Footy: Glenn Archer a champion on and off the field

By Stephen George

Where egos can overshadow champions of Australian football, few players have had an impact like North Melbourne champion, Glenn Archer.

Throughout his career, he admitted to feeling violently ill before games because of nerves, such was his fear of failure. This didn’t prevent him though from confronting each contest on the field as if it were his last.

From his senior debut in 1992 to his retirement at the end of the 2007 AFL season, Arch continually displayed courage beyond his stature. He was voted the AFL Players Association’s Most Courageous Player on six occasions.

In addition to this achievement, Archer won the inaugural Madden Medal in December 2007. The medal was established to recognise the outstanding achievements both on and off the playing field for players who retire during the season just completed. The nominations for 2007 were a who’s who of greats of the modern era: James Hird, Mark Ricciuto, Nathan Buckley and Chris Grant.

Arch may not have been the most naturally gifted footballer, but he reinforced the almost forgotten belief that there are still selfless and loyal footballers in our great game.

In The Australasian in June 1940, this famous quote appeared when referring to the North Melbourne Football Club.

“In two aspects North Melbourne stands second to none. One is the loyalty of its supporters. The other is the determination to carry on, despite its disadvantages. In the face of adversity, which might well have broken the spirit of most men, we find that from the earliest days there were always enthusiasts to fight for North Melbourne.”

Glenn’s deeds on the field over 16 years measure up admirably to the description penned almost 70 years ago.

North Melbourne prides itself on its intangible and unmeasurable Shinboner Spirit.

Is it giving your all for your club and for your teammates both on and off the field? Is it standing up to adversity when your back’s against the wall?

It is all this and more. It is therefore no coincidence that Glenn Archer was voted Shinboner of the Century in 2005.

Despite attempts to lure him from his beloved North Melbourne in the late 1990s, Arch now holds the record for the most games played with the club.

Arch wanted to be remembered as a bloke who gave his all. He is more than that. A true Shinboner and Champion both on and off the field.

About Stephen George

I am an avid sports fan who admires anyone who can play or participate in sport at pretty much any level. My favourite sports are AFL, soccer, Major League Baseball, Rugby League and NFL. I have recently finished my Diploma in Sports Journalism and I am interested in improving my skills by contributing to the Footy Almanac


  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Great stuff, Stephen. Well written.

    No footballer deserves greater praise than Arch. An old-fashioned player, who warms the heart of all Northerners.

    My fondest memory of Arch, besides his premierships and Norm Smith triumph, comes from an early season Saturday night game in Sydney, back in, I think, ’99.

    If my memory serves me well, we lost the first few games of the season (coming off ‘the worst day in the club’s history’ at the ’98 GF) and went in at half-time that night looking at another defeat.

    Pagan threw Arch up forward in the second half where he provided a target, marked strongly and kicked 3 or 4. He won the game off his own boot, our season was under way and another premiership beckoned.

    Many people considered Arch a hard, honest defender, however, those who followed his career, know he was a very skillful player who could play at either end.

    Football is poorer for Arch’s retirement.

  2. Arch was definitely one of the best players in the AFL, not because of his skill but because of his commitment to North Melbourne and to a contest.

    I’m very glad to be a mutual friend of Arch (Dad coached Anthony Stevens when he played for Waaia, and we have talked to Arch many times through Stevo.)

    I was also surprised to know that Archer smokes. I saw him lighting up a fag after a function at Waaia which included himself, Stevo and Denis Pagan.

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