Victorians giveth and Victorians taketh away


by Mark Simms

As all seasoned footy fans know, one of the pleasures of the early season games lies in casting an eye over the new cattle at the club. Perhaps the summer has brought some bargain pick ups or even recruiting masterstrokes. This is particularly true in the Wafl these days, with so much to and fro-ing between the local leagues and the expanded national competition, as players get drafted or just try to get themselves noticed.

For Subiaco fans, the summer has felt unsettled. After a fantastic late season run in 2011 ‘culminating’ in a grand final loss to Claremont, the club’s list of outs for the 2012 season has been growing ominously.

The brilliant Ali Picket finally retired at 37;  the lion hearted ex St Kilda ruckman Micheal Rix, who had done his knee in the first semi final last year, limped off into the sunset; the excellent ex Melbourne forward, Danny Hughes, after one year’s energetic service, returned east; our late but fast developing Captain, Kyle Horsley,  packed his bags after being drafted by Gold Coast, followed soon after by the ambitious Adam Cockie, who was lured to Sandringham by this old coach at Subi, Scotty Waters. Throw in a couple of departing club favourites in the speedy Ben Keevers and the smooth moving Shaun Hildebrandt and mid to bottom of the table seemed to be beckoning.

Yet two games into the season and Subi are two zip to the good.  And the law of footy karma – what goes around, comes around – seems to have kicked into action straight away. Well, as they don’t quite say in the Bible, Victorians (and the AFL) giveth and Victorians (and the AFL) taketh away.

This year it’s the young ruckman Sinclair fresh from a premiership at Port Melbourne who’s been giveth. Strong, agile, a good kick for goal, not a bad mark, Sinclair has been doing extra duties at center half forward, and is probably the recruit of the summer. From country Victoria, Young Bett Mahoney from Mansfield in the Goulburn valley football league, seems a likely type- low centre of gravity, nice left foot , and a bit of pep off the mark. And, from the Gold Coast comes Joseph Daye who may have been just a bit lanky to make it in the AFL, but looks well suited to the Wafl’s wide open dry spaces.

From Boulder City in the West Australian goldfields, Myles Smythe shows a bit of dash and poise. But perhaps most satisfying off all, Coner Davidson from East fremantle, Subi’s arch enemy from the 1980’s, has the makings of a diamond in the rough – an energetic scrapper, with a decent left foot, who’s showing strong resilience to leather poisoning at this early point in the season. It’s always nice to find gold in your footballing rival’s tailings.

Perhaps  March is no guide to September and the recruits will be proved to have flattered to deceive, but so far the signs are good and hope springs eternal.

Just on Subiaco’s debt to Victoria, some classic Victorian recruits I can remember over the years have been the skill-challenged Captain Coach Brian Douge from Hawthorn in the late 70’s who tried, in desperation, having the players hypnotized. Just before him there was Captain Coach David Parkin also from Hawthorn in 1975; the much hyped Graeme Schultz from Essendon never quite lived up to expectations; then, around the same time, the rumoured to be deaf, Vin Cottogio (before he became a VFL cult hero for Carlton) ran amok out of the centre square , and a bit later the slippery Steven Sells from Geelong weaved his magic on the half forward flank in their 1986 premiership. Most famously Hayden Button senior was lured to Subiaco in tough economic times in 1938 from Fitzroy.

More recent and less famous Victorians (though arguably more successful) include the bounding Liston medalist  David Robbins from Sandringham,  Subiaco premiership captains Richard Mahoney , also from Sandringham, and Marc Webb from Port Melbourne,  and  currently playing, the truly tigerish Jason Bristow from Chelsea in the Victorian amateurs.

On the credit side, I think Subi’s debts were a long way made up by Gary Buckenara going to Hawthorn, Bucks being one of the class half forward flanker of all time. Peter Featherby wracked up possessions for Footscray and Geelong; Mike Fitzpatrick manned the ruck and lifted  the premiership cup for Carlton twice;  George Young ran up and down the wings of Morrabin for St Kilda; and legendary full forward Austin Robertson topped the goal kicking for South Melbourne in 1974.

Then way back in the 1930’s Subiaco home grown hero Johnny Leonard (and later Brighton Diggins and Bill Fault) headed over east in the depression and coached South Melbourne along the path towards their first premiership in 1933. More recently Daniel Rich has been hitting Jonathon Brown on the chest at the Brisbane Lions. And, South Australian clubs have done ok out of Subi with Jarrad Schofield and Mathew Connell playing in a premiership teams for Port and  Adelaide.

Clearly, then,  a fan has to learn to let go and wait for karma to work its magic. But, one last word for Sydney- if you’re not going to use Dennis Trent Lane, after he won you a final against Carlton, send him back!


  1. Michael Crutchfield, premiership full back, was also from Victoria, while on the flipside, Melbourne fans still to this day bemoan the knee injury which ruined Warren Dean’s career.

    PS: George Young was full forward at StKilda and 1933 was not South’s first flag.

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    Surprised to see no mention of former Geelong star Andrew MacNish.

    I still have a 1980s era Subiaco Lions beanie, sans pom pom. It has served me well. People have often mistaken it for a Fitzroy/Brisbane Lions beanie. I point out it has no blue in it. It has also been mistaken for a Brisbane Bears beanie, where I point out it has ‘Lions’ written on it.

  3. Mark Simms says

    I remember MIchael Crutchfield fondly. He did the job on Darren Bennett in the 1986 premiership win. Warren Dean’s injury was very sad. He was a fantastic player to watch, had a real swerve on his kick.

    Andrew MacNish was another favourite of mine from the 1980’s, never seen a man so effective on his knees.

    I see South Melbourne won VFL flags in 1909 and 1918; and Cattogio is spelt with an “a”.

    Sorry about that.

    For Subi at least, I’m told George Young used to feed Austin Robertson from the flank/wing.

  4. Todd Breman – Richmond.

    Mark Zanotti – Fitzroy (and Brisbane)

    Ian Dargie – St Kilda

    I once saw Deano kick a goal from the wing at Subi, which went through post high and landed on the hill.

  5. I think “Dargs” was born in England.

  6. Mark.

    Sinclair is a superb pick up. Injury blighted his final year at the Borough, only managed a handful of games missing out on a spot in the Flag winning side. Would’ve been an automatic selection had he been match fit.

    Didn’t see to much time in the ruck during his VFL stint, played vast majority of the time in the forward line.


  7. @Skip – who are you trying to bait with the “MacNish” comment?

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