The 30 greatest AFL players of all-time

Jason Cave Roar Rookie

By Jason Cave, Jason Cave is a Roar Rookie

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    James Hird in action during an Essendon Bombers training session to mark the anniversary of the 2000 Premiership at Windy Hill, Melbourne. Slattery Images

    James Hird in action during an Essendon Bombers training session to mark the anniversary of the 2000 Premiership at Windy Hill, Melbourne. Slattery Images

    Ranking the 30 greatest players in Australian Rules history is no easy task. Was Matthews better than Cable? Robran better than Ebert? So one and so on.

    Here are the 25 of the greatest players to ever play the great Australian game ranked from one to 25:

    1. Leigh Matthews
    2. Wayne Carey
    3. Gary Ablett Snr
    4. Ted Whitten Snr
    5. Barrie Robran
    6. Peter Hudson
    7. Russell Ebert
    8. Barry Cable
    9. Gordon Coventry
    10. Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer
    11. John Nicholls
    12. Ron D. Barassi
    13. James Hird
    14. Chris Judd
    15. Michael Tuck
    16. Garry McIntosh
    17. Michael Aish
    18. Darrell Baldock
    19. Stephen Michael
    20. Bob Skilton
    21. Haydn Bunton snr
    22. Dick Reynolds
    23. Malcolm Blight
    24. Lindsay Head
    25. Neil Kerley
    26. Ian Stewart
    27. Len Thompson
    28. Gary Ablett jnr
    29. Terry Daniher
    30. Wayne Johnston

    There’s no doubt that Leigh Matthews deserve to be number one. But Matthews would’ve faced a stern challenge from Wayne Carey and Gary Ablett for the top spot.

    Most South Australian footy supporters, however, would’ve had North Adelaide legend Barrie Robran as their first choice.

    What do you think of the list?

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    The Crowd Says (73)

    • October 28th 2011 @ 6:31am
      Paul said | October 28th 2011 @ 6:31am | ! Report

      Just one question. How can you make such a list and not mention Nathan Buckley, whom many suggest may have been he best Collingwood player ever?

      • May 20th 2012 @ 12:21am
        Connor said | May 20th 2012 @ 12:21am | ! Report

        Because he wasn’t that good and he was no where near the best player ever.

        • May 18th 2013 @ 7:24pm
          Mitch said | May 18th 2013 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

          Nathan Buckley not that good? You Must be joking. I would have to rank Buckley right up there with the best ever. Unfortunately he played in a poor team for a long time but to win a Norm Smith in a losing GF against the best team of last decade!!

          • September 29th 2013 @ 10:42am
            Connor said | September 29th 2013 @ 10:42am | ! Report

            Maybe he may have made the top 30, but only just, there have been some incredible players over the years, players who were complete, Buckley’s only problem was he never really kicked quite enough goals in my view.

        • October 14th 2013 @ 10:04pm
          Luka said | October 14th 2013 @ 10:04pm | ! Report

          Saying his Collingwood’s best ever player doesn’t say much. DOWN WITH THE SCUM!

    • October 28th 2011 @ 7:54am
      Steve said | October 28th 2011 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      There are some fantastic players there and I wish I could have seen them all play. With respect to the players of the last 30 years, where is Voss? If you saw enough of his games then you would have rated him in the top 30.

    • October 28th 2011 @ 7:57am
      Tony said | October 28th 2011 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Out of interest – and this is most definitely not an interstate bash – how did you decide to slot the likes of Barrie Robran in at 5, Stephen Michael at 19, etc?

    • October 28th 2011 @ 8:48am
      Hk47 said | October 28th 2011 @ 8:48am | ! Report


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    • October 28th 2011 @ 8:49am
      Mattay said | October 28th 2011 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      James Hird’s name looks out of place, especially when you consider you don’t have Voss, Buckley or Riccuito in there.

      Also, I am South Australian, and Michael Aish doesn’t deserve to be there, and Gary McIntosh is borderline. From an SA contingent, I’d have Kernahan and Bradley in there well before the two Norwood boys.

      Another name missing is Plugger.

    • October 28th 2011 @ 9:03am
      Storm said | October 28th 2011 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      How can Hird make the list, but Voss and Buckley can’t those three players were always the equal of each other throughout there careers. Also Haydn Bunton Sr should be in the top 10 players ever, the way older generations talk about him as being the greatest ever and his record would show he is top 10 player with multiple league and club B&F’s.

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