From Windy Hill to the Western Oval, Maribyrnong & Moonee Valley

Saturday nights “derby” at Docklands Stadium will see the Dons path to September action hitting a bump in the road or the Dogs being mathematically eliminated from this seasons finals equation.

Perusing the playing lists of the past 40 years I noticed a little traffic alongMt Alexander Road, past the Racecourse and ontoGeelong Roadresulting from player movement between these two sides. I’ve taken a look at three of the more interesting cases of those who have represented both of Saturday nights combatants at senior VFL level.


Bruce Neish: Essendon 1970-71 – 21 games/13 goals, Footscray 1972 – 1 game, 0 goals.

Lucky, right place, right time, call it what you like but the man who wore No 8 at Windy Hill prior to Tuddy’s arrival managed to achieve in less than half an hour of football on Saturday May 13 1972 what legends such as John Schultz, David Darcy and the great EJ Whitten were unable to do during their glittering careers, that is be part of a Footscray victory at Kardinia Park. When Stephen Power was unable to take his place in the side due to a leg injury Neish was called up to take Charlie Pagnocollo’s spot on the bench.  At three quarter time Footscray trailed the Cats by 21 points. During the final term Neish replaced Bill Godridge and when the final siren sounded the drought had been broken, eight last quarter goals seeing Bob Roses’ men return home up the highway with four premiership points for the first time since Bastille Day 1945. Neish’s VFL career ended on that famous afternoon.


Alan Stoneham: Footscray 1972-79 – 128 games/42 goals, Essendon 1980-83 – 72 games/20 goals.

Stonehamdebuted for VFA team Sunshine in 1971 still a week shy of his 16th birthday, and whilst not part of the Crows history making 2nd division premiership team that season made the short trip to the Western Oval the following year.Stoneham was on a hiding to nothing when he was given the Number 3 guernsey, the previous owner none other than Mr Football himself. He debuted in the Round 14 victory overNorth Melbourne in 1972, the last win the Dogs would have over their other local rival for almost six years.Stoneham would provide fine service during eight seasons at the Western Oval, leaving in the summer of 1979 following the arrival of Royce Hart as senior coach. Despite being a solid contributor for Barry Davis & Kevin Sheedy, averaging 18 games a season over his four season stint at Essendon, a time best remembered by many for an unfortunate meeting with Bertie Dipierdomenico in 1983.

Max Crow: Essendon 1974 & 1976-1982 – 136 games/139 goals, Footscray 1986- 12 games/18 goals.

Big Maxie’s debut against reigning premierRichmondon May 18 1974 will live in infamy, not due to any dastardly deed the young man from Underbool committed, but the brawl that occurred at Windy Hill that afternoon. The half time melee and subsequent suspensions handed down the following week overshadowed Crow’s eight kick, four goal introduction to the big league on the same day EG Whitlam’s ALP won the “double dissolution” election. Crow led the Dons goalkicking list in 1977 with 38 and along with Simon Madden, Paul Van Der Haar and Terry Daniher provided the “Baby Bombers” with a plethora of aerial options. He spent three years at Moorabbin between 1983/85 picking up a Best & Fairest in his first year with the Saints. The Bulldog faithful hoped Crow’s arrival at the Western Oval could compensate for the loss of Jim Edmond to the Swans at the end of the 1985 season. Unfortunately an injury sustained in the opening round victory against former club St Kilda meant Crow would miss nearly the entire first half of his only season at the kennel.

Other players to have split their playing time with both the Dogs & Dons football clubs include Ian Morrison, Wayne Foreman, Tony Buhagiar & former Victorian & South Australian state cricketer Les Stillman. Former ABC cricket commentator Norman Blundell (Graeme’s uncle) saw playing time for both Essendon and Footscray in the District cricket competition in the 1940’s & 50’s. Another red headed firebrand to wear the number 8 at Essendon, Jack Mihocek, may qualify as a member of this dubious group. Apart from representing the Bombers in 13 senior games in the late 70’s Mihocek played for local soccer/football team Footscray JUST.



  1. Hello Stoneham. You describe him as a solid contributor, though i recall him being called many other terms in the outer at Western Oval. So Bruce Neish played in what was the first VFL game attended. It was a horrible day ! It would be good to read more about my old neighbour Wayne Foreman, who made his debut for Sunshine in their final seasom in the VFA’s first Division, 1974. Goodness that’s a while ago.

  2. Glen – When the Dogs lost, something that happened far too often for my liking, Alan Stoneham along with Bernie Quinlan were always the first couple of players to have their efforts “scrutinized”, unfairly so on most occasions.

    Wayne Foreman was a very handy player at Footscray. Not sure what Hart was doing when he dispensed with Stoneham, Morrison & Foreman’s services in the ’79 off season. Did Foreman play in the “loser leaves town” relegation battle against Caulfield in 1974 ?

    You didn’t pick a good day to make your KP debut.


  3. John Butler says


    I reckon some Doggies fan should write about the Hart era.

    It would have to in the tone of Heart of Darkness though.

    ‘The Horror. The Horror’.

  4. You’re a good man John Butler – Consider your challenge accepted.

    Hart’s appointment as coach would have been about the time “Apocolypse Now” commenced it’s cinematic release in Oz.

    Horror indeed


  5. hmmm….statute of limitations?
    btw…despite the acrimony, a lot of players who’d grown up supporting one of these sides ended up as icons of the other.

  6. Yes the Hart era was not a happy time in the Western suburbs. Royce had a glittering caerer as a Centre Half Forward in the Tigers halcyon period of 1967-1980. Mic you could pick a team of players who were unloaded during Royces stint as coach, and they would comprise a decent team. When he arrived he did not have a great playing list, but only he can explain why he unloaded players like Brian Wilson, and those who he brought in hardly covered themselves in glory.

  7. Mic, re the dichotomy of players who have appeared for both the Bombers, and the Bulllies, added to that period of ‘ The Horror. The Horror’, the reign of Royce Hart as your coach from 1980, until mid 1982, why not wrote about ‘Big’ Jim McCallister? He is certainly applicable in both categories.

  8. Skip of Skipton says

    Hey man, you don’t talk about Royce; you listen! We’re just little men, little men. He’s a great man. A poet-warrior! ‘if’ is the middle word in ‘life’, man. Aren’t we better off a pair of claws sacampering across silent sea?

  9. Glen – A painful time indeed. Problem was the debutants and players brought in were not as good the players off loaded. Of the 13 debutants in 1980 only Chris Burton (67) & Stan Davidson (62) represented the Dogs on more than 50 occasions..

    Four players Brian Cordy & Rick Kennedy (1981) & Simon Beasley & Stephen McPherson (1982) who were valuable members of the team that went close in 1985 got their chance under Royce, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

    BTW Port managed to hang on and beat Willy by less than a goal today, not that you would’ve known if you were watching the game on the ABC.


  10. Goodness Mic, if you’re talking about the reign of Royce Hart, and in the process have fogotten Jim McCallister, that’s tolerable. But, to also forget Peter Hickmott and Bill Berry, now that’s pushing the envelope !

  11. Glen – “Big” Bill Berry crossed over from the Bombers in 1979 during former Liston trophy winner Don McKenzie’s final year as coach.


  12. Mic, i’ll accept that. Ok, when did Robert Amos come over?

  13. Glen – Robert Amos played one night comp game in 1980, didn’t play a senior VFL game for the Dogs.

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