In part 1 of this series I discussed the jumper records of Nos. 1 to 4, the three current record holders (No. 8, No. 14 and No. 46) and the three numbers where the games record stands at one (No. 63, No. 65 and No. 67).
But most of the other numbers have some history, and even in the shortened 2020 season there will be changes to the record holders by the end of the year.
John Rantall started his stellar career at South Melbourne (now Sydney) in 1963 wearing the No. 5 jumper and played with the same number on his back when he moved to North Melbourne for three years, winning a premiership and a best and fairest at the Kangaroos. He returned to South Melbourne in 1976 and wore the No. 5 jumper for another four years to take his game total to 330 games. After coach Ian Stewart told Rantall his career was over at the Swans, he saddled up for one more year at the Fitzroy Lions but was given the No. 1 jumper and played only six games more before his retirement.
Like the games record holders for jumper Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, Rantall has no serious contenders to take over his jumper games record throne.
The story with No. 6, however, is slightly different. Currently sitting on top of the pile is Western Bulldogs player Brad Johnson with all but nine of his 364 games in the No. 6 guernsey.
No. 2 on the list is current Carlton evergreen Kade Simpson, but he would need to play on into the 2021 season to accumulate the number of games required to topple the smiling assassin.
The No. 7 and No. 9 jumper games record holders Doug Hawkins (Footscray and Fitzroy) and Shane Crawford (Hawthorn) are both 300-plus game players and have no immediate challengers for their record.
At No. 10, however, current record holder Marcus Ashcroft may be overhauled before the end of the season by Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury, who currently sits 15 games behind Ashcroft after playing his first season of nine games in No. 16.
All jumper number records from jumper No. 11 to jumper No. 21 are safe in the hands of the current incumbents, and so is No. 22 in the hands of former Magpie captain Tony Shaw, who also coached the club for four years from 1996 to 1999. Below him, however, the battle rages, with No. 22 being the most popular number with four current top 100 club game players listed in the top 10 guernsey wearers of all time.
Tied for second place on the list is Magpie Steele Sidebottom and Kangaroo Todd Goldstein on 235 games, 73 games adrift of Shaw. Further down the list is Geelong’s Mitch Duncan, who is currently tied in seventh place with former Carlton champion forward Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallance. One position further back is Hawthorn’s Luke Breust, who is the only one on the list apart from Shaw who hasn’t played all his league games in jumper No. 22. Breust, who in Round 1 this year became a AFL top 100 goal scorer, played 17 games and kicked 30 goals in the No. 47 jumper in his first year, and while his 17 games has cost him a few notches up the jumper ladder, his 30 goals would have still left him a long way short of the aforementioned ‘Soapy’ Vallance.
Other current players capable to claiming the mantle of leading league game player in their number are Eagle Shannon Hurn (No. 25), Cat Tom Hawkins (No. 26) and Kangaroo Ben Brown (No. 50). All should be capable of achieving it this year.
On the goal-kicking front spare a thought for former Port Adelaide player Sam Gray. Currently the leading goal scorer in jumper No. 46, he now wears jumper No. 15 at his new club Sydney so will have to watch and wonder if Collingwood’s Mason Cox manages to kick the ten goals he needs to challenge Gray’s record.
Other current players who hold the record for goals kicked in their jumper number are Jack Riewoldt, Taylor Walker, Josh Kennedy, Levi Casboult, Ben Brown and Lance Franklin who also shares the record for No. 67 with Jeff Garlett.