Yes we love trash. Tales of the recycled – Part 1

“Oh I Love Trash
Anything Dirty or Dingy or Dusty
Anything Ragged or Rotten or Rusty
Yes I Love Trash”
(Oscar The Grouch, circa 1969, Sesame Street)


Now that the Cup has been run and won and the treasured prize in Australian horse racing is jetting off to France once again, football fans can now concentrate on the draft. Normally this is a time of year where fans look forward to see which boom youngsters will be heading their way and which youngsters look the goods but turn out to be busts. This year is a little different with the upstart GWS Giants having virtually the first 871 picks this year (reality is they have 9 of the first 15) some clubs may look for genuine rough diamond picks.

A few however may need to go for the recycled player. It’s not quite Oscar The Grouch’s trash although finding the right player looking for a second chance may well be what a club would love. For this exercise, we’ll look at a history of those players who have used the National Draft to change stripes, hoops, sashes, yokes or even anchors (of which there was one of). The noodle draft (Pre-Season draft for the uninitiated, it’s done in 2 minutes), pre draft selections and listings (a feature of early drafts and of start up teams in recent times) and rookie draft is not included amongst this discussion. We will also disregard mature aged recruits from the state leagues around the nation, for this will be looked at next time. This includes some players who went back to the Amateur competition or state leagues before returning to the big league.

All players recruited from state and country leagues and on occasion Ireland, for the clearance system may have still been in place at the time. Of course not everyone ended up at their selected clubs given the SANFL retention scheme that helped their clubs retain players to keep their competition strong.

Only genuine recycled player according to what I’m defining as a recycled player was Glenn Coleman, who had fallen out of favor at Sydney. With Pick 30, an early pick but not as much of a gamble as it would be now considering the science that now goes into selecting players, the ruckman come key position player managed 69 appearances in Red, White and Blue in 4 seasons before apparently being told by then coach Terry Wheeler during 1993 that he along with other veterans Peter Foster, Brian Royal and Bernard Toohey would not make the reduced playing list for 1994.

Three players found a new home in the National Draft, although 2 such instances, former Saint John Peter-Budge and ex-Demon Stuart Johnstone did not add to their career tally at Richmond and St.Kilda respectively. The third of the trio, 1982 Brownlow Medalist Brian Wilson manged 7 games for St.Kilda, the last of his 4 league clubs before injury ended his career.

Several players were redrafted by clubs having been either listed or supplementary listed (now there’s a memory of the past that I only ever knew existed from watching Reserve Grade Grand Finals), some of whom failed to play a game, others would have limited impact and would find a career in future drafts (Paul Dimattina, who was redrafted by Richmond at Pick 89 was one example, Glenn Manton was another to an extent, having been selected by Essendon with pick 47). Of those that were not redrafted by their own club, Brisbane snapped up former Fitzroy skipper Matt Rendell at Pick 76 for 13 games as Robert Walls began in earnest a mass rebuilding effort in the fallout from the Skase era. Another ex-Lion in David Strooper played 32 games from Sydney’s pick 43 and Brett Sholl crossed from North to Carlton via pick 44 and appeared in the Blues 1993 Grand Final Team. However, the pick of the retreads would undoubtedly be former Footscray tagger Matthew Hogg, who became a Carlton player with the 18th selection, and would play in the 1995 premiership team and end his career in the losing 1999 GF lineup after 114 games for the Old Dark Navys.

Disregarding redrafted players of which none really did anything of note following this draft (save for the redrafting of Stephen Newport by St.Kilda, a contributor to their finals campaigns in the previous 2 seasons), only 2 players would be genuine recycled players. Michael Murphy added 10 games with Brisbane (who picked him at # 81) after stints with North Melbourne and Adelaide. John Howat who languished in the Melbourne Magoos crossed over to Richmond with pick 97 and played 45 games in 4 seasons, including a pair of finals in the 1995 Tiger revival.

With lists reduced in the off season to 42 players per club it seemed as though it was a youth movement with just over 60 picks in the National Draft. St.Kilda used pick 8 on former Bulldog Michael Frost, who had won a place in a couple of our 1992 finals teams but would have greater success at the state league level for Werribee. Of the others Fitzroy using pick 41 would revive Kieran Sporn’s career for another season after being shuffled down the pecking order at the Baby Bombers, Sydney used pick 57 to give Mark Hepburn a 3rd home (North and Eagles his previous clubs), and North with one of the last picks in the draft took a punt on the unfortunate Gareth John who had as many injuries in his career as I’ve had proper breakfasts in the last few years.

Of the handful of players that got recycled, 2 spring to mind. Success starved Richmond used the 46th selection on Footscray ruckman Justin Charles who was starved of opportunities at the kennel. Of course, we all know that he ended up making history for the wrong reasons in 1997 becoming thus far the only player named and shamed over drug use. The other was a case of one final fling for an old dog. Doug Hawkins was not in the plans of Alan Joyce (no, Hawk to my knowledge didn’t fly a Qantas plane and isn’t at this stage), and after being convinced to nominate at the 59th minute of the 11th hour, Fitzroy came knocking with Pick 84, where the Hawk played the 21 games required to get to 350.

Save for a handful of redraftings and a few stray foundation Dockers being cast adrift for others to salvage (Chris Groom to North at pick 26, 21 picks after Brendan Krummel was snapped up by the Hawks), the only recycling of real note was the gamble from Footscray to pick Allen Jakovich at pick 9. The result was a bit like my tipping on Cup Day, well off the mark.

Almost a unique situation where the recycling was virtually salvation rather than recycling. A number of Fitzroy players who were not amongst the chosen 8 to head north were snapped up, most without a great deal of success. John Rombotis to Port at Pick 6 headed the list, Rowan Warfe to Sydney at 17 was moderately successful, likewise our decision to part with pick 20 for Matthew Dent. Martin Pike at 42 turned out to be a steal for North, but more on him in a few years. Outside of the ex-Roy boys, short term success for St.Kilda was had when the 49th pick netted Eagle outcast Jason Heatley, plus 73 majors and a rare appearance on the final Saturday in September. Essendon however perhaps squandered a compensatory pick 25 on Sydney’s Andrew Bomford.


Drafts fom 1997-2010 will be covered in the next post.

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.


  1. Richard Jones says

    INNARESTING, Mick, that 2 of your 1996 recycled list ended up at Bendigo F.L. club Kangaroo Flat.

    Rombotis was playing coach there for one season in late 2000s with his assistant Marty Warry. I believe Warry holds the distinction of roosting the last-ever goal for the Roy Boys in their VFL/AFL history.

    Warfe also played for the Green and White K. Flat outfit. Earlier in his career he’d been recruited from the TAC Cup’s Bendigo Pioneers.

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