Almanac Footy Teams: Those who wore Number 1

Wayne Closter


Jack Brake



The Finest Number 1s ?


All 19 VFL/AFL Teams have a representative including Jack Brake, who played 81 games for University. He appeared in the number 1 throughout their final season – 1914.


Feel free to nominate favourite number 1s from SANFL,WAFL,TFL,QFL,NSWFL to keep the Victorian-centric Knackers on our toes! VFA nominations also welcome and encouraged.


Number Ones


B:    Jack Brake (University)        Steven Silvagni (Carl)         Roger Head (StK)


HB:     Trevor Barker (StK)          Paul Roos (Fitz/Syd)         Ray Jencke (Haw)


C:          Ricky Barham (Coll)        Wayne Closter (Geel)          Greg Anderson (Adel)


HF:        Mark Harvey (Ess)         Bernie McCarthy (NthMelb)       Brett Heady (WCE)


F:          Garry Baker (Melb)          Paddy Guinane (Rich)               Hayden Ballantyne (Freo)


R:          Mark Lee (Rich)                Sergio Silvagni (Carl)                Domenic Cassisi (Pt Adel)


IC:         Jaeger O’Meara (GCS)          Phil Davis (GWS)        Andrew Purser (Foots)      Mark Mickan (Bris)


Coach: Ken Judge (Haw)





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. Good onya Phil.

    Wayne Closter, there’s a blast from the past. Good wingman , centreman of my youth. Was conscripted, spent time in Vietnam, came back with a skin rash that impeded his game, but still remained a consistent player until the mid 1970’s. Good pick.

    Bernie McCarthy from North Melbourne. His brother Shane played a handful of games at Geelong around the time Wayne Closter was there. I have the impression the McCarthy brothers were recruited from Yea. Not too many players picked up from there.


  2. Dave Brown says

    * Warning Norwood content follows *

    Plenty of great players have worn the No. 1 for the Redlegs over the years. The great Jack Oatey and son Robert who bothed captained and coached the club. Both tough midfielders. Peter Aish – father of Michael and Andrew and grandfather of James also captained the club and like his sons could and did play a variety of positions. Ron Kneebone – a Magarey Medallist key position player. Ruckman / Magarey Medallist / All Australian John Marriott. And finally, AFL Hall of Famer and three time Magarey Medallist Walter ‘Wacka’ Scott – a brilliant centre half back.

    * takes a breath *

  3. Stephen Hocking and Stephen King for Geelong.

    All those great captain-coach ruckmen in the bush in the good old days.

  4. Jennifer Muirden says

    Ripper article Phil! Barks and Silvagni for me!

  5. Not a bad line-up Phil. I’ll give you Nick Vlastuin to start a second team.

    Let me know when you get to a team of #4s and I’ll give you Royce & Dusty.

  6. PS: good to see Paddy Guinean has been remembered for something more than flattening Frankie Dimattina in the goal square at the Punt Road End.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice team Phil, but I fear for your safety when Danni Eid reads this and doesn’t find Fasy Boy in the team!

  8. Steve Hocking, Kevin Murray, Merv Neagle, Tuddy, Barry Hall, Wayne Richardson, Serge Silvagni

  9. Kevan Carroll says

    Peter Hudson (1977) …

  10. John Butler says

    Jack Brake is an outstanding get, Phil.

    He seemed to carry half the Uni side in their VFL days.

    O’Meara would seem to be lucky, The potential punt in the team?

  11. Neon Leon?

    You got me thinking: who wore no.1 for the Pies in between Barham ’86 and Monky ’90?

  12. Phil, I almost had to stop at the half back line – really no Kevin Murray? ‘Bulldog’ Murray should be captain of a best ever team of number ones.

    Likewise with Tuddy. In my view, he definitely should be there.

    Like the CHF – Bernie McCarthy. He and Mickey Dowdle (no.11) were my first idols when I started following North back in 1970.

    In my view Essendon’s nifty Neville Fields was a better centre man than Wayne Closter.

    Excellent choice and great ‘get’ of Christie Allen’s hit song “He’s My Number One” as a team theme song. I was the disc jockey at Brunswick Football Club at it’s Sunday night discoes in the early 80’s and “He’s My Number One” was a club favourite……….back in the day. Sadly Christie died at the age of 54 in 2008.

  13. That is a pretty solid team, Phil. SOS will always be the player that comes to mind for me with the number one guernsey, an absolute champion defender who battled and beat the best forwards of his generation.

  14. Glad you left out Romano Negri!!!!
    But you left out this:

  15. Stephen Easton is stiff not to get a run in this team

  16. Denis Cordner and Keith ‘ Bluey’ Truscott (#1 in 1942 only)

  17. Good call Grapevine. Iconic call. Piece of National Identity call.

    Lene Lovich too, Rabid. My playing led me into Tim Minchin & Katering Show footage. Thank Dog, I spent over an hour on them.

  18. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Glen and JTH – Does Malcolm Reed ring a bell? Helped the Pies get the double chance in 1979 with a last gasp goal against the hapless Roys who slipped to 4th.

    Dave B – Love learning about the SA greats from you. ‘Wacka’ is what I call my cat !!

    Thanks Jennifer – Jason Gram was another Sainter who wore the number with distinction. Would have won a Norm Smith in 2009 if the Saints got home, I reckon.

    Wrap – Vlaustin a good nomination. Give him a few more years and he will challenge. Paddy Guinane wore number 1 for 11 seasons. Herbert Barney was Richmond’s first number 1 from 1912 to 1921. Remember him? The Tiger King is Perc Bentley who wore the number from 1925 to 1940. He should be in the team or coach in retrospect. Special mentions to Chris Newman and John Nix who wore it from 1949 to 1956.

    Luke – Considered Fasy Boy and Leon Davis but had to get an even spread from other teams. Damian Monkhorst another stiff to miss. Collingwood used to give the number to it’s captains until Ray Shaw chose to wear his favoured 23 as skipper.

    Gerry – Serge definitely a contender, just pipped by his son as Carlton rep.

    Kevan – Peter Hudson was famous as number 26. Does he really compare to Les Kaine, Norm Goss or Bohdan Jaworskyi ??

    JB – Jake Brake also wore number 2 so he will be in contention next week, too !! Bert Hurrey did the heaviest lifting for the ‘Students’ over 101 games. O’Meara in as the only half-decent no1 at GCS.

    Damo – Leon close, but just missed out due to a spread of representation. Good question about the 86-90 gap. Answer: No one – not registered as having played a senior game.

    Paul – Yes Kevin Murray should be in the team as coach or on the back flank. He did wear number 2 for the first half of his career. Might get a chance next week. Neville Fields – if he didn’t move to South would challenge. Sadly, Christie died too young. Watching her used to give me ‘Goose Bumps’.

    Matt – SOS a standout. Another decent Roo number 1 from your era: Hamish McIntosh.

    Rabid – Great song. Onya Lene. Crows haven’t had many decent number 1s. Romano Negri crossed my mind but more of a cult player than a good footballer.

    Smokie – Stephen Easton came with great wraps, but… How about Johnny Lewis from the early days? Wore no 1 for the Shinboners between 1930 and 1935.

    Grapevine – Great nominations from the war years. Max Walker wore it between 1968-72. Stan Wittman ring any bells?

    Keep ’em coming !!

  19. Donkey Nix. How did I forget him. I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I yelled it out every time he got the ball.

  20. Ta Phil, Malcolm Reed was handy trier from the Cattery. There were a few Geelong, Fitzroy thrillers at the Cattery in that period, with the locals triumphing in all of them.

    Lene Lovich: great to see/hear, this late 70’s classic. The tall bald guitarist certainly has a presence in the film clip.


  21. Hello Phil, superb work as always.

    However – Garry Baker ahead of Andrew Purser? Hmmm

    Dogs reserved the No 1 for big men for a long period – Kenny Greenwood, John Keast, Greg Parke, Bluey and the aforementioned Purser. I think Justin Charles wore it prior to a stint in the Florida Marlins minor league organization.

    Music nomination – “Your number one fan” – Bobbie Gentry. Taken from her sixth and final studio album Patchwork (1971).

    Looking forward to your next effort.


  22. G’day Mick.

    I noticed in his team Phil mentioned Gary Baker as wearing 1 for Melbourne . Did he wear it for Footscray? I can’t recall. I know John Keast had a handful of games as numero uno @ the ‘Western Oval’, but Gary Baker , i’m not sure.


  23. Hello Glen.

    Garry Baker wore #27 during his two winter stint at the Western Oval (72-73)

    Baker’s opportunities in the ruck were limited during those two years. Unlike recent times the Dogs had plenty of tall options – Dempsey, Salmon, Round, Rippon, Quinlan. Baker was BOG in the Dogs win at Kardinia Park in May 1973. Got his chance to play that day with Dempsey away on state duty (Jezza kicked 10, Vics barely knocked off SA at the Adelaide Oval) and Barry Round was out injured.

    Baker went to Melbourne at a time when there was a lot of traffic between the two clubs – Greg Parke and John Reid came west with John Keast and Charlie Pagnoccolo joining Baker at the MCG. He was a terrific contributor in some ordinary Dee teams. Stephen Smith took over the #1 jumper when Baker went to Sydney.


  24. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hi Mic,
    It was a close call. Had to go back a long way to find Footscray number 1s. Ever heard of Jim Thoms? He wore it from 1940-46. Jared Grant from 2009-15. He picked a good time to leave didn’t he?

  25. Howdy Phil.

    Wasn’t aware that Jim Thoms was a member of the No 1’s. That’s something new I’ve learned today so thank you very much.

    Jim Thoms played district cricket for Essendon in the early 40’s prior to joining the mighty FCC when they were admitted to the VCA in 1948/49 (Player/Cap Number 15).

    Brother George was a doctor (gynaecologist) and played one test for Australia.


  26. Malcolm Ashwood says
    I rated Greg Parke highly wish he had stayed at the parade
    ( The Redlegs museum re it’s history is arguably the best in the game )

  27. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    That’s a terrific website Rulebook. Much better than the bland AFL bullshit. Didn’t realise Robbie Ahmat played for the Redlegs in the number 1 guernsey. Good stuff mate.

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Phillip yep it’s sensational even finding highlights re writing articles has been easy I have been challenged to write 1 re Grenville Dietrich and struggling to find individual highlights

  29. Yes Mic/Phil, i recall the Thoms name well. My mother worked at Western Health, nee Western General Hospital for many moons. I remember her often mentioning Dr George Thoms.



  30. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Isn’t it brilliant how these connections can be made by something so simple Mic and Glen!? Great story of the Thoms family.
    Some more olden days number 1s:
    Horrie Clover, Ken Hands, Frank Anderson – Carlton
    Harry Collier, Charlie Brown, George Anderson – Collingwood
    Jack Clarke, Alan Belcher, Ernie Coward – Essendon
    Carl Keller, Colin Benham, Teddy Buist – Fitzroy
    Allan Hopkins, John Kerr, Ken Greenwood – Footscray
    Les Armstrong, Bruce Morrison, Matt Goggin – Geelong
    Albert Naismith, Ivan McAlpine, Les Kaine – Hawthorn
    Stan Wittman, Gordon Jones, Ern Rowath – Melbourne
    Les Foote, Dick Abikhair, Keith Forbes – North Melbourne
    Ron Durham, Perc Bentley, Bert Barney – Richmond
    Harry Lever, Stuart King, Fred Pemberton – St Kilda
    Paddy Scanlan, Jack Bisset, Don Keyter – South Melbourne

  31. Love your work, Phil. If you had a hit parade of articles this week (showing my age while declaring my hand) I’d say it goes straight to No. 1! :)

    Keep ’em coming.


  32. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Ken. Doing my best to ‘Swing the Mood’

  33. Some big blokes in the side already Phil, but Peter ‘Crackers’ Keenan’s effort in going back-to-back No. 1’s at North and Essendon is worth a mention. Maybe he could secure a spot on the extended pre-season bench.

    Cheers, Burkie

  34. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Burkie, Crackers was a pretty handy ruckman who coached Damian Monkhorst (also no1) well at Collingwood and played an important role in the 1990 triumph.

    First Number 1s
    Carlton – Alick Barningham
    Collingwood – George Anderson
    Essendon – Lou Armstrong
    Fitzroy – Fred Bamford
    Geelong – Les Armstrong
    Melbourne – Bill Allen
    St Kilda – George Morrissey
    South Melbourne – Vic Belcher
    University – Ramsay Anderson

    Footscray – Con McCarthy
    North Melbourne – Arthur Pink
    Hawthorn – Jim Jackson
    Brisbane Bears – Mark Mickan
    West Coast – Wally Matera
    Adelaide – Romano Negri
    Fremantle – Scott Edwards
    Port Adelaide – Gavin Wanganeen
    GCS – Marc Lock (One game)
    GWS – Phil Davis

Leave a Comment