The Roar
The Roar


The top ten Indigenous players in AFL history

Adam Goodes, being awarded Australian of the Year. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Roar Guru
6th June, 2017
3257 Reads

There have been some superb Indigenous players to make the AFL over the years, and as with my top ten NRL Indigenous players, I wish to honour the best of them in this top ten list.

Groundbreaking players, Brownlow Medalists and premiership winners – the list has it all.

10. Nicky Winmar
Winmar was a St Kilda great and was the leading goal kicker for 1988 season. He won the best and fairest award for the club in both 1989 and 1995. In a 341-game career, he kicked 301 goal and also won mark of the year in 1992.

9. Darryl White
In his 268 games for Brisbane Bears and Lions, White won three premierships, kicked the VFL goal of the year in 1992 and was voted the Bears best and fairest award the same year. A terrific player of the game.

8. Chris Johnson
Playing 264 games between Fitzroy and Brisbane, Johnson also was part of the Lions three-peat. Along with this, he was an all-Australian twice and captained the Lions during the 2007 season.

7. Byron Pickett
Throughout his 204-game career, Pickett won two premierships – one with the Kangaroos in 1996 and the second with Port Adelaide in 2004. In the 2004 grand final, he won the Norm Smith Medal and led the charge to the end of the Lions’ dominant reign.

6. Peter Matera
The West Coast one club player won two premierships with the club in the 1992 and 1994 seasons. In the 1994 grand final he won the Norm Smith Medal and a five-time all-Australian. He was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2006.

5. Andrew McLeod
Playing during the Crows two-year dominance, along with the two premierships, he won the Norm Smith Medal in both grand finals. Along with being named an all-Australian team five times, he took out the Polly Farmer Medal in 2007. McLeod played 340 games for the Crows.

4. Gavin Wanganeen
In 1993, Wanganeen made AFL history by becoming the first Indigenous man to win the Brownlow Medal. For his 300 game career he won two premierships – one with Essendon and one with Port Adelaide. Another five-time All-Australian, his efforts at Port Adelaide saw the Best and Fairest award for the U20’s named after him.


3. Graham “Polly ” Farmer
There were comments on my top-ten Geelong Cats article that Polly Farmer should have been included. An incredible player with a resume to match – 5 WAFL titles and part of the 1963 Geelong flag-winning team, he was named on the Geelong, West and East Perth team of the century. Farmer also had ten best and fairest awards across the three clubs.

2. Adam Goodes
Adam Goodes had a career most could only dream of. In his 372 games at the Sydney Swans, he won two Brownlow Medas (2003 and 2006), two premierships (2005 and 2006), was named as a four-time all-Australian and was leading goal kicker three times. Goodes is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to play the game.

1. Sir Douglas Nicholls
Sir Nicholls was the first Indigenous man to try out at the top level of what was then the VFL, playing for North Melbourne and then Carlton. In 1932 he played for Fitzroy and in 1934 came third for the Brownlow Medal. In 1935, he was the first Aboriginal man to be selected for a Victorian Interstate Team. In 1972, he was Knighted for was work as a player, Christian Worker and South Australian Senator and was the first Aboriginal man to be knighted.

There is no question he paved the way for all players regardless of heritage.

Do you agree with my list? Who is your favourite Indigenous AFL player of all time? Drop a comment and let us know.