Broken moulds (or do all Croweaters really have mullets?)

Some of footy’s great “thinkers” caused a furore by alluding (or was it stronger – I don’t watch that stuff!) that Aborigines lack endurance and hence would suffer from further interchange limitations.*
On our discussion thread for crio’s racing this weekend, Skip of Skipton pondered if chestnuts just don’t handle the wet. Funnily enough, we struggled to immediately recall ones which “grew a leg”.
Are there “types” to fit a mould? And, if so, what about some of those who shatter the stereotype?

*funny how controversy accompanies shows resuming for a new season!


  1. If Dave Warner continues to have success at Test level, he will shatter the stereotype of the circumspect, if not dour, Australian opening batsman. To a degree, Shane Watson had already done so, I suppose.

  2. A relatively recently developed stereotype is the post-match AFL interviewee. These players will always begin at least one of their answers with “Yeah, nah…” and include the word ‘structure/s’ at least once in the interview.

  3. He has already dented the supposed truism that you need sustained Shield success as a precursor to “the next step”. Nevertheless, he still maybe either exceptional or ultimately unsuccessful over a longer timeframe.

  4. Peter Flynn says


    Watto’s strike rate as an opening batsman is 52.81.

    I suspect it’s because he’s not good at rotating the strike. Self-absorbed at the crease and gets bogged down in 40s-60s.

    Some notables for comparison (different standard bowling attacks noted).

    Katich 49.33
    Jaques 54.23
    Wessels 55.57
    Langer 57.91
    Hayden 60.10
    Trumper 71.42 (suspect this is incomplete data)

  5. Crio – I’ve always thought big blokes on the footy field are useless. Can’t think of a good one. Still, they’ve won Brownlow Medals in the past, much to my amazement.

    Big Nick – big fat log
    Graham Moss – WAYYYY over rated
    Simon Madden – good/ordinary
    Graham Teasedale – yuck!
    Paul Salmon – not bad. But who would you rather have, him or Barry Cable?
    Brad Ottens – pretty good but took reflected glory from a gun midfield.
    Gary Dempsey – slow and not a great grab
    Darren Jolly – yeah right
    Aaron Sandilands – gets injured tripping over a tram ticket
    Peter Moore – looked very nice with his ankle guards on
    Justin Madden – useless as a Parliamentary report

    No, can’t think of a good one.

  6. You’ve obviously haven’t seen Big Cox up close, Dips…

  7. Phil – he might be the one that breaks the mould. But when you think about it all he does is tap the ball out at the bounce or throw in and it may or may not go to his team mate – big deal. And maybe he takes the odd mark around the ground. But does he break the lines with dash and speed like a skilful utility? Does he kick goals like a dangerous forward or save goals like Matty Scarlett? No. Big blokes all tend to fit the mould.

    Don’t get me wrong all teams need big blokes, you just have to hope that your big blokes are less useless than your opponent’s.

  8. Cox’s goal on the run in the 2005 GF was one of best ever. Collingwood wouldn’t have won in 2010 had it not been for Jolly.

    Otto had a gun midfield, but his performance in the 2007 Prelim and last years GF was exceptional. As a kid, didn’t you feel more confident reading the tap from your ruckman rather than the opposition? It may only be a split second or even a psychological issue, but I reckon good ruckmen make poor teams more competitive and good teams more potent.

    Your argument does have some merit though. Mark Blake is Premiership player.

  9. When you get over here to watch the Wynyard Cats Dips you will see some very mobile big blokes with speed and skill.

    Not a mullet amongst them.

  10. Dips, you should have warned us earlier. I just thought Ilija Grgic was taking time to develop.

  11. Phanto – they’re probably very mobile around the bar.

    Phil – you’re clutching at straws. How many match winning plays have been carried out by utilities and mid fielders – too many to count!!

  12. A model developed that great players couldn’t become great coaches, especially once the capt/coach role became outdated. The logic wasn’t bad and it became generally accepted….the Hafey/Sheedy rule stated that hard working backmen (Msalthouse…not Frawley) had to work harder, be more canny than naturally gifted, instinctive players.
    Barassi made the transition to Coach. Blighty had success. Lethal has a few medals.
    Hird, Buckley, Voss line up against Worsfold, the Scotts, Hardwick, Clarko…and now even “lesser lights” such as Neeld and McCarthy. Primus is tough to categorise. Longmire impossible.

  13. Back to Dave Warner for a minute. He’s about to bring up a second consecutive ton in ODI’s. I wouldn’t think that’s been done very often. Flynny, can you help with this one?

  14. Dips, you’re wearing your preference for diminutive types on your sleeve old boy. It is rare that a flag is won without at least one decent ruckman in the team.

  15. Big men win big matches.

  16. Peter Baulderstone says

    I reckon the ‘hard working players make better coaches’ axiom stands up. Blight is the exception that proves the rule, but Barassi and Matthews were both exceptionally hard workers. They had all round exceptional skills and work ethic, more than brilliance, which probably explains why neither won Brownlows.
    As for the diminutive one’s arguments about ruckmen. On the whole I think Dips is right. You need a good, strong ruckmen or the opposition midfield get too much of a free ride. But often they cancel each other out at throw ins and bounces.
    That said ruckmen with round ground skills (rather than big logs) give sides a huge advantage over the opposition. I rate Cox and Natanui as the Eagles 2 most valuable players. Lose one and we could just cope. Lose two and we are midfield battlers. Cox is a strong competitive mark – forward or back. Though he has lost confidence in his set shots in recent years. His outstanding value is when the Eagles flood back, as the link player for transition out of defence. He runs hard and wide when we defend and is generally clear on a back flank or wing to mark the clearing kick when we run it out. He holds it up and generally hits a target, as we flood forward. Noone else fills that role nearly as well, and it affects our overall game style.
    As for Natanui, everyone drools over the speccies. He takes one a month, and is a very average mark for his size. But he is one of the best palmers of the ball I have seen. His leap and palming is a big advantage at the clearances. He is an extra midfielder with strength and good hands when the ball is on the ground. Exceptional handball. Lousy kick.
    So I think these 2 moulds are unbroken, but there are exceptions like Blight, Cox and Natanui – that prove the rule.

  17. Phantom,
    The last big bloke to make an impression on the MCG on Grand Final Day was Peter Moore’s medal chuck!

    Only kidding, though the Norm Smith Medal list is mid sized…

  18. Hey Dips – Barry Round was all right.

  19. No one brave enough to ponder the genetic endurance Q?

    or Chestnuts on heavy tracks!

  20. Peter Baulderstone says

    I’ll be brave Crio. Clearly there are genetic traits that predispose some physical characteristics – positive and negative. Same as upbringing and role models, and the personality that creates predisposes to other characteristics – for good and ill. White men can’t jump; black men can’t swim; fast twitch fibres for sprinters and altitude upbringing for marathoners.
    But the great thing about AFL is that it creates opportunities for all body types and physical characteristics. Matt Priddis takes all night to plod out of sight. But he can run all night and all the next day. David Wirrapunda had limited endurance but won countless games with his rebound, brilliant acceleration and phenomenal anticipation and ability to read the play.
    Both types will get a game for as long as the game is played.
    This bemoaning of the limited interchange rule is simply classic trade union special pleading by the coaches trade union and now (for some sillier reasons the Players Assn). Coaches want to control things and make themselves more important than the players. That was leading to boring stereotypical athletic endurance football, that stymied the talented players and rewarded the much larger pool of honest chasers. There are more plodders than stars, so the Players Union is just sticking up for the majority of the bruvvers.
    The 1 sub/3 interchange rule was a welcome change that improved the attractiveness of the game, and made it harder for ‘triers’ to stymie for 4 quarters. They got tired and last year the cream came to the top after half time (hello Grand Final).
    For 80 years Australian Football was played with no interchange and 2 subs (19th and 20th men as they were called). Noone died to my knowledge. The game was slower and the skilful stood out more. Games often finished with a bloke ‘on one leg in the forward pocket’. Games were lost because teams ran out of reserves early with an unfortunate run of injury. It was ever thus. Coaches complained of this with 4 interchanges. If the coaches had their way it would be like gridiron, with a full replacement team on the sidelines and baseball’s bullpen full of replacements warming up if the full forward missed 2 shots in a row.
    Where is the right balance? Who knows? 2 subs was too little; 4 interchanges was too much. Gary Window and Sonny Morey won Magarey Medals (I think) when there were no interchanges. They were aboriginals with limited endurance, but great ball attraction skills and sublime disposal. They would play in any era.
    On the more sensitive area of genetic predictability – thoroughbred breeding. I am reminded of the old 3 way turf talk line – XYZ debuts today; cost $XXX million and is a half brother to 27 Group One winners. The usual response was “and Johnny Weismuller’s brother drowned”.
    Lest I be accused of not taking this forum seriously, I avoid the punt these days, because as they say – one bet is too many and a thousand never enough. The horses I liked to follow, liked to follow other horses. But one of the many rules that I never stuck by was “back Luskin Star progeny or horses from Luskin Star mares in the mud”. It was a good rule – that is why I ignored it. Memory says LS was by Kaoru Star, and I think a chestnut. I remember LS was a champion over a range of distances and over a number of years – not one dimensional like the current very good sprinter. BC’s trainer is a champion at placing the good sprinter and scaring off any opposition with 4 legs (bar HL – the trainer can’t read and the owners are WA people and therefore foolishly regard it as a sport not a business). Any old timers to confirm or deny my recollections of Luskin Star as a genuine chestnut champ in the wet or dry?

  21. Did they ever find that medal Crio?

    Did Moore end up getting one at both the Pies and the Dees?

  22. Not sure if my eyes are failing me but I am sure I saw Tom Hawkins play an extremely influential game in last year’s GF.

    He must be quite big because he towers over my son who is about 6′ 5″ and 100 kilos.

    I think some people are clutching at straws.

  23. Phanto – Hawkins was good, but you surely noticed that his biggest impact on the game was when he was playing like a mid fielder; kicking 3 goals in the third quarter, two of them off the ground. When he played like a big bloke in the last quarter he kicked no goals!! Nuff said.

  24. We don’t often disagree my feline friend but on this issue we may need some mediational assistance.

    Yer big bloke these days is a much more adaptable player than the monoliths of old. I agree they do play in different roles and often rotate between them. Hence my arguement that some big blokes (not Blakes) are extremely mobile, skillful and can play anywhere.

    Perhaps when you come and see the Wynyard Cats I can show you what I mean. We have several around the two metre mark who can play in the ruck, as ordinary on ballers, back line running, forward line out wide running, key positions, taggers and have university degrees and only four fingers and one thumb on each hand. They have licence to run from way back to way forward to create an extra tall all over the ground. They, of course, need to be fit, strong and reasonably smart.

    The game is changing over here. The technology will get to the mainland soon, I hope.

  25. Dave Nadel says

    I’m shorter than Dips but I don’t share his views on ruckmen. Collingwod lacked a top ruckman from the time Monkhorst developed injuries that robbed him of spring to the recruitment of Jolly. Josh Fraser could have been better than both Jolly and Monkey but the club ruined his fitness by playing him too much too soon.

    The absence of a top ruck wasn’t the only reason the Pies went flagless from 1990 to 2010, but it didn’t help. You can win a Premiership without a top ruckman, Simon Madden dominated in the 1983 Grand Final but Essendon were flogged and Malthouses’ Eagles didn’t have a top ruckman in the early 90s but both Hawthorn and the Eagles had a midfield good enough to rove off the opposition’s ruck. That is fairly unusual.

  26. Thanks for the comments Peter. I tend to agree with your sentiments (don’t recall Sonny Morey’s Magarey but he was a good player).
    I think coaches like Sheeds just wanted an easier job by asking for more and more bench. Quality does shine through under duress. Remember slogging finishes to 15 rounders and heroic tackles on a muddy SCG at the end of a big League game?
    I’ll leave the breeding expertise to Budge and Elvis….they’ll certainly confirm Luskin Star as a beauty, but I think the argument there is that he was a ripper regardless of the surface. Some horses – rightly, as you noted, often tracked through sires’ influence – just grow a leg in the mud. Are any of these, Skip wondered, chestnuts?

  27. Peter Flynn says


    Each with 3 consecutive ODI hundreds:

    Zaheer Abbas

    Saeed Anwar

    HH Gibbs

    AB de Villiers

  28. Thanks, PJF. Ever-reliable.

  29. I’m still trying to work out what percentage of Dips’ tongue was planted in his cheek wheen he made his first comment.

  30. Luskin Star was indeed a chestnut. He was an absolute champion 2YO who trained on to win a Caulfield Guineas. Unfortunately, they tried to get him to stay with much the same result as we saw for Typhoon Tracey, More Joyous, Our Maizcay, etc. Ran unplaced in Cox Plate and I don’t believe he won a race over more than 1600m and was retired as a 3YO and so never tested in major handicaps (e.g. Newmarket). Also while he may have made a name as a wet track sire, he himself raced below par on wet tracks and would certainly not have been rated as a wet tracker.
    Also pretty sure Sonny Morey never won a Magarey.

  31. Peter Baulderstone says

    “Sonny Morey was the first player to play 200 games for the Central District Football Club.
    Recruited from Gawler, Morey was an “original” Bulldog – he played in their first ever League side in 1964. Tried as a half forward and rover, he settled into the wing position and later in his career was a fine back pocket.
    Morey won Central’s best and fairest in 1970 and in 1972 was runner up in the Magarey Medal to Malcolm Blight. Strangely, he was also runner up in the best and fairest that year to Robin Mulholland. The next two years saw Morey win State selection; he made four appearances for the Croweaters. After his playing career finished, he even coached Central’s Under 17’s to a flag.
    A fine ambassador for both Central District and the Aboriginal community.”

    So I was close but no cigar. Second to Malcolm Blight in the 72 Magarey Medal counts as a win in any other year. Two other footnotes when researching this – Sonny was a member of the stolen generation, taken from his mother in Alice Springs when he was 7 and never saw her again. Then spent 7 years in Anglican mission orphanages before being adopted. He is married with 2 children, but says neither are any good on wet tracks.

  32. Peter, I remember Sonny in Centrals’ first ever finals side….Tony Casserley, Phil Houghton, big Jones up front, Mulholland and Norsworthy, Peter Vivien, maybe even Lyle Skinner, I’m wondering about Dean Farnham – long forgotten names! He was, by then, a fine back pocket, maybe alongside Kreig? His dating at the Dogs back to their inception was only evident to me after I read Michael Sexton’s superb “1964” – buy it if you have not already done so. Second to Blighty is impressive – Blight and Carman were the best I saw in the SANFL.

  33. Peter Baulderstone says

    Yes Crio I think I was at that final. With mates out on the boundary in front of the old Victor Richardson gates at the Adelaide Oval. We were barracking for Centrals as the underdog. We called Sonny “Captain Midnight” all day, which was patronising in hindsight, but we cheered his brilliance.
    I doubt that Dean Farnham was playing by then. He was the original giant 6’9″ from memory when 6’5″ (Sturt’s Doc Clarkson was considered) tall and Neil Kerley/Keith Chessel at 6’2” were tap ruckmen. I saw Centrals first game in the SANFL at Thebarton against my West Torrens. West Adelaide champ Ken Eustice (and later famous/infamous car dealer) was their inaugural captain coach. I remember it because Torrens won (rare event). In one of Sonny’s bios that I read he said he got the first kick for Centrals. Was ‘nig Jones’ Dennis Jones who later coached them? I remember when Sturt had ME (Emmy) Jones and MS (Jeep) Jones in the same team in their heyday. I think both were Malcolm Jones. Do you remember Max Hall’s Saturday Morning footy preview show on 5KA sponsored by Godfreys Bargain Warehouse where trade in vacuums were “guaranteed to the door”?

  34. The “big Jones” Crio is referring to was Gary Jones who I recollect being of similar build to Dennis Sasche/Greville Deitrich. The Dennis Jones who was coach came over having previously coached Melbourne.

    I can certainly recall Emmy Jones at Sturt but can’t place MS Jones in my memory. Emmy was full forward prior to Greenslade/Whelan wasn’t he- around mid to late 60’s? Didn’t they have a ruckman who lobbed each year for the finals (Malcolm Hill??). Dean Ottens (father of Brad) was also around the place about then and only seemed to turn up around finals time too.

    I also remember Max Hall but only really from the Channel 9 commentary and footy show with the late Wally May (comment Wally May, “no comment”, Good Comment)

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