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Opinion

The AFL all-time great alphabet teams: Letter M

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Roar Pro
4th August, 2020
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The M team has well over 1000 players eligible to be selected in the squad, so to have reached this 25 is no mean feat indeed.

Back line

Guy McKenna (West Coast 1988-2000)
267 games, 28 goals
Guy McKenna was an ever present in the great West Coast teams of the 1990s, taking part in the 1992 and 1994 premierships. Noted for his cool demeanour on the field, McKenna won best and fairest awards in 1989 and 1999, as well as being named All Australian on three occasions. He was the first player to reach 200 games for West Coast, and captained the club in the last two years of his career. Interestingly, McKenna was the first player ever ordered from the field due to the blood rule, in 1994.

Suns coach Guy McKenna talks to players

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Kelvin Moore (Hawthorn 1970-84)
300 games, 21 goals
One of the finest fullbacks of the 1970s, Kelvin Moore was a strong mark and blessed with excellent anticipation skills. He played in three Hawthorn premierships, was looked at as the best on field in 1971 and was a strong performer in both 1976 and 1978. Moore represented Victoria on 13 occasions, and won Hawthorn’s best and fairest award in 1979. He was an inaugural member of Hawthorn’s Hall of Fame, and was named as full back in the Hawks’ Team of the Century.

Michael Mansfield (Geelong 1990-99, Carlton 2000-02)
235 games, 118 goals
A dashing and athletic defender for both Geelong and Carlton, Michael Mansfield was one of the more prominent members of the Geelong sides of the 1990s. Named All Australian in 1994 and 1995, he was considered among Geelong’s best in both grand finals of those years even though the Cats were pumped on both occasions. Mansfield represented Victoria in four years of State of Origin matches, before transferring to Carlton as the Blues attempted to load up for a flag. He retired in 2002 as he started to lose effectiveness.

Half back line

Kevin Murray (Fitzroy 1955-64, 1967-74)
333 games, 51 goals
Kevin Murray was indefatigable in defence for Fitzroy over two decades, often using reach that belied his height to spoil the ball or grab it in his own right. He won an incredible nine best and fairest awards with Fitzroy, along with one at East Perth while he spent two years there in the middle of his career. After three times finishing in the top three, in 1969 Murray finally won a Brownlow Medal to achieve full league-wide recognition. He captain-coached Fitzroy in 1963 and 1964, ironically missing the only match the Lions won in those two seasons as he was playing with Victoria in a State of Origin match. Murray was named on the half back flank of the AFL Team of the Century and Fitzroy’s Team of the Century, as captain. He retired from the VFL having played a then-record 333 games.

Chris Mew (Hawthorn 1980-92)
230 games, 21 goals
Unflappable in defence, Chris Mew was an important part of five Hawthorn premiership sides. While never one for dramatics or showmanship, Mew was reliable, dependable and effective up until his retirement in the 1993 pre-season. He was named in the best in the 1989 and 1991 grand finals, and ended his career being named as centre half back in Hawthorn’s Team of the Century.

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Andrew McLeod (Adelaide 1995-2010)
340 games, 275 goals
Andrew McLeod spent a few games in his first season finding his feet, but after dribbling home a match-winning goal from the boundary against Hawthorn, never looked back and became one of the greatest players in the history of the Adelaide Crows. With laser-like precision whether delivering to a teammate or shooting for goal, strength and courage to burn, and pace enough to run clear of anyone, McLeod announced himself as a star by winning consecutive Norm Smith Medals in the 1997 and 1998 premierships. He won three best and fairest awards, and was considered desperately unlucky to miss out on the Brownlow Medal in 2001. McLeod was named on the half back flank of Adelaide’s Team of the Decade and as ruck rover in the Indigenous Team of the Century. He is the current games record holder for Adelaide.

Andrew McLeod runs with the ball

(Tony Lewis/Getty Images)

Centre line

Peter Matera (West Coast 1990-2002)
253 games, 217 goals
Throughout the 1990s, the sight of Peter Matera streaming down the wing to ram home a long bomb or deliver into the forward 50 was a regular one for Eagles fans. With great pace and incredible ball skills, Matera was named All Australian on five occasions, and took part in the 1992 and 1994 premierships. His 1992 Norm Smith Medal is his most notable performance, kicking five goals from the wing in a dominant display. Oddly, Matera only won one best and fairest award, in 1997, but his status was such that he was named on the wing in the Indigenous Team of the Century and the Italian Team of the Century, as well as being the first career Eagle to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn 2002-16, West Coast 2017)
329 games, 71 goals
Sam Mitchell was a prolific and skilled midfielder throughout his career at Hawthorn, able to extract a clearance from anywhere and deliver the ball to outside runners with regularity. He won the Liston Medal in 2002 while playing for VFL-affiliated Box Hill, but from 2003 he became a star of the league, taking home the Rising Star award in 2003 and the first of five best and fairest awards in 2006. Mitchell was appointed as captain in 2008, and led the club to a premiership before stepping down in 2010. He was also part of the premiership three-peat of 2013-15, and won the Brownlow Medal in 2012. After the 2016 season, Mitchell moved to West Coast with a view to developing his coaching career, helping the Eagles into the finals in his last season on the field.

Thorold Merrett (Collingwood 1950-60)
180 games, 148 goals
Rejected from Richmond for being too small (168 centimetres and 59 kilograms), Thorold Merrett went on to become one of the greatest wingmen in Collingwood’s history. He debuted in 1950 at 16 years old and quickly developed a reputation for pinpoint accuracy, honed by kicking a ball through a tire at his home farm. Merrett starred in the 1953 and 1958 premierships, seen as the best afield in the latter flag, and twice won best and fairest awards at Collingwood. He retired in 1960 after a broken leg did not knit properly, and was named on the wing of Collingwood’s Team of the Century.

Ruck line

Simon Madden (Essendon 1974-92)
378 games, 575 goals
Simon Madden gave sterling service to Essendon for nearly two decades, firstly in the forward pocket then as one of the finest tap ruckmen in the league. He led Essendon’s goal-kicking on three occasions, and won the best and fairest award four times. Madden starred in the 1984 and 1985 premierships, winning the Norm Smith Medal in the latter year, and was a regular in Victorian State of Origin sides throughout the 1990s. When he retired, he held Essendon’s all-time goal-kicking record and had played the third most games of anyone in league history. He was named as ruckman in Essendon’s Team of the Century, and as number five in the Champions of Essendon list.

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Dustin Martin (Richmond 2010-)
231 games, 257 goals
In 2017, Dustin Martin took all before him by winning every individual award available to him – Brownlow Medal, Norm Smith Medal, AFLPA MVP, AFL Coaches Award, Richmond Best and Fairest (repeating his 2016 win) and a premiership. Even before his tour de force year, Martin was a prominent player in the midfield, with brute strength and finesse seeing him average nearly a goal a game while featuring regularly in the high positions in the team’s best and fairest count. Martin repeated his Norm Smith Medal in 2019 and won a second premiership, and looks set to continue his ways into the new decade.

Dustin Martin

(Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn 1969-85)
332 games, 915 goals
For all the accolades, goals, iconic moments such as knocking down the behind post, and premierships, Leigh Matthews will be remembered as having been named the greatest player of the 20th century. Starting as a rover in the forward pocket, he won Hawthorn’s Best First Year Player award in 1969, before his first (of eight!) best and fairest award two years later. A Coleman Medallist in 1975, Matthews also led Hawthorn’s goal-kicking six times, and played in four premierships. Nicknamed ‘Lethal’ owing to his ability to give hard tackles and bumps while shrugging off the same, his career was blighted in his final season by an off-the-ball hit on Neville Bruns, which remains the only footy act to have resulted in a criminal charge. After retirement, Matthews coached Collingwood to the 1990 premiership and Brisbane to the three-peat of 2001-03. He was named as rover in Hawthorn’s Team of the Century, and in the forward pocket of the VFL/AFL Team of the Century.

Half forward line

Dave McNamara (St Kilda 1905-09, 1914-15, 1918-19, 1921-23)
122 games, 187 goals
Dave McNamara had a reputation for being the longest kick of a footy in the game when he was at his peak. Playing mainly at centre half forward, he was once said to kick a ball over 93 yards – a record for the time. McNamara was one of the key figures in the conflict between the VFL and VFA of the time, lured to VFA side Essendon Association in 1909 and kicking a scarcely believable 107 goals in 1912 to help them to back-to-back premierships. After he missed the 1913 season in order to be cleared back to St Kilda, he represented Victoria in 1914 and won a long kicking competition against Dally Messenger. In his final two years he served as playing coach for the Saints.

Mark Maclure (Carlton 1974-86)
243 games, 327 goals
Playing his junior footy in Sydney and Brisbane as his father was stationed around the country for the Navy, Mark Maclure came to Carlton’s attention in 1973 and made his debut at full back the following year. His first few years were spent in defence, before he shifted up the field to become a powerful and team-oriented key forward. Maclure led Carlton’s goal-kicking in 1977 and 1985, and three times finished on the podium in the club best and fairest award. He was a big player in Carlton’s premierships of 1979, 1981, and 1982, and was appointed captain for his final season of 1986.

Tony Morwood (South Melbourne/Sydney 1978-89)
229 games, 397 goals
Tony Morwood was a crafty half forward with great pace and a knack for finding the goals. He led South Melbourne’s goal-kicking twice, and was a consistent presence on the field throughout his career. When the Swans relocated to Sydney, Morwood didn’t miss a beat, kicking at least 25 goals in each of the first six seasons after the move. He represented Victoria in 1986 and was part of the NSW squad for the Bicentennial State of Origin Carnival in 1988. Morwood was named on the half forward flank of Sydney’s Team of the Century.

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Forward line

Alby Morrison (Footscray 1928-38, 1941-42, 1946)
224 games, 369 goals
Talented and extremely unselfish, Alby Morrison brought his teammates into the game like few others at Footscray during his career. He was still skilled enough to average over a goal and a half per game throughout his career, and he led the Bulldogs’ goal-kicking on five occasions. Twice Morrison was a best and fairest winner and he featured regularly in the Victorian sides through the 1930s. After the 1938 season he crossed to Preston for two seasons before returning, and had one last season after the war finished. Morrison was named on the half forward flank of Footscray’s Team of the Century.

Peter McKenna (Collingwood 1965-75, Carlton 1977)
191 games, 874 goals
Peter McKenna was one of the first media superstars on the footy field, with boyish good looks, a Beatle-esque mop top and a proclivity for high marking and accurate kicking. After he kicked 12 goals in Round 1, 1966, McKenna rarely looked back, leading Collingwood’s goal-kicking in eight straight years and thrice topping 100 goals, each time kicking at least 130. He was Collingwood’s best and fairest winner in 1970, and his injury just before halftime probably contributed to Collingwood’s loss in the grand final that year. A two-time Coleman Medalist, McKenna’s form dropped in 1975 and he spent a year in Tasmania before returning to Carlton for one last fling at an elusive premiership.

Stephen Milne (St Kilda 2001-13)
275 games, 574 goals
Capable of the most freakish of goals, Stephen Milne provided an extra dimension to St Kilda’s forward line throughout the 2000s. Very durable and consistent, Milne played over 20 games for nine straight years from 2004, and led the Saints’ goal-kicking four times. He was named All Australian in 2011 and 2012, and played in the Saints’ unsuccessful 2009 and 2010 grand finals. But for the bounce of a ball he would be remembered as kicking the last-minute winner in 2010. Milne was only the fifth non-key position forward to reach 500 goals in his career.

AFL generic

(Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Interchange

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Fred McGinis (Melbourne 1897-1901)
84 games, 36 goals
Almost without exception, contemporary reports from the formative years of the VFL note Fred McGinis as one of the best players to have yet played footy. He started with Melbourne in the VFA in 1894, and led the club’s goal-kicking in 1895. Playing primarily as a rover, McGinis was noted for his great skill in passing the ball, as well as his speed, endurance, and marking skills. He featured in Melbourne’s boil-over 1900 premiership and played in several State of Origin matches. In 1901, failing eyesight saw McGinis forced to retire, and he returned home to Tasmania. In 1902, the VFL and VFA played a charity fundraiser match for his benefit – the first time the two competitions had faced off since the split of 1897.

Herbie Matthews (South Melbourne 1932-45)
191 games, 17 goals
The son of Herb ‘Butcher’ Matthews who partnered Roy Cazaly in the ruck for two seasons, Herbie Matthews started his career on the wing but would move around the field to centreman, rover, or half forward. He starred in South’s 1933 premiership as well as the subsequent losing grand finals of 1934, ’35 and ’36. Matthews won South Melbourne’s best and fairest award on five occasions, and tied for the Brownlow Medal in 1940. He captained South from 1938-45, retiring after the 1945 grand final after being reprimanded for throwing the ball away from the umpire – hardly a reportable offence in the contact of what else had happened in the match! Matthews was named on the wing in South Melbourne’s Team of the Century.

Peter Moore (Collingwood 1974-82, Melbourne 1983-87)
249 games, 244 goals
Peter Moore is part of an exclusive club – a dual Brownlow Medallist, with medals won at different clubs. Tall and with fantastic ball skills, Moore took over the rucking role from Len Thompson and was equally adept on the ball or up forward. He led Collingwood’s goal-kicking twice, and won two best and fairest awards with the Magpies as well as the 1979 Brownlow Medal. Injuries dogged his last Collingwood years, but he recovered at Melbourne to such an extent that he won a second Brownlow in 1984. Famously, Moore missed out on a premiership despite playing in four grand finals (and a replay) in five years, throwing away his runner-up medal in 1981.

David McKay (Carlton 1969-81)
263 games, 277 goals
A classical high mark who would often be found atop a pack up forward or in defence, David McKay was a versatile and graceful part of the Carlton sides of the 1970s. Starting his career primarily at centre half back, McKay was a proven finals performer by the time his second season was completed, being voted as best on ground in the remarkable 1970 premiership. Three more flags would follow in 1972, 1979 and 1981. McKay was versatile and often moved forward to provide a spark for the Carlton offence, none more so than at Windy Hill in 1975 when he kicked eight goals against Essendon. He retired after the 1981 grand final, having been hampered by an ankle injury for two years.

MCG generic

(Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Emergencies

Bill Mohr (St Kilda 1929-41)
195 games, 735 goals
Bill Mohr started his career as a half back flanker, but St Kilda moved him up to the goal square, where his unerringly accurate kicking would see him join the pantheon of great forwards in the 1930s. Despite playing in a weak Saints team, he was held in such high regard that he played for Victoria 18 times. Mohr won club best and fairest awards in 1932 and 1936, kicking over 100 goals in the latter year, and led the Saints’ goal-kicking in every year but his last. He retired in 1941 after an aborted move to defence as he felt he would not regain enough form to keep a younger player from the team. Mohr was named on the half forward flank of St Kilda’s Team of the Century.

Rod McGregor (Carlton 1905-20)
236 games, 26 goals
Rod McGregor was one of the first great Carlton players, making the centreman position his own for 15 seasons. He starred in the 1906 and 1908 premierships, missing 1907 through injury, before featuring in the losing grand finals of 1909 and 1910. McGregor was pacy and courageous, and one of the first players to be able to kick with both feet with equal adeptness. After the 1912 preliminary final, which Carlton lost, McGregor was suspended for the 1913 season for arguing with captain Jack Wells. Returning in 1914 he promptly helped the club to two more premierships, and captained the club in 1918. His stature can be measured by the fact that throughout his career, the only season Carlton missed the finals was the 1913 season for which he was suspended. McGregor was named as an emergency in Carlton’s Team of the Century.

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Roger Merrett (Essendon 1978-87, Brisbane 1988-96)
313 games, 433 goals
Over a decade with Essendon, Roger Merrett earned his stripes by playing in plenty of reserves matches – winning the Gardiner Medal in 1982, before playing in the senior premierships of 1984 and 1985. Capable of playing as a key forward or in the ruck, it was at Brisbane that his best footy would be played, offering an inspirational presence on the field and spending most of his time in the ruck before stationing himself at full forward as his body aged. Merrett led Brisbane’s goal-kicking three times, and captained the Bears from 1990 until his retirement. When he retired, Merrett had played the most games and kicked the most goals in Brisbane Bears history.

Next up is the N team, with one of the greatest ruckmen of all time, as well as the most confident man to set foot on the field in a VFL match.