Crio’s Question: Who of this year’s retirees are greats, goods or good-enoughs?

I’ll have to thank Budge for generating this topic in his disputation of Joel Bowden’s status upon retirement.

I agree that Bowden, outstanding person, has been a serviceable player. Mickey O is probably in the top echelon of Swannies, rather than the broader footy Hall of Fame crap. Adam Simpson likewise.

Aker, if he hangs up his boots, is a great. Barry Hall, as ever, is contentious. For mine he is short of ”great” but well ahead of Bowden.


  1. We need to be careful who we call great otherwise we devalue it. I agree Bowden is not great, neither is Hall or Simpson. I wouldn’t even call Mickey O great.

    To me greatness only comes about when a player rises miles above the norm, not just a bit above the norm. Blokes like Hird, Ablett senior, Judd, Buckley and Goodes.

    Richo is not great, Harvey (Kangaroos) is not great, Ablett junior is not great (yet).

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    And Scott Lucas just grates.

  3. I am in agreement with Dips if “great” is the highest standard. Where this all started was an item on Joel Bowden with the heading “Farewell to a true Tiger Champion”. I wouldn’t argue aginst Hird, Ablett Snr, Judd and Buckley being labelled champions, Goodes just great and Bowden (great bloke that he apparently is) well down the Richter scale in terms of football ability.

  4. Hall
    Leo Barry
    Nathan Brown?
    Adam Hunter?
    Josh Carr

    Who are the other “notable” retirees? Doesn’t look like a vintage crop compared to last few years with Hird, Buckley, Archer, Crawford, Robert Harvey, etc all bowing out.

  5. In response to Dips’ first comment, I’ve really only seen North over the past ten years when they’ve played the Dogs. I have not many memories of Adam Simpson but I do have memories of Brent Harvey wreaking havoc many, many times. I think when his career is over, he’ll be close to great. That’s not to say Simpson is not also close but he was perhaps more unobtrusive to non-Roos fans.

  6. Stalwarts, notables, club greats, footnotes…no greats there. Nevertheless, great watching.Flawed characters are so impotant to our identifying with players. Richo is top of the tree, but Big Bad and Scotty Lucas, in their own ways, infuriated and incited spectators. Leo Barry will have his place forever and Simmo is in rare air in terms of games at North. Hunter, enigma. Carr, under our guard as an interstater but nevertheless a throwback sort of player- let’s hope his career extends to a Premiership at Glenelg. Bowden, Dreamteamer. Mickey O, very important in Swannies Famers. Brown, underachiever due equally to injury and attitude.

  7. This is coming from a Richmond supporter so excuse the bias, but the problem with questions like this is that the comparisons are made more about the circumstances of the players (which are beyond their control)than their innate ability. Inevitably players from successful sides are regarded more highly because of their greater profile and the opportunity to strut their stuff on the big stage.

    What if Hall hadn’t been rescued from oblivion by Sydney just at a time when they were coming good and had a team ethic and discipline that ensured that the “Big Bad” side of Barry was kept under control? Sure, he was a highly talented player but a reckless, erratic one whose brain explosions are only offset by the fact that he played in a premiership team (and even then he was lucky to play).

    What if Joel Bowden had played for 14 solid consistent years in a side that was regularly in finals and won a couple of flags? In my view he had the makings of another James Hird in his early days. Possibly he lacked the necessary intensity to become another Hird and the mediocre list at Richmond probably made life a bit too easy for him to have to push to that next level. But for innate talent, versatility, consistency and sportsmanship, Bowden has it all over most of the other retirees.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Adam Simpson is not rated nearly as highly now as he was a few years ago when North were still a good side.

    And what about another 2009 retiree that was once a dual premiership star, highly regarded club captain, but is now barely remembered because he finished as an injury-prone member of a struggling side. Anyone recall Kane Johnson?

    While writing this I was pondering the absence in the modern era of standout champions in perenially battling sides, a la Bob Skilton and Robbie Flower. It’s probably in part due to the draft which helps sides avoid becoming long-term battlers (well, all except Richmond it seems) but I think we also tend to confuse “winners” with “champions” these days.

    The best example I can think of in the last 2 decades is Richo (although I’m sure I’ll be howled down for daring to compare him with Skilton and Flower). Any others?

  8. I’m always howled down re Flower, who I reckon was rated only because he was in a crap side. Hawkins managed to be highly regarded in spite of his team’s lack of success, though I’m happy to call him a Bulldog legend and let envelope pushers argue for silly Hall of Fame Americanism I think is irrelevant.
    The thing about Richo, Bazza and the like is that they are great for footy. Similarly Fev. We whinge about “professionalism” and yearn for Rhy and The Buzz yet fail to enjoy the loving and hating that can still be found.
    Whoops, off topic. Yes, stainless, Skilts is a great.

  9. Stainless,

    Consider yourself howled down.

    Plugger, Buckley and Robert Harvey were great players who failed to achieve ultimate sucess.

    Richo (another great bloke – is that Richmond’s problem???) has no doubt been a resilient and HIGHLY entertaining player for various reasons over the years and footy will miss him when he’s gone BUT forget the what ifs.
    We can only go on what we see.
    The reason why guys like Joel Bowden play “14 solid consistent years” is exactly because they are in a crap team under no pressure to retain their spot due to lack of depth/talent.

    I don’t think too many people confuse being a member of a Premiership winning side with being a champion player.

  10. Of course criteria/parameters would help this conversation.

    Richo greatness (sorry Dips) is different from Ablett snr greatness. Richo is a great character.

    Ablett greatness is different from Hird greatness. Is Hird really a great? Jezza v Hird? Give me Jezza. Hird is smart, talented, capable, reliable. Great? Great leader. Great footy mind. Great? Not for me.

    For me at the moment. Greats? Crows no. 23. (no question, for me) J. Brown. Aker. (still under-estimated – check his left foot goal on the weekend, check who nearly took the contested mark at centre half forward in the dying seconds v West Coast)

    Possible greats: Justin Koschitzke (when he settles into an understanding of his own ability). Jimmy Bartel. G. Ablett jnr. Can’t think of any others.


  11. Yes, criteria and parameters would help, and even then they would be subject to interpretation (not unlike some of the rules of our game).

    Have to agree with John about McLeod; he has thrilled and pained me for many years with his sublime displays. And I have come to truly appreciate how extraordinarily special Aker is. (Of course it’s a lot easier when he plays for your team.) The combination of skill, quick thinking and ability to sum up the situation puts him right up there. If the Dogs somehow fall into the GF and have half a chance (dreaming, I know), Aker is THE one who could drag us over the line, because he actually lives for those moments. I don’t think J Hird fares too badly in those departments either.

    The Kosi one is very interesting. My St Kilda mates are often quick to criticize him but I have seen him turn quite a few games on his own. He comes across as an enigma. I think his mate Riewoldt belongs on the possibles list too.

  12. Riewoldt: sound. Does what a good forward should. Leads. marks. Takes a few good contested marks. Just what you’d expect of your Willy CYMS, Fitzroy. UQ seconds centre half forward.

  13. Geez, you’re a hard man to please John. Leads. Marks. Runs. Takes contested marks. Leads again. Runs again. And again. And again. Tackles – fiercely. Runs back. Marks. Misses.

    The goal kicking is a bit of a problem but I think he’s hard to fault otherwise.

  14. How about Chappy?

  15. Gigs

    is a lolly-pop man rewarded when kids aren’t run over at the crossing?


    Re Chappy: no. Re Joel Selwood: too early to call.

  16. JTH. He is when he throws himself in front of a truck…

  17. I come back to this debate late as I have been busy doing some great tax work. Great is great. We all know what that means. Say a name – “Hudson” no doubt great. Say another word “Koschitzke” will never be great so long as his bum points downward.

    We don’t need to define it, we need to feel it. Richo? no. Sensational bloke but not great as he can’t consistently execute the required skills. Leigh Matthews? Yes. Blight? yes. Cable? yes. Big Nick? yes. Royce Hart? yes. Bartlett? yes. Mensch? well………….

    Get my drift? If there is no doubt then they are great. If we hesitate they probably aren’t.

  18. Good point, Dips. But throw up certain names and some will hesitate and others won’t. Interesting that you mention Lethal Leigh because he has a timely column abour Riewoldt on the AFL website today:

    The other point is that sometimes we need to allow the passage of time before declaring someone great. The JJJ all-time Hot 100 survey they do every few years is often skewed to more recent musical offerings.

    I do like John’s lolly-pop man analogy. Maybe we need to make a list of the greatest lolly-pop people. The current one at my son’s primary school is an oldish bloke sings (with a heavy accent) as you cross. I’m not sure if he inspires the kids or just scares them into crossing more quickly!

  19. Gigs – I used to think I looked great in my red body shirt in the 70s, but others probably thought I didn’t. Red body shirt, Wippersnapper jeans (ex Target I think), and desert boots – what a look !

  20. What a coincidence Dips, that’s exactly what I’ve got on today…

  21. Bloodstainedangel says

    “Leo Barry – You Star”

    Recruited on the cusp of his 17th birthday, filling a full-back role that he was physically unsuited for with such passion and persistence, unassuming, willing, loyal. Those helter-skelter erratic runs from defence will ensure that for many of the Swans faithful he will never be considered amongst our very finest. But for me, you can keep your O’Loughlins, your Halls, your Locketts. I put Leo Barry in the Paul Kelly and Brett Kirk category – one of those players that represent the heartbeat – the pulse – of our team. Fittingly, “that” mark in the 2005 grand final will ensure that he remains an unforgettable part of the Bloods and AFL story. Now that’s greatness.

  22. Peter Flynn says

    I was behind the nets at Trent Bridge one day in 1997 watching Michael Slater batting.
    This bloke in a Geelong jumper came up and we started talking.
    I had been away all year and was keeping tabs on the footy via TNT magazine snippets and the scores which were published in The Times.
    He had only just arrived in the UK.
    I will always remember my shock when this bloke uttered the phrase ‘it all revolves around Mensch!’

    PS: Comment 17 above sums it up pretty well for me.

  23. Great post Dips.
    Post number 17 I mean.
    Trying to get number 19 out of my head.

  24. Peter, in fairness to Menschy, it was he who ruined my night when he marked and passed off to Billy Brownless to kick the winning goal after the siren in Sept 1994. It did kind of revolve around him that night!

    Dogs v Geelong in finals: 2008 lost, 1995 lost, 1994 lost, 1992 lost twice, 1976 lost. Can’t we bypass you guys in the finals this year? Mind you we did beat the Cats in the ’54 semi-final and went on to win the flag.

  25. I’d say we are due Gigs.

  26. There will be people walking the streets today muttering to themselves things like “Daicos? yes. Moore? no, Malcolm Blight? yes, Matty Lloyd? no” – steer clear of blokes in white vans trying to put straight jackets on you.

  27. Peter Flynn says

    Am I right in saying that EJ Whitten (a great) never played in a winning side at Geelong?

  28. Peter, I do remember him talking about how he hated going there because they never won, but I think he experienced success there once. I’ll follow it up.

  29. Peter Flynn says

    I remember Cool Rocking talking about a year when they drew at KP and in the return bout of that year there was a point in it. Can’t remember which year (late 50’s/early 60’s).

    I reckon each of us has a surprise/unconventional ‘great(s)’ that others look at, scratch their heads and say what the?
    e.g Marc Bolan for mine.

  30. That was 1957, Peter. A draw at KP in Round 1 and a 1 point win to the Dogs at Western Oval in Round 12.

    The Dogs and Cats met twice at Telstra Dome in 2006 and traded one-point results. They were two of the best games I’ve seen.

  31. Peter Flynn says

    Played Detective Gigs.

  32. Dogs then beat the Cats at the start of 2007.
    Here’s one for you Gigs.
    When was the last premier not defeated by the Doggies during the season?
    We have had a good record over sides that then achieve success…the Essendon trimph in 2000 being the most notable.

  33. Peter Flynn says

    Off track (pun not intended) a little.
    Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the ‘great’ Fine Cotton schmozzle.
    Do you know of anybody who was on track that day?
    Any interesting tales?

  34. Plenty claim it.
    What about you post a commemorative piece for a new thread tomorrow- though unfortunately (or not!) the Test interest will drown it.
    Contact John or Paul for my number if you want to chat about format.

  35. Crio, I was talking to a friend about that very topic recently. It’s three years and counting. 2008 – beat the Hawks at York
    2007 – Geelong Round 1 as you mentioned
    2006 – An impressive win against West Coast at Subiaco (followed, typically, by a loss to 13th place North the following week)

    2005 we bombed out against Sydney in our one game against them.

    So based on the current run, the signs are not good for the Saints, who have knocked the Dogs off twice this year. Unless they lose to the Dogs in Week 1 of the finals and exact revenge in the GF.

  36. Track further if you can. I’m interested in the past 10-15 yrs.

  37. Peter Flynn says

    Cheers Crio,
    I’ve got a couple of busy days ahead unfortunately.
    Will be on the Test blog from Friday night.

  38. Peter F

    Bold Personality was there.


  39. John, Dips and Crio.

    Given Dips’ comment 19 and the Brazilian Football Name Generator that John discussed with Lindy on 774 today, it is with a great sense of serendipity that I can announce that the Brazilian Soccer Name equivalent of Dips O’Donnell is “DISCO”. I can just see you there on the dance floor in my mind’s eye, Dips! Big collars on the red body shirt flapping away as you wow them with your moves.

    JTH, I think your Brazil name, Heca Pau, would actually go down well with the Euro commentators, especially if you drove one into the net from a long way out: “Heca PAAAUUUU…”

    Sadly, mine’s a bit boring: Gigisco. Although if I change my first name to Andy, I become ILDO.

    Crio: re comments 32, 35 and 36, I’ll get back to you on that. (I’ve been too busy generating Brazilian soccer names.)

  40. Gigs – strange as it may seem I used to heat up the dance floor by shaking what my mumma gave me – and yes the red body suit featured large !! Though the name Disco just doesn’t work – I’ve NEVER bleached my hair (when I had it).

  41. Maybe before this string gets cut we should bring it back to Joel Bowden and this season’s retirees. Joel himself probably has a realistic appraisal. He gave his all, played in some crap teams with confusing game plans and forged a good career. At his best he approached All-Aust selection. Other times he frustrated. As a Dogs supporter, I’d’ve preferred his ticker to his brother’s- we seem to get the dud brother too often. Robbo probably retires today. Provided great copy and schoolyard panache to a pro game. Entertaining, successful at times and leaving at the right time. Leo Barry will always be a Sydney legend, if only just for “that” mark.
    The retirees have all experienced the boyhood dream of playing at the top level. Half their luck!

  42. There’s another potentially rich vein of data to mine, Crio: dud brothers.

  43. Peter Flynn says

    John and Crio,
    There were a few ‘Bold Personalities’ at Eagle Farm on Aug 18 1984.

Leave a Comment