Almanac Teams: The Greatest Number 3s


After some dubious dabbling with a team from Tinseltown, it is time to go back to tradition and select ‘arguably’ the best players in VFL/AFL history to have worn the Number 3 Guernsey. Nominations from State Leagues and VFA always welcome.

There are a number of omissions as so many brilliant players have donned the number over time. Here is my selection, to the sound of ‘The Three Degrees’


B: Stan Magro (Coll)                    Gary Pert (Fitz)                 Brady Rawlings (Nth Melb)

HB: Jordan Lewis (Haw)            Ted Whitten(Foot)           Jarrad McVeigh (Syd)

C: Chris Mainwaring (WCE)      Michael Voss (Bris)          Nathan Burke (StK)

HF: Garry Lyon (Melb)               Chris Grant (Foot)            Chris Judd (WCE)

F: Jimmy Krakouer (Nth/StK)  Paul Salmon (Ess)            Dale Weightman (Rich)

R: Mike Fitzpatrick (Carl)          Jimmy Bartel (Geel)         Dick Reynolds (Ess)

IC: Brent Reilly (Adel) Brett Deledio (Rich) Byron Schammer (Freo) Ross Smith (StK)


Coach: Leigh Matthews

Umpires:  Percival Jory (3 games in 1925)    – Italo Cesari (3 games in 1927)

Entertainment: The Three Degrees


Have a gander at our other Almanac teams here

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

    You’re doing a sterling job with these Phil, but Darren Jarman just shades Radar as Adelaide’s best #3

  2. Mark Bairstow.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says
    Danny Jenkins of Norwood also was brilliant in state games

  4. Paul Minogue says

    Leigh Matthews?

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    From the 1978 Round 1 SANFL Budget

    Greg Natt – Port
    Danny Jenkins – Norwood
    Ralph Sewer – Woodville
    Peter Maksimovic – Centrals
    Snout McFarlane – Glenelg
    Stephen Keam – South
    Terry Papst – Westies
    Greg White – Torrens
    Bruce Winter – Sturt
    John Baruzzi – North

  6. Did Gerard Healy wear no.3 for Sydney? If so he might just nudge out Byron Schammer on the pine

  7. Howdy Phil.

    Tom Lahiff & Jim Christou (Port Melbourne)

    Ian Chappell

    Arthur Albiston/Stewart Houston (Man Utd)


  8. Concur, with Darren Jarman for the Crows by the length of the Bass Strait.

    Alick Lill another great Redleg wearer of No. 3, too. 1925 Magarey Medallist – a 190cm centreman almost 100 years ago. Well ahead of his time.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    From 1997

    Darren Jarman – Adelaide
    Michael Voss – Brisbane
    Rohan Welsh – Carlton
    Mark Richardson – Collingwood
    Ryan O’Connor – Essendon
    Greg Harding – Fremantle
    Adam Houlihan – Geelong
    Anthony Condon – Hawthorn
    Garry Lyon – Melbourne
    Anthony Rock – North
    Shayne Breuer – Port
    Duncan Kelleway – Richmond
    Nathan Burke – St Kilda
    Dale Lewis – Sydney
    Chris Mainwaring – West Coast
    Chris Grant – Bulldogs

  10. I concur with JTH and ‘Swish’ re their Geelong number 3’s. One very fine player, the other from Corowa who did some riding for Richard Freyer; the late Richard Freyer.

    For those from the ‘Cattery’ you can add Ken Newland, a fine player for over a decade.


  11. Current St Kilda’s number three, Jack Steven for interchange or emergency? Or is he still under achieved?

  12. I.M. Chappell: call of the day Mic!

  13. Thanks John.

    Still love the bloke despite being told by him to f#@k off when I asked him for his autograph – Saturday December 4, 1976, Western Oval. I’d celebrated my 12 birthday two weeks earlier. Ah, the memories.

    Never meet ya heroes!


  14. Gerard Healy also wore #3 at the Demons from 1982-86 before departing to the Northern climes

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Hey Mick, I had better luck than you did with Chappelli

  16. I’ve sent you an email Mark.

    Congrats on getting the opportunity to meet Mr Chappell all those years ago.


  17. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    How could I forget Snout McFarlane !!
    A few old timers:
    Carlton – Norm Clarke 1905-1912 (Blues’ first NO.3), Jack Bennet 1940-47
    Collingwood – Tom Baxter 1911 (Pies’ first), Peter Lucas 1950-59
    Essendon – Bert Armstrong 1912 (Dons’ first), Norman Beckton 1921-1930
    Fitzroy – Brian Pert 1954-1965, Anthony Mellington (Roys’ last No.3) 1996. Don Chipp wore it for 3 games in 1947.
    Footscray – George Garlick 1925 , Arthur Olliver 1937-1950
    Geelong – Len Metherell 1930-36, Fred Wooller 1956-1964
    Hawthorn – Stan McKenzie 1925, John O’Mahoney 1951-1960
    Melbourne – Alf George (Dees’ first , 1912), Ted Thomas 1921-28
    North Melbourne – Lindsay Duncan (North’s first 1925), John Ibrahim 1962-68
    Richmond – Havel Rowe 1948-1957, Roger Dean 1959-1973
    St Kilda – Aubrey MacKenzie (Ripper Name) 1923-24, Bruce Duperouzel 1974-82
    South Melbourne – John Austin 1931-38, Frank Brew 1947-53
    University – Dave Cumming 1912

  18. Mark Giuliano says

    Great stuff Phil. No Paul Salmon ??

    It gets me thinking of some of the lesser lights to have worn this low number:

    Max Kruse (Swans)
    Richard Dennis ?? (Carl)
    Jim Sewell ? (Foots)

  19. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Mark, Paul Salmon is at Full-forward in this team.
    Kruse, Dennis, Sewell great nominations. Cheers

  20. Jim Sewell wore Number 2, not No 3, at Footscray (1983-86).

    Other “3”‘s during the Hampshire/Malthouse era included Mark Kellett.


  21. Sorry, forgot to add Adrian Campbell to the previous post.



  22. Always rated Greg Phillips very highly. Another great South Aussie, prob better known now as father of Erin and father in law of Shawn Burgoyne.

    And Micky Gayfer who could scrag as well as SOS and Tom Lonergan.

  23. Steve Renouf.

  24. Malcolm Ashwood says

    D Balassone if I am picking my best ever side Greg Phillips is CHB and I certainly didn’t barrack for bloody,
    Port.Swish re sa number 3 Bruce Winter and Stephen Keam saw the light and came to the parade.
    Zip Zap Ralph Sewer unique re playing leagu footy in 4 different decades.Mic wind,Ian Chappell still my favourite number 3.Duncan Kellaway has something else in common with you Swish ? Thanks Phil

  25. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Sorry Mic, got my numbers crossed re-Sewell. Alan Stoneham? Great VFA names there. Viv Richards and Barry Richards?
    Damo/Book Greg Phillips a fantastic nomination. Powerhouse at CHB for the Pies between 1983-86. And of course Mick Gayfer, 1990 Premiership hero. Could scrag, but was a safe kick and made few mistakes.
    Dermott Brereton wore it in 1995.

    Glen – Ken Newland a terrific get. Peter Johnston and Adam Houlihan?
    Yoshi – Jack Steven not far away. A couple of good finals performances would help.
    Paul – Lethal is the coach
    JTH – Mark Bairstow = The best Geelong home and away player in history? Renouf good get.Ever heard of Tom Brownlees? Wore it for the Cats between 1917-22.
    Swish/Dave – D. Jarman in for Schammer. Trying to get a Freo rep in the team.
    Gerry and Grapevine – Gerard Healy stiff to miss. Ist emergency maybe?
    Great stuff folks

  26. Ta Phil.

    As i said Adam’s from Corowa, with having a lithe build had some early links to the racing world with the late Richard Freyer. Grew too tall so footy beckoned.

    Peter J was a great mark but a woeful kick. I saw him dazzle @ the Western Oval in 1979 taking a heap of marks but kicking something like 5 goals, 7 !!! There were two Geelong losses under a goal where he missed costly late sitters. Hawthorn, VFL Park 1979, Collingwood @ Kardinia Park, the final match of 1982 being another. There was also a bad miss Vs Fitzroy @ the Junction Oval in early 1983. fantastic mark, but kicking ????

    Mark Bairstow could certainly roost a ball. I saw him goal from the centre of Princess Park in 1991, the match where G Ablett returned from his ‘retirement’, though his return was in the magoos.Oh yes,the match was against Hawthorn. I’d be remiss not to say that.


  27. Well done for including Brady Rawlings, LB.
    For an honest toiler he got the best out of himself, winning 3 x Syd Barker Medals at North.

  28. Glen, As well as his great marking and terrible kicking for goal Peter Johnston had another claim to fame. He replaced Garry Sidebottom in the 1981 Preliminary Final against Collingwood at Waverley when Sidey missed the team bus at Lara.

    Legend has it that Johnston was sitting in the stand enjoying a pie and milkshake when a Geelong official tracked him down and told him he was playing. Poor old Johnston’s total stats for the match (a narrow loss to the Pies) were zero disposals, zero marks and two frees against.

    They should have left him in the stand and allowed him to finish his meal in peace.

    Cheers, Burkie

  29. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Snout McFarlane is a big part of SA footy folklore Phil

  30. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Glen ! Just had a look at the stats of that game in ’91. Bairstow 36 touches and 6 goals !! Brereton 8 goals for Hawthorn and Cats by 40 points. Sheesh

    No worries Smokie, Brady was a great servant for North. Anthony Rock and John Cassin also wore it with distinction.
    Burkie – I was at that prelim in 1981. Didn’t even realise that Johnston played in the game !!

    Swish – Thanks for the education on Snout and on all things SANFL.

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