Just after their win over the Hawks in Round 20, the AFL's North Melbourne club celebrated their 150th anniversary (established 1869 in the old Victorian Football Association or VFA) with a gala dinner at which the club named their top 10 players of all time. The top 10 were selected by a panel of experts, along with players and administrators past and present.
Only on-field achievements were considered with off-field work, contributions, awards or accolades deemed irrelevant. Similarly, incidents, behavioral issues and legal matters did not factor into a player's selection. The selection criteria included:
- 50 games played in the VFL/AFL with no game limitation for VFA players
- On field achievements, longevity and sustained excellence
A points system was used with a certain number of points awarded for achievements, accolades and awards along with eyewitness accounts from past players, administrators and coaches - across as many eras as possible. Third party commentary from all forms of media was also considered.
With the above criteria, center half forward Wayne Carey was named as the top player in North's history. Carey played 244 games 1989 to 2001 and kicked 671 goals. Carey played in the SANFL (South Australian National Football League) reserves at just 15. In 1987 he was recruited by North as a 16-year-old, and played with the club's under-19s in the back line. He was promoted to the senior list prior to the 1989 season despite dislocating his left shoulder in a practice match early in the year. His debut eventually came in Round 11 against Fitzroy that same year. Carey captained North's 1996 and 1999 premiership sides and won the Syd Barker club medal on four occasions in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1998 (equal to club player of the year). He is a seven-time All-Australian from 1993 to 1996, with the captaincy from 1998-2001. Other accolades include the AFLPA MVP, AFL Hall of Fame, North Melbourne Hall of Fame, North Melbourne Team of the Century captain and five-time club leading goal kicker. The only award missing is a Brownlow Medal, perhaps due to the fact that he had a reputation for back chatting the umpires at times.
He quit North under controversial circumstances ahead of the 2002 season, but remained on the club list so a suitable trade could be done. He was traded to the Adelaide Crows where he played 28 games in 2003 and 2004, finally retiring before the 2004 season finished. One of Carey's arch rivals was Carlton defender Stephen Silvagni who retired at the end of 2001. Soon after, Carey was a guest on the Footy Show, and was asked what it would be like to be able to play without Silvagni as an opponent. Carey replied that it would be nice not to have an octopus hanging all over him.
Coming second was Keith Greig. Renowned for his poise, sublime skills and aerial marking, (catching the ball), he played 294 games predominately as a wingman before switching to half-back. His honors include: premiership captain (1977), dual Brownlow medalist (1973, 1974), North Melbourne best and fairest winner (1980), All-Australian, AFL and North Team of the Century member, AFL Hall of Fame member, and North Melbourne Hall of Fame member and Legend.
Third was defender David Dench. He played 275 games, won two premierships, was a four-time Syd Barker medal winner, club captain, AFL and club Hall of Fame member - earning Legend status at Arden Street in 2009, and is a North Melbourne Team of the Century member.
The rest of the team:
Perhaps best known for his off-field services to the game, Aylett played 220 games 1952-1964, kicking 311 goals, He was a highly skilled and smart rover who combined dental studies with his football and even played cricket for a time. Represented Victoria in 15 games, won the Tassie Medal as the best state player in 1958. Named All-Australian in 1958 and 1961, North best and fairest 1958-1960, captain 1961-1964. Served as club president 1971-1977 during which time he saw the club win their first two premierships (1975 and 1977). He was prominent in securing sponsorships, including setting up the now-prestigious North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast. In 1977, he became president of the VFL and oversaw the push into the Sydney market as the league prepared for an expansion team. The expansion came about with the switch of South Melbourne to Sydney. He was a member of the Swans' board for awhile. He stepped down as president when the league established the VFL Commission and returned as North president 2001-2005.
In 1979, he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to Australian Rules football. in 2000, he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australian Football. in 2001, he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society through the sport of AFL football. He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an administrator in 2006.
The all-time games record holder with 432 games 1996-2016, he kicked 518 goals. In 2011, he played his 312th game, breaking teammate Glenn Archer's club games record. In Round 17, 2015, he played his 400th career game, becoming the first North Melbourne player to do so and only the fourth overall in league history (the others being Michael Tuck, Kevin Bartlett, and Dustin Fletcher). The following year, he overtook Michael Tuck's record. Despite his excellent form that year, he was informed his contract would not be renewed. Later that year, during the club's best and fairest dinner, Harvey announced his retirement, saying he did not want to play for another AFL club. He currently plays with his brother at North Heidelberg in the Northern Football League. He was recently appointed playing coach with the club. In 2017, he was member of the club's premiership team and was named club best and fairest.
AFL Premiership 1999
McClelland Trophy 1998
NAB Cup (preseason premiership 1998
AFL Reserves Premiership 1996
E J Whitten Medal (best on ground for Victoria in State of Origin game)1999
Syd Barker Medal (North best and fairest) 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 (tied with Brady Rawlings)
All-Australian: 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008
International Rules Football: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 (Capt)
Jim Stynes Medal (International Rules best on ground) 2003
Lou Richards Medal: 2007, 2008
Herald Sun Player of the Year: 2008
Archer–Hird Medal 2009, 2011
North Melbourne Team of the Century
Most senior AFL games: 432
Played from 1974 to 1982, 178 games, scoring 444 goals. Best known by current fans as a senior coach and media personality, but he was also a fine player for North. Originally from South Australia, Blight began with Woodville in the SANFL and won a Magarey Medal (SANFL Brownlow equivalent). When he came to North. then coach Ron Barassi got him to work harder on his game and he became an excellent mark (catch of the ball) and kick for goal. He was appointed playing coach for part of the 1981 season with Wayne Schimmelbusch as captain. He coached Geelong from 1989 to 1994, taking the side to four Grand Finals in five seasons. Unfortunately, all were losses and Blight walked away from coaching for a role in the media for two seasons. He returned to Adelaide to coach the Crows and took them to their first two premierships in 1997 and 1998. He left the club after 1999 with more media roles and semi-retirement in Queensland. He was lured back to coaching in 2001 with St Kilda. However, by mid-season that year, both he and the Saints agreed it had been a mistake and he was let go after 15 weeks.
1978 Brownlow Medal
1975 and 1977 premierships
Leading VFL goal kicker 1982
1973-1987, 306 games, 354 goals:
Highly skilled and courageous, he could play a variety of positions, but was best across half forward. Was club captain 1979-1987 until a knee injury forced him to retire.
1975 and 1977 premierships
Club leading goal kicker 1976
Victorian representative in 11 games, balance
North coach 1990-1993
1941-1951, 134 games, 105 goals, also played 35 games with St Kilda 1954-1955
Had speed, courage, balance and power. Also had an uncanny ability to dodge, duck ans nd weave his way out of almost impossible situations against opponents. Could play a variety of positions but preferred the center. Debuted at the tender age of 16. One of his best games was the 1950 Preliminary Final. After giving Geelong a seven-goal start, Foote almost single-handedly dragged his side back into the game and to victory. They lost the Grand Final the following week to Essendon. He left the the club to coach an amateur club but came back to the VfL as playing coach of a struggling St Kilda. He could not lift the side but oversaw the recruitment of future champions in Btownlow Medalist Brian Gleeson and Allan Jeans, who would later coach the Saints to their only premiership in 1966 before embarking o his successful coaching career with Hawthorn.
North captain 1948-1951
North best and fairest 195, 1949 and 1950
St Kilda best and fairest 1954
Victorian representative 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951
1989-2004, 292 games, 127 goals
A courageous tagger who was willing to take on the most difficult jobs. Once opposition sides became aware of his skills, they would tag him. Often under-rated due to the proliferation of stars around him with then Sydney coach saying he "... went from a dunb player like a dog chasing a bus to a real playmaker". In 2000, he suffered life-threatening injuries when a shard of broken glass from an upper floor window at a hotel where he and friends just finished dinner hit him, causing lacerations on his face and neck. Came back from that injury but then suffered a knee injury in 2001 and tore a chest muscle in 2002 and missed the finals that year.
Premiership Players 1996, 1999
Victorian State of Origin 1998
Best and Fairest 1997, 1999
North Melbourne Team of the Century (Ruck Rover)
Australian Football Hall of Fame 2017
Club captain 2002-2004
1978-86, 190 games, 214 goals
Also played for West Coast 1987-1988, kicking 111 goals
Had strength, was an excellent mark and a long kick. Played equally well at center half forward or center half back. Originally from West Australia where he played for East Perth, he had to sit out the 1977 season waiting for a clearance and missed the 1977 premiership. He returned to Western Australia in 1987 to captain the fledgling West Coast Eagles for two seasons. Won North's best and fairest award in 1982 and 1983 and was a regular in the WA state teams. Such was his influence at West Coast, even though he was a veteran by that time, the Western Derby Medal for best on ground between West Coast and Fremantle is co-named in his honor.
Source:nmfc.co.au, AFL Record Season Guide, Encyclopedia of League Footballers
Article last changed on Friday, August 16, 2019 - 10:55 PM EDT