Number 51: Who dons thee

In the second of this 10-part series, we look at former AFL players to have donned the number 51. WE again invite readers to recall players from other clubs who sported the number 51 at senior level, whether that number was allocated to the relevant player at the time or was a replacement guernsey.

Number 51 – Garry Hocking and David Clarke Junior

An obscure fact is that the legendary Garry “Buddha” Hocking wore 51 in his first two games for the Cats in his debut season of 1987.  G Hocking debuted in round 3, 1987 when the Cats hosted Melbourne at Kardinia Park.  Jim Stynes also debuted that day, wearing 37 before reverting to 11 the next season.  Early in the season, number 32 was allocated to Michael Lenaghan, who last played at senior level in round 22, 1986.  Following his debut, Hocking was then given the number 32, which he wore in his remaining 1987 appearances in rounds 6, 7, 10 and 22.

David Clarke Junior was a father-son selection for Geelong in the 1998 national draft.  Recruited from Torquay, he was a pacy midfielder, frequently playing on the wing, with very good stamina.  Although Clarke was a handy player, he was not a star player like his father was.  His kicking lacked penetration and frequently let him down, which often caused frustration among Geelong fans.  Clarke debuted in the number 51 in round 13, 1999 in the midst of an awful nine game losing streak, which followed a 5-0 start to the year.  His performances were solid in his first season and he played 13 out of the remaining 14 games of that season.  Following the delisting of Brett Spinks after the 1999 season ended, the number 14 jumper became available and Clarke was granted it.  He became a midfield regular from 2000 and played in all but one of Geelong’s matches from 2000 to 2002.  He struggled with patchy form and injuries in 2003 and ended his Geelong career on 89 games.  As his father did more than 20 years previously, he moved to Carlton.  Clarke was traded as part of a deal that saw Simon Beaumont move from Carlton to Hawthorn and ruckman David Loats from Hawthorn to Geelong.  Clarke added 12 games to his tally over the 2004-2005 seasons at Carlton, this time wearing the number 9 that former Cat Adrian Hickmott had vacated on his retirement.  Clarke was delisted after the 2005 season.  He played in the SANFL from 2006 to 2008, with stints at South Adelaide (2006-2007) and North Adelaide (2008), before returning to Geelong to play with St Joseph’s in 2009.

Players from other clubs to don Number 51

Adelaide – Burly forward Randall Bone wore 51 at the Crows in 1992-1993 before crossing to the Hawks.

Collingwood – “The Glove” Michael Gayfer started in 51 in 1986 before transitioning to number 3 for the rest of his career.

Essendon – defender Peter Berbakov wore number 51 in 1996, his first season at senior level, before changing to number 20.

RichmondChris Pym wore number 51 in 1988, including booting three goals in the Tigers’ major upset over reigning premiers Carlton at the MCG in a Friday night clash in June 1988.

Western Bulldogs/FootscrayMichael McLean was a trailblazer in the number 51, playing 95 high class games for the Doggies from 1983 to 1989, before he was recruited by Brisbane.  Exciting player Stephen Koops also wore the number 51 in 2004 after leaving the Dockers.

Friday: Number 52

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