Sheldon, Diesel leaders of 1997 BFL All Stars

by Richard Jones

NOW that the 2010 BFL Hall of Fame and Team of the Decade concepts are up and running, it’s perhaps timely to look back at an All Stars function held 13 years ago.

In October, 1997, the VFL-aligned Bendigo Diggers Football Club hosted an evening in which 23 top players from Bendigo’s VCFL region for 1972-1997 were honoured.

Former St Kilda coach Ken Sheldon was installed as playing coach during the course of the dinner. Dual Brownlow Medallist Greg ‘Diesel’ Williams was named as the centreman and captain.

No fewer than 18 of the 23 named had Carlton connections. Not surprising I suppose when it’s remembered that Bendigo, and its VCFL zone, was the Blues’ conduit for decades.

Sheldon hailed originally from Mitiamo and All Stars half-forward/rover Jimmy Buckley was a Kyneton boy.

Frank Coghlan had Bridgewater roots, despite his affiliation with BFL club Sandhurst. Wingman Peter Francis had Heathcote ties.

And ruckman Warren ‘Wow’ Jones played for Castlemaine before heading to Melbourne to further his career.

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THE final team makes interesting reading with quite a few selections still to hang up the boots on their AFL careers.

Carlton defenders Peter Dean and Michael Sexton were still playing while Leigh Colbert was to switch from Geelong to North Melbourne where he racked up another 104 games.

Interchange man Peter Rohde had moved from Princes Park to the MCG to continue his career with Melbourne. His coaching career with Norwood in the SANFL and the Western Bulldogs in the AFL (from 2002-2004) was still to come.

Rohde is now football operations manager at Port Adelaide.

And wingman Wayne Campbell who had contributed just 140 games to Richmond in 1997 when the All Stars were listed was to close in on the magic 300 mark with the Tigers.

Campbell finished on 297 games (172 goals) with the Tiges. He was Richmond captain from 2001-2004.

The 1997 Bendigo All Stars team in positions was:-

B: Des English (Carlton, 104 games); Geoff Southby (Carlton, 268); Peter Dean (Carlton, 235).

Hb: Ray Byrne (Carlton, Collingwood, Geelong 219 games); Michael Sexton (Carlton, 148); Peter McConville (Carlton, St Kilda 194 games).

Centres: Wayne Campbell (Richmond 140 games); Greg Williams (Geelong, Sydney, Carlton) 250) — captain; Peter Francis (Carlton, Fitzroy, Richmond, Essendon 158).

Hf: Jimmy Buckley (Carlton 164 games); Kevin Higgins (Geelong, Fitzroy 153); Leigh Colbert (Geelong 85).

F: Bruce Reid (Footscray, Carlton 119); Greg Kennedy (Carlton (48 games); Ken Sheldon (Carlton, St Kilda 185 games) – coach.

Foll: Warren Jones (Carlton, St Kilda 123 games); Trevor Keogh (Carlton 208); Rod Ashman (Carlton 236).

Inter: Kevin Sheehan (Geelong 102 games); Tony Southcombe (Carlton 13 games); Peter Rohde (Carlton, Melbourne 100 games); Brian Walsh (Carlton, Essendon 113) and Frank Coghlan (St Kilda 97 games).

AS mentioned above a number of these footballers had not hung up their boots in 1997 when the All Stars were named, and honoured.

Peter Dean played on until the end of 1998 when he retired at the age of 33. He had 248 games to his name by then.

His Blues teammate Michael Sexton was still on the Princes Park list until 2000. He finished on exactly 200 games with just 23 majors to his name.

Leigh Colbert was to switch from Geelong to North Melbourne and ended with 209 games, (64 goals), to his credit: 105 with Geelong, 104 with the Kangaroos. His career lasted until the end of 2005.

Wayne Campbells’ feat in closing in on close to 300 games is mentioned above. Like Colbert, his career also ended in 2005.

Peter Rohde played 162 games, 28 goals, with Carlton and Melbourne. And then his coaching career kicked in as listed earlier.

Frank Coghlan played another 12 games for the Saints after this team was announced, finishing with 109 (64 goals).

It’s interesting to look back on Peter McConville’s career which wound up in 1989. He booted 189 goals all up in 190 matches: 140 at Carlton, 54 at St Kilda.

The All Stars selectors decision to name Ken Sheldon as the coach hinged on his senior experience at St Kilda.

BACK to the subject of the BFL Hall of Fame inductees.

The first group, inducted in September 1986, included: Graham Arthur (Sandhurst, Echuca); Ron Best (Golden Square, Sandhurst, Northern United); Wally Culpitt (Kyneton, Castlemaine); Kevin Curran (Sandhurst); Eddie Esposito (Eaglehawk); Reg Ford (Golden Square, Sandhurst); George Ilsley (Eaglehawk); Bob McCaskill (Sandhurst); Alan Martin (Golden Square, South Bendigo); Peter Moroni (Golden Square).

Alf Odgers (Sandhurst); George Ogilvie (Echuca, Rochester); Clive Philp (Kyneton); Peter Pianto (Eaglehawk); Colin Rice (South Bendigo); Tony Southcombe (Golden Square, Northern United); Fred Swift (Sandhurst, Kennington); Alan Williams (Eaglehawk); Greg Williams (Golden Square) and Herb Zegelin (Rochester).

Second set of inductions for Hall of Fame, August 1996: Bill Bonney (Golden Square); Francis Burke (South Bendigo); Frank Crapper (Eaglehawk); Brendan Hartney (Sandhurst); Jack Jefferies (Castlemaine, Eaglehawk); Trevor Keogh (Sandhurst).

Frank Lenaghan (South Bendigo, Sandhurst); Alan McDonald (South Bendigo); Harry Morgan (Eaglehawk); Garry Mountjoy (Golden Square, Northern United); Shane Muir (Kyneton); Peter Tyack (Sandhurst, Kangaroo Flat, South Bendigo).

Richard’s tips for round 15: Sandhurst, South Bendigo, Strathfieldsaye, Golden Square, Maryborough. Total for season 2010: 60.


  1. Tony Robb says

    Great Article Rich. Theres a lot to said for the old zones

  2. Great piece Rich. Could you describe the VFL Bendigo Diggers jumper for me. Thanks, Rod Oten

  3. Richard Jones says

    ROD: the Bendigo Diggers lasted a few, short years in the VFL. Ex-Freo coach Damien Drum was in charge as their mentor for one year.

    As you no doubt know Drummie’s now the National Party’s Upper House member in the state parliament for North-West Province. Also the chairman of the Bendigo Football and Netball League, a position he will relinquish after 6 years in charge at the AGM in November.

    The Diggers’ strip: gold in color with some blue. My enduring memory is of a stylised goldfields “digger” emblazoned on the chest holding a pick.
    The pick was the most significant thing in the strip, I thought.

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