Almanac Teams: Second time, 25 (1980- )



St Kilda’s Alex Jesaulenko [Source: Author]



A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 25 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 25, mostly from 1980 onwards but I have made exceptions, such as Glynn Hewitt in the 19 team



It is a light-hearted team based on cult figures, forgotten/lesser known players or stats/cameos associated with them, players known for other deeds, sons, fathers & brothers and forgotten players.


My criteria, similar to my previous efforts was:


  • Attempt to include one player per club
  • I have tried to create as balanced side as possible but this was not a priority



Stats are based on their time in that number.





FB:       Trevor Barker (St.K)                         Brad Fox (Ess)                              Matthew Campbell (Bris)


CHB:    Michael Nettlefold (St.K/Fitz)         Chris Hollow (St.K)                   Danny Stanley (GCS)


C:          Geoff Cunningham (St.K)                Simon Eishold (Melb)                 Xavier Tanner (NM/Melb)


CHF:    Alex Jesaulenko (St.K)                     Scott Lucas (Ess)                          Ian Sartori (Rich)


FF:        Brendon Gale (Rich)                        Mark Jackson (Melb/Geel)        Jason Watts (WB)


Ruck:    Laurie Keene (WCE)                       Jarryd Lyons (GCS)                      Scott Russell (Syd)


Interchange: Jeremy Clayton (NM), Donald McDonald (NM),  Josh Mellington (Freo), Len Thompson (Fitz)


No players from Adelaide, Collingwood, GWS, Hawthorn or Port Adelaide



Games in Number 25 (Years played)

Trevor Barker 37 (1975-1976)

Brad Fox 17 (1991-1992)

Matthew Campbell 79 (1987-1993)

Michael Nettlefold 14 at St Kilda (1982-1983) 9 at Fitzroy (1983)

Chris Hollow 24 (1993-1995)

Danny Stanley 83 (2011-2015)

Geoff Cunningham 38 (1978-1979)

Simon Eishold 77 (1986-1992)

Xavier Tanner 91 at North Melbourne (1977-1983) 11 at Melbourne (1984-1985)

Alex Jesaulenko 23 (1980-1981)

Scott Lucas 270 (1996-2009)

Ian Sartori 18 (1982-1985)

Brendon Gale 244 (1990-2001)

Mark Jackson 41 at Melbourne (1981-1982) 31 at Geelong (1984-1986)

Jason Watts 57 (1994-1998)

Laurie Keene 36 (1987-1990)

Jarryd Lyons 37 (2017-2018)

Scott Russell 16 (1999)

Jeremy Clayton 3 (2004)

Donald McDonald 147 (1983-1992)

Josh Mellington 6 (2011-2013)

Len Thompson 13 (1980)



Trevor Barker – Barker started his career in 1975 for St Kilda wearing Number 1 aged 18, he’d been recruited from Cheltenham. Barker is one of the most popular players to ever play in the VFL/AFL. He was admired by many for being a great player in an ordinary side much like Melbourne’s Robbie Flower. Supporters loved his ability to play either end of the ground and take screamers week after week. Barker was loved by plenty of women for his blonde hair and great looks; plenty of people liked him because he seemed such a great bloke who played for the love of the game too. Barker’s love for St Kilda was clear; for several years with the Saints in financial trouble he accepted payment of 22 cents in the dollar and donated a car he won in 1981 for Best & Fairest back to the club. Barker moved to Number 1 in 1977 and played 230 games for 134 goals with a best haul of five goals. In Barker’s first year he was forward then in 1976 he moved to full back and despite being just 183cm tall he won Best & Fairest from the position. Barker played several times for Victoria, won two Best & Fairests, was captain from 1983-1986, was named a St Kilda legend and AFL Hall of Fame member. Barker played in seven wooden spoons and no finals at St Kilda but was Premiership coach at Sandringham 1992 and 1994. Barker had become assistant coach at St Kilda the year he sadly passed away in 1996.



Brad Fox – Fox was drafted by Essendon with Pick 12 in the 1988 Draft, recruited from Perth. Fox made his debut in 1991 and played 10 games as a key defender. Fox is largely remembered for Round 1 of 1992 when playing against St Kilda he lined up on Tony Lockett. St Kilda beat Essendon by 17 points and Lockett kicked 7.4 from 11 kicks. In the first half Fox annoyed Plugger to such an extent that while Essendon were having a shot at goal, Fox found himself in 112kg Lockett’s chokehold which made him unconscious and left him with blurred vision. Lockett was not reported and Fox played just six more games for Essendon before being delisted and then drafted by Richmond where he played a further four games.



Matthew Campbell – Campbell was an inaugural Brisbane Bear, selected as pre-draft pick in 1986. Campbell was 23 when he made his debut and played every game in 1987; he was capable of playing half back or wing. Campbell was best known for being a great kick and also represented Australia as goalkeeper in the International Rules series against Ireland in 1987 and 1990. Campbell once retired worked as boundary rider then commentator for Channel 7 and Fox Footy. Campbell now works as a racing form analyst.



Michael Nettlefold – Nettlefold started at St Kilda in 1979 and wore Number 47 for 29 games in three seasons before taking over Alex Jesaulenko’s Number 25 in 1982. Nettlefold played five games out of the first eight in 1983 but was traded to Fitzroy mid-year – he played the last nine games of the season for the Lions, including two finals. After 16 games in 1985 Nettlefold retired aged 26 with 74 career games. Nettlefold was appointed CEO of St Kilda from 2009-2014 and is now the chair of Vivid sport management group.



Chris Hollow – Hollow was drafted from Dandenong in the 1993 Preseason Draft and made his debut in Round 1 1993 (this was when the draft was just two weeks prior to the season). Hollow was dropped after Round 1 but came back late in the season to play the last nine games of 1993. Similarly in 1994 he played the first four games and then last seven games. After two games in 1995 Hollow was delisted. A journalist who worked for Inside Football and The Age and is now a radio producer for the ABC working on breakfast with Sammy J since 2015, Hollow may also be the only VFL/AFL player to have worked as a script writer for Neighbours…arguably his best work came in the forms of Toadie’s proposal to Dee and Dr Karl and Susan’s first split.



Danny Stanley – Stanley started his career at Collingwood where he played five games in three years from 2007-2009. Stanley was then drafted with Pick 5 in the 2010 Rookie Draft by Gold Coast, in 2011 Stanley played 22 games and kicked 20 goals with a best total of two goals, this was enough for him to win the goal kicking for the Suns’ first year. Stanley had four more years at Gold Coast and kicked 19 goals in those 61 games before retiring after the 2015 season due to injury.



Geoff Cunningham – Cunningham started his career wearing Number 15 in 1977 before he took over 25 from Trevor Barker in 1978 and then in turn handed it over to Alex Jesaulenko in 1980; Cunningham wore Number 5. Cunningham was one of the best players in a weakened St Kilda side and was picked to play for Victoria eight times in his career. He had many great wing battles against the likes of Hawkins, Dipierdomenico, Flower, Greig, Wood and Rhys-Jones. Cunningham retired in 1989 aged 30 due to injury with 224 games, he did not play in any finals. Cunningham coached Traralgon to two premierships and their inaugural season in the VFL.



Simon Eishold – Eishold started with Melbourne in 1986 and played five games as a 19 year old. In 1987 he followed up with six games in the home and away season with his last in Round 20. Eishold was recalled for Melbourne’s finals campaign in 1987 (their first in 23 years) as Brian Wilson was injured. Despite modest numbers Eishold stayed in for each of Melbourne’s finals. Eishold is best remembered for missing a relatively easy set shot on goal late in the 1987 Preliminary Final which would have put Melbourne more than a goal in front late in the match. Eishold only played five games the next year but was a regular in 1989-1991. After being delisted in 1992 he played five games in 1993 at Richmond.



Xavier Tanner – Tanner is one of the rare players to play both 100 senior games and 100 reserves games. Tanner started his career in 1976 and played nine games, in 1977 he played in a premiership in what was game 30. Tanner was listed as one of North Melbourne’s best in the drawn Grand Final and it is suggested he could have won Norm Smith Medal votes in the replay for his 24 touches and 1 goal had the award existed at the time. Tanner played only six games in 1978 which included the Grand Final, he was a semi-regular from 1979-1982 but after two games in 1983 he moved to Melbourne under old coach Ron Barassi where he added 11 games. Tanner was coach of the Murray Bushrangers from 2001-2004.



Alex Jesaulenko – Jesaulenko was born in Salzburg, Austria and was recruited to Carlton from Eastlake in the ACT. ‘Jezza’ played 256 games for 424 goals with a best of 115 goals in 1970. He could play forward, defence and centre and his honours read: four premierships, twice All Australian, club captain from 1974-1976 and from Round 6 1978 Jesaulenko was appointed Carlton captain-coach. His side won the 1979 Premiership and he remains the most recent playing coach to do so. In 1980 a board spill saw George Harris lose the presidency of Carlton and Jezza had supported saying if Harris was not reappointed he would walk. Jesaulenko joined St Kilda aged 34 as a player but after Mike Patterson was sacked in Round 2, Jesaulenko was also appointed coach. Jesaulenko played 15 games in 1980 and eight games in 1981 before he retired mid-year, in his 23 games he kicked 20 goals, three was his best haul. He played against Carlton twice and his best game in terms of disposals against his old side was 27. Jesaulenko coached St Kilda 1980-1982 for 64 games and 13 wins. He was appointed Carlton coach in mid-1989 after Robert Walls was sacked and coached until end of 1990 for 34 games and 18 wins. Jesaulenko had three stints as coach, each time starting after the season had got underway. In 2008 he was announced as a Hall of Fame Legend.



Scott Lucas – Scott is the first person I know personally to play in the AFL. On a personal note Scott is my cousin; his grandmother and my grandfather were sister and brother. Scott’s dad – like mine – was a dairy farmer in Weerite, a neighbouring suburb of Pomborneit. Scott started playing junior cricket with Pomborneit at a very young age of about 10 or 11 and because at the time he was the smallest player, he was named wicketkeeper in his second year for Pomborneit juniors. Scott did okay but showed some promise as a batter (we were not really aware how good he was at football until he was about 15). Scott went onto to captain the juniors to a premiership and played well as an opening bat. Scott took the next level in seniors, but we knew then he was not a long-term player for Pomborneit. In his last year of seniors Scott played as an opening batter and was vice captain even though he would be off to play football by the next Christmas. In was great news to the community that Scott was drafted with Pick 4 by Essendon though he was bought back to earth making a duck in the big match between Pomborneit Green (the side Scott and I were in) and Pomborneit Gold (which I think contained acclaimed Almanac writer Luke Reynolds…). Scott spent his first year in 1995 in the seconds but debuted on Anzac Day of 1996 and played in an elimination final that year. Scott had a very good 1998 season (he played for Victoria against the Allies at CHF) but in 1999 suffered a broken leg mid-year and didn’t return. In 2000 Scott combined well at CHF with Matthew Lloyd, he kicked 57 goals and won a premiership. The following year Scott was considered Essendon’s best on with four goals in a grand final loss. In 2002 Scott’s form tapered off and he was moved to CHB, a spot where he won a Best & Fairest in 2003. With main target Lloyd out for nearly all of 2006, Scott won another Best & Fairest at CHF with 67 goals. One of his best games was when he kicked seven goals in the last quarter against West Coast in Kevin Sheedy’s last match as Essendon coach. Scott retired in 2009 with 270 games and 471 goals. Since retiring Scott works in player management for Phoenix Management and has a few players like Easton Wood, Darcy Parish, Sam Walsh and Sean Darcy from the South West under his auspices.



Ian Sartori – Sartori started out at St Kilda, he played 47 games there from 1978-1981. In 1982 Sartori joined Richmond and played six games during the season without a goal. Sartori was named an emergency for the 1982 Grand Final and came in for an injured Brian Taylor. Sartori had seven disposals, kicked 0.1 and played only 11 more games for seven goals.



Brendon Gale – Gale was a very much a marking forward for Richmond who later developed into a great mobile ruck who teamed up well with Brad Ottens; the two between swapped ruck and forward roles. Gale retired in 2001 to go into the business world but was back in the AFL as AFLPA president from 2004-2009. Gale was then appointed Richmond CEO and in his first year made the big statement that in 10 years he would like to have 70,000 members, a cleared debt and win three premierships. This statement was seen by many as overly ambitious but was reached in 2020 – the club has over 100,000 members and won premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020.



Mark Jackson – ‘Wacko Jacko’ started his VFL/AFL career at Richmond in 1980, he won the reserves goal kicking with 131 goals but opportunities were limited with Coleman Medalist Michael Roach in the side. Jackson joined Melbourne in 1981 and debuted in Round 1 against Hawthorn. After kicking his first goal he performed a handstand in front of Kelvin Moore. Melbourne won only one game but Jackson kicked 76 goals with a best haul of eight. Jackson kicked 76 goals again in 1982 from 19 games but left Melbourne after a fallout with coach Ron Barassi. In 1983 Jackson joined St Kilda, but after 10 games for 41 goals he was sacked for throwing a lit cigarette at club president Lindsay Fox. Jackson joined Geelong 1984 alongside a couple of country lads from Bendigo (Greg Williams) and Myrtleford (Gary Ablett). Jackson kicked nine goals in Round 1 and ended up with 74 for the year. His goal-kicking declined in 1985 and after two games for eight goals in 1986 and a fallout with coach John Devine, Jackson’s VFL/AFL career was finished aged 26 with 82 games and 308 goals. Jackson went on and release a top five charting song in ‘I’m an Individual’ and star in an American TV series ‘The Highwayman’.



Jason Watts – Watts was picked up from Werribee in the 1994 Preseason Draft as a back pocket. Watts debuted in Round 1 and played 21 games in his first year, which included a final. After 11 games in 1995, Watts was redeployed to the forward line and was known as a very accurate kick. Watts’s first game in 1996 was in Round 3, he kicked six goals. Watts kicked 44 goals in 20 games and won Footscray’s goal kicking as smaller (185cm) leading forward. With the Bulldogs a significantly improved side in 1997, Watts played just five more games for two goals and was delisted at the end of 1998.



Laurie Keene – Keene was a talent that we never saw enough of after a career marred by injuries. At 202cm and aged 26, Keene played in West Coast’s inaugural game and with his mobility as a ruck/forward he kicked three goals, including the Eagles’ first ever. In his fourth game he kicked six goals. In 1987 Keene played 17 games for 25 goals, but injuries restricted him to 19 games in the next three years. In 1990 Keene played his first game in Round 22, but he played in four finals that year. I had never seen Keene play live until then but what stood out was his height, long legs and massive kick. His kicking was great to watch and it showed with five goals and two great performances in the finals series, his best a win against Melbourne in the semi final with 23 disposals, 10 hit outs and a goal. Keene missed all of 1991-92 due to injury and retired at end of the 1992 season where he went back to Subiaco to play.



Jarryd Lyons – Lyons played 55 games for Adelaide from 2012-2016, his best season was also his last – he played 20 games. Lyons was traded to Gold Coast for 2017 and despite 37 games in two season was a surprise delisting considering how inexperienced the Gold Coast list was. Lyons was picked up by Brisbane as a delisted free agent and has played every game since for the Lions (67) and has been a vital player in their potent midfield that has made the top four each year. In 2021 Lyons won two Marcus Ashcroft Medals for being best on in the Queensland derby QClash.



Scott Russell – Russell arrived at Collingwood without the fanfare of fellow South Australian Tony Francis but he slotted in straight away; in just his third game for the Pies he gathered 36 disposals. Russell played every game in 1990 which culminated in a premiership, a game in which he was named as one of Collingwood’s best players with 27 disposals and two goals. Russell did not miss a game in his first three seasons and was joined briefly by his brother Kym for three games in 1992. Russell played 183 games for 107 goals between 1990-1998. After a contract dispute Russell was let go and was picked by Sydney with Pick 8 in the 1999 Preseason Draft. Russell played 16 games, but injury forced his retirement aged 29 after 198 games.



Jeremy Clayton – Originally from Warracknabeal, Clayton was rookie listed by North Melbourne in 2002. He started in Number 43 in 2003 before he made the move to Number 25 the following year. Clayton played just eight games for six goals in two years. Clayton polled the most votes for Port Melbourne in the JJ Liston Medal of 2003, but was ruled ineligible due to suspension. Clayton then played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL where he won the Magarey Medal in 2005 and was Best & Fairest for Port Adelaide from 2005-2008. Another player from Warracknabeal also wore Number 25 in South Australia was Kyle Cheney of Adelaide.



Donald McDonald – McDonald was a popular player with fans due in part to his name, however he was very handy utility able to play forward/defence or at 191cm as an undersized ruck. McDonald probably replaced another ‘Mac’ in Stephen McCann as a tall player capable of playing anywhere. McDonald’s best year may have been 1984 when he kicked 38 goals including a bag of eight against Fitzroy. After he retired in 1992 aged 30, McDonald was made captain-coach of Werribee and led them to a premiership in his first year. McDonald was then a non-playing coach at Box Hill, they also won a premiership in 2001. McDonald was appointed caretaker at Hawthorn in 2004 after Peter Schwab resigned, he coached five games for two wins. McDonald then returned as an assistant coach at North Melbourne until 2013, he left to avoid a potential conflict of interest after his son Luke was drafted.



Josh Mellington – Mellington was drafted in 2010 from Murray Bushrangers and played two games in 2011. In 2012 Mellington played the first three games and kicked three goals against Geelong in Round 1. After just one game in 2013 Mellington was delisted. He later played in a WAFL premiership for West Perth. Mellington made the news most recently in 2021 when he kicked 27 goals in a match for Violet Town against Tallygaroopna.



Len Thompson – Thompson debuted in a preliminary final loss to Essendon in 1965 aged 18. Thompson won the 1972 Brownlow Medal at Collingwood and played 265 games between 1965-1978, a career that included five Copeland Trophies and the captaincy in 1978. He was then forced out by the Pies and traded to South Melbourne. In 1979 he played 20 games, moved to Fitzroy in 1980 aged 32 and played 13 games for 19 goals, his best game netted five goals against Essendon. Thompson played in two losses for South Melbourne against Collingwood and one draw while playing for Fitzroy. Thompson finished up with 301 games and was also one of the first players to sell their Brownlow Medal, he parted with his in 1997 for $75,000.



Forgotten Number 25s are Bryan Beinke (Adel), Wayde Mills (Bris), Sam Smart (Carl), Stuart Mangin (Coll), Leigh Brockman (Geel), Luke Norman (Melb), Jason Daniltchenko and David Bourke (NM), Angus Graham (Rich), Andrew Cross (St.K), David Willis (Syd) and Craig Somerville (Foots)




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  1. Damn I love these!

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Scott Lucas is one of the greats of the Pomborneit western suburbs. Indeed, 15 year old me was playing for Pomborneit Gold that day. The highs and lows of sport, drafted one day, a duck the next! Expect one of those players under the management auspices of S.Lucas to line up very regularly for the Pomborneit CC from this week onwards in 2021/22.

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