September Specialists

Admittedly, this is a somewhat subjective team as I could only select from the eras I’ve watched footy, mid 1970s onward.


The easiest thing to do would be to choose a selection of Norm Smith Medalists, but that would take away from those like Garry Wilson, Chris Grant, Michael Barlow and Jim Stynes, who played a number of memorable finals for Fitzroy, Western Bulldogs, Freo and Melbourne without tasting the ultimate success.


I’ve tried to get an even representation across all VFL/AFL clubs for balance and fairness, hence the omission of some big names from Hawthorn, Sydney,Brisbane and Geelong. Players selected were also put in their most influential positions on the field, with the exception of Lenny Hayes perhaps, who was not really a winger.



So what do you think Knackers and Knackerettes? Who would you include in your team of September Specialists?



Remember the Almanac’s  Wool Teams?

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Shane Ellen

  2. Gary Ayres would have to get a guernsey in the back pocket. Schimma on the wing, Jezza on the half forward flank and Gazza (Sn.) anywhere up forward.

  3. Long bombs to Snake.

    You set yourself a tricky task Phil.

    Pretty good crack at it.

    Bartel for Barlow.

  4. Phil ‘Snake’ Baker … and no Luke Hodge?

  5. Earl O'Neill says

    Ablett the elder in place of Didak, Josh Kennedy in place of Barlow, otherwise hard to argue with.

  6. Shane John Backx says

    Bit top heavy with players from the 90s and noughties.

  7. I would nominate crosswell, jezza, Kb, hart, brereton and David mckay

  8. Nice work, Phil. It pains me to say it, but the name Darren Jarman springs to mind as a notable omission. Other names from the top of my head: Clark Keating, Brian Lake, Billy Picken (and son Liam based on last year!), Wayne Carey and Peter Matera and one K Bartlett.

  9. Phil while I agree you have done a good job overall I am more than surprised re Chris Grant and Jim Stynes for mine Hodge and Darren Jarman are in ( Ayres also but understand you were trying to share it around ) thank you

  10. Shane John Backx says

    Crosswell is the greatest finals player I have ever seen.

  11. Yes crosswell was brilliant , his goal in the 1975 grand final in the first quarter, set the tone for the whole game for north Melbourne

  12. steve todorovic says

    Phil, sorry to be critical, but when you go public with a topic like this, you just have to do your homework and have some level of objectivity. Not sure if you were simply fishing for responses but given how ordinary the team is, you hooked me. Alan Didak…does he have something over you? Let’s compare the relative merits of Didak v Gary Ablett snr for the half forward spot. Didak played 16 finals for 12 goals. Ablett played the same number of finals, 16, for a lazy 64 goals…27 in the ’89 finals series. Hard to argue that one in Didak’s favour. Haven’t got enough time to discuss all the others. But perhaps just a couple more…I loved Garry Wilson, a great rover. But he played only 7 finals matches and not one grand final. To have him in the team of best finals players of the last 40 years is a massive stretch…in fact, it just isn’t relevant. Matthews to first rover and play Royce Hart ( 41 goals, 19 finals, 5 grand finals and 4 premierships …all at centre half forward) alongside Dunstall in the pocket. Perhaps the most perplexing, apart from Didak, was your inclusion of Michael Barlow…a good ordinary player who played in 9 finals and 1 grand final, with limited effect. I’m not sure how you could possibly rationalize his selection at the expense of Jezza or Hodge or Ayres or Francis Bourke. Toss out Pickett, Stynes and Grant ( neither of who played in a single GF) to make way for them. Brave idea but the execution left a lot to be desired. If however, your objective was to get a response, congratulations on your success.

  13. Stevie J?

    Definitely not L. Franklin!!

  14. Cat from the Country says

    Jimmy Bartel. So many winning goals around the final siren.
    Steve Johnson after last night’s demolition of the Weagles

  15. Shane John Backx says

    Tiger Crosswell played in 6 GFs and was either bog or near bog in 5 of them. Not to mention all his other finals. In his own words” Give me a 100,000 at the MCG and I was Superman. 20,000 at the Western Oval and I wasnt worth a cracker.” Dipper was another tremendous finals performer.

  16. Don’t forget Ross Brewer. The Lion and Cat destroyer.

  17. The fact that Phil has has a zillion responses to his team, means that his article has succeeded I think. But Didak?

  18. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Come on folks, I’ve chosen Bruce Doull as my poster boy for this piece and included Wayne Johnston, though they brought me misery in 1979 and 81 !!
    It would be too easy to name the ‘best’ and stack the team with Hodge, Crosswell, Gary Ablett Snr (Who under-performed in 92,94-95 GF’s, Bartel and D.Jarman (who MacLeod fed magnificently in 97-98)
    I chose Didak (the only Collingwood player) because he played in 21 finals and was the most influential Magpie, not so much for the goals he kicked, but the plays he set up for others to finish.
    As prefaced, I can only go by what I have seen and that’s why Jezza, Hart, Francis Bourke didn’t get a spot. Barassi is arguably the best finals player in history, but that was before my time.

    Freo, Melbourne and Fitzroy were tough but Jimmy Stynes rose from the horrors of the 87 Prelim to be Melbourne’s most consistent finals performer in the following decade. Barlow over Pavlich? Yes, because Pav didn’t exert enough influence in finals in relation to his talent. John Worsfold was another I considered, but that would mean 3 WCE representatives. Garry Wilson was Fitzory’s premier player in 79,81 and 83 finals. Roys should have at least made the GF in 1983. Stevie J would be first emergency after last night’s effort !! Appreciate the responses. Cheers

  19. LB,
    As has been pointed out above, Brent “Tiger” Crosswell is a glaring omission. And yes, it is difficult for me to remain objective on the subject of Crossa.
    Best on ground in the 1970 gf, best on ground in the 1975 gf; i 1977, he was moved from the forward line to the back line to quell Peter Moore, and the the sight of Tiger jogging down the ground – chest puffed out – is one I will never forget.
    A great thought-provoker, Phil. Cheers.

  20. One name: Clarke Keating. Painful Phil, I know.

  21. Luke Reynolds says

    Tough gig picking a team like this, you’ve done pretty well Phil. Agree with the other commenters regarding Clark Keating.
    Glen Archer would be another name I’d put forward.
    Peter Matera and Andrew McLeod would be first picked in my team, extraordinary finals players, so influential to results, so brilliant to watch.
    Would love to see your best Collingwood September/October Specialists.

  22. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers Smokie, ‘Tiger’ would be one of the first picked on the back of GF performances, but how did he play in minor finals that helped Carlton and North get there?

    Adam, Thanks for reminding me mate !! Poor Steve McKee. Simon Black and Aker weren’t far away either.

    Luke, definitely thought of Archer, but felt Pickett and Wanganeen doing it at two clubs just shaded him. A Collingwood team of September duds would be easier to pick than a team of specialists. So many choices !! Cheers

  23. Shane John Backx says

    Crosswell was just as good in the other finals he played too Phil. A magnificent big game performer full stop.

  24. Alan Didak????

  25. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Fair enough Shane, I’ll take your word for it.
    Dips, Didak almost helped pinch the 2007 Prelim. Almost !!

  26. Yep, Mr B Croswell, is a stand out.

    Phil, yes his other September performances were maybe not ats highly rated as those on the last Saturday of September, but leave him out at your own peril. Are you having negative flashbacks of some of his Grand Final performances V the Carringbush, to not include him ?


  27. Phil – and he couldn’t get a kick in 2011.

    Plenty ahead of him. Gary Ablett kicked 9 in a grand final and Didak gets a guernsey? Crosswell must play, and get Snake Baker on the bench!!

  28. Shane John Backx says

    Have to admit I really stopped watching in 93 when I moved to Queensland and being a non national league fan rarely took any notice of interstate teams and players. I only rate players I saw live and not from tv. But from 1972 when I went to my first finals series, standing room in the old Southern stand until 93 I missed only the 73, 78 and 83 GFs as well as going to over 70 other finals. Flew back for the 94 98 and 99 GFs as an AFL member before finally giving up the ghost. Havent been to any game since.

  29. I think Gigs mentioned him – Billy Picken, who played in a lot of finals and a bunch of grand finals and would have been in Collingwood’s top couple players in nearly every one of them.

    Nice trolling with Dids, Phil. Why not? The AFL trolls Pie fans every time they pick a Team of the Whatever!

  30. Impressive list, Phil. I might be showing my age here, but I feel that Darren Jarman and/or Stevie J need to be slotted into this team. I agree that Simon Black and/or Aker are stiff to miss out.
    Luke, I couldn’t agree more about Andrew McLeod. He led the way for the Crows during the 90s prime. Let’s not think about ’98.

  31. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Unlike Snr, Didak played in a premiership team and was influential. Give me break man, it was hard enough to find any consistent Magpie performers !! How about if I slotted Bobby Davis on the Half-forward flank?
    Collingwood have played over 50 finals since 1977 and I can only think of Picken and Didak who could challenge for a spot. Sad indictment on the club, that.
    Jarman didn’t stand out as much at Hawthorn. 97-98 brilliant. Stevie J could ruin Richmond’s dreams next weekend if he has a night out. Very close to being selected

  32. Colin Ritchie says

    Leon Baker from Essendon played some cracking finals matches, and what about Billy Barrot bursting out of the centre of the MCG driving the ball forward so many times in countless finals. Michael Long played a corker or two also. Yes, also saw Brent Crosswell play some crackers.

  33. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Glen !
    Might be onto something about those GF performances, although you can see Bruce Doull in the picture The ‘Dominator’ and Kevin Bartlett who also wreaked havoc with my pre-pubescent psyche between 1979-81 !!
    Leon Baker a fine nomination. His 1984 GF was something to behold. Michael Long was superb in 1993. Up and down in others

  34. Some extra ones I just thought of, Josh Gibson, a ripper finals player for the hawks, Jimmy Bartel another ripper player for the cats, The great John Nicholls, what a presence and Sergio Silvagni, a dynamo in the late 60s and early 70s for the blues.

  35. steve todorovic says

    Stevie J has been a very fine player and particularly so in finals, but please don’t insult the Almanac’s footy savvy contributors with any rave comments about his performance last Saturday night at Spotless v the Eagles. Was notable by his almost total absence in the first half and was then spoon fed goals by teammates playing an opposition that had as much chance of putting up a decent challenge as the ALP in Northern Queensland in the glory days of Joh and Gough! Will be lucky to get 6 kicks v the Tigers, let alone 6 goals.

  36. Mike Green

  37. Mike Green, goodness there’s a blast from the past. He skipped the 1972 defeat, being one of a handful to play in all four Tigers flags.

    He took on some talented opponents in those four finals series, Nicholls, Farmer and Thompson amongst them, not lowering his colours.

    I noticed Dips mentioned God’s 9 goals in the 1989 grand final. In the next three grand finals he played he managed a total of 4 goals. He had great final series in 1989; sadly his other finals series were not on the same level.

    Ted Hopkins was a September specialist, albeit for half a game.


  38. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Ian Robinson could be the umpire

    P Dangerfield did ok in the half-time sprint, he’ll get another chance this year.

  39. Grant Fraser says

    Clarke Keating – The Lawnmower…only comes out in spring

    And of course L Hodge. Mr September, The General…off one step, with bung kidneys, intercepting the kick in to goal after delivering a 40 metre handball.

  40. Hodge a definite and I would have gone Mal Michael before Scarlett (or even Kelvin Moore).

    But appreciate the difficulty of the task and trying to “make a picture and get them all to fit”.


  41. You missed a couple of walk up starts…”Buddha” Hocking and “Mr September” Brad Ottens

  42. Keiran Croker says

    Phil, No Swans players at all? Two Cups in the last 12 years and continuous finals appearances over nearly 20 years or so, so I reckon some of them could play finals. Our dual premiership players in this era are Goodes, O’Keeffe, J.Bolton and Lewis Roberts Thomson. Goodes was consistently brilliant and one of our better players in the 2014 horror GF. LRT and Rhino were handy finals players too. Add in Joey Kennedy for his efforts over 7 seasons as well.

    Re Buddy, I think you need to look at his whole career across The Hawks and Swans. He is the 5th highest goal scorer in finals I think. He was far from our worst player in both 2014 and 2016 GFs and has played a number of brilliant finals in recent times.

  43. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Josh Gibson is very stiff to miss out, often battled and beat much taller opposition.
    Swish – Yes, who would be the umpires or the coach for that matter. I’d go with Kevin Smith, Ian Robinson (for the perm) and Glenn James.
    Coach – Kevin Sheedy
    Rick – Mal Michael an excellent suggestion. Prefer Gary Ayres or Chris Langford to Kelvin Moore. Chris Mew was pretty handing also. Jeez, may as well have picked a team of Hawthorn champions !!
    Grant, Hodge could replace Burgoyne maybe?
    Buddha was alright and yes, Ottens destroyed us in 2007 PF and 2011 GF. Great suggestion.

    Keiran and all Swans fans – My sincerest apologies !! Take out Michael Barlow and definitely replace him with Goodsey. Bad oversight on my behalf.

    Harry Collier anyone ??

  44. Not V/AFL Phil (and happy birthday btw) but Sturt had a player in the ’60s named Malcolm Hill who was literally a September Specialist. He lived in the Riverland but they would bring him down for the finals. Played 40 games and won 3 premierships in his SANFL career.

  45. Sheeds and Royce. massive!

  46. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for the wishes Dave. Always keep VFL centric me honest. Team of SANFL specialists might be a goer.
    Sheeds would be my choice as coach. If I’d seen Royce play…

  47. Corker no win idea, mate! Good on ya!

    Tiger, in? Hell, I’d make him captain! Not Carey. He would SMASH home and away, but had little impact in his two GFs. Hart over him anytime! Hodge, Ayres, in. Barrott, Keating. Stevie J over Didak.

    Nice one mate!

  48. Shane John Backx says

    A team for each decade mightve been easier. Then you could fit most players in

  49. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Matt,
    Thought Carey was influential in 1996, less so in 1998-99. Played a number of cracking finals to get the Roos there. Ayres a good call and Hodge. Bloody Hawthorn. May as well pick a team of their best !!

    Shane – too easy mate. Where’s the fun in that?

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