Crio’s Question: What’s your favourite ‘brilliant debut’ memory?

by Chris Riordan

One of the real joys of Round One is the unveiling of a new star (or sometimes an old one in a new position).

Which of Melbourne’s young tyros will seize the “rising star” mantle or do you have a smokey for the opening game?

Remember Mitch Robinson last year?

It’s time for speculation and it’s time to recall those brilliant debutants who have lit up the start of seasons past.


  1. There are three debuts that spring readily to my mind.

    1. John Georgiades for Footscray in the Dogs’ big Round 1 win against Carlton in 1989. 9 goals on debut. It was all downhill from there (for Georgiades career and the Dogs season that year).

    2. Adrian McAdam – 7 goals for North on debut against Richmond in Round 5 in 1993. He followed this up with 10 the next week against Sydney and 6 in his third game against the Dogs. Alas, McAdam was a supernova that shone brilliantly for a very brief period before fading away quickly.

    3. John Coleman – 12 goals in Round 1, 1949. And this bloke went on with it, until a wrecked knee cut short a stellar career. Best of all, his surname was Coleman, like my mum’s maiden name. One day I’ll prove I’m related to him.

  2. Steve Healy says

    As Gigs just said, Adrian McAdam springs to mind. He finished with only 36 games and 92 goals in his career.

    Who could forget Bradd Dalziell debut against West Coast in Round 16, 2008, fittingly against the side he is now at for the 2010 season. 32 possessions, 7 marks and 5 tackles.

    Andrew Walker in round 5, 2004 springs to mind. he picked up 26 possessions on debut, and Liam Anthony had 28 against the Dogs last year in his first game.

    Ben Rutten kicked 3 on debut with his first 3 kicks, and has only kicked 3 goals full stop ever since.

    Daniel Rich made an instant impact in Round 1 against Brisbane last year as well as Mitch Robinson, and yeah I think I’ll stop there

  3. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Carl Ditterich at the Junction Oval 1963 – stunning debut as a 17 year old Brighton school boy!
    A blond bombshell!

  4. Watch a couple of young blokes at Catland – Podsiadly and Mitch Duncan.

  5. David Enticott says

    The one my Dad always remembers is Ricky Barham kicking five goals with blistering pace against Hawthorn in the 70s. Ricky’s son Jaxson also had a great debut against the Lions in Brisbane last year and was nominated for the Rising Star after that game.

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Brian Taylor Round 1 1985. First game under lights at the G. 7 Goals and an instant Magpie hero.

    Daisy Thomas Round 1 2006 v Adelaide,(took a speccie in the square), was also exciting.

  7. John Butler says


    I was at the Georgiades game. We didn’t know what hit us.

    Andrew Walker’s debut game came at a very dark time for the Blues. He probably created impossible expectations for himself.

    This would be a common pitfall for any brilliant debutante.

  8. Dean Polo’s debut was spectacular, 28-odd possessions and three goals was it against Essendon in 2006?

  9. Good topic, Crio. Could it be called a perennial?

    I’m cheating again by calling up something I wrote several years ago, but here’s my two bobs’ worth.

    The ten most auspicious debuts

    1. John Coleman, round 1, 1949

    Much was expected from Coleman after he had kicked 160 goals for Hastings, his hometown club on the Mornington Peninsula, in 1948. But no one expected the bonanza unleashed by the Melbourne University commerce student in his first game for Essendon. Coleman, playing on another debutant, Hawthorn’s Fred Wain, wobbled through a goal in the opening minute and had five by quarter-time. During the next three quarters, he kicked two, one and four goals, seeing off three opponents, to finish with 12 for the match.

    2. Carl Ditterich, round 1, 1963

    Since the beginning of league football in 1897, ruckmen had been considered football’s cumbersome generals, planting their feet and swiping the ball to swifter teammates. Then along came Carl Ditterich. At 17 years of age, his blond hair bouncing in the sun, Ditterich exploded the myth of the immobile big man by leaping all over his Melbourne opponents and even hurtling along the wing. His athleticism lit up the Junction Oval and provided a neat counterpoint to veteran ruckman Alan Morrow, who took 22 marks. In the last quarter, Ditterich, who was recruited from East Brighton, combined with fellow debutants Ian Stewart and Bob Murray to set up a goal that gave St Kilda the lead and pointed the way of the future.

    3. Len Thompson, preliminary final, 1965

    At 200 centimetres and just as athletic as Ditterich, if not quite as robust, the arrival of Thompson served to confirm the age of the mobile man. Unlike Ditterich’s opening-round gambit, however, he made his debut at the MCG in the heat of the finals. In the match in which Duncan Wright’s career was ended by Collingwood after he felled Essendon opponent John Somerville behind play, Thompson, who was recruited from North Reservoir, showed remarkable cool to finish among the Pies’ best players.

    4. Dermott Brereton, first semi-final, 1982

    Another one to thrive on debut in the heat of the finals, Hawthorn’s showy recruit from Frankston Rovers still had red hair when he jogged on to the MCG for this match against North Melbourne. Having just turned 18, Brereton kicked five goals, including a doozy with a set shot from the boundary line, that ignited the Hawks to victory. If any debut set the pattern of a career, this was it.

    5. Kevin Sheedy, round 3, 1967

    Speaking of setting the pattern for a career, Sheedy’s decision to leave Prahran without a clearance and play for Richmond revealed an iconoclastic streak that would come to serve him well. Sheedy was forced to wait a couple of games before justifying his controversial move when he made his debut in the Tigers’ victory over Fitzroy at the MCG. If the 19-year-old had failed to make the grade at league level, he would have been unable to play anywhere. He was banned from all other competitions in Australia.

    6. Adrian McAdam, round 5, 1993

    McAdam is one player whose brilliant debut failed to set the tone for a career. Recruited from South Alice Springs after being selected at No.98 in the 1992 national draft, he sauntered on to the MCG for his debut match against Richmond and kicked seven goals. In the next game, he took 14 marks and kicked 10.6 against Sydney. In his third match, against Footscray, he kicked six, and all the stories about him being able to land a footy in a bin from several ovals away appeared to be true. At the end of the season, his tally was 68 goals from 17 games. After 36 games, and an abortive stint at Collingwood, his career ended.

    7. Mark Dwyer, round 15, 1986

    Here’s another player who failed to build on a skyscraper platform. Dwyer met his Fitzroy teammates on the Thursday night before his debut match against Carlton at Waverley Park. A 21-year-old with an open grin and a mop of hair, he wore a long-sleeved No.58 guernsey. After creating unexpected mayhem, his opponent, Jim Buckley, whacked him. The blow had no effect. Dwyer continued churning up and down his wing to score three Brownlow Medal votes and lead the Roys to victory. A few weeks later, during a split round, he stayed home and played a blinder for Koroit.

    8. Keith Bromage, round 17, 1953

    At 15 years and 297 days, Bromage became the youngest player to make his senior debut when he took the field for Collingwood against Richmond at Punt Road. He started at half-forward and kicked two goals in the Magpies’ win. After 28 games, aged 20, Bromage moved on to Fitzroy. The previous record-holder, Wels Eicke, was aged 15 years and 315 days when he made his debut for St Kilda in 1909. Tim Watson’s age was 15 years and 305 days when he played against Richmond champion Francis Bourke during his debut at Waverley Park in 1977.

    9. Greg Williams, round 1, 1984

    After being rejected by Carlton and returning home to Bendigo, where he won two competition medals with Golden Square, Williams finally overcame doubts about his pace to make his league debut with Geelong in this match against Fitzroy at Kardinia Park. He was 20. Alongside him on one wing was Gary Ablett, who, after six games with Hawthorn, was also playing his first game for the Cats. On the other wing was Michael Turner. Between them, the trio picked up 90 disposals. The match was significant not so much for the performance of Williams, who would go on to a stellar career, as it was for the coruscating performance of the Geelong centre line. No wonder the Cats kicked 11 goals in the third quarter.

    10. Andrew Walker, round 5, 2004

    Not one to hand out undue praise to his players, Denis Pagan delivered a sizeable compliment last week when he said Walker’s debut against West Coast at Optus Oval was the finest he could remember. The 17-year-old wingman from Echuca leapt tall buildings and moved faster than a locomotive on his way to 27 possessions. It was a super performance, sparking huge interest throughout football circles. Such interest was to be expected. There’s nothing so exciting as a young player who excels at league level despite giving the appearance of having a kick in the yard with friends. In these days of regimented football, it’s especially welcome.

    This article first appeared in The Sunday Age on May 2, 2004

  10. And here’s the feedback from that article:

    What about Peter Hudson’s debut for Hawthorn in round two, 1967?

    Despite receiving the full body treatment from Carlton full-back Wes Lofts, who nearly ripped the jumper from Hudson’s back, the Hawk full-forward kicked four goals out of his team’s six and gave Wes a real mouthful for his efforts.

    Peter Freeman, Frankston North

    On Anzac Day 1977, the round-four clash between Richmond and Collingwood was played at the MCG before a crowd of 92,000. From memory, a Richmond player called David Miller kicked five goals in his first game. His career finished at the end of the season after he had kicked seven goals from five games. That clash between Richmond and Collingwood was Tom Hafey’s first as the Magpies’ coach against his old club. It was also the game that Kevin Sheedy says made him think about footy on Anzac Day.

    Gary Poulter, Greensborough

    Much hoopla accompanies the feat of slotting a goal with their first kick in league football. With this in mind, I’d love to have witnessed the reaction to Clen Dennings’s debut for Carlton against South Melbourne in round four, 1935. His six kicks earned six goals — enough to have even Dennis Cometti stuck for words!

    Denning went on to play in Fitzroy’s 1944 premiership team as a tenacious back pocket.

    Benjy Lee, North Carlton
    Fitzroy Reds FC president

    In round seven, 1972, Ian McOrist made a memorable debut when he kicked 6.1 from a half-forward flank for Collingwood against Fitzroy at the Junction Oval. McOrist was a will-of-the-wisp half-forward from VFA club Northcote, with a penchant for long-sleeved guernseys. He carried the extra burden of wearing No.46 in his debut, but was immediately allocated the No.23 guernsey after his first game.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great move. He finished the season with 16 goals from 12 games. By the start of the next season, his VFL career was over.

    Tony Hicks, Parkville

    In 1972, a young Collingwood half-forward flanker by the name of Ian McOrirst kicked six goals on debut against Fitzroy at the Junction Oval. I think he wore long sleeves but only went on to play another dozen or so games.

    Steve Castersen, East Bentleigh

    Ian McOrist actually made his debut in round six, 1972. He did not score a goal that day. His first FULL match was in round seven.

    Regarding Clen Denning, he is one of about 140 KNOWN CASES of players scoring a goal with their first kick. There will have been
    quite a few others who have done so without the fact being officially recorded.

    Col Hutchinson, AFL statistician

  11. Daff,
    Perennial, yes. But look at the feedback (despite your naming of most suspects!).
    What we expect this week, of course, is the schoolyard shot or the footy kit being packed as the Sun beats up a young player (but the Pies only have recycled stars this year!).
    Next week we get the Coleman etc comparisons.

  12. Peter Flynn says

    Didn’t Jack Dyer once state that a player (can’t remember who he was referring to) made a fantastic debut last week and an even better debut this week?

  13. Peter Flynn says

    A speculative one:

    Did Daniel Metropolis kick 5 or so goals with his first 5 or so kicks?

  14. Flynny,

    Goals with his first four kicks, and six for the game — versus (a favourite Crio word) St Kilda in 1992.

    He spent the rest of his 108-game career in defence.

  15. Daff,

    Better “versus St Kilda” than “verse St Kilda”. (Crackers Keenan and all you kids out there, including mine, hang your heads in shame.)

  16. Crio,

    Sorry, didn’t mean to spoil the fun. There must be others.

    No one’s mentioned Chris Judd’s debut for West Coast. Did he kick three or four goals bursting out of the centre?

    I still remember the photo of Bill Picken in the old Sun News Pic on the day before his debut. He was sitting at his desk at Melbourne High with a silly Billy grin.

    Sitting at a desk at Melbourne High was an often-repeated pic on the day before a teenager’s debut in the ’70s.

  17. Barry Hall, NAB Cup Round 1, 2010…?

  18. Lewis Jetta, Sydney v Carlton, NAB Cup Round 1, 2010.

  19. Just looked at up.

    Judd kicked four in his first game for East Perth. (I’ve seen blogs from people who were at that game and will talk about it for the rest of their lives.)

    He made his debut for West Coast the following week, in Round 2, 2002, and kicked only one goal. But he got a lot of the ball.

    I remember seeing footage of him bursting from a pack and being stunned at his breakaway pace. It was one of those moments where you know you’ve seen something special.

  20. I thought Liam Jurrah’s debut was pretty special last year considering where he had come from. Real shame he got injured.

  21. Beau Muston, Hawthorn v Melbourne, 2009, 5 goals.

    Especially after such a long wait to make his debut.

  22. Rob Clarkson says

    Sometime around the turn of the century.

    Big bloke, on debut for North, kicked something like six straight. It was either against Port Adelaide or Adelaide. He went and played for another team after a couple of seasons on the list. He probably played about 50 senior games all up.

    I really can’t remember anything else. I don’t know how you people do it.

    Do any of you know who I’m talking about? Did he actually exist?

  23. Rob – no such bloke exists.

  24. Rob Clarkson says

    That’s not good, is it?

  25. Peter Flynn says

    Re Comment 12:

    The three brain cells I have left that are responsible for memory have been working overtime.

    I reckon Jack Dyer was talking about Lally Bamblett.

    As an aside, I was reminded this week of one of the most amazing occurrences to happen on World of Sport.

    Fred Swift was killed the night before and WOS started on a very appropriate sombre mood. Each panelist offered a comment about Fred’s passing. It got to Jack who went with “a bit of bad luck for Freddie”.

  26. John Butler says

    RC and PF

    Thanks. You’ll have me chuckling for the rest of the afternoon.

  27. Dips – indeed! (re: Pods and Dunks) It depends, of course, on Pods getting over his stage fright. In his defence he has not played a senior game EVER (I believe – if he has, it has been over 8 years since), does not have the self-felt invincibility of youth, and has the heavy burden of expectation on his shoulders.

    If he can build up some confidence, I can assure you, he is a delight to watch. I sincerely hope he debuts on Friday. I followed his progress last year in the VFL, and though I know VFL form is by no means an indictator of AFL performance (as Tom Lonergan constantly reminds us) he is as sure and steady a mark as I have ever seen. He is fearless, strong and accurate. I hope he can fulfil his potential.

    In terms of “brilliant debuts”, two spring to mind, though they are perhaps not the ones you would expect. I remember Ablett’s debut against Essendon in Round 1, 2002. By no means a standout performance on the stats sheet, I just recall his maturity and determination showing up his much more experienced teammates. Geelong’s defensive pressure was terrible, but there was this young 17-year-old, running from person to person to stand the mark, screaming at his teammates to man-up and do their jobs. It takes a lot of guts for a young boy to stand-up to his teammates like that; a leader from the word ‘go’. It was just a very mature performance, which was pleasing.

    The Tomahawk, 2007 = three goals on debut, not a poor result considering he’d only played schoolboy football. Followed up this effort the next week by kicking four against Melbourne in a half, being double-teamed in only his second game. Did not add to this tally as he spent nearly the whole second half on the bench, but he’d done damage enough to Melbourne.

  28. Susie – I was at Tomahawks second game against the Dees. He kicked 3 quick goals and got dragged. The Geelong crowd began booing Bomber Thompson for dragging him.

    The best debut from a Geelong player that leaps to mind for me was a young bloke called Paul Chapman. I’m pretty sure it was 1999, the same year that Barry Stoneham retired. Chappy didn’t set the world on fire but you could see even then that he was a beauty. He had some hair then too.

  29. Very good discussion topic this.

    One watching Ben Rutten hold the Adelaide defence together now would never be able to tell that in his first AFL game, he kicked 3 goals with his first 3 kicks, half his current tally of 6.

    Martin McGrath’s debut for Richmond in 2003 gave hope for Tigers supporters – it’s not every day a young player kicks 5 goals in his first game. Unfortunately, he was a fizzer, only playing 3 more games.

    I may be mistaken, but I remember reading years back there was a Carlton player in the 1920s or 30s who kicked 8 goals with his first 8 kicks?

  30. 15: I’ll voice your disapproval to Crackers on Friday Gigs ;)

    21: Daff, i’m not too sure about Muston kicking five goals on debut..I think he just collected a stack of the ball.

  31. Steve Healy says

    Yeah Daff, 31 possessions and a goal, not 5 goals

  32. At the other end of the spectrum – Every time I see Kade Simpson get a possession, I can’t help thinking that he got more possessions in the past 2 seconds than he did in his entire first 3 games.

  33. Rob Clarkson says

    23: Dips – Kingsley. Kent Kingsley!

    Played a heck of a lot more games than I thought and at three clubs. Over to you wikipedia…

    Kent Kingsley (born 26 September 1978) is a former Australian rules footballer for the North Melbourne Football Club, the Geelong Football Club and the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).

    A full forward, Kingsley was recruited from the Woodville-West Torrens Football Club along with his twin brother Wade by Port Adelaide, but the brothers were quickly traded to North Melbourne for Paul Geister in 1996. Elevated as a rookie in 1999, he made his AFL debut in round 10 of the season and kicked six goals against Port Adelaide.

    He was traded to Geelong at the end of the 2000 season.

    During his time at the Cats, he became the sides leading goalkicker from 2002-2005 and was a key option up forward for Geelong. However, he was often maligned by fans of the team due to his inconsistency and inaccuracy in front of goal. Frustrations boiled over in 2006 when the West Coast Eagles over ran Geelong in the teams biggest comeback in its short history. Trailing by 54 points (9 Goals) West Coast looked certain for their 2nd loss for the season, but stormed back kicking 12 goals to Geelong’s 5 in the second half. Many called for Kingsley to be delisted.

    During the 2006 season, Kingsley was dropped from the side midway through the 2006 season despite the Cats lack of other forward options. At the seasons end, Kingsley joined the Richmond Football Club via the Pre Season Draft.

    He played only 3 senior games in 2007 for Richmond, and announced his retirement from AFL football on 28 August 2007.

    Off the field, Kingsley is an internet entrepreneur, as reported in The Age.[citation needed]

    Kent is Currently playing for Old Camberwell in the VAFA.

  34. Dean Greig holds the record for the most disposals on debut with 39 (for Saints vs Carlton, 1991), 1 disposal ahead of Greg Williams.

  35. Damian Watson says

    I was at that game in 2004 when Andrew Walker had an impressive debut. I can recall Walker leaping over the top of the pack on the Southern wing, he had the sit and the crowd was in awe before he dropped the mark. A very rare highlight in a dark era with that win over West Coast, it was a muddy day as well.

    Richard Lounder booted four goals with his first four kicks in 1987.

    Does anyone remember a small St Kilda player Allan Murray? he kicked four match winning goals against the Hawks back in 2003, I think it was his first game but I can’t confirm it.

  36. Josh and Steve,

    Rule No.1 is never show up the former editor.

    Not sure what rule No.2 is.

  37. Rob,

    Wish I could forget Kent Kingsley.

  38. I remember Allan Murray, I think he is a cousin of Nathan Lovett.

    Did some research, Lounder finished on 5 career goals from 9 kicks. Can anyone think of any other players who got goals with more than 50% of their career kicks?

  39. Damian Watson says

    Steve Kernahan against Hawthorn, was it in 1986?

  40. I was at Kernahan’s first game which you correctly point out was againsy Hawks at VFL Park in 86. I think other debutants that game included Jon Dorotich, Peter Motley and John Platten.
    Also remember Peter Somerville playing a blinder on debut for the Bombers at the MCG (v Richmond or North I think). Got 3 Brownlow votes if I recall correctly.

  41. Damian Watson says

    Yeah I think Sticks booted a couple of goals. Poor old Peter Motley, he would have been an exceptional player had his career not being interrupted.

  42. Ryan Crowley’s effort against Geelong in Round 10, 2005 was alright. From memory he kicked three goals in his first game, which was on a cold, wet day down at Kardinia. I think Freo won too..

  43. 42 – I’m not too sure about that one. I believe Geelong didn’t drop a game at Kardinia in ’05 – the game against Freo the Cats won 75-25, unless I think of 2004… I’ll double check…

  44. 43: I’m pretty sure it was 2004 when Freo only kicked 3.7.25, which was in Round 19 from memory. Although I could be wrong..

  45. 44- Yup, you’re right. It was 2004 I was thinking of. 2005 Freo beat Geelong by 9 points in Round 10. My bad.

  46. 45: It’s all good, I doubt the Purple Haze will be tasting victory at Skilled Stadium anytime soon.

  47. Neil Hein: no one had seen an Adam’s apple that big.

  48. Kieran McGuinness kicked three goals on debut for the Bulldogs in Round 14 2002. The draw against Essendon (Hird and Lloyd both came back from injury, Kretiuk tried to hit Lloyd’s broken hand)

  49. Dave Nadel says

    Thompson and Brereton weren’t the only players to have a good debut during a Finals series. Rene Kink, 16 years old and not yet the incredible hulk he became, played at full forward for Collingwood in the Preliminary Final against Richmond in 1973. I remember that he kicked three goals but 1973 is a long time ago and I don’t have my copy of Atkinson’s complete book of finals with me at work to check.

    I also remember McOrists debut, which I heard on the radio. I did go to quite a few games in 72 but I don’t think I ever saw mcOrist kick more than two goals in a match.

  50. Damian Watson says

    Does anyone remember Michael Cooke? I think he kicked 4 goals on debut in the 1975 Finals Series.

  51. pauldaffey says

    That’s right, Damian.

    Cookey played two VFL games for Hawthorn – the 1975 second semi-final and the 1975 grand final. He kicked four in the semi but struggled against the rampant North in the grand final, and never played senior footy for the Hawks again.

    Two years later, in 1977, he was playing for University Blacks. He’s very heavily involved now at Old Carey footy club. My brother, a builder, did a couple of jobs for his building firm and described him as the best boss he could remember.

  52. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    Also remember him playing for Melbourne Uni at the 1977 IV in Melbourne. We, UNE, nearly had ’em beat until big Cookey got a way to kick a couple of late goals. A very imposing player on the ground.

  53. Tim Ivins says

    So where if at all does Michael Barlow fit in the grand scheme of things? He had Brian Taylor frothing at the mouth. Is that a ringing endorsement?

  54. Tim,
    I was telling Daff yesterday that I got sick of Barlow…or, more specifically, BT’s obsession. It was nauseating, off-putting and distracted from all the other interesting observations that the match encouraged. Barlow, it must be said, was outstanding and seemed to take it in his stride.
    Like Dean Greig, the fabled St Kilda debutante of years past, he is a mature age and thus body.
    As a Doggies fan, I expected our mature age rookie, Brodie Moles, to play on Sunday and cope with the demands. His turn, I suspect, will come very soon.

  55. Scott Robbo says


    I remember Georgiades at a (wet) princes park in 89 cutting the baggers to shreds with 9!! Remember him backing up with another 5 or 6 against the roos in rd 3 & then he drifted off face if the planet!!

    Dogs fans…what happened to him?

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