall any stand out number 40’s @ Kardinia Park..


  22. Skip of Skipton says

    Dave Wojcinski, Glen!?

  23. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Nic Sam Smart is working as a Doctor in Metro Adelaide his Sons attend PAC and are superbly umpired during there Home Games also Doug Smart Sams brother who
    Played for North and Norwood was a Pre Draft selection by Brisbane in 89 but stayed back in Adelaide Doug also had a season with Ad Uni FC before returning to the country

  24. Glen, how about the unforgettable Phil Jones, no hang on that should be Pete Smith….played in the 94 and 95 GFs

  25. Brent Levitzke says

    Yep was truly honoured to have Chaddy physically pass on his number to me in 1973. He was my childhood hero and hoped I could do the jumper justice-tried and glad to be classed as ok!

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