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The ultimate team of the AFL era

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Roar Rookie
28th August, 2018
28

To all the movers and shakers, the rockers and rollers, to the readers and the writers, I welcome you one and all to the debut article of the newest, most exciting contributor in Roarland.

I am WesternRoo and I will be your host for the next three or so minutes of your life. Continue reading at your peril.

I’m here, football is my life and I long for an audience to hold captive with my ramblings.

This will be the first part in a trilogy I have planned in my head. This will be known as the team series, where I discuss ultimate team scenarios which have been discussed at length by self-proclaimed football experts in pubs, clubs and backyards throughout our great country.

Part one of the series begins with the greatest team of the AFL era. A conversation fraught with debate and controversy, this subject has seen friendships tested, hours lost and alcohol budgets blown to smithereens.

All players from 1990 onwards are eligible and it is to be noted that all players selected are taken to be in their prime at the time of their selection.

Without further preamble, away we go.

Back line

Alex Rance
Chosen as the 3rd tall defender, Rance has a history of excellence. As a premiership player and multi All-Australian, Rance is capable of locking down or playing loose and creating from the back half.

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Stephen Silvagni
Not a tough choice really, Silvagni was a quality defender capable of matching the best the golden era of forwards had to offer. Whether it be Plugger, Jason Dunstall or Wayne Carey, Silvagni has matched them all.

Gavin Wanganeen
One of the best small defenders, capable of shutting down opposition forwards and starting attacking forays.

To my knowledge, the only back pocket of the modern era to win a Brownlow. Spent time in the midfield but was at his best creating from the back half. A dual premiership player.

Half backs

Andrew McLeod
Dual premiership player and dual Norm Smith medal-winning back flanker McLeod was an undisputed choice to create off half back.

Blessed with pace and an accurate, penetrating kick, he is a lock for this position.

Glen Jakovich
Rarely beaten as a key defender, Jacko was a monster whose strength was unsurpassed by any player in the modern era.

One-on-one there were none better, and anyone who could consistently match the greatest player of the modern era (ie Wayne Carey) and force him to change his playing style deserves a spot in this side.

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Luke Hodge
At his best, this four-time premiership winner was the ultimate backline general. With his raking left boot, Hodge could set up play at will.

A true leader, Hodge controls the back half like none other and is strong and courageous. Deserving of his spot in this squad.

Midfield

Peter Matera
Premiership-winning, Norm Smith medal-winning wingman Peter Matera was a unanimous choice for this team.

Matera’s effort in the 1992 grand final was epic and any student of the game would instantly recognise the iconic call of ‘Matera sets sail for home’. Pure class.

Michael Voss
Tough, courageous Voss was the ultimate team man. Lifted those around him and was a key figure in the Brisbane Lions premiership trilogy.

Tackling, goal kicking, there was nothing Voss couldn’t do. Most importantly were the little things that are noticed by only the most devoted of fans. The blocks, the smothers and the endeavour truly set Voss apart.

A premiership winning Brownlow medalist.

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Nathan Buckley
Much debate was had over this position. In the end, the nod went to Buckley. Despite lacking the pace and explosiveness of other wingmen, it was decided the sheer quality of ball use was enough to get Bucks over the line.

Nobody used the ball better than Nathan Buckley. Despite his ability on the inside, the brains trust decided Judd on the inside, Buckley on the outside was the way to go.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley

Collingwood’s Nathan Buckley was one of the best during his playing days. (AAP Image/David Crosling)

A worthy Brownlow medallist who nearly dragged Collingwood to an unlikely premiership.

Followers

Dean Cox
An old school friend of mine and hands down the best ruckman of the modern era, Cox redefined the position of ruckman with his ability to cover the ground and his ball use.

Also able to dictate clearances through his quality ruckwork, with his running ability Cox was essentially an extra midfielder. An undeniable factor in the Eagles reaching consecutive grand finals.

Gary Ablett Jr
His record speaks for itself. After multiple Brownlow medals, premiership-winning midfielder Ablett is well deserving of his nickname ‘the Little Master’.

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Had a huge burden to live up too. His father (who bore the nickname of God!) was one of the greatest ever, but Ablett Jr has equalled, if not surpassed, his legendary father’s legacy.

In my humble opinion, Ablett Jr is the best midfielder of the modern era.

Chris Judd
Fast, explosive midfielder Judd was a marvel from the moment he entered the AFL. From his first season, everybody knew that he would be a star and he more than lived up to the hype.

Collingwood's Jarryd Blair and Carlton's Chris Judd contest for the ball in a pack of players

Chris Judd in the middle of a pack during his playing days. (Photo: Greg Ford/AFL Media)

Dual Brownlow-winning premiership star Judd influenced every game he played. Was chosen as an inside midfielder due to his ability to expode from stoppages and hit forward targets. One of the best ever.

Half fowards

James Hird
When watching Hird, the word mercurial often sprung to mind. Strong in the air, strong on the ground, Hird was renowned for standing up in the big moments. With his long sleeves and ability to influence games, Hird was a worthy Brownlow winner and premiership star.

Wayne Carey
The best player of the modern era, arguably the greatest of all time, no player could influence a game like ‘The King’. On song, he was simply unstoppable. When beaten for strength (by only one player) Carey adapted his style and used his running ability to get on top.

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Other defenders could only look on horrified as Carey shaped games at will. None better.

Brent Harvey
Boomer was a superb player. A fast, goalkicking and impactful player who was renowned for his quality ball use and longevity.

Many think of Boomer as a player with questionable defensive capabilities, however, in his prime Boomer worked tirelessly up and down the ground kicking goals and setting up play.

Always threatening with his speed and ball use inside forward 50, Boomer deserves his spot in this squad.

Brent Harvey of North Melbourne is tackled by Dayne Zorko

Boomer is a legend of the game. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Forward line

Gary Ablett Snr
The man they called “God” was truly a freak of Australian Rules Football. Ablett kicked miraculous goals, took incredible screamers and entertained crowds for many years.

Capable of making the impossible possible, there was something truly awe inspiring about watching this man play.

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Tony Lockett
“Plugger”, as he was affectionately known in football circles, is without a doubt the most prolific key forward in AFL/VFL history.

No one has kicked more goals than Lockett. An absolute beast of a man, Plugger was a strong mark who was rarely beaten in a one on one contest. Playing during an era of great full forwards, Lockett was the best.

Peter Daicos
A tough position to pick, as there have been many quality small forwards over the years. Ultimately “the Macedonian Marvel” gets the nod despite not being your regular small forward.

A regular and heavy goal scorer for Collingwood, Daicos was capable of kicking freakish goals and was dangerous whenever he went near the ball.

Interchange

Adam Goodes
Quality player who won dual Brownlow medals. Chosen for his versatility and sheer talent.

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes, legend. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Robert Harvey
Another dual Brownlow medal winner chosen for his ability to gather possessions at will and freakish running capacity.

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Lance Franklin
There was a tremendous amount of debate over these interchange positions and violence was nearly resorted to in discussing who got this position out of Franklin and Dunstall.

In the end it was given to the man they call “Buddy” due to his versatility.

Dunstall was an amazing full-forward in a great team, but Franklin’s ability to swing between full forward and high half-forward got him over the line.

I expect more debate over this decision, but I don’t think a team could have two one dimensional forwards like Dunstall and Lockett in the same team. There can be only one. That is why Franklin was chosen over Dunstall.

Darren Jarman
The hardest spot in this team to pick was the very last one. There was no consensus on this selection. Names thrown around for this position included; Matthew Richardson, Simon Black, Ben Cousins, Anthony Koutoufides, Matthew Pavlich, Jason Akermanis and even Dusty Martin.

Having the final say in this argument, being that I was the loudest and drunkest, and it was ultimately my article, I decided the final spot went to Darren Jarman.

Jarman was a quality midfielder who could move forward and become a game-winning goal kicker. St Kilda fans still have nightmares about Jarman’s last quarter in the 1997 grand final. A gutsy call, but I stand by it.

So there we have it folks, the greatest team of the modern era. I look forward to seeing the opinions of others in the comments section. I had a ball researching this team over a period of weeks and I urge you all to have this conversation with your own mates. It’s great fun.

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