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Opinion

The AFL all-time great alphabet teams: Letter E

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Roar Rookie
19th May, 2020
33

The E team doesn’t have quite the explosiveness or legends we have seen so far, but there are still plenty of revered names in the squad.

Read more of the series here.

Back line

Wels Eicke (St Kilda 1909-1924, 1926; North Melbourne 1925-26)
218 games, 61 goals
For nearly 50 years Eicke was the youngest person to play in a VFL match, at only 15 years and 303 days. Over the next 17 years he developed into a towering figure in St Kilda’s backline with the ability to fly for marks and set off with powerful long kicks. Eicke played in St Kilda’s ill-fated 1913 grand final, and the following year he won the inaugural Saints best and fairest, one of three that he would be awarded. When North Melbourne entered the league in 1925 he transferred there as captain-coach, but halfway through 1926 he returned to St Kilda to end his career. He is also notable for being one of only three captains to call for a headcount, in 1924.

Jack Edwards (North Melbourne 1951-59)
114 games, one goal
Probably better known from his time as a commentator, Jack Edwards served North Melbourne well as a fullback throughout the 1950s. A reliable defender who took a few years to establish himself, Edwards won a club best and fairest in 1956 and went on to represent Victoria in his final season. After he left the VFL he coached Coburg and Brunswick in the VFA.

Mick Egan (Footscray 1978-87)
128 games, 12 goals
Egan was never going to be a headline grabber, but his ruggedly effective play in a back pocket over the course of a decade saw him as one of Footscray’s favourite sons. For a four-year period he was particularly effective, averaging over 15 possessions a game between 1981-84 before injuries started to take their toll. He played only 16 games in his final three years.

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Halfback line

Corey Enright (Geelong 2001-16)
332 games, 66 goals
Forever unruffled, forever reliable, Corey Enright didn’t get the headlines as much as his Geelong teammates, but he was every bit as vital to their success, as evidenced by two club best and fairest medals in premiership years. Enright was key in Geelong’s rebound from defence, and springboarded plenty of attacks. He was nearly ever-present in the top ten of Geelong’s best and fairest count and retired as the all-time games record holder for the Cats. He was named in six All Australian sides, including four in a row in 2008-11.

Vin English (Carlton 1950-56)
115 games, nine goals
English held down a key defensive post for the Blues in one of their rare lean periods of the 20th century. For seven seasons his anticipation and strength held together the Carlton back line. In the one final the Blues played during his tenure, English was named as best on ground for his efforts in repelling Fitzroy’s attacks, but to no avail, as the Maroons triumphed by a point. English would go on the be named equal runner-up in the Blues best and fairest that year, 1952. After his career at Carlton closed English went on to coach Colac in the Hampden League.

Alec Epis (Essendon 1958-68)
180 games, two goals
Epis initially played football for Mines Rovers in Western Australia before seeking a clearance to the Bombers. When this was refused he sat out of football for two years in order to move across. He was well worth the wait for Essendon, becoming one of the most popular players of the time. A strong drop kick with a penchant for the spectacular and holding the ball aloft after marking, Epis played in two Bombers premierships and was named in the Italian team of the century. His conspicuous ways led to him often placing high in Brownlow Medal counts, and he represented Victoria four times in the 1960s.

Centre line

Rodney Eade (Hawthorn 1976-87, Brisbane 1988-90)
259 games, 49 goals
Probably remembered more for his stints as coach of Sydney, the Bulldogs and Gold Coast, Rocket Eade was a dashing wingman for over a decade for the Hawks before an injury-plagued stint at Brisbane. Considering the strength of the Hawthorn line-up, it does not surprise that he did not achieve many individual awards, but he played an important role in four Hawks flags before departing. As a coach he led Sydney to their first grand final in 51 years and took the Dogs to three straight preliminary finals but couldn’t quite win a flag.

Tyson Edwards (Adelaide 1995-2010)
321 games, 192 goals
As with Eade, Tyson Edwards didn’t receive many individual awards, but his importance to the Crows was never in question. As a defender-turned-midfielder, he rarely turned in a bad game and was part of Adelaide’s 1997-98 flag sides. Three times he was runner-up in Adelaide’s best and fairest award, and in 2009 he crossed the 300 game mark, the fourth Crow to reach the milestone. Edwards also represented South Australia in the final State of Origin game in 1999 and was part of the 2002 International Rules team. Edwards retired midway through 2010 with a best-on-ground performance against Fremantle after being dropped earlier in the season.

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Andrew Embley (West Coast 1999-2013)
250 games, 216 goals
An underrated part of the Eagles midfield through the last decade, Embley was able to move between the wing and the half-forward flank with equal effectiveness. Twice he finished second in the Eagles goal kicking tally, and he won the Norm Smith Medal in 2006 in West Coast’s thrilling win. His best season was in 2011 when he had career-high disposals and played in all but one game. After this, injury started to limit his effectiveness, and he played only 19 games in his last two years before retiring.

Ruck Line

Peter Everitt (St Kilda 1993-2002, Hawthorn 2003-06, Sydney 2007-08)
291 games, 383 goals
Everitt has one of the more appropriate nicknames of modern times, with big ‘Spida’ being a massive part of St Kilda’s charge toward a grand final in 1997 in particular. I well remember going to a Swans-Saints match that year and this big guy in the No. 10 was marking everything that came in the same postcode as him. Unfortunately he broke his collarbone in the first week of the finals, and his presence could have made the difference on grand final day. Everitt was named All Australian twice as a Saint (1997-98) and once as a Hawk (2005), winning best and fairest awards at both clubs as well. After a contractual dispute with Hawthorn he was traded to Sydney and gave them two more years of solid service. Everitt also represented Victoria in each year from 1997 until 1999.

Fred Elliott (Melbourne 1899, Carlton 1900-11)
209 games, 90 goals
Fred ‘Pompey’ Elliott was so influential that his nickname was passed to Brigadier General Harold Edward Elliott, who led the seventh Battalion at Gallipoli. Following a nondescript year at Melbourne, Elliott came into his own at Carlton following the appointment of Jack Worrall as coach. A tough and spirited ruck-rover, Elliott’s name invariably featured among the best on ground during the finals, and he played a starring role in Carlton’s flags of 1906 and 1908, missing the 1907 premiership through suspension. When Worrall left the club in 1909, Elliott took on the mantle of captain-coach through to 1911, when he retired as the first player to reach 200 games.

Alec Eason (Geelong 1909-15, 1919-21, Richmond 1916)
163 games, 88 goals
Eason’s fitness and speed saw him nicknamed ‘Bunny’ during his career, and his kicking to teammates over shorter distances was said to be superb. Eason won Geelong’s best and fairest in 1915 before the club paused operations for World War I, whereupon he spent a year at Richmond. When Geelong returned, so did Eason, and he continued to play well until he accepted a lucrative offer to play with Footscray in the VFA. When they joined the VFL Eason was suspended as he had left without a clearance. Most notably, Eason had only three fingers on his right hand. Eason was named on the interchange bench in Geelong’s team of the century.

Half-forward line

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Shane Edwards (Richmond 2007-)
256 games, 162 goals
Edwards started his career at Richmond as a half-forward and had a breakout season in 2010 once Damien Hardwick was appointed coach. He became a consistent player, able to slot where the team needed him, and his hardness and intelligence around the packs became a highlight of his game. While not kicking many goals himself, he would often set up for players in a better position, leading the league for goal assists in 2018, when he was named All Australian. Edwards played in the two Richmond premiership teams of 2017 and 2019. In 2019 he overtook Kevin Sheedy’s record for most games in the Richmond No. 10 jumper and also finished in second place in the club’s best and fairest.

Jack Evans (Geelong 1929-38)
149 games, 146 goals
Serving on the police force and consequently known as ‘Copper’, Jack Evans would play as a ruckman or key position player with excellent marking ability and a great competitive spirit. He led Geelong’s goal kicking in 1935 and played in the 1931 and 1937 flags. The latter premiership was blown open by Evans’s six-goal performance that sealed the victory. Evans represented Victoria on nine occasions throughout the 1930s and was inducted into the Victoria Police sports hall of fame in 2011.

Jim Edmond (Footscray 1977-85, Sydney 1986, Brisbane 1987-88)
188 games, 287 goals
Edmond was a tough customer for the Bulldogs over almost half a decade before defecting to Sydney and then Brisbane, where he led the fledgling club’s goal kicking in their first year. He had previously led Footscray’s goal kicking in 1981 and captained the club from 1983 to 1985. With good marking ability and accurate shooting for goal he averaged approximately one and a half goals a game, and he represented Victoria in 1983.

Shane Edwards

Shane Edwards (Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Forward line

Jamie Elliott (Collingwood 2012-)
106 games, 165 goals
Although Elliott has missed two full seasons with injury, when on the field Elliott has been electrifying, kicking over 25 goals in all but his debut season and often playing taller than his height. He has led Collingwood’s goal kicking on two occasions and won the mark of the year in 2013 against Port Adelaide. Elliott was named in the 22 under 22 side for the 2014 season and his value was such that at the end of the 2019 many clubs were linked to a trade for him. However, he opted to stay with the Magpies for 2020.

Ron Evans (Essendon 1958-62)
64 games, 210 goals
One of Essendon’s first spearheads in the post-Coleman era, Ron Evans was such a success under Dick Reynolds’s coaching that he won two Coleman Medals, in 1959 and 1960, kicking 145 goals across the two years in a period noted for very low scoring. Using his unusually long arms he was able to take plenty of marks and use an accurate set shot for goal. He represented Victoria in both 1959 and 1960. In 1961 he missed several matches through injury before losing form under coach Coleman in 1962 and returning to Western Australia. He is likely better known these days for his time on the AFL Commission and the Ron Evans Medal being named in his honour, having formerly been known as the Rising Star Award.

Alan Ezard (Essendon 1983-93)
184 games, 200 goals
Ezard was one of the smallest men on the field in the 1980s, standing at 173 centimetres and 68 kilograms. However, his marking ability and ball sense helped him stand out, and he played for Victoria 1990 and 1991, winning a Whitten Medal in the latter year. Ezard played in the flag sides of 1984 and 1985 before leading the club goal kicking in 1986. He also won the best and fairest in 1991. Following his departure from the Bombers Ezard went on to coach Ballarat in the VFL.

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Jamie Elliott

Jamie Elliott (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Interchange

Nathan Eagleton (Port Adelaide 1997-99, Western Bulldogs 2000-10)
For over a decade the sight of Nathan Eagleton streaming down the wing was a familiar one, as his distinctive bald head gave some character to the Dogs side. A regular for the Power in their first three years, in 1999 Eagleton was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and missed three weeks. After being traded to the Bulldogs, Eagleton was ever-present for the side, occasionally suffering drops in form but returning to his usual high standard each time. After playing in each of the Dogs’ finals campaigns of 2008-10, Eagleton retired as the final member of the inaugural Port squad still to be playing. He represented South Australia in 1998 and was part of two International Rules teams.

Brad Ebert (West Coast 2008-11, Port Adelaide 2012-)
247 games, 130 goals
Nephew of the great Russell Ebert, Brad Ebert is a hard-at-it midfielder who spent four years at West Coast before returning to his home state. At West Coast he was the youngest debutant for seven years, playing most of his career as an inside midfielder before moving to the forward flanks. After being traded to Port Adelaide he enjoyed a breakout season, finishing second in the club best and fairest and leading the club’s Brownlow Medal count. He led the club’s Brownlow count again in 2017 and has often played a role in the Power side before missing half of 2019 with injury.

Bill Eason (Geelong 1902-15)
220 games, 187 goals
The older brother of Alec, Bill Eason was the first Geelong player to reach the 200-game milestone. Primarily a centreman, he could move to the forward or back flanks with equal adeptness. Eason captained Geelong in 1910-13, also coaching in the latter two years, and represented Victoria in one State of Origin match. He was best known for his elusiveness and kicking skills and has been inducted into Geelong’s hall of fame.

Brendan Edwards (Hawthorn 1956-63)
109 games, 29 goals
Edwards was the catalyst behind Hawthorn’s first premiership in 1961, with his fanatical devotion to fitness appealing to coach John Kennedy. The rest of the Hawks followed Edwards’s example as part of Kennedy’s commandos, and this fitness led to them running out the grand final much better than the opposing Bulldogs. His career was more than just fitness, being good enough to represent Victoria regularly and winning the club best and fairest in 1960. Edwards was named on a wing on Hawthorn’s team of the century. After retirement Edwards appropriately enough founded a chain of health clubs in Melbourne.

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Emergencies

Brandon Ellis (Richmond 2012-19, Gold Coast 2020-)
177 games, 58 goals
Ellis spent the first part of his career as a fleet-footed outside midfielder, winning plaudits both internally and externally – being a member of three 22 under 22 teams, finishing second in the club best and fairest in 2014 – before shifting to the back line, where he was a crucial part of the two Richmond premiership sides of 2017 and 2019. After the 2019 season Ellis took up a role with Gold Coast with a view to sharing his experience with the young team.

Bernie Evans (South Melbourne/Sydney 1978-85, Carlton 1986-88)
185 games, 257 goals
Playing mainly as a rover and half forward, Evans was consistently brilliant for the Swans, averaging nearly a goal and a half per game and winning a best and fairest in 1984 while also representing Victoria. However, come 1985 Evans clashed with coach Tom Hafey over moving to Sydney to train with the team – Evans had remained in Melbourne when the club relocated – and Carlton came knocking. After losing the 1986 grand final Carlton and Evans were out to do one better the following year, but Evans missed out on the premiership after being reported for striking Hawks ruckman Greg Dear in the second semi-final. He played one more year before retiring, winning the reserves best and fairest.

Des English (Carlton 1980-86)
104 games, six goals
Close checking in the back pocket, tireless and unfailingly consistent, Des English was a popular member of the Carlton side throughout the 1980s. He played in the club’s 1981 and 1982 flags and was a Victorian representative in 1983. After playing in the losing 1986 grand final – alongside Bernie Evans, above – English was diagnosed with leukemia and his league career was over. However, his impact on the club was not to be denied, and his condition, along with that of Peter Motley, who suffered a career-ending car crash midway through 1987, was a great impetus for the Carlton premiership of 1987.

Up next is the F team, featuring two players who have laid claims to be the best of the past decade, as well as a terrifyingly unpredictable forward line and one of the greatest ruckmen ever.

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