The All-Time Power 50?
The June issue of The Melbourne Magazine features The Footy Power 50 — rating and ranking the most powerful people in football today. But what about yesterday?
Who should make it onto the all-time list of footy’s most powerful people?
We’ve gathered an initial list of 25 identities (in alphabetical order) to get you started, but should we add Lou Richards? What about Wayne Carey? Or Dick Reynolds?
Think about who has had a lasting impact on football — from the way the game is played to how much the league has evolved — and let us know which players, coaches, administrators and commentators you would include.
To weigh in, simply click on the black bar in the masthead above — where it says “Who should join the ‘all-time’ footy power 50?” — and we’ll add your suggestions to the list.
Gary Ablett senior - Routinely made the impossible possible — they didn’t call him “God” for nothing.
Allen Aylett - An early expansionist, was VFL chairman when the Sydney Swans were born in 1982.
Ron Barassi - Involved in 17 grand finals (for 10 flags), was also among the first big names to switch clubs.
Harry Beitzel - A broadcasting and stats pioneer, Beitzel also championed the international rules concept.
Charles Brownlow - The player and administrator for whom footy’s most prized individual honour is named.
Ron Casey - Commentator and Kangaroos man — inaugural inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame.
Andrew Demetriou - Former footballer and players’ union head, now a force for change and growth in the AFL.
Jack Dyer - Feared/revered as a player, Captain Blood also stood out for his classic on-air “Dyerisms”.
Ron Evans - Former AFL chairman and Bombers president, succeeded by his son David at Essendon.
Graham Farmer - Revolutionised ruckwork, elevated the handball from defensive option to attacking weapon.
Tom Hafey - Four time flag coach personified the us-and-them fortress mindset - especially at Tigerland.
Allan Jeans - Perhaps no coach in modern history was as widely beloved as the late great “Yabby” Jeans.
John Kennedy - Hawks coach, renowned for his stirring oration, in particular: “Don’t think, don’t hope, do!”
Michael Long - His legacy is two-fold: Long was a champion on the field, is an activist and inspiration off it.
Leigh Matthews - Involved in 8 flags as a player and coach, Lethal was also named “Player of the Century.”
William McClelland - As VFL president from 1926 to 1956, he was the league boss longer than anyone in history.
Jock McHale - His coaching record is unlikely to be matched: 714 games for 17 grand finals and 8 flags.
Ross Oakley - More than 20 years ago, Oakley was league CEO when the VFL officially became the AFL.
Dick Reynolds - “King Richard” won four flags as captain-coach of Essendon, along with three Brownlows.
Graeme Samuel - Formerly of the AFL Commission, Samuel had a distinct vision for a fully national game.
Alan Schwab - AFL administrator and executive, once described by Oakley as “the football engine room.”
Norm Smith - Named coach of the AFL Team of the Century, “The Red Fox” took the Dees to six flags.
Jim Stynes - The story of his rise in Australian rules is regarded as the greatest in the history of the game.
Tom Wills - He helped invent footy, wrote the initial rules of sport, and umpired the first game in 1858.
Ted Whitten - Captain-coached Footscray to the 1954 flag (their only one). Can’t leave out “Mr Football.”
Who did we leave out? To weigh in, simply click on the black bar at the top of the screen (“Who should join the ‘all-time’ footy power 50?”), send us your nomination, and we’ll add your suggestions to the list…
Kevin Sheedy was the first suggestion, and a good one at that…
Doug Ackerly of Carlton had this suggestion to add…
Good to see Allen Aylett and Harry Beitzel on your All-time Power 50 list. But, it surely must include former Essendon premiership half-back, Geoff Pryor, who led the 1970 pre-season “strike” at Windy Hill over pay and conditions, and led the push for establishment of the Players’ Association of which he was the inaugural president.
Others who deserve serious consideration include Norm Smith’s brother, Len, who was the first of the modern coaches, and Norm’s predecessor, Frank “Checker” Hughes. And, you should not forget The Truth’s sports editor, Brian Hansen, who dared to challenge VFL and club officialdom over ground facilities, ticket pricing, etc. and the general secrecy surrounding football administration in the 1960s.
A propos, it is a pity that Caroline Wilson (a panel member) was not included high in your contemporary list for her fearless investigative journalism and insightful commentary that have “kept the bastards honest”. Hers has been an invaluable contribution of the highest merit.
One reader came up with an interesting nomination in Silvio Foschini …
Foschini didn’t have a massive career (107 games between Sydney and St Kilda) but he did have an impact on footy. In 1983, unhappy at the Swans, he returned to Victoria to join the Saints. He hadn’t received a clearance, however, and ended up in court arguing against the clearance rules, claiming they breached restraint of trade laws. He won, and was allowed to play for St Kilda, which ultimately helped abolish the zoning system.
Eddie McGuire was another valid one. Turned a struggling suburban club into one of the best off-field sporting clubs in Australia, raised standards generally and has had a profound effect on public footy discourse. “Power personified.”
Keep ‘em coming folks …