Almanac Teams: Rangas

My team of Rangas by D T HOBAN


I am a proud card-carrying member of the Ranga club, those of us who endured years of teasing and good-natured jibes in our childhood.


I now wear my redhair, freckles and pale skin like a badge of honour. Rather than being some sort of genetic defect, red hair is simply a distinctive feature of my overall appearance.


In my late 40s, the once crimson crop has faded to a straw-coloured thatch. The flame-red top has gone and the jokes have ceased as well. No longer do I get old blokes calling me “Bluey” and laughing madly at this typically Australian brand of humour. (For years I didn’t get it).


I recently read about a novelty Australian Test Team made up entirely of, you guessed it, rangas. Admittedly, the team was a pale imitation (pardon the pun) of any other made-up XI: the middle-order consisting of Gary Cosier and David Ogilvie, wicket-keeper- Kevin Wright; hardly household names. The bowling stocks were stronger with the inclusion of fast-bowler Craig “Billy” McDermott and finger-spinner Clarrie Grimmet, who was a bit before another great leggie, Shane Warne (incidentally, a redhead himself if in denial).


So, it got me scratching my (red) head about an AFL team comprised solely of bloodnuts. I had just finished reading Garry Linnell’s biography of Gary Ablett Senior, arguably the greatest footballer of all-time and also, arguably, a ranga. Unfortunately, his son Garry Junior does not meet the strict criteria I have adopted, as there was no available evidence to confirm his true colors throughout much of his career.


I have picked a team of redhead AFL legends from the last 40-odd years to do battle. (basically since the advent of colour television, as black and white telly never did justice to us ginger nuts). Like the All-Australian side it is not going to actually play anyone and I apologise in advance because I think there will be a disproportionate number of Geelong players: must be something in the water or a large Celtic ancestry down there. The team I selected is:



GEELONG- Gary Ablett Snr, Robert “Scratcher” Neal, Barry Stoneham, Tim “ Bluey” McGrath (automatic inclusion), Cameron Ling (vice captain). Many other players from the Cattery were on the red radar of selection (eg Neville Bruns, Damian Bourke, John Mossop).


RICHMOND – Not considered – Jack Riewoldt (more blonde than red)


COLLINGWOOD – Apologies to Terry Hecker (1989-92, 6 games)and Shane Kerrison (noted tagger and 1990 Premiership player). There will be others who may feel slighted but it is immensely gratifying to not name a single Magpie in my team!


WEST COAST – Bluey McKenna, Not considered – Karl Langdon


HAWTHORN – Dermott Brereton, Chris Mew (under-rated Centre Half Back in the powerful Hawthorn sides of the 80s), Jarryd Roughead, Gary Buckenara and from the current crop, James Sicily


SYDNEY SWANS – Ironically no representatives for “the bloods”. Barry Hall misses out for the same reason as Gazza Junior. (ie insufficient evidence of his hair color).


ST KILDA – BJ Goddard


BRISBANE – Brad Hardie (Brownlow Medallist), Justin Leppitsch, Michael Voss (Captain), Jason Akermanis


MELBOURNE – Stephen “Stawbs” O’Dwyer (gets in by virtue of his nickname)


ADELAIDE – Sam “Sauce” Jacobs (ditto), Ben Hart


CARLTON – Lance “Big Red” Whitnall. (Special mention to Adrian Hickmott). One would expect the Blues to have had more Blueys play for them.


FREMANTLE -NIL. (Pity that the appropriately-named 2017 potential draftee Aaron Redhead didn’t play senior footy as he may have been another automatic inclusion.)


PORT – NIL The Cornes boys just didn’t meet the criteria


BULLDOGS – Adam Cooney (Brownlow Medallist)


ESSENDON – Dustin Fletcher (nearly 500 games in the red and black)


NORTH MELBOURNE – Keith Greig (dual Brownlow Medallist)




So that’s my top 22 of carrot tops from the modern era.


After compiling this team I noted that it includes no less than five Brownlow Medallists. (Hardie, Akermanis, Voss, Cooney, Greig). This supports the theory that redheads are vote-catchers!



Now, the off-field personnel:


Coach – Bob Rose. Not because he has red hair but an appropriate surname.


President – Ron”Big Red” Walker


No 1 ticket-holder – Julia Glllard


Theme Song – I See Red – Split Enz



Do you love the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE
Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE




  1. Rodney Rocket Maynard !

  2. Dave Brown says

    Beat me to it, Rulebook. Closest I can think of for Port is Charlie Dixon’s beard – the freckly skin doesn’t look good in the prison bars (insert photo of Josh Thurgood playing for Port Magpies). Bewick for Essendon was another fine example of the species (of which I am a member).

    BTW, check out Chris Rees’s excellent Scratcher Neal design here (25% off today):

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Lyle Skinner – Fitzroy 1971 (and 213 games for Centrals)

    Ian ‘Rooster’ Wallace – Footscray 1968 (and many games for West Torrens)

    Rudi Mandemaker – 141 games , 475 goals for Centrals, plus 3 state games

    Prof Kevin Norton – a handful of games for Centrals – go-to sports scientist of the AFL

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    Dave beat me to Darren Bewick, Essendon, but Gary Rohan formerly Swans now Cats, the reddest of redheads should be considered.

  5. Jimmy Wright from Geelong , though he last played in 1972.

    He also wore glasses but i can’t recall him wearing glasses when i saw him playing on the old B&W, TV.


  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice one Dan,
    Richmond – Don ‘Mopsy’ Fraser a fiery one from the old days.
    Collingwood – Jason Wild
    Hawthorn – Leon Rice and the Freak James Morrissey

  7. Darren Morgan of Geelong was another ranga from the Cattery, his carrot top seemed to upset Doc Wheildon and Dean Lipson in the 89 reserves GF and they chased him all game trying to belt him

  8. Brad Wirra from Footscray deserves an honourable mention

  9. Correction, Dean Lupson

  10. DBalassone says

    Sandy Hyslop (Collingwood).

    Great concept. They are a rare breed indeed.

  11. DBalassone says

    Also Gary Moorcroft – has ginger hair ever been higher than when he flew over Brad Johnson?


  13. That young Richards fellow (Ron’s grandson) from Western Bulldogs is a decent player.

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Shame on me for not mentioning Woodville’s Eddie Holland*

    * Could play like a German band (McAlmanac’s mum)

  15. Chris Bracher says

    The recently-departed Ranga Rohan is not the only famous “Fanta Pants” from the Bloods. Whilst more Carrot Top than unadulterated Blood Nut, 60’s champion Max Papley ( grandfather of Tom) well and truly passes the ginger test. Further, i give you the 1970 Browlow medallist Peter “Wheels” Bedford.

  16. Matt Priddis is a must. Won a Brownlow in 2014 and was runner up in 2015. All Australian. AFL career highest number of tackles. A genuine pale skin ranga who went a bit bleachy blond at the end of his career, but was solid ranga through the glory years.

  17. Great suggestions.
    A few not mentioned –
    Jayson “Jack” Daniels- Stkilda, Swans, StKilda. – a real ranga.
    Nathan Burke- St kilda perhaps missed selection because the helmet he wore concealed his hair but he was a 300-game ranga in Saints Team of the Century. He might get a game in the backpocket.. but is he a better player than say Ben Hart?
    Matthew Bate- Melbourne. another in the Daniels category
    I like the look of young Richards and who knows Rohan may flourish with the Cats. (he has a some talent).
    I think both Tom Lynchs may be rangas too.

  18. Welcome Dan. Excellent topic and one close to the heart of all Catters. In recent times we have been thinking of Ian ‘Bluey’ Hampshire who passed away after a long illness. He was much-loved by the Footscray footy community too.

Leave a Comment