The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Rugby league history: The all-time great alphabet teams – Who takes out the Alphabet Cup?

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
Roar Guru
12th August, 2019
65

To those few hardy souls who have been reading my series of articles on the greatest rugby league alphabet teams, I promised that I would finish by ranking my selected teams and crown the winner of the mythical Alphabet Cup.

So here goes, in reverse order.

The also-rans

26th – the Q team
Team list: 1. Chris Quinn, 2. Oscar Quinlivan, 3. Graham Quinn, 4. Alan Quinlivan, 5. Anthony Quinn, 6. Jim Quealey, 7. Ron Quinn, 8. Paul Quinn (C), 9. Sam Quigley (GK), 10. Norman Quinn, 11. Paul Quinn, 12. Greg Quinn, 13. John Quayle, 14. Luke Quigley, 15. Ray Quinnell, 16. Colin Quinn, 17. Dick Quinn.

Coach: Paul Quinn.

Hall of Fame: Nil.

Internationals: 3.

Spine: Chris Quinn, Jim Quealey, Ron Quinn, Sam Quigley.

Top three: Graham Quinn, Paul Quinn, John Quayle.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bottom three (from the starting 13): Ron Quinn, Sam Quigley, the other Paul Quinn.

Bench ranking: 1/10.

Verdict: When two of your bottom three players are in the spine, you know you’re in trouble. Only three internationals at centre, prop and lock and none of them would be threatening an all-time list. And a horrible bench.

25th – the UXZ team
Team list: 1. William Zillman (C), 2. Jack Upton (GK), 3. Matt Utai, 4. Bronson Xerri, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Scott Zahra, 7. Maurice Unwin, 8. Lew Zivanovic, 9. Sione Utia-Katoa, 10. Braden Uele, 11. Paul Upfield, 12. Mark Zillman, 13. Rod Urquhart, 14. Anthony Xuereb, 15. Ernie Usher, 16. L. Upton, 17. Nick Zisti.

Coach: Sreton Zec.

Hall of Fame: Nil.

Internationals: 5.

Spine: William Zillman, Scott Zahra, Maurice Unwin, Sione Utia-Katoa.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Top three: Jack Upton, Matt Utai, Akuila Uate.

Bottom three: Mark Zillman, Scott Zahra, Maurice Unwin.

Bench Rank: 1/10.

Verdict: The halfback and five-eighth only ever won two career games each. They do have some strike out wide, so have more points in them than the Qs.

24th – the Y team
Team list: 1. Nick Youngquest (GK), 2. Jharal Yow Yeh, 3. Fred Yanz Snr, 4. Norman Young, 5. Nick Yakich, 6. Fred Yakich, 7. Phil Young, 8. Craig Young (C), 9. William Young, 10. Charles York, 11. Colin York, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. Dean Young, 14. Fred Yanz Jnr, 15. Bill Yeomans, 16. Kevin Yow Yeh, 17. Grant Young.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Coach: Craig Young.

Hall of Fame: Nil.

Internationals: 5.

Spine: Nick Youngquest, Fred Yakich, Phil Young, William Young.

Top three: Jharal Yow Yeh, Craig Young, Dean Young.

Bottom three: Norman Young, Fred Yakich, Phil Young.

Bench rank: 2/10.

Verdict: A really poor half and five-eighth combination, but they have international front-rowers, plus speed to burn on the wings.

Advertisement
Advertisement

They will turn some heads but not quite get there

23rd – the V team
Team list: 1. David Vaealiki, 2. Lesley Vainikolo, 3. Nigel Vagana, 4. Dick Vest (GK), 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Ken Van Heekeren, 7. Ted Verrenkamp, 8. Greg Veivers (C), 9. Adrian Vowles, 10. Richard Villasanti, 11. Michael Vella, 12. Mick Veivers, 13. Paul Vautin, 14. Jack Veivers, 15. Suliasi Vunivalu, 16. Paul Vaughan, 17. Colin van der Voort.

Coach: Paul Vautin.

Hall of Fame: Nil.

Internationals: 11.

Spine: David Vaealiki, Ted Verrenkamp, Ken Van Heekeren, Adrian Vowles.

Top three: Nigel Vagana, Manu Vatuvei, Greg Veivers.

Bottom three: Ted Verrenkamp, Ken Van Heekeren, Adrian Vowles.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bench rank: 4/10.

Verdict: A step up. Suddenly we have 11 internationals, but our three weakest players are in the spine (although two played for Queensland). Excellent three quarters and solid forwards. And if anyone can get a team of Nevilles into the winner’s circle, it’s the coach.

22nd – the I team
Team list: 1. Greg Inglis (C), 2. Ken Irvine, 3. Craig Innes, 4. Jamal Idris, 5. Jamayne Isaako (GK), 6. Brad Izzard, 7. Ben Ikin, 8. Bill Ives, 9. Clarrie Ives, 10. Sebastine Ikahihifo, 11. Tony Iro, 12. Sam Isemonger, 13. Craig Izzard, 14. Krisnan Inu, 15. Kevin Iro, 16. Peter Inskip, 17. Vivian Irwin.

Greg Inglis

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Coach: Tony Iro.

Hall of Fame: 1 (plus GI is a certainty).

Internationals: 9.

Spine: Greg Inglis, Brad Izzard, Ben Ikin, Clarrie Ives.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Top three: Greg Inglis, Ken Irvine, Tony Iro.

Bottom three: Sebastine Ikahihifo, Sam Isemonger, Craig Izzard.

Bench rank: 3/10.

Verdict: This side contains a should-be Immortal in Irvine and a possible future Immortal in Inglis, however it has a weak forward pack and is solid at best in a few areas.

21st – the N team
Team list: 1. William Neill, 2. Jason Nightingale, 3. Rex Norman (GK), 4. Dane Nielsen, 5. Noa Nadruku, 6. Ernie Norman, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Bill Noble, 9. Fred Nolan, 10. Brian Niebling, 11. Herb Narvo (C), 12. Tawera Nikau, 13. Andy Norval, 14. Fred Neumann, 15. Bob Nicholson, 16. Ray Norman, 17. Edgar Newham.

Coach: Leo Nosworthy.

Hall of Fame: 3.

Internationals: 14.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Spine: William Neill, Ernie Norman, Kodi Nikorima, Fred Nolan.

Top three: Ernie Norman, Herb Narvo, Andy Norval.

Bottom three: William Neill, Rex Norman, Dane Nielsen.

Bench rank: 3/10.

Verdict: The first team to have a Hall of Fame player in the halves (Ernie Norman). A little light on in the backs but they have a seriously tough back row.

20th – the E team
Team list: 1. Graham Eadie, 2. Hazem El Masri (GK), 3. Andrew Ettingshausen, 4. Steve Ella, 5. Trevor Eather, 6. Mike Eden, 7. Arthur Edwards, 8. Greg Eastwood, 9. Ben Elias (C), 10. Steve Edmed, 11. John Elford, 12. Gareth Ellis, 13. John Elias, 14. George Evans, 15. Mark Ellison, 16. Steven Edge, 17. Michael Ennis.

Coach: Matthew Elliott.

Hall of Fame: 2.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Internationals: 10.

Spine: Graham Eadie, Mike Eden, Arthur Edwards, Ben Elias.

Top three: Graham Eadie, Andrew Ettingshausen, Ben Elias.

Bottom three: Mike Eden, Steve Edmed, John Elias.

Bench rank: 5/10.

Verdict: Numbers one to four are the equal of anyone, but a bit weak in the halves and only two stand-out forwards. Especially strong at hooker, with Steve Edge and Michael Ennis on the bench. Also have arguably the greatest goal-kicker in El Masri. They could turn some heads.

19th – the Best of the Rest team No.2
Team list: 1. Brett Mullins, 2. John Ferguson, 3. Johnny Greaves, 4. Paul Sait, 5. Larry Corowa, 6. Dennis Pittard, 7. Michael Morgan (GK), 8. Rex Mossop, 9. Royce Simmons (C), 10. Jason Stevens, 11. John Cartwright, 12. Dud Beattie, 13. Greg Pierce, 14. Brad Mackay, 15. Darius Boyd, 16. Bob Craig, 17. Rod Morris.

Coach: Arthur Beetson.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Hall of Fame: Nil.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Brett Mullins, Dennis Pittard, Michael Morgan, Royce Simmons.

Top three: Michael Morgan, Royce Simmons, John Cartwright.

Bottom three: Johnny Greaves, Paul Sait, Dennis Pittard.

Bench rank: 6/10.

Verdict: The first of the composite sides, they finish ahead of the I, N and E teams courtesy of their depth, with a fully international roster. In ‘Chicka’ Ferguson and Larry Corowa, they might just have the most exciting wingers in the comp. Solid in the forwards as well, plus an inspirational coach.

18th – the A team
Team list: 1. Darren Albert, 2. Cecil Aynsley, 3. Jamie Ainscough, 4. Don Adams, 5. Chris Anderson, 6. Braith Anasta, 7. Greg Alexander (GK), 8. Jim Armstrong, 9. Vic Anderson, 10. Royce Ayliffe (C), 11. Vic Armbruster, 12. Ferris Ashton, 13. Jim Abercrombie, 14. Matt Adamson, 15. George Ambrum, 16. Arthur Anlezark, 17. Ned Andrews.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Braith Anasta commentator

(AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Coach: Chris Anderson.

Hall of Fame: 1.

Internationals: 16.

Spine: Darren Albert, Braith Anasta, Greg Alexander, Vic Anderson.

Top three: Vic Armbruster, Cecil Aynsley, Greg Alexander.

Bottom three: Darren Albert, Don Adams, Vic Anderson.

Bench rank: 3/10.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Verdict: A very solid team with a great halfback, serious back-line speed and tough forwards. Maybe lacking a little star power, but they will take some beating.

17th – the O team
Team list: 1. Robbie O’Davis, 2. Warren Orr, 3. Michael O’Connor (GK), 4. Justin O’Neill, 5. Corey Oates, 6. Wally O’Connell (C), 7. Greg Oliphant, 8. John O’Neill, 9. Claud O’Donnell, 10. Bob O’Reilly, 11. Kel O’Shea, 12. Arthur Oxford (GK), 13. Luke O’Donnell, 14. Larry O’Malley, 15. Mark O’Meley, 16. Graham Olling, 17. Frank O’Connor and Alf “Itchy” O’Connor.

Coach: Wally O’Connell.

Hall of Fame: 2.

Internationals: 15.

Spine: Robbie O’Davis, Wally O’Connell, Greg Oliphant, Claude O’Donnell.

Top three: Michael O’Connor, John O’Neill, Kel O’Shea.

Bottom three: Warren Orr, Justin O’Neill, Corey Oates.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bench rank: 5/10.

Verdict: A solid enough back line with Michael O’Connor providing the class, but a nasty forward pack filled with crazy animals like O’Neill, O’Shea, O’Reilly and O’Meley – the fighting Irish.

16th – the Best of the Rest team No.1
Team list: 1.Gary Belcher (GK), 2. Eric Harris, 3. Matt Gidley, 4. Chris Close, 5. Michael Hancock, 6. Alan Thompson, 7. Des Hasler, 8. Adrian Morley, 9. Dr George Peponis (C), 10. Gary Parcell, 11. Hugh McGahan, 12. Jim Patterson, 13. Greg Bird, 14. Noel Cleal, 15. Sam Backo, 16. Kevin Schubert, 17. Tim Brasher.

Coach: Harry Bath.

Hall of Fame: 0.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Gary Belcher, Alan Thompson, Des Hasler, George Peponis.

Top three: Gary Belcher, Matt Gidley, Hugh McGahan.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bottom three: Chris Close, Alan Thompson, Gary Parcell.

Bench rank: 7/10.

Verdict: A side with very few weaknesses. A great fullback, speed and evasiveness on the wings. A clever and brutal centre pairing and a formidable forward pack. A canny coach. Possibly lacking spark in the spine.

15th – the D team
Team list: 1. Josh Dugan, 2. Peter Dimond, 3. Pat Devery (GK and C), 4. Sid Deane, 5. Jim Devereux, 6. Laurie Daley, 7. Micky Dore, 8. Brian Davies, 9. Dan Dempsey, 10. Greg Dowling, 11. Fred de Belin, 12. Paul Dunn, 13. Jim Dymock, 14. Les Davidson, 15. Ian Doyle, 16. Ken Day, 17. Peter Diversi.

Coach: Jim Duckworth.

Hall of Fame: 3.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Josh Dugan, Laurie Daley, Mickey Dore, Dan Dempsey.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Top three: Laurie Daley, Brian Davies, Pat Devery.

Bottom three: Mickey Dore, Fred de Belin, Paul Dunn.

Bench rank: 6/10.

Verdict: The first fully international single letter team. They have two Hall of Fame players in their spine and a brilliant old-time three-quarter line of Peter Dimond, Pat Devery, Sid Deane and Jim Devereux. The forwards are tough and solid rather than exceptional, but they have an absolute winner at five-eighth in Laurie Daley.

14th – the K team
Team list: 1. Harry Kadwell, 2. Johnny King, 3. Bill Kelly, 4. Matt King, 5. Ross Kite, 6. Brett Kenny, 7. Brett Kimmorley (GK), 8. Noel Kelly, 9. Ken Kearney (C), 10. David Klemmer, 11. Ben Kennedy, 12. Steven Kearney, 13. Nik Kosef, 14. Max Krilich, 15. Brent Kite, 16. Luke Keary, 17. Robbie Kearns.

David Klemmer Australia Kangaroos Rugby League Anzac Test 2017

(Image: NRL)

Coach: Ken Kearney.

Hall of Fame: 4.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Internationals: 16.

Spine: Harry Kadwell, Brett Kenny, Brett Kimmorley, Ken Kearney.

Top three: Brett Kenny, Noel Kelly, Ken Kearney.

Bottom three: Harry Kadwell, Ross Kite, Nik Kosef.

Bench rank: 6/10.

Verdict: Look at the halves and hooker. They have one non-international and he went on a Kangaroo Tour tour but didn’t get a Test. This forward pack is going to take some beating. Their three quarter line could be more dynamic, despite the presence of St George great Johnny King, which just keeps them outside the next group.

Important note: There is really no bottom three from this level onwards – they are all super players – but I am trying to compare relative depth.

Finals contenders but might just miss out

Advertisement
Advertisement

13th – the W team
Team list: 1. Laurie Ward, 2. Benny Wearing (GK), 3. Harry Wells, 4. Alex Watson, 5. Rod Wishart, 6. Eric Weissel, 7. Kevin Walters, 8. Shane Webcke, 9. Ian Walsh, 10. Billy Wilson, 11. Sonny Bill Williams, 12. Ruben Wiki, 13. Jack Watkins, 14. Steve Walters, 15. Elwyn Walters, 16. Craig Wing, 17. Aaron Woods.

Coach: Ron Willey.

Hall of Fame: 6.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Laurie Ward, Eric Weissel, Kevin Walters, Ian Walsh.

Top three: Harry Wells, Shane Webcke, Sonny Bill Williams.

Bottom three: Laurie Ward, Rod Wishart, Billy Wilson.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Verdict: This is a really strong team. For students of history, Eric Weissel and Harry Wells are two of the best and they have possibly the best bench impact player of all time in Craig Wing. Hall of Famer Steve Walters is also on the bench thanks to the great Ian Walsh at hooker. Good coach, too.

12th – the P team
Team list: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Noel Pidding (GK), 3. Dick Poole, 4. Cliff Pearce, 5. Bill Paten, 6. Tim Pickup, 7. Scott Prince, 8. Steven Price, 9. Sid Pearce, 10. Norm Potter, 11. Norm Provan (C), 12. Sandy Pearce, 13. Wally Prigg, 14. Ray Price, 15. Wayne Pearce, 16. Corey Parker, 17. Dean Pay.

Coach: Norm Provan.

Hall of Fame: 6.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Kalyn Ponga, Tim Pickup, Scott Prince, Sandy Pearce.

Top three: Norm Provan, Sandy Pearce, Wally Prigg.

Bottom three: Kalyn Ponga, Noel Pidding, Bill Paten.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: Here is the first of the Immortals, Norm Provan. They get to this position on forward power. They have the most successful player of all time at captain-coach and the greatest back-row depth with Hall of Fame members Ray Price and Wayne Pearce on the bench.

11th – the J team
Team list: 1. Les Johns, 2. Brian Johnston, 3. Peter Jackson, 4. Michael Jennings, 5. Chris Johns, 6. Albert Johnston, 7. Andrew Johns (C and GK), 8. Pat Jarvis, 9. Fred Jones, 10. Steve Jackson, 11. Lou Jones, 12. Josh Jackson, 13. Dallas Johnson, 14. Stacey Jones, 15. Garry Jack, 16. Arthur Justice, 17. Shaun Johnson.

Andrew Johns for the Knights

(AAP Image/Action Photographics/Grant Trouville)

Coach: Albert Johnston.

Hall of Fame: 2.

Internationals: 16.

Spine: Les Johns, Albert Johnston, Andrew Johns, Fred Jones.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Top three: Les Johns, Andrew Johns, Fred Jones.

Bottom three: Brian Johnson, Pat Jarvis, Steve Jackson.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: Andrew Johns dominates this team, but they are high up the list for variety as they can throw Golden Boot winners Stacey Jones, Shaun Johnson and Garry Jack on from the bench. A team of solid high-quality international players led by one of the very best of all time. Les Johns running off Andrew Johns would be a treat.

10th – the R team
Team list: 1. Mat Rogers, 2. Albert Rosenfeld, 3. Steve Rogers, 4. Steve Renouf, 5. John Ribot, 6. Geoff Richardson, 7. Tom Raudonikis, 8. Steve Roach, 9. Billy Rayner, 10. Ian Roberts, 11. Rod Reddy, 12. Jack Rayner (C), 13. Johnny Raper, 14. Elton Rasmussen, 15. Terry Randall, 16. Mal Reilly, 17. Matthew Ridge.

Coach: Jack Rayner.

Hall of Fame: 5.

Internationals: 17.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Spine: Mat Rogers, Geoff Richardson, Tommy Raudonikis, Billy Rayner.

Top three: Johnny Raper, Steve Rogers, Albert Rosenfeld.

Bottom three: John Ribot, Geoff Richardson, Billy Rayner.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: The Immortal Johnny Raper headlines this team, and a back line including the Rogers family, Steve Renouf and Albert Rosenfeld (who scored 80 tries in a season in England) has lots of strike. The forwards are scary – Steve Roach, Ian Roberts, Rod Reddy with Terry Randall and Mal Reilly on the bench. Maybe let down ever so slightly by their spine, but don’t tell Tommy Terrific.

9th – the F team
Team list: 1. Charles Fraser, 2. Dan Frawley, 3. Viv Farnsworth, 4. Brad Fittler, 5. Denis Flannery, 6. Bob Fulton (C), 7. Keith Froome, 8. Frank Farrell, 9. Robbie Farah, 10. Andrew Fifita, 11. Steve Folkes, 12. Bryan Fletcher, 13. Craig Fitzgibbon (GK), 14. Olsen Filipaina, 15. David Fairleigh, 16. Gary Freeman, 17. Wally Fullerton-Smith.

Coach: Bob Fulton.

Hall of Fame: 5.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Charles Fraser, Bob Fulton, Keith Froome, Robbie Farah.

Top three: Charles Fraser, Brad Fittler, Bob Fulton.

Bottom three: Frank Farrell, Steve Folkes, Bryan Fletcher.

Bench rank: 7/10.

Verdict: With two of the very great playmakers in Fulton and Fittler, this team will lay on plenty of points. The forward pack is as tough as they come and the bench has two Kiwi wildcards in Gary Freeman and Olsen Filipaina.

The top eight

8th – the G team
Team list: 1. Kurt Gidley (GK), 2. Herb Gilbert, 3. Reg Gasnier, 4. Tom Gorman (C), 5. Eric Grothe, 6. John Gleeson, 7. Hector Gee, 8. Peter Gallagher, 9. Craig Gower, 10. David Gillespie, 11. Mark Graham, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Paul Gallen, 14. James Graham, 15. Ryan Girdler, 16. Mark Gasnier, 17. Mark Geyer.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Coach: Jack Gibson.

Hall of Fame: 6.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Kurt Gidley, John Gleeson, Hector Gee, Craig Gower.

Top three: Reg Gasnier, Tom Gorman, Mark Graham.

Bottom three: Kurt Gidley, John Gleeson, Matt Gillett.

Bench rank: 7/10.

Verdict: They will face stiff competition from the teams just behind them but should just slip into the top eight due to their Immortal centre Reg Gasnier and captain Tom Gorman setting up Eric Grothe down the wing. Any forward pack led by Mark Graham, Paul Gallen and David Gillespie will leave some bruises. And their coach went alright, too.

Advertisement
Advertisement

7th – the H team
Team list: 1. Howard Hallett, 2. Harold Horder (GK), 3. Justin Hodges, 4. Jarryd Hayne, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Vic Hey, 7. Arthur Halloway (C), 8. Duncan Hall, 9. Jason Hetherington, 10. Paul Harragon, 11. Brian Hambly, 12. Nathan Hindmarsh, 13. Scott Hill, 14. Keith Holman, 15. Ellery Hanley, 16. Les Heidke, 17. Ryan Hoffman.

Jarryd Hayne NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

(AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Coach: Arthur Halloway.

Hall of Fame: 8.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Howard Hallett, Vic Hey, Arthur “Pony” Halloway, Jason Hetherington.

Top three: Harold Horder, Vic Hey, Duncan Hall.

Bottom three: Justin Hodges, Jason Hetherington, Scott Hill.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: No Immortals, but each of their top three players could easily have been named as one, and they are the first team to have eight Hall of Fame members. Add Hayne and Valentine Holmes to Hodges and Horder and you have a devastating back line. Duncan Hall and Paul Harragon will keep the opposition honest and they have the great Ellery Hanley on the bench to rip open the game. A real contender.

6th – the T team
Team list: 1. Ken Thornett, 2. Lote Tuqiri, 3. Brent Tate, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. Timana Tahu, 6. Johnathan Thurston (GK), 7. Duncan Thompson (C), 8. Sam Thaiday, 9. Geoff Toovey, 10. James Tamou, 11. Gorden Tallis, 12. George Treweek, 13. Jason Taumalolo, 14. Viv Thicknesse, 15. Dick Thornett, 16. Bill Tyquin, 17. James Tedesco.

Coach: Norm Tipping.

Hall of Fame: 5.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Ken Thornett, Johnathan Thurston, Duncan Thompson, Geoff Toovey.

Top three: Johnathan Thurston, Duncan Thompson, Jason Taumalolo.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bottom three: Willie Tonga, Timana Tahu, James Tamou.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: Look at that halves pairing! And Easts Hall of Fame half Viv Thicknesse is on the bench. Their back line is very good, but apart from Thornett, not quite at Hall of Fame level. A pack with Gorden Tallis, George Treweek and Taumalolo will earn great respect. But even JT and Duncan Thompson can’t drag this team into the top four.

5th – the L team
Team list: 1. Darren Lockyer, 2. Eddie Lumsden, 3. Graeme Langlands (GK), 4. Jamie Lyon, 5. Bobby Lulham, 6. Wally Lewis (C), 7. Allan Langer, 8. Glenn Lazarus, 9. John Lang, 10. Gary Larson, 11. Bob Lindner, 12. Luke Lewis, 13. Ron Lynch, 14. Cliff Lyons, 15. Terry Lamb, 16. Issaac Luke, 17. John Lomax.

Coach: Charlie Lynch.

Hall of Fame: 8.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis, Allan Langer, Johnny Lang.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Top three: Darren Lockyer, Graeme Langlands, Wally Lewis.

Bottom three: Bobby Lulham, Johnny Lang, Gary Larson.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: The creativity of Lockyer, Lewis, Langlands, Langer, Lamb, and Lyons and still not top four. Only one Hall of Fame forward, albeit the great Glenn Lazarus, leaves them a little unbalanced. But oh my, what a back line and I didn’t even mention Eddie Lumsden and Jamie Lyon.

The top four

4th – the M team
Team list: 1. Frank McMillan, 2. Ian Moir, 3. Dally Messenger (GK), 4. Mal Meninga (C), 5. Brett Morris, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Chris McKivat (C), 8. Mick Madsen, 9. Jeff Masterman, 10. Nate Myles, 11. Gene Miles, 12. Bob McCarthy, 13. Steve Menzies, 14. Barry Muir, 15. Steve Mortimer, 16. Anthony Minichiello, 17. Willie Mason.

Big Mal Meninga with the Green Machine

(Photo by Getty Images)

Coach: Mal Meninga.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Hall of Fame: 10.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Frank McMillan, Benji Marshall, Chris McKivat, Jeff Masterman.

Top three: Dally Messenger, Mal Meninga, Steve Menzies.

Bottom three: Brett Morris, Jeff Masterman, Nate Myles.

Bench rank: 9/10.

Verdict: Two Immortals in the centres, Benji at his flick-passing mid-air stepping best and Chris McKivat, the only player to captain both the Wallabies and the Kangaroos. This is a formidable team. Try a back row of Gene Miles, Bob McCarthy and Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies, then a bench including Steve Mortimer, Barry Muir and Anthony Minichiello.

3rd – the S team
Team list: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Matt Sing, 3. Darren Smith, 4. Dale Shearer, 5. Wendell Sailor, 6. Arthur Summons, 7. Peter Sterling, 8. John Sattler, 9. Cameron Smith (C and GK), 10. Ray Stehr, 11. Herb Steinohrt, 12. Paul Sironen, 13. Bill Schultz, 14. Ricky Stuart, 15. Billy Smith, 16. Matt Scott, 17. Jason Smith.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Coach: Tim Sheens.

Hall of Fame: 7.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Billy Slater, Arthur Summons, Peter Sterling, Cameron Smith.

Top three: Billy Slater, Peter Sterling, Cameron Smith.

Bottom three: Matt Sing, Darren Smith, Bill Schultz.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: Is this the smartest team of all time? A team with that spine are well in any conversation. Add a forward pack including John Sattler, Ray Stehr, Herb Steinohrt and Paul Sironen, with Matt Scott on the bench. And if these guys aren’t clever enough, bring on Ricky Stuart and Jason Smith.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The runner-up

2nd – the C team
Team list: 1. Clive Churchill (C), 2. Brian Carlson, 3. Les Cubitt, 4. Michael Cronin (GK), 5. Jimmy Craig, 6. Brian Clay, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Petero Civoniceva, 9. Greg Conescu, 10. Ted Courtney, 11. Arthur Clues, 12. Bradley Clyde, 13. Ron Coote, 14. Billy Cann, 15. Harold Crocker, 16. Boyd Cordner, 17. Lionel Cooper.

Coach: Clive Churchill.

Hall of Fame: 12.

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Clive Churchill, Brian Clay, Cooper Cronk, Greg Conescu.

Top three: Clive Churchill, Jimmy Craig, Ron Coote.

Bottom three: Brian Clay, Greg Conescu, Ted Courtney.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Bench rank: 7/10.

Verdict: This team only has two players in the starting 13 that are not in the ARL Hall of Fame, and one of them is Cooper Cronk, who will be soon. So there are basically no weaknesses, although the bench is good, not spectacular. In Jimmy Craig, Arthur Clues and Ron Coote, you have players who could easily be Immortals, and that’s before you name Mick Cronin, Petero Civoniceva and Bradley Clyde.

So who could possibly beat this team?

The champion

1st – the B team
Team list: 1. Keith Barnes (GK), 2. Brian Bevan, 3. Dave Brown, 4. Jack Beaton, 5. Cecil Blinkhorn, 6. Bob Banks, 7. Joe Busch, 8. Arthur Beetson (C), 9. Danny Buderus, 10. Roy Bull, 11. Frank Burge, 12. Harry Bath, 13. Sam Burgess, 14. Trent Barrett, 15. Kerry Boustead, 16. Les Boyd, 17. Jesse Bromwich.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Wayne Bennett

(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Hall of Fame: 11.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Internationals: 17.

Spine: Keith Barnes, Bob Banks, Joe Busch, Danny Buderus.

Top three: Dave Brown, Frank Burge, Arthur Beetson.

Bottom three: Bob Banks, Danny Buderus, Sam Burgess.

Bench rank: 8/10.

Verdict: How do you score more points than a team with Immortals Dave Brown (‘The Bradman of League’) and Frank Burge (the greatest try-scoring forward of all time) running off Artie Beetson’s offloads, with Keith ‘Golden Boots’ Barnes taking goal kicks from his own side of halfway.

And to top it off you have Cecil Blinkhorn and finally Brian Bevan, the greatest try-scorer in world rugby league history by a country mile. Their spine is very, very good rather than great, but would it even matter? And they have three of the absolute greatest coaches of all time to mastermind their victory in Wayne Bennett, Craig Bellamy and Bob Bax, who have a whopping 21 premierships between them.

So there you have it. The B team take away the Alphabet Cup by a nose.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Thanks to those few strange souls who followed these articles through thick and thin. I hope you have enjoyed them half as much as I did putting them together.

For those who are wondering what the heck this article was about, you can look back over a season of Alphabet team articles and make your own judgement on whether the author has simply too much time on his hands.

I look forward to all the bruising commentary below on why the L and S teams should win the competition. Or maybe there is some love for the Ms and Ts.

But that’s the fun of it – no one will ever know, so no one can ever be wrong (or right).