Almanac Teams: Number 1 sometimes in name only (1980-)


A team of more obscure/lesser known players to wear the Number 1 jumper since 1980.



Here’s my second team of players to wear the Number 1, mostly from 1980 onwards but I have made exceptions, such as Max Walker.



It is a light-hearted team, based on cult figures, forgotten/lesser known players or stats/cameos associated with them, players known for other deeds, sons, fathers & brothers and forgotten players.



My criteria, similar to my last effort, was:


  • Attempt to include one player per club.
  • Brisbane/Fitzroy are classified as one club, but I have given them preference for interchange spot or when a suitable player from any other club could not be used.
  • I have tried to create as balanced a side as possible, but this was not a priority.
  • Stats are based on their time in that number.




FB:       Jason Gram (St.K)             Richard Champion (Bris)       Max Walker (Melb)


CHB:    Marc Lock (GCS)               Robert McGhie (SM)                John Rantall (Fitz)


C:         Gary Cowton (NM)             Sam Mitchell (WCE)                Scott Edwards (Freo)


CHF:   Gary Cowmeadow (SM)     Jay Neagle (Ess)                      Nicky Winmar (WB)


FF:       Steve O’Dwyer (Rich)        Peter Hudson (Haw)               Wally Matera (WCE)


Ruck:   Romano Negri (Adel)        Greg Wells (Carl)                     Ray Huppatz (NM)



Interchange:       Gary Baker (Melb)       Peter Keenan (Ess)              Billy Nicholls (Haw)

Don Pyke (WCE)


Emergency: Stephen Easton




As for Collingwood, GWS or Port Adelaide, I couldn’t really find a player who qualified.



Jason Gram  – Polled the equal most Norm Smith Medal votes in 2009 but no medal was awarded as Paul Chapman won on a countback, though Gram did score votes from each judge.



Richard Champion – Now probably better known for his singing ability, I remember a World of Sport/Sportsworld review of a Brisbane match by Bobby Davis where he went through Brisbane players after a hiding and when he got to Richard Champion he said: ‘In name only’.



Max Walker – Played for Australia from 1972 to 1979 in 34 tests where he took 138 wickets. ‘Tangles’ then had a successful media career, commentating cricket on Nine’s Wide World of Sports.



Marc Lock  –  Gold Coast’s first Number 1 who played one game in total.



Robert McGhie – A former hardman of the VFL/AFL, started his career at Footscray before going to Richmond to play in the 1973 and 1974 premierships then back to Footscray before finishing at South Melbourne. Played 146 games but famous for being a (for the time) rare footballer with tatts and for a photo of him at ¾ time having a smoke.



John Rantall  – Recognised as one of the great HBFs, Rantall played 260 games for South Melbourne over two trips and playing 70 games for North Melbourne after joining them as part of the 10-year rule, netting a premiership in 1975. After the 1979 season John had played 330 games, three short of Kevin Murray’s VFL/AFL record. His career was given a lifeline by Fitzroy, which allowed him to break the record with six more games.



Gary Cowton  – Played 199 games in total, starting with North Melbourne, Footscray, South Melbourne and back at North Melbourne wearing Number 1. Had the fantastic nickname of ‘Crazy Horse’ because of his crazy turning circle.



Sam Mitchell – Wore Number 1 for his year at West Coast after 307 games at Hawthorn.



Scott Edwards –  The first Number 1 at Fremantle.



Garry Cowmeadow  – Just has a great name, also played Sheffield Shield cricket for Tasmania from 1976-1979.



Jay Neagle  – Lesser known son of Merv; unfortunately did not have a long career.



Nicky Winmar – After 230 games at St Kilda was drafted in 1998 at Pick 30 by the Western Bulldogs where he spent one year.



Wally Matera – Was the first player to wear Number 1 at West Coast. Brother of well-known Peter & Phillip. Spent time at Fitzroy and is the father of Brandon.



Peter Hudson  – Played in 1967-1974 with the Hawks wearing Number 26. After two years out of the game Hudson returned in 1977 wearing Number 1 as Rodney Eade by then had 26. Hudson played 24 games for 110 goals.



Steve O’Dwyer  – Wore Number 1 at Melbourne winning their Best & Fairest in 1988, was traded to Richmond where he only played five games due to injuries, retiring aged 26.



Greg Wells  –  Played 224 games at Melbourne, winning two Best & Fairests and was captain for two years. Joined Carlton mid 1980 aged 30 to play in a Premiership, which he did the following season.



Paul Hawke  –  Started his career at Sydney playing 71 games before moving to Collingwood in 1988, where he finished runner up in their Best & Fairest in 1989. In 1990 Hawke missed the first half of the year with injuries and then couldn’t get back into the senior side for the 1990 Premiership. Hawke was delisted and then drafted by Sydney where he became a return to sender but injuries again intervened; he played just one more game.



Gary Baker  – Was famous for his beard at Melbourne until Ron Barassi arrived in 1981 and told his players, he hated footballers who were not clean shaven. Baker was vice captain, he later injured his knee and never played for Melbourne again.



Peter Keenan  – ‘Crackers’ is best known for his career at Melbourne where he started and North Melbourne where he won a premiership but he did manage two years at Essendon before returning to Melbourne to finish his 213-game career.



Billy Nicholls  – Unfortunately after his AFL career finished at Richmond, Billy’s life went off the track culminating in him being sentenced to prison in 2015 for a shooting incident.



Don Pyke  – Wore the Number 1 first before going to Number 10, in which he won two premierships among his 132 games.



Games in Number 1 (Years played)


Jason Gram 124 (2007-2012)

Richard Champion 183 (1991-2000)

Max Walker 78 (1968-1972)

Marc Lock 1 (2011)

Robert McGhie 15 (1980)

John Rantall 6 (1980)

Gary Cowton 22 (1983-1984)

Sam Mitchell 22 (2017)

Scott Edwards 15 (1995-1996)

Garry Cowmeadow 3 (1975)

Jay Neagle 27 (2008-2010)

Nicky Winmar 21 (1999)

Wally Matera 24 (1998-1999)

Peter Hudson 24 (1977)

Steve O’Dwyer 5 (1992)

Greg Wells 43 (1980-1982)

Paul Hawke 1 (1991)

Gary Baker 127 (1974-1981)

Peter Keenan 31 (1979-1980)

Billy Nicholls 6 (2001)

Don Pyke 20 (1989-1990)





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  1. Good work Rodney.

    A very fine Number 1 was Geelong’s Wayne Closter, who was a wingman/centreman during his time at the Cattery . He played 191 games,kicking 72 goals, in the years 1964-1975. The reason he didn’t bring up the 200 was that he was a ‘nasho’ drafted to fight in the undeclared war in Vietnam. Compounding this a bad shoulder injury in early 1970 restricted him to only 30 games in three seasons during his prime.

    He played in the winning Geelong reserves premiership team in 1963, then in the unlucky Geelong senior grand final team of 1967. Post career he maintained his Geelong links doing some broadcasting on 3GL.


  2. Good stuff Rodney, looking forward to the next one.

    As I mentioned to you, Marc Lock is an interesting one. He was named captain of the first squad back in 2009 (in the U18 TAC Cup) and did enough to hold onto the mantle in the VFL for the following season (despite AFL-experienced players like Nathan Ablett, Daniel Harris and Danny Stanley joining the side). His AFL career was fleeting as you mentioned; the first skipper of the 17th side delisted after one season, before going on to play for Box Hill.

  3. Great work, again, Rocket.

    Never heard of Garry Cowmeadow, but now I’m a fan.

    We should set up a Garry Cowmeadow Appreciation Society and have a celebration day on his birthday every year,
    21 August. I noticed he didn’t notch up any stats in his round 1 debut, I’m assuming he started on the bench.

    In all seriousness, someone who played first class cricket and VFL football must be talented. I wonder what his story was with only staying one season with South Melbourne.

  4. Thanks Glen, Wayne Closter would be a good addition, knew he went to a Vietnam but was not aware of that story.
    Thanks Jarrod, Marc Lock is a good one re his captaincy and out of favour once joined AFL, thanks for your help.
    I think Cowmeadow was a better cricketer, his 3 games he did not get a possession in two of them, and other game was 3 touches.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    I’ll happily sign up to the Garry Cowmeadow Appreciation Society.

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