Wonderful athletes who aren’t great footballers

Thanks this week to Arma who contacted me with the following question/topic suggestion:   This time of year, with pre-season training going on, we hear of “personal bests in the 3km time trial”, “improved endurance / recovery times”, etc, etc.

And there are always references to this bloke or that bloke being “a wonderful athlete”.

But that doesn’t necessary make them great footballers.

Being a Swans man, we have had two notables here: former Geelong player David Spriggs and more recently, Ed Barlow. Anything that was written about them was themed with “a wonderful athlete” type remarks.

There must be more.

How about a list of “wonderful athletes” that weren’t much as AFL footballers?


  1. Justin Koschitzke
    Kane Tenace

  2. Kouta…

    (Just stirring the Carlton supporters up.)

  3. Usain Bolt

    Nick Naitanui and David Gourdis are the first two that come to mind (for me anyway)

    Admittedly, both have plenty of time to prove themselves.

  4. I’m about 5’8″ and slow. Sometimes I’d wonder how my mediocre footy career might have blossomed if I had tall, athletic genes. Then one day I was at North Port watching Daniel Bandy do battle with Setanta O’Helpless. It dawned on me…even if blessed with a “cut” physique, I would still have come up “short”!

  5. Thanks Crio. Bloody hell, I am 6’7″, was a cross-country runner, but stopped team sports at the age of 17 to go surfing. By the time my footy career took off (age 31 UQ Red Lions), I was on the downward slide in terms of aerobic fitness. Fortunately for my career, the Bali Geckos selection priorities were based on numbers rather than talent/ability/fitness. Same with the Falcons in the early days.

    I have a photo of myself with John Barnes (Essendon/Geelong/Victoria) where I look significantly taller. Made me think for about 5 secs. Reality dawned fairly sharpish that I was neither an athlete or a footy player.

    But thanks Crio. You’ve crushed my 45 year old hopes and dreams… :(

    Lots of athletes in League and Union, that didn’t cut the mustard. Darren Clark springs to mind.

  6. Shane Watson and andrew Symonds made the transition! Brendon Julian never quite…

  7. Arma’s Ed Barlow declaration has me worried…he is training at the Kennell and god knows we’ve had our share of athletes under Wallace’s vision. The relentlessly maligned Jordy McMahon was a champion sprinter.

  8. Sorry for using your “tag” in above comment Tommy!

  9. How about wonderful footballers who weren’t great athletes?

    Mick Nolan, Brain “The Whale” Roberts…

  10. next week…

  11. Im tipping Israel Fulou might fit into this catergory in the fullness of time

  12. TomRio, being a passionate follower of the “much-maligned” descriptor, I am assuming that “relentlessly-maligned” is even further along the maligned scale. Must remember to give it a run.

    On the Ed Barlow front, he was always quite-liked by Swans fans, but did have more success on the track than on the field – http://www.sydneyswans.com.au/News/NewsArticle/tabid/7106/newsid/90807/default.aspx

    That is all

  13. There’s resolutely maligned and the cruel, but in this case fair, justifiably maligned. Or, just “maligned” probably says it OK!

    Speaking of which, is “Flippin’ useless” Phillipoussis in this category?

  14. Still in tennis, Fabrice Santoro would be the reverse.

Leave a Comment