To celebrate Grand Final week, Bulldogs Centre is posting each AFL club's greatest team of all-time, and as we go past the halfway point of this special article, we've seen the all-time teams revealed for the AFL clubs who finished the 2017 season from 18th-10th
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Today on Bulldogs Centre, we roll through the teams who finished the year in 9th position and those that were knocked out of the Elimination Finals. These are the all-time teams for Melbourne, Essendon and Port Adelaide.
The oldest football club in the history of Australian football, My all-time Melbourne team features superstar-calibre players from numerous eras, dating back to the early days of the VFL to players from now. From 1955-1960, the club won five premierships out of six seasons. Of the six players that featured in all of the premierships in that span, only three of them made this team. This was one of the more harder teams to select because of the history of this football club.
In the midfield, we see starting in the square the best player in the game to come from Ireland in Jim Stynes, a former Brownlow medallist and a four-time club best and fairest at the Dees and revolutionised the ruck position in the 1990s. Starting alongside Stynes in the square include Allan La Fontaine, a three-time premiership player between 1939-41 and a four-time club best and fairest winner, current captain Nathan Jones who is a triple-club best and fairest winner at Melbourne and was their best player when things were extremely tough and rounding out the starting four in the square, none other than Ronald Barassi, a six-time premiership player a two-time club leading goal kicker and a legend of the game, both as a player and coach. Former best and fairest winner and two-time club goal kicking champion Robert Flower and five-time premiership player from the 1950s-60s Brian Dixon are named on the wing, whilst three-time premiership ruckman and two-time club best and fairest Denis Cordner will rotate in the ruck with Stynes and two-time club best and fairest Todd Viney, five-time premiership midfielder Ian Ridley, three-time premiership rover Percy Beames and two-time club best and fairest James McDonald will provide midfield rotations.
Up forward, there's no shortage of talent, with dual-Browlow medallist Ivor Warne-Smith at centre-half forward and Melbourne's all-time leading goal kicker David Neitz at full-forward the big names. Warne-Smith is considered one of the club's all-time legends and Neitz kicked over 630 goals over his career and won seven club goal kicking awards. Don't overlook Norm Smith in this forward line either as he was the man Neitz had to surpass to top the club's all-time goals record. A two-time club best and fairest, Smith won four premierships between 1939-48 and won the club's leading goal-kicking award four times. Two-time club best and fairest and two-time club leading goal kicker Garry Lyon and three-time premiership player and three-time club best and fairest Hassa Mann occupy the half-forward flanks, whilst the high-flying four-time club goal kicking champion Russell Robertson rounds out Melbourne's dangerous forward six. Coming off the bench is four-time premiership player and three-time club best and fairest winner Jack Mueller.
In the defensive six, we see three-time premiership defender Robert 'Tassie' Johnson, who was arguably one of the best full-backs to come out of Tasmania. Melbourne Hall of Famer and a former All-Australian Gary Hardeman is named at centre-half back. Two-time premiership defender Don Cordner, older brother of Denis, is named in the back pocket. Don is a Brownlow medallist and a club best and fairest winner, whilst five-time premiership defender and best and fairest winner John Beckwith is named in the other back pocket. On the flanks sees a more modern-day face in Adem Yze, a former best and fairest winner, who was extraordinarily consistent during his time at Melbourne, and was capable of playing multiple positions, whilst Don Williams – another five-time premiership player is named at the other half-back position.
B: Don Cordner, Tassie Johnson, John Beckwith
HB: Adem Yze, Gary Hardeman, Don Williams
C: Robert Flower, Allan La Fontaine, Brian Dixon
HF: Garry Lyon, Ivor Warne-Smith, Hassa Mann
F: Norm Smith, David Neitz, Russell Robertson
FOL: Jim Stynes, Ron Barassi, Nathan Jones
INT: Denis Cordner , Todd Viney, Percy Beames, Jack Mueller, James McDonald, Ian Ridley
Like Melbourne, Essendon has a long and prestigious history and because of this, it was extremely difficult to settle on a squad of 24. With 16 premierships dating back to the first ever season in the history of the VFL/AFL up until their last flag in 2000, I finally managed to settle on a line-up that featured both legends and some of the more modern-day stars.
The first name that comes to mind when it comes to Essendon legends is Dick Reynolds. A four-time premiership captain-coach, a seven-time club best and fairest and a member of an elite club of players to have won the Brownlow Medal three-times, Reynolds is widely regarded as the greatest Bomber of all-time, playing 321 games, predominantly as a midfielder and could kick goals, kicking 442 goals over his career, and the company he has in the midfield isn't so bad either. Joining Reynolds in the middle include Tim Watson - a four-time club best and fairest and a three-time premiership midfielder from the 1980s and early 90s and Jack Clarke who is a two-time premiership midfielder and a two-time best and fairest winner from 1951-67. Starting at ruck is Simon Madden – arguably one of the best rucks to ever play the game – 378 game veteran, 575 goals and a stack of accolades, including two premierships, three All-Australians, four Essendon best and fairests, three club goal kicking awards and a Norm Smith medal. On the wings finds another Essendon great in Michael Long, a two-time premiership player and Norm Smith medal winner and current Essendon captain Dyson Heppell, a best and fairest winner and All-Australian. Paul Salmon will come off the bench to rotate with Madden in the ruck as well as being another option down forward, whilst three-time club best and fairest Jobe Watson and young prodigy Zach Merrett provide midfield rotations.
There's a lot to love about Essendon's defenders. Four-time premiership defender and club best and fairest winner Fred Baring is named at full-back and was one of the game's better defenders in the early stages of the 20th century, a more recent name is placed at centre-half back in Michael Hurley, who proved upon his return from a 12-month suspension that he is one of today's best defenders. Gavin Wanganeen and Dustin Fletcher in the pockets bring a blend of both attacking defence and traditional defence. Dual premiership player Wanganeen won his 1993 Brownlow medal as a back-pocket, whilst Fletcher's longevity, being one of four players to play 400 games or more, has made him become a club great. At half-back, there is a three-time premiership defender and former club best and fairest winner Mark Harvey and three-time club best and fairest and two-time premiership player Barry Davis, with three-time premiership player and dual best and fairest winner Mark Thompson coming off the bench.
But the forward line, is amongst some of the best we'll see during this week. Between Matthew Lloyd, John Coleman and Bill Hutchison, nearly 2000 career goals have been kicked between the trio, and they line up deep in Essendon's attack here. Lloyd, who kicked 926 goals in his career is at full-forward. Three Coleman medals, five All-Australians and 12 times he led Essendon's goal kicking in a season. John Coleman kicked 537 goals in just 98 games between 1949-54, which is an insane average of 5.47 goals per game. He was a four-time league goal kicking champion, a six-time club leading goal kicker and a two-time premiership forward. Hutchison played in four premierships between 1942-1950, a two-time Brownlow medal winner and a six-time club best and fairest who amassed 496 goals. Another Brownlow medallist in James Hird is named on one half-forward flank – another champion of the club. Two premierships, one Norm Smith medallist, five All-Australians and five-time club best and fairests speaks volumes of his talent, regardless of what he's done in recent years. Rounding out the forward six include two-time best and fairest and premiership captain Ken Fraser at centre-half forward and two-time premiership forward and former best and fairest Terry Daniher.
B: Dustin Fletcher, Fred Baring, Gavin Wanganeen
HB: Mark Harvey, Michael Hurley, Barry Davis
C: Michael Long, Jack Clarke, Dyson Heppell
HF: James Hird, Ken Fraser, Terry Daniher
F: John Coleman, Matthew Lloyd, Bill Hutchison
FOL: Simon Madden, Dick Reynolds, Tim Watson
INT: Paul Salmon, Scott Lucas, Mark Thompson, Jobe Watson, Paul Vander Haar, Zach Merrett
Port Adelaide's all-time team largely consists of those that featured in Port Adelaide's 2004 premiership team or were involved in the early 2000s as Port were considered a contender for the most part. 16 of the 24 selected in this squad played in this premiership game. It must be noted that Port Adelaide's all-time team is from when the Power made their debut in the league in 1997.
Warren Tredrea is strongly considered as the best forward in the history of the Power's AFL side and he was the first selected in Port's all-time team. Tredrea is a four-time club best and fairest and an eight-time club leading goal kicker, kicking 549 goals in 255 games as well as the captain of Port's 2004 premiership side. Imagine seeing Tredrea partner up with full-forward Jay Schulz, who was a very accurate kick in front of goal, he kicked 272 goals in 122 games and lead the team in goals four times. Schulz's partner-in crime during the 2010s in Justin Westhoff is also named in the pocket as he's proven to be a solid contributor in time. Having Robbie Gray (three-time club best and fairest and three-time All-Australian) and Chad Wingard (two-time club leading goal kicker and best and fairest winner) up at half-forward makes the forward line all the more exciting. Brett Ebert at forward pocket and Peter Burgoyne on the bench round out the forwards, both capable of providing solid options.
Six of the seven defenders have featured in Port's 2004 premiership team, with Darryl Wakelin, Gavin Wanganeen, Michael Wilson, Chad Cornes, Damien Hardwick and Brett Montgomery all named, with Tom Jonas being the seventh player in this defence. Wakelin played a big role at full-back in Port's premiership in 2004, getting the better of spearhead Alastair Lynch. Wanganeen won two of his five All-Australian selections at Port, and was a club best and fairest winner. Wilson was a rugged shut-down defender in Port's premiership success. Cornes' best years were at centre-half back and it showed when he was named All-Australian centre-half back in 2004, but has also showed that he can play virtually any position around the ground. Hardwick was another tough, no-nonsense defender that was able to do his job week in week out and Montgomery is a silky half-back type who won Port's best and fairest in his first season at the club. Current player Jonas is a solid defender that hardly gets beaten and in the prime of his career, can only go onwards and upwards.
The midfield has a good mixture of both old and new, with the old – Kane Cornes, Stuart Dew and Shaun Burgoyne – all premiership stars from 2004 and the new – Travis Boak, Brad Ebert and Ollie Wines so talented, yet still searching for a premiership. 300-game veteran Cornes is a four-time club best and fairest, Burgoyne is an All-Australian, and has gone to win three more premierships at Hawthorn and Dew was a midfielder capable of kicking goals, kicking 245 goals in 180 games with the Power. Matthew Primus was a talented ruckman, winning the club's best and fairest in 2002 as well as All-Australians in 2001-02, but injury costed him a premiership, he will work in tandem with Brendon Lade, who was an All-Australian and a best and fairest winner in the latter stages of his career. Travis Boak is a two-time All-Australian and a club best and fairest winner, whilst team mate Brad Ebert is a very solid and consistent midfielder. Wines, coming off the bench for Port's all-star team, is a contested beast, but is only 22 years of age. Also joining Wines on the bench include three premiership players such as the 2004 Norm Smith medallist Byron Pickett, former captain Dom Cassisi, who captained the club when things were tough and did an admirable job and Josh Carr who was a tough-as-nails midfielder.
B: Gavin Wanganeen, Darryl Wakelin, Michael Wilson
HB: Tom Jonas, Chad Cornes, Damien Hardwick
C: Shaun Burgoyne, Kane Cornes, Stuart Dew
HF: Robbie Gray, Warren Tredrea, Chad Wingard
F: Brett Ebert, Jay Schulz, Justin Westhoff
FOL: Matthew Primus, Travis Boak, Brad Ebert
INT: Brendon Lade, Ollie Wines, Domenic Cassisi, Byron Pickett, Josh Carr, Brett Montgomery
Part five of this special series on Bulldogs Centre is looming to be a massive article, as we reveal the all-time teams for the semi-finalists and the preliminary finalists - West Coast, Sydney, Geelong and Greater Western Sydney.