Crio’s Question: Who was destined for greater things?

Ricky Ponting’s retirement announcement triggered a flood of commentary, much grand hyperbole and even fond reminiscences.
Behind the legend and his “elder statesman” legacy, there’s still a glint of the young Punter, a protege whose precocity was apparent from early years around Mowbray. There are some wonderful anecdotes of his formative sporting days from blokes who knew even then that he was marked for special honours.
Many of us are now of the vintage that we recall seeing talented kids and pondering if this was a great career in its infancy. For lots of reasons the potential often remains unfulfilled, but sometimes you get to see the fruition of that early seed.
Who have you “spotted” well before they became public property?


  1. I watched an Under 19 final between Collingwood and Fitzroy in the late 70s. I remember picking out David Twomey from Collingwood and Glen Coleman from Fitzroy as players with great futures. In fact David Twomey only played 63 games for the Pies and didn’t quite match his legendary uncles and grandfather. “Galaxy” Coleman played 200 games for three clubs but still wasn’t as good as I thought he was. I suspect that there were better players in both sides that I missed.

    I do better with music. About the same time that I “spotted” Twomey and Coleman I went to Sydney for a weekend and heard a young band at a Sydney Uni benefit called Mental as Anything. I remember telling people in Melbourne that I had seen a group in Sydney who were really good and were going to be really big. I was right that time.

  2. DN, I remember seeing Muse at the Provincial Hotel in Fitzroy about 12 years ago after they released their first album. I remember thinking they had some pretty catchy songs. They headline Wembley now – others must have thought they were pretty catchy too.

  3. A mate of mine played an intra club game in the early 80s with Fitzroy. He acquitted himself very well against another young bloke who looked the goods. The other bloke’s name was Paul Roos.

  4. Before they’d released an album or received any radio attention, I dropped in at a pub in Geelong where the John Butler Trio was playing. Thought they were seven different kinds of awful. Still are.

  5. In the hope of getting Bob Quiney back into the test team, now Punter has made way, I’ll gladly regurgitate my almanac piece on spotting him early;

    Remember spotting a couple of young blokes called Daics and Banksy in the Reserves and thought they went ok. Also saw a bloke called Darren Millane’s first game in the Pies Ressies and proclaimed him to be a star. Sadly, like a bigamist, there were more missus, I mean misses, than hits with Ressies spotting.

    Played U13 local footy rep side with a skilful, gutsy, skinny kid who went ok. He was so skinny I thought he was no chance to make it. One year I was playing against him on a Satdee morning in U17s and the next year I watched him at the Lake Oval take on the likes Wortho, Stan and Choco and go onto a chequered but great career, did D Rhys Jones.

    And finally, coached in CMCA U12s and we took on East Sandy one Satdee morning a young batsman called SK Warne looked to have some promise.

    Aaah the good old days and what coodabeen!!

  6. I was 12 years old and in year seven. It was late autumn 1967. I had spent the entire lunchtime trying to crumb a kick on the grassed area between the main school and the boarding house. I finally did. I was about to kick the ball when it was unceremoniously snatched from my arms and kicked about 60 metres breaking a window near the dining room entrance.

    The the snatcherer and kicker was Brent Crosswell. He was in year twelve.

  7. John Butler says

    So Phantom, was it you or Tiger who showed the promise?

  8. He enjoyed a fine District Cricket career, but there was a time when Almanacker Brendan McArdle was going to be the next big in the Australian Test team. I think he captained the Aus u/19 team?

  9. Crio,

    I watched a bloke carve up for North Ballarat in the 1997 TAC Cup Grand Final and thought he’d make a fair player if picked up in the draft.

    A Goodes. Gun then, gun now.


  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    I’ll never forget the first time I saw Sam Kekovick run at the primary school athletic sports at Gunbower. He was the most solid primary school kid I have ever seen . Had massive thighs and his feet barely left the ground when he ran but he was so fast.

  11. cowshedend says

    A mate and i used to do the racing tapes years ago, and we thought a young jockey was set for much bigger things……D.Nikolic

  12. I spotted a young gun at 15. I was half right … his name was Gary Walpole and he went on to play 1 game for the Dogs.

  13. No secret down at the Bay that Harry “The Horse” Kernahan had a son that went alright – could play CHF for Glenelg, we hoped. He probably exceeded our lofty expectations!

  14. T Bone, Gary Walpole played 12 games, i was at the ‘G’ When i reckon he kicked the winning goal against the Deeeeeeeeeees.
    Had a feeling he came from up Yarrawonga way

  15. Phil Carman when playing for Norwood. He was already great just the rest of Australia didn’t know it at the time.

  16. Probably more prescient, Budge, was the spotter who got Fabulous Phil from Edenhope to the Redlegs.

  17. Here’s one for you Crio and Budge.
    Cold winters night at Globe Derby trots. Done my nuts as usual. Cop a tip for an unraced squaregaiter from country Victoria in the last. Had my last on it at 16/10 (13/8 to you heathens). Gallops off the mark. Catches the field twice and gallops in the run each time. Just when I am about the tear up the ticket and curse my naivety at backing unraced horses it storms around the outside down the back straight the last time.
    The leader was called Willie Collins and had run 8 second placings trying to break its T0. Its driver was sitting up and looking around confidently as it plodded its predictable 2.14 mile rate. Then this thing gave him a cold as it rushed past.
    Its name was Maoris Idol.
    I knew that:
    a) I had seen something special;
    b) You would never get 16/10 again.
    At least I had pizza and beer money for Marcellino’s in Hindley Street after the last.

  18. Love that one. I remember Dad telling us about how it was half a lap behind and got up!

  19. More on Maori’s Idol. Probably the best horse of any code I’ve ever seen.

  20. Dave Nadel says

    Budge (@6.35) Collingwood knew how good Phil Carman was when he was still at Edenhope (which was in its country zone) The club was run at the time by people who thought that players should play for the love of the guernsey and refused to offer Phil as much as Norwood offered him.

    Bob Rose was scathing about this in an interview years later. He believed that Norwood ruined Carman by giving him an overinflated ego so that by the time he finally got to Collingwood he was “uncoachable.” Rose believed that if Collingwood had gotten Carman at 18 rather than 24 he would have fulfilled his promise (and the Pies might have won a couple of flags in the late 70s)

  21. John Harms says

    Justin Rose’s holed pitch at the eighteenth when he was a kid had something abou it.

    Tiger as an amateur at the Brit Open. Jack Nicklaus said on air, “This kid will dominate world golf.”

    Bob Hawke for PM.

    Saw David Wirrpunda playing in the U18 curtain-raiser to the 95 Geel v Rich prelim in the wet at Waverley. Something special then, and throughout his career. That day he kicked a torp point from about 60 with a cake of soap.

  22. Untapped potential. John Georgiades first two games for Footscray in 1989 saw him kick 5 at Princess Park, as they trounced the Blues, followed by 5 out of 8 in the losing score against North Melbourne the following week, then held goaless against Geelong the following round. His brief career petered out after that.

    Bob Massie, and the Indian spinner, N. Hirwani, both picked up 16 wickets on their test debuts. Neither came close to maintaing that form in their short international careers.

    Untapped potential ?


  23. ROBBO.
    Just appointed as the chief footy writer (or similar appellation) at the Current Bun daily rag.

    Was our copy boy at the Bendigo Advertiser in 1985. Progressed to cadet reporter but early doors never much good on Sundays,. That’s when it was ‘frantic time’ getting all the local footy copy-ladders-match details-photographs in their appropriate places for the Monday editions.
    All done by type writers (for the stories) and then out to the hot metal linotype operators for the lines of print which were laid sequentially in plates for each page.

    As a young buck Robbo needed a kip on Sundays after a big night on the sauce Saturdays.
    What better place for a 2-hour snooze than under-the-desk in the interview room. With the door closed.
    Bugger all the hectic hours needed by sports writers and sub-editors getting Monday’s issues ready.
    Mark “Robbo” Robinson was fast asleep, curled up on the floor.

  24. Crio – please forgive this complete self indulgence but we need to recognise sporting abilities of all kinds.

    One of my kids, Kate, who was born with Down Syndrome, always loved the water and swimming. One of her teachers remarked a few years back “she can really swim this kid”. He saw the ability.

    Well, this morning I put her on a plane to Newcastle where they are holding the Australian Games Carnival for Special Olympics. She is representing this proud State of Victoria in the free style (50m and 100m) and back stroke.

    I think she and her mates are champions.

  25. Bravo Kate.
    That would have the heart thumping Dips.
    Some might note that you seem to be a straight line sport kinda duo?

  26. Lord Bogan says

    That’s fantastic news for Kate, Dips. Congrats.

    Saw a young Mark Viduka play in the old NSL for Melbourne Croatia in the early 90’s. Stood out then and went on to a become a decorated international.

  27. Great news, Dips…

  28. Pamela Sherpa says

    Awesome Dips . Hope Kate has a real splash of a time up there.

  29. Skip of Skipton says

    Here’s one crio. He is on the front cover of the 2012 Almanac.

    Once kicked 6 goals in a TAC grand final on the ‘G, and dominated across half-forward for the Ballarat team, in their one and only victory so far.

    I remember watching that game on grand final day before the St.Kilda/Adelaide 1997 Grand Final. Adam Goodes won the medal etc, and said on TV he would like to be drafted to one of the Adelaide teams because he had family there and what not.

    How the Sydney Swans got him at pick 43 in the draft is beyond my ken.

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