Oldest surviving footballers (and can you help?)

Time is a fickle thing – once great soaring and reckless bodies are diminished over time into brittle vessels for memories. Footballers of yesteryear, so deified in bronze and lore alike, age just like the rest of us mortals.



Many of us involved with The Footy Almanac and plenty who follow Australian Football in general look to the past with fondness, foreign country though it may be. Champions were forged there and so were the backbones of many famous victories, the spines to the paperbacks of ripping footy yarns everywhere.



Sadly, either through lack of want or means, the stories of some of our earliest footballers haven’t been retained in the various archives, datasets or “almanacs” of the footy world. We owe it to the game we cherish and those who lay the foundations for where we are today to prevent this from happening ever again. Through a lot of hard work from passionate individuals (none more so than noted VFL/AFL historian/statistician, Col Hutchinson), efforts are being made to do just that, by searching high and low for the oldest living footballers.



For our part, The Almanac will be sharing stories and stats – be they comprehensive or patchy – on some of the remaining pioneers of footy in decades long past. We hope it spurs conversation and perhaps further opportunities to discover missing pieces while time is still on our side.



Thanks to Col, below is a partial list of past players (from the men’s VFL) who are or could be the oldest surviving. We’d love to be able to update the list with more information as it comes to hand; Almanackers, if you know any of these players or perhaps others who may have been overlooked, then please let us know, either in the comments or in an email to one of the editors if you’d prefer. Who knows? You might even write a story about them.



Also, it would be great to hear about some of the oldest surviving women footballers – obviously the recorded history of women’s football is more sporadic than what we have to hand for the men, so even a small amount of information could go a long way.



List of 15 oldest surviving players (as of 2018):



  • Keith Rae (born 30/07/1917) played for Carlton (1939, 1943) and Richmond (1946)


  • Bob Sayers (born 26/10/1917) played for Fitzroy (1938-39)


  • Jim H. Miller (born 30/05/1919) played for Footscray (1938-41, 1943-48)


  • Ron Howell (born 14/11/1919) played for North Melbourne (1941-42)


  • Don Benson (born 09/04/1920) played for Richmond (1945)


  • Bob Dawson (born 03/01/1921) played for St Kilda (1941)


  • Alex Mathieson (born 11/05/1921) played for Geelong (1944)


  • Keith McNaughton (born 20/08/1921) played for South Melbourne (1940)


  • Gerald Tanner (born 24/08/1921) played for Richmond (1941)


  • Tom J. McMahon (born 11/09/1921) played for Footscray (1943)


  • Bob McIntosh (born 17/10/1921) played for St Kilda (1945-46)


  • Kevin Hevey (born  30/04/1923) played for Hawthorn (1946-47)


  • Bob Aubrey (born 14/11/1921) played for St Kilda (1945)


  • Jack M. Fisher (born 22/01/1922) played for Hawthorn (1947)


  • Harold L. Lambert (born  16/05/1922) played for Essendon (1940-41, 1946-51)



As mentioned, this is a partial list: details of games played and goals kicked for these players are known and there are also several players born around the same time that Col has been unable to ascertain their status with certainty. The full list will be made available in another post.



This is a big undertaking, one that would benefit from more hands making the work lighter. We look forward to hearing from you.



Find the complete list here.



Email: [email protected]






  1. Shane Backx says

    What about from the clubs not mentioned?

  2. Richard Jones says

    HE didn’t play VFL/AFL footy but former Eaglehawk player/coach Albert ‘Wicky’ Toma will turn 102 in August.

    Wicky was part of three Eaglehawk premiership teams in the Bendigo footy league, the first in 1935 (when he was just 19), and the final one in 1946 when he was the captain-coach.

    A back problem forced him to give up playing so he took up the whistle and umpired in central and northern Victorian footy from 1948 to 1958.

    He’s still as smart and alert as ever and when I interviewed him for the 2016 grand final edition of the Bendigo league ‘Record’ he mentioned being a non-drinker had probably ensured he had a long life.

    Harold had turned 100 in August 2016 and had the obligatory letter from the Queen on his mantlepiece.

    “We’d come back by bus — sometimes by train — from away games in Echuca and Rochester,” Mr Toma recalled.

    “When the boys were breaking out the “long necks” a couple of other teammates and I would enjoy a cup of team from a thermos.”

    Wicky is a legend in the Eaglehawk area. Not surprisingly his son was also known as ‘Wicky’ when he played for Eaglehawk in more recent times.

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