SANFL Draft Dodgers – 1981: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

The VFL, in its self-appointed guise as the premier footy competition in the land, instituted its first draft at the end of the 1981 season.

The twelve clubs each nominated two players from outside of the VFL, tieing these players to the club that nominated them if they chose to move to the VFL within the next three seasons.

This draft, along with its companion in 1982, seems to have been wiped from the official records of the AFL, which stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that there was any draft before 1986.

You don’t vote for kings and neither did you, as a player, nominate for the 1981 draft. This farcical athletic ceremony wasn’t particularly relevant to the SANFL masses. With no mandate from the NFL,  Australian footy’s supreme executive power, only three players went to their appointed Victorian club. Some waited a bit and joined other VFL clubs, one went elsewhere, many went nowhere at all.


Neil Craig-Sturt (Footscray – Pick 2) – STAYED

At the time of drafting, skilful rover-centreman Craig had had two seasons at Sturt under his belt, after seven seasons and two flags at Norwood. He stayed at the Double Blues until the 1986 season, captaining them and SA during that period. Four more seasons at the Roosters rounded out his 321 game/220 goal SANFL career.

Craig avoided the VFL as a player, preferring to build his profile and expertise as one of Australia’s premier sports science exponents. He carved out a significant AFL career as the Crows’ phys-edder, then became their longest serving coach and (for some reason) was highly sought by Melbourne, Essendon and Carlton after that.


Mark Naley-South Adelaide (Sydney – Pick 4) – WENT LATER

The Panthers lacked star power in the early 80’s and the lightly built young two-sided rover was one of South Adelaide’s more noticeable players. Naley quickly established himself as a State of Origin regular (16 games for SA), with his 1986 and 1987 All-Australian selections and 1987 Tassie Medal stamping him as player of the highest calibre. He also took out South’s Knuckey Cup in 1984.

Sydney’s overtures were ignored by Naley. Carlton gained his services through non-draft avenues in time for its 1987 premiership season, when he shared the field with fellow Croweaters Stephen Kernahan and Craig Bradley. Nagging injuries during 1990 saw Naley return to Panther Park, winning the 1991 Magarey Medal. His record of 236 games/231 goals with the Panthers and 65 games/74 goals for the Victorian navy-and-whites ensured his place as an initial inductee into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Naley’s current battle with brain cancer has been met with the same determination that he showed on the footy field.

Peter Hofner-Port Adelaide (Richmond – Pick 6) – STAYED

Hofner was a close-checking and occasionally flashy half back flanker who played in three Magpie flags in his first five seasons. Rather than looking eastwards, he went the other way, moving to East Fremantle in 1983. After Hofner’s three games for Old Easts, he was leased to East Perth, where he only added a solitary game.

Hofner did not add to his Port Adelaide tally of 94 games/22 goals upon returning to SA in 1985.  


Tony McGuinness-Glenelg (Geelong – Pick 10) – WENT LATER

McGuinness had just finished his first season at the Bay when Geelong nominated him as their first draft choice. He stayed put in 1982, winning the Magarey Medal, but playing in back-to-back Grand Final drubbings as a result. (One story has it that Geelong gave McGuinness a brand new green Camira with a cash-filled glove box. Billy Brownless was said to have been the ultimate recipient of said vehicle, but not the cash).

Three more years at Glenelg had the sharp left-footer available after the Bays’ 1985 flag. Footscray signed him up and he was one of their leading lights in his five seasons as a Bulldog.

He added a Crows B&F to his Footscray B&F during his five seasons as the Adelaide first rover. The three-time All Australian has kept a low profile over recent years.


Danny Hughes-Port Adelaide (Melbourne – Pick 13) – WENT

Hughes was a rookie Magpie defender when nominated by the Dees, having just come off a flag-winning season. After two more seasons in black and white, Hughes moved to Melbourne, whose hold on him had not yet expired.

As a full back, he blossomed into one of their more consistent performers, his six seasons reaping him a B&F while holding down a regular SA State of Origin spot. He was an All Australian in 1988 and was Melbourne V-C in 1988-89.

His return to the Adelaide as a foundation selection in 1991 brought mixed fortune, only gaining selection in a few games that season, finishing his career at SANFL level at Alberton from 1991 to 1993.


Trevor Clisby-North Adelaide (Footscray – Pick 14) – STAYED

Clisby was a sometimes rugged, sometimes dashing, but always consistent Rooster key position player throughout its 80’s prime. The appeal of the VFL was not for him as his record at Prospect of 279 games (plus one State game) for two premierships would attest.

Although Clisby was named on the Adelaide 1991 list, he was never selected for them in what proved to be his final year of senior footy. Former Melbourne player Mitch Clisby is his nephew. 


Geoff Linke-South Adelaide (St Kilda – Pick 15) – WENT

After 110 games and 268 goals for South Adelaide, the high leaping civil engineer Linke reciprocated St Kilda’s interest. He played in their losses in Rounds 2 and 3 of 1982, kicking three goals from his eight kicks. A knee injury stopped his season abruptly and he was ruthlessly cut from the Saints list at year’s end.

Linke then went to Sandringham in the VFA, where he proceeded to do the ACL in his good knee. However his business career in the infrastructure/engineering world boomed and he remains a prominent figure in that arena. (Thanks to Keiran Croker for some of these tidbits. Keiran assures me that Geoff is a “cracking bloke”).

Phil Brooksby-South Adelaide (Sydney – Pick 16) – STAYED

In a trajectory remarkably similar to Clisby’s, Phil Brooksby shunned Sydney’s interest and provided stout service to the Panthers over his twelve seasons and 278 games (plus one State game), rarely venturing far from the defensive goal square.

At the other end of the player movement spectrum, his son Keegan was rookie listed twice by the Gold Coast and was a pre-season supplementary choice at both West Coast in 2019 and Hawthorn in 2020.

Tom Warhurst-Norwood (North Melbourne – Pick 17) – STAYED

Tom Warhurst Jr was nominated by North Melbourne despite having only played once for the Redlegs. Starting as a forward, his versatility was demonstrated over 246 games at the Parade from 1981 to 1991. He was rewarded with premierships in 1982 and 1984, forming an important role in Norwood’s imposing defensive unit. 

After representing SA three times, his career was capped off with an appearance in Adelaide’s historic victory against Hawthorn in Round 1, 1991. A knee injury against Carlton at home the following week brought Warhurst’s senior career to a sudden and premature close.

David Tiller-North Adelaide (Richmond – Pick 18) – STAYED

An exponent of the raking left foot kick from his customary half back flank, Port Pirie’s David Tiller had already played five seasons in the red and white when Richmond called out his name.

Deciding not to take the Punt Road option, Tiller amassed some weighty credits at Prospect, including two B&Fs, three years as captain and a member of the much vaunted 1987 flag side. His numbers, 290 games and 161 goals reinforce his position as one of North’s greats of the 80s.

Tiller then passed on his considerable experience during two decades of under-age coaching for the Roosters. He is a deserved member of the NAFC Hall of Fame.

John Platten-Central District (Hawthorn – Pick 19) – WENT LATER

How Centrals’ greatest ever player slipped as far down this list as he did says much about the scattergun nature of this draft. Platten burst onto the SANFL scene in spectacular fashion in the early rounds of 1981. His fearless attack on the ball both in the air and on the ground had Bulldog fans in rapture throughout his five seasons at the Ponderosa (In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve followed Centrals for over fifty years).

Platten kept both Hawthorn and then Carlton at bay until the 1985 season was over, cementing his place amongst SA’s three pronged roving contingent (McGuinness and Naley were the others). His 1984 Magarey Medal seemed like a routine matter to the kid from a big Elizabeth Grove Catholic family.

He was an instant hit at Hawthorn, adding a poultice of premierships, a Brownlow Medal and several All-Australian blazers to his superb accomplishments.

Stephen Copping-Glenelg (Essendon – Pick 20) – WENT

After eight years at the Tigers, Copping took up the offer from Windy Hill. His penchant for playing well above his height saw him maintain his 2+ goals per game record in the VFL.

He returned to the Bays for 1985 and 1986, playing in the latter’s flag side. His career numbers were Glenelg 246 games/460 goals, Essendon 42 games/88 goals with 7 games for SA.

Copping’s post-footy career as an entrepreneur and mentor has seen him “paying it forward” for over thirty five years.

Chris McDermott-Glenelg (Fitzroy – Pick 21) – STAYED

A staunch Glenelgian, McDermott’s loyalty throughout the 80’s was in contrast to others such as Kernahan (x2), McGuinness and Copping who all eventually crossed to the VFL.

The eight-time SA captain played his heart out during this era, collecting two flags, three B&Fs plus two  All Australians.

His rugged and determined style stamped him as the obvious first captain of the Crows. which was evident from his game one clash with Dermott Brereton. His four seasons as Adelaide skipper were highlighted by his 1992 B&F and All Australian selection, before tailing off during the next two seasons.

McDermott was appointed North Adelaide’s captain-coach in 1997, playing ten games, then continuing as coach at Prospect for three more seasons. His final playing record was Glenelg 276 games/184 goals, Adelaide 117 games/25 goals, North Adelaide 10 games and South Australia 14 games. A true SA Great.

Greg McAdam-North Adelaide (Geelong – Pick 22) – WENT LATER

The Roosters’ mercurial forward was one of their stand-out players during their late 70s SANFL decline. He had an on again/off again relationship with the VFL. Having previously signed with North Melbourne a the end of 1980, he stayed for only a few weeks before returning to Prospect. In 1984, he gave the Cats a brief go, before again returning without playing.

St Kilda eventually obtained McAdam’s services in 1985. He finished at North Adelaide with 110 games and 153 goals, having also gained SA selection four times and club B&F in 1980.

McAdam’s half a season to Moorabbin (10 games, 13 goals) in 1985 was curiously rewarded with a coveted spot on the Scanlen’s Footy Card roster in 1986. In a familiar tale, it was a knee injury that curtailed his career, although he played several games with brother Gilbert at Central District in 1989.

Returning to Alice Springs, Greg McAdam coached South Alice Springs for around a decade, as well as becoming a prominent artist.

Chris Veide-Glenelg (Carlton – Pick 24) – STAYED

Carlton nominated Veide, a 196cm ruckman from Port Noarlunga, whose 11 games and 7 goals in his debut season for the Tigers was enough to pique their interest. After being selected in the 1981 Grand Final twenty, ten more games in the next two seasons was all that Veide racked up at Brighton Road.

Veide was named as CHB in the Port Noarlunga Team of the Century (Ryan Fitzgerald was CHF)


Despite its lack of success, the VFL persisted with a similar draft in 1982. Stay tuned.

If you want to know more about the history of the VFL/AFL drafts, is the only place to go.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Dr Rocket says

    Great piece. Very interesting.

    The VFL/AFL likes to write its own history….

  2. A golden generation. Thanks Swish. Funny how some players linger in the memory, while others are peripheral (or vacant) memories. The great and the good. Hafner and Linke had disappeared but the others all linger to some degree.
    The VFL/AFL’s arrogance knows no bound. Divine right of kings.
    As the future viability of an 18 team comp teeters I sit at home sticking pins in my voodoo dolls. Sorry Smokie (and Demons fans – wish I could remember their names).

  3. we await 1982

  4. Really loved this, Swish. Cheers

  5. John Butler says

    Nothing a SANFL fan loves more than potting the Evil Empire. :)

    But this was a real education, Swish. If I ever knew anything of this draft, I had completely forgotten it. Carlton was too busy winning flags (back then).

    Mark Naley played some terrific games for the Blues. I’m very sorry to hear of his current predicament.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks all. I stumbled on this topic after purchasing a late 80s VFL year book. Even then, there were still conscientious objectors. I was surprised at the surprise of others who couldn’t fathom that there were players who didn’t take up the opportunity to play in the VFL. Or maybe I wasn’t surprised, if you get my drift.

  7. matt watson says

    Very interesting Swish.
    I didn’t know about this draft.
    I used to watch the state of origin games with interest, wondering who would be next to cross the border!

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic Swish. Do you have the info on who Collingwood selected in this “draft”?

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Chris Carpenter – 0 games
    Scott Knight – 5 games/2 goals

    Here’s the rabbit hole Luke

  10. Great work Swish.

    Always liked how Danny Hughes went about it. Any word on his whereabouts? Freddie McGuinness was pencilled in to coach Morphy Park but I guess they’re self-isolating. Fred knows a bit about this.

  11. Hi Mark. I was reading one of your old articles and stumbled on an old crows corduroy hat which you said you can’t bring yourself to throw out. If you still had this hat I would be very keen to buy it off you and to add that to the hat collection :)

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Sorry Johnny, it’s not for sale

  13. Tim Kenneally says

    Platten at pick 19 is hard to fathom. He and Naley were perhaps the best 2 rovers the state’s produced in the past 40 years.

  14. Craig Woodward says

    That’s a great read! I had forgotten it ever happened, that’s if I knew of it in the first place. I’d love to read the 1982 piece as well.

  15. Rulebook says

    Mark Naley is having the biggest battle of his life at the moment our thoughts and best wishes big time !

  16. Great work Swish, I never knew why McDermott was tied to Fitzroy or McGuiness to Geelong but remember seeing him park his car at Marion Shopping Centre. Surprised to see Craig Bradley, Michael Aisha and Stephen Kernahan overlooked. Sorry to hear about Mark Naley, he was a brilliant player.

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