by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
June 13, 2012 saw new additions to the Australian Football Hall of Fame and one previous inductee elevated to Legend status. The new inductees were Hawthorn's Shane Crawford, Bulldog Chris Grant, South Australian icon and Adelaide Crows inaugural coach Graham Cornes, North Melbourne's Glenn Archer, Melbourne's Bob Johnson, and St Kilda's Robert Harvey. North Melbourne's Barry Cable, an original inductees in 1996, was elevated to Legend status. There was some debate in the media ahead of the event regarding who should be elevated. Others considered for Legend status were Malcolm Blight, Dermott Brereton, Leigh Matthews, Wayne Carey, and Jason Dunstall.
North Melbourne: 115 games, 133 goals, 1970, 1974-77
Perth (WAFL): 225 games 324 goals 1964-69, 1971-73, captain-coach 1972-73
East Perth (WAFL) captain-coach 1978-79, 43 games, 46 goals
WA representative in 23 games
Premierships: North Melbourne 1975, 1977; WAFL 1966, 1967, 1968, 1978
Best & Fairest: North Melbourne 1970; Perth 1965–1969, 1971, 1973
All Australian 1966, 1969, 1979; North Melbourne Team of the Century; Sandover Medalist 1964, 1968, 1973; Tassie Medalist 1966; Simpson Medalist 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1977
At just 5'5" and 165 pounds, Cable was not physically imposing but what he lacked in size he more than compensated for with exquisite skills by both hand and foot. He also had amazing agility and reflexes to escape the clutches of opponents. The way he could hit a teammate with a rapid handball from distances of 30 meters (32 yards) or more was compared to fellow West Australian Graham "Polly" Farmer. Cable's reading of the play was uncanny, so much so that he was three or four steps ahead of what was happening and would be in a position to get the ball or instruct teammates where to run to gain possession. These qualities along with his courage made him the complete package and the best rover of his, indeed any, era.
His achievements required plenty of work and practice. Growing up several hundred miles west of Perth, he practiced his skills from a young age and worked on his fitness to attain his football dream. That dream began to come true when he joined WAFL club Perth in 1962. The team had won just two Premierships since its inception in 1899. Cable helped propel them to consecutive flag wins in 1966-68. He won the Simpson Medal (the equivalent of the Norm Smith Medal in the AFL) in all three wins. Perth released him to North Melbourne on a one year deal, but he rejoined the Kangaroos in 1974 after winning three Sandover Medals (the WAFL Brownlow equivalent). His coach at North Melbourne, Ron Barassi, once wrote that Cable was striving for the "complete eradication of error" and that he had never met a player who lived for the game like Cable did. Cable attributed his success to his work ethic. That same ethic and courage saw him return to East Perth for one season in 1980 after a 1979 tractor accident badly damaged his right leg and an infection nearly killed him.
In 1981, he returned to North to replace Malcolm Blight as coach. He remained as coach through 1984 then returned to Western Australia in 1986 to take up a mentoring role at Perth. He was also an assistant coach at West Coast between 1987 and 1989 working with the players on their skills. In 1993, he bicycled across Australia for charity. He remains active the The Community Development Foundation which encourages parents to be active in their children's education. He also remains active with cycling and golf.
Hawthorn: 305 games, 224 goals 1993-2008
State representative on 3 occasions
International rules: 8 games
Playing Honors: 2008 Premiership
Preseason Premiership 1999
Brownlow Medalist 1999
All Australian 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002
Best & Fairest 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003
AFLPA MVP Award 1999
Alex Jesaulenko Medalist (best on ground in State of Origin game) 1998
There are so many great players who never taste Premiership glory. Shane Crawford was almost one of those. While younger teammates Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli would have plenty more time, Shane was in the twilight of his career. He debuted with Hawthorn after their halcyon days of the 1980s and although Hawthorn got close several times, it wasn't until Crawford's final season that they scaled the AFL pinnacle. While Rioli and Franklin light up the field with their freakish skills, their mentor's genius was less obvious but certainly not less valued among the brown and gold faithful. He was a model of consistency and perseverance and boasted sublime skills. A fitness fanatic, Crawford could leave opposition players in his wake with blistering runs. He had an instinct for the play which allowed him to spot opportunities others might not see and the drive to will himself to produce when something special was needed. One of those times was the 2008 Grand Final, which he almost missed due a knee problem. He overcame it to be one of Hawthorn's best with 25 possessions in a big win over Geelong.
His career was not without controversy when, after some poor on-field performances, some were saying he was too distracted by his regular appearances on The Footy Show. It wasn't just the Thursday night commitment, he was also involved in a soap opera spoof the show was filming ahead of Thursday nights and then airing each week. He overcame all of this and let his football silence the critics. Crawford said his mother, who worked two jobs to pay for his schooling, was an inspiration and told him early on that success required hard work and sacrifices. He also credited much of his success to his Assumption College coach Ray Carroll and longtime partner Olivia Anderson, the mother of his four sons: Charlie, Benjamin, and twins Jack and Harry.
"BIG" BOB JOHNSON
Melbourne: 140 games, 267 goals 1954-1961
East Fremantle captain-coach, Subiaco
State representative in 10 games
Playing Honors: VFL Premierships 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960
WAFL Premiership: East Fremantle 1965
Melbourne leading goalscorer 1956, 1961
WAFL leading goalscorer 1965, 1966
It was inevitable that Big Bob would play for the Demons as his father, Bob Sr, was named best on ground with six goals in Melbourne's 1926 Premiership. He was one of a number of talented players coming into the side at the time. With the legendary Norm Smith as coach, success was only a matter of time. And what a success, as Johnson's 11 Grand Final appearances in 12 seasons would be the envy of any player of anytime. Standing an imposing 6'5", Johnson was one of the tallest and most valuable players of his era. He could play ruck and forward, but Smith had other ideas, placing Johnson in a forward pocket. He had surprising speed for his size, was a fine mark (catch of the ball), could read the play and was a deadly shot for goal. The tactic was to let the smaller forwards act as decoys for the opposition defenders, leaving Johnson as the sole target. His size stretched opposition defenses. He was also a master of a tactic which still exists today - staging for free kicks. This riled opposition supporters but he was a hero among Melbourne fans. One of his former teammates John Lord jokes, "If we were ever in trouble, we'd just flick the ball out to (Frank) 'Bluey' Adams and tell him, 'Run it down to Big Bob, will ya'." Lord elaborated, "Big Bob would be a big, imposing player even today. He was unconventional, but we felt we'd never get beaten while we had him. He wasn't as mobile as a Lance Franklin, but did he need to be? You could just kick it high and long and he'd stick his bum out and they just couldn't get around him."
Johnson regretted leaving the Demons for East Fremantle, which he did for monetary reasons. He still made a success of it and became a hero to children there, including current football commentator Dennis Cometti. In 2001, Johnson was arranging for Kevin Sheedy (then coaching Esserndon) to attend a function on the Gold Coast when he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 65. In an interview for the AFL website, his widow Nola said her husband "never talked much about his football career, but he'd be over the moon" at his elevation to the Hall of Fame.
Western Bulldogs: 341 games, 554 goals 1990-2007
State representative in 5 games
Playing Honors: Best & Fairest 1994,1996
All Australian 1997, 1998, 1999
Western Bulldogs Team of the Century
3rd Brownlow Medal 1996
Grant began his career as a quiet and humble 19 year old. The humility is still there, but he eventually came out his shell, enough to ask for the Bulldogs' famous number 3 guernsey, which was worn by the late Ted Whitten. He wore that number from 1994 until he retired. Whitten is a legend of the game and so is Grant. A smooth mover with excellent marking skills, he was a stalwart in the forward line. At the end of 1996, he was offered a huge sum of money to join the AFL's newest side, Port Adelaide. The news was so distressing to one young fan, the little boy sent all the money he had - twenty cents - with a letter saying it was to help pay Grant's salary so he would stay. Grant had already decided to stay put. In 1997, he polled one more vote than Robert Harvey in the Brownlow count but was ineligible due to suspension. However, a bigger victory was within reach as the Bulldogs finished third that year and faced Adelaide in a Preliminary Final. The Bulldogs held a 22 point lead at the final break, but the Crows kicked five goals to nil in the final term for a 2 point win, breaking Bulldog hearts everywhere. A highlight of Grant's career came in 2000 when a goal from a tight angle gave his team the lead against the undefeated Bombers in Round 21, The Dogs went on to inflict Essendon's only loss for the season. Grant had to overcome injury and adversity to play. At the start of 2002, he was in danger of not being able to play when the AFL's insurance denied coverage for Grant due to a congenital neck problem discovered several years earlier. This was eventually resolved but a serious knee injury ruled him out of the 2003 season. Upon his return, he relinquished the captaincy and was moved to defense. The move didn't faze him as all he cared about was making a contribution. Upon retirement, Grant said it meant a lot to play his entire career at one club and he feels like he belongs to the Bulldogs.
Glenelg 1967-82, Captain 1978
North Melbourne 1979 (5 games)
South Adelaide playing coach 1983-84
State representative in 22 games
SA Captain 1978
Coaching Career: South Adelaide 1983-84, Glenelg 1985-90, Adelaide 1991-94, SA State of Origin 1986-99
Playing Honors: SANFL Premiership 1973; Best & Fairest 1968, 1971, 1975; All Australian 1979, 1980; Simpson Medalist 1979; Tassie Medalist 1980
Today Graham Cornes is best known as the father of Chad and Kane Cornes and the first coach of the Adelaide Crows. But in his playing days, he was a skilled center half forward for SANFL side Glenelg. Like all great players, he has a moment which is game folklore. It was during the SANFL Grand Final in 1973. After leading all day, Glenelg lost the lead to North Adelaide late in the final term. Cornes charged into a pack to take a spectacular mark and lined up for goal from a tight angle and on the wrong side for a left-footer. He coolly slotted the goal to give Glenelg their first Premiership since 1934. Even while serving in the Army, he was allowed time off to play in Glenelg's finals in 1969-70 before shipping out to Vietnam. Cornes said coming back from the war and being embraced by the club helped him overcome his war experiences. He was still playing at the ripe old age of 31 and had a brief stint with North Melbourne after training with South Melbourne (now Sydney Swans). He said the five games he had with North were a highlight of his career because he got to play with one of the most talented sides of the day. His favorite win as a coach is Adelaide's first win in its AFL debut match against Hawthorn. The Crows, rank underdogs expected to be taught a football lesson by the powerful Hawks, belted the eventual Premier 24.11 (155) to 9.15 (69). Another thrill was seeing one of his former players, Crow Mark Ricciuto, win the Brownlow Medal in 2003.
North Melbourne: 311 games, 143 goals 1992-2007
State representative in 3 games
Playing Honors: Premierships 1996, 1999
Preseason Premiership 1998
All Australian: 1996, 1998, 2002
Norm Smith Medalist 1996
North Melbourne Team of the Century
North Melbourne Shinboner of the Century
When a team has stars the caliber of Wayne Carey, Corey McKernan, Mick Martyn and Peter Bell in a side, it can be easy to overlook the ones that get the job done with no fuss. That was Archer, one of the toughest defenders ever to take the field. When he debuted in 1992, he weighed just 171 pounds but bulked up to 206 pounds and used that bulk to good effect along with a fierce competitiveness which sometimes got him into trouble. He hated to lose and went in hard at man and ball. He credits former coach Denis Pagan with helping launch his career. It was Pagan's persistence that got Archer to North for a second chance after a brief stint with the Under 19 side in 1990. Reflecting on winning the Norm Smith Medal in 1996 he said, "Every footballer takes pride in being able to perform on the biggest stage, so to be recognized with that medal ... makes me very proud." As for the Grand Finals themselves, he said, "You play for Premierships, and when you get a chance to win them they're the ones that outshine all the other games by miles". He did admit that sometimes luck played a part as well as in getting drafted and having the players around him to make it happen. He reflected that he was "... one of those lucky ones ... there at the right time."
On his induction, Archer said, "It's a pretty special honor ... When I got the letter ... it was a big shock. When you think about the guys who aren't in the Hall of Fame, I thought it might have been a bit early for me ... I'm really humbled by it ...". Archer has a busy life these days running a sports tourism business and raising four children aged 6 to 15. It doesn't leave much time to reflect on his football career. Shortly before the induction ceremonies, Archer had just returned from the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco where he spent time on a yacht with 50 fellow Australians. He reckons a week of ".... shaking champagne bottles and carrying on ... took about two years off my life."
St Kilda: 383 games (club record) 1, 215 goals, 1988-2008
State representative in 8 games
International rules: 2 games
Playing Honors: Brownlow Medalist 1997, 1998
St Kilda Best & Fairest 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998
All Australian 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 (VC), 1999, 2003
Michael Tuck Medalist 2004 (preseason Grand Final best on ground; EJ Whitten Medalist (best on ground for Victoria in State of Origin games) 1992, 1993, 1996; AFL Media Association MVP 1997; St Kilda Team of the Century
21 years is a long time in football, but Harvey did it with exceptional fitness, skill and determination. He was renowned as one of the hardest workers on the field and at training, often running 10 kilometers (6 miles) after training. This level of fitness enabled him to shake even the most persistent taggers and develop the strength and skill to break tackles. Some experts reckon he ran the equivalent of almost 12 miles per game.
Harvey debuted at the tender age of 17 and went on to have a brilliant career. In his Brownlow years, he averaged 30 possessions per game. His career came during one of St Kilda's most successful eras as he played in 17 Finals. The only accolade missing from his CV is a Premiership medallion, something he says still hurts but from which he has moved on. He was one of the best on ground players in the St Kilda side which lost to Adelaide in 1997. He said he felt lucky to take part in so many Finals. Harvey's last game was the 2008 Preliminary Final loss to Hawthorn. Upon retirement, Harvey took up an assistant coaching position at Carlton but then headed back to St Kilda for a similar position. He was caretaker coach after the departure of Ross Lyon and applied for the position. He crossed to Collingwood when Scott Watters won the job and is currently the Magpies' midfield coach.
Of his induction, he said he hadn't given it much thought because his duties at Collingwood keep him busy along with raising a family. But when he was notified, he said it made him sit back and reflect on his career which he says "... already seems so long ago ... It's just a great honor. I suppose it's really nice recognition, from my family's point of view as well."
Source: afl.com.au, Encyclopedia of League Footballers, 1997 AFL Grand Final Record, AFL Record Season Guide, author notes
Article last changed on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 6:03 AM EDT