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Opinion

The AFL all-time great alphabet teams: Letter V

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Roar Pro
25th September, 2020
9

The V team might not have the depth of others, but there is enough quality to trouble some of the best sides.

Back line

Noel Voigt (Hawthorn 1954-60)
84 games, 45 goals
Noel Voigt was a handy ruckman recruited from Carey Baptist Grammar School. Capable of filling in at either end of the ground, he had the distinction of winning the reserves best and fairest in 1956, the same year he became one of the first players to take the field for Hawthorn in a final at the MCG – also for the reserves. In 1957, Voigt was a member of Hawthorn’s first team to make the VFL finals, and played in both the winning semi-final and losing preliminary final. He left the club the year before Hawthorn’s first premiership.

Jack Vosti (Essendon 1925-32, 1935, Footscray 1933-34)
127 games, 80 goals
A full forward who led Essendon’s goal kicking in 1927 with 35 goals, Jack Vosti reached greater effectiveness when he moved to full back. He was known as the “Tall Musician” for the elegant way he played footy, and for playing euphonium in the Kensington Band. He was an ever present in Victoria squads from 1928-31. Vosti finished second in Essendon’s best and fairest in 1928 and was promoted to vice-captain the following year, but injury started to dull his effectiveness and he was cleared to Footscray. After a solid year in 1933, he struggled in 1934 and returned to Essendon in 1935 before retiring.

Paul Vinar (Geelong 1959-66)
132 games, 45 goals
Known as “The Swede”, Paul Vinar’s family actually originated in Czechoslovakia. With Geelong, he became known for his prodigious kicking, particularly from defence. Vinar was often used in the ruck as well, and was named in that position for Geelong’s 1963 premiership. He held a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for a drop kick of 84 yards, and a punt of 101 yards. After finishing at Geelong, Vinar spent five seasons at Longford and three at Launceston in the NTFA, and was inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.

Half back line

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Brett Voss (Brisbane 1997-2000, St Kilda 2001-07)
170 games, 67 goals
The younger of the Voss brothers, Brett Voss never commanded a spot in the Brisbane side and was delisted in 2000. Picked up by St Kilda, he became a reliable defender who was deceptively strong overhead and a mainstay for the emerging Saints. Voss played in St Kilda’s 2004 Wizard Cup win, and played almost every match from 2004 to 2006. In 2006 he found himself moving up the half forward, and had his best season with a tenth place finish in the best and fairest. Voss retired the following year after losing a yard of pace and struggling with injury.

Francis Vine (Melbourne 1926-34)
105 games, 41 goals
In 2019, Marlion Pickett became only the fourth player to play in a winning grand final in their first match. In 1926, Francis ‘Pop’ Vine had become the third, called into the Melbourne squad as a replacement for star centreman Bob Corbett. In that match, Vine played as a follower who rested in defence, but over the next eight seasons became noted as a high marking and solid centre half back. He represented Victoria in 1931, and was named as captain in 1932 and 1933, but relinquished the role for his final season after injury. After Vine’s playing days were over, he remained involved with the club, hiring several players such as Norm Smith and Jack Mueller for his business.

Nick Vlastuin (Richmond 2013-)
157 games, 27 goals
Nick Vlastuin is a consistent rebound defender for Richmond, who has played in the club’s two premierships of the past three seasons. He won Richmond’s best first year player award in 2013, and two years later finished sixth in the best and fairest. With his ability to float off a man to take a handy intercept mark and his toughness at the ball, Vlastuin has been a strong part of Richmond’s success recently. In 2019 he had his best finish in a best and fairest award with fourth place. He is getting ready for another finals campaign and potentially a third premiership.

Nick Vlastuin Richmond Tigers AFL 2017

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Centre line

Herc Vollugi (Essendon 1901-06)
70 games, five goals
Over a short career, Herc Vollugi made a name as one of the most electrifying wingmen to watch when in full flight, and equally one of the most courageous. In his first season, Vollugi starred in Essendon’s premiership win, and continued to play well for some years. In 1905, he was injured to such an extent that he needed 14 stitches on his face – but he still completed the game as one of Essendon’s best players. Vollugi was also a keen baseballer, and several times played in the curtain raiser before changing into his footy colours and taking the field. After his playing days were over, Vollugi served on the Essendon committee until 1911.

Todd Viney (Melbourne 1987-99)
233 games, 92 goals
Todd Viney was an excellent junior tennis player, but gave up the game to concentrate on footy. The start of his career coincided with Melbourne’s return to the finals, and he was elevated to vice captain in only his second season. Viney struggled in the finals but continued to give good service as a hard running midfielder who could fit into an attacking or defending role. In 1993 he won a best and fairest award, before leaving the club after 1995 to be part of Mark Philippoussis’ coaching staff. The arrangement didn’t pan out, and Viney returned to Melbourne in a rich vein of form. Named captain in 1998, he won a second best and fairest and was named All Australian. His final year of 1999 was affected by hamstring and knee injuries, and he moved straight from the field to an assistant coaching role with the Demons. Viney was named on the bench of Melbourne’s Team of the Century.

Nathan van Berlo (Adelaide 2005-16)
205 games, 68 goals
A midfielder best known for his fitness and running ability, Nathan van Berlo was a solid player for Adelaide over a decade. Able to take on a tagging role while still winning his own ball, he finished seventh in the 2007 best and fairest award and maintained a consistent output. After Simon Goodwin retired in 2010, Van Berlo was named captain and responded with his best season, winning a Showdown Medal and finishing second in the best and fairest and racking up over 500 touches. An achilles injury wiped out his 2014 season, and Van Berlo stepped down as captain as a result. He retired after two more seasons, having reached the 200-game milestone.

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Ruck line

Rod Vernon (Fitzroy 1954-63)
119 games, 72 goals
Rod Vernon was an uncomplicated follower for Fitzroy over a decade, who was always a danger when resting forward. Although he never attained any individual awards, he became known for operating a milk bar near the western end of Brunswick Street Oval – so much so that when he was lining up for goal, the crowd would exhort him to “kick it through the milk bar window”. Vernon played in Fitzroy’s finals campaigns of 1958 and 1960, and seven times kicked three or more goals in a game. He was awarded Fitzroy Life Membership after playing for the club for ten years.

Michael Voss (Brisbane 1992-2006)
289 games, 245 goals
Inspirational, fearless, powerful. Michael Voss led Brisbane to footy relevance with the Brisbane Bears and to the top of the mountain with the Brisbane Lions. He could play anywhere on the field and have an impact, and his leadership lifted Brisbane to new heights regularly. Voss announced himself as a star in 1996, when he was named All Australian for the first of five times and won the Brownlow Medal. He was named captain of the newly merged Brisbane Lions and held the position until his retirement, leading the three-peat of 2001-03 and winning three best and fairests to go with two won with the Bears. Voss’ stature is such that he is credited as being one of the key figures in the AFL’s increased presence in Queensland. He was named as centre and captain of Brisbane’s Team of the Decade, and as captain of Queensland’s Team of the Century.

Michael Voss of the Lions in action

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Bernie Vince (Adelaide 2006-13, Melbourne 2014-18)
229 games, 113 goals
Bernie Vince was a classy ball user who took some time to break into the Adelaide squad after being drafted, but once he was a fixture remained consistent up until being traded to Melbourne. In 2008 he won the Showdown Medal after 24 touches and two goals, and topped 650 possessions the next year to win Adelaide’s best and fairest. Vince won the Michael Tuck Medal in 2012, before being traded to Melbourne in 2013. He was used as an attacking tagger for most of his time there, and won Melbourne’s best and fairest in 2015 before giving the club three more years of good service and retiring after exactly 100 games for the Demons.

Half forward line

Travis Varcoe (Geelong 2007-14, Collingwood 2015-)
230 games, 171 goals
Travis Varcoe was given the honour of wearing the famous Geelong number five jumper after Gary Ablett, and he lived up to the promise. As a hard-running pressure forward, Varcoe’s creativity and tackling added a new dimension to the Cats’ line-up, and he played important roles in the 2009 and 2011 premierships. In the 2011 grand final, not only did Varcoe kick a goal within ten seconds of the first bounce, but his length of the ground goal in the last quarter led to a Geelong onslaught. After the 2014 season, Varcoe was traded to Collingwood, where the fresh environment enlivened him and he has become a strong contributor on the wing and occasionally half back. He holds the record for reaching 100 wins in the fastest time, managing it in Round 2 of 2014, his 117th game.

Paul Vander Haar (Essendon 1977-90)
201 games, 278 goals
High leaping, strong marking, and always eye-catching, Paul Vander Haar became known as the “Flying Dutchman” very early in his career. He took the league by storm in 1977, being named the recruit of the year and being runner-up in Essendon’s best and fairest the year after. This was one of three times Vander Haar would finish second in the best and fairest, including his best year of 1985 when he kicked 46 goals and played in his second successive premiership. He represented Victoria several times, and battled through injury to make it through to one last grand final in 1990. He couldn’t go out a winner though, and retired after the loss. Kevin Sheedy wrote later that Vander Haar was one of the four best players he coached in his early career.

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Barrie Vagg (Melbourne 1962-69)
115 games, 132 goals
After a failed tryout with Footscray in 1960, Barrie Vagg returned to Shepparton before returning to try again with Melbourne. This time he was successful, and spent most of the 1960s as a clever half forward who could kick well with either foot and use his pace to get out of trouble. Vagg played in the 1964 premiership, and led Melbourne’s goal kicking in the next two years. In 1967 he applied for a clearance but was denied, and remained with Melbourne until 1969 when he departed to join Prahran in the VFA.

Forward line

Peter Vardy (Adelaide 1996-2001, Melbourne 2002-04)
137 games, 206 goals
Peter Vardy was capable of the mercurial, but too often his body let him down. After playing every match in 1997 to that point and being nominated for the Rising Star, Vardy broke his collarbone in the finals and missed out on that year’s premiership. He made up for it in 1998, kicking 44 goals as a handy foil to Tony Modra and two goals in the grand final victory. Vardy was traded to Melbourne for the 2002 season, and he kicked a handy 39 goals despite achilles and ankle problems. In his last two years, those injuries and groin problems combined for him to play only 20 matches, and he retired at the end of the 2004 season.

AFL-generic-Sherrin

(Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Harry Vallence (Carlton 1926-38)
204 games, 722 goals
Harry Vallence, known universally as “Soapy” as he was a slippery customer when the ball hit the ground, came to Carlton as a creative half forward but blossomed when he was moved to full forward in 1929. A noted big game performer, he twice kicked 11 goals during the finals, and led Carlton’s goal kicking eight times. In 1931 Vallence led the league with 86 goals, and he kicked his season highest 97 the following year. He represented Victoria five times but during the 1937 season felt he was losing effectiveness and applied for a transfer to VFA club Williamstown. Incoming coach Brighton Diggins talked him out of it and Vallence was grateful, as he helped the Blues to a flag in 1938 playing as a decoy half forward bombing the ball long to the forward line. Carlton released him to Williamstown after the 1938 season and he kicked 337 goals in three seasons before returning to captain-coach Carlton’s reserves. Vallence was named as full forward in Carlton’s Team of the Century – the only player from before WWII to be so honoured.

Viv Valentine (Carlton 1911-18)
116 games, 91 goals
One of the earliest players to make his way to the mainland after starring in Tasmania, Viv Valentine first came to the attention of Carlton in 1908 but stayed for two more years before making his debut. In that debut season of 1911, he was selected for Victoria and was a unanimous choice as best on ground in Carlton’s unsuccessful semi-final. A low-to-the-ground rover who moved like a moving mass of muscularity, Valentine was a prime mover in Carlton’s midfield but missed the 1914 premiership through injury. He suffered no such issue in 1915, and played too in the 1916 losing grand final side. After retiring as a player, Valentine achieved the distinction of becoming the first Tasmanian to coach a VFL side when he took the reins of Carlton for the 1919 season. After this, he returned to Tasmania and was heavily involved at the grassroots level for many years.

Interchange

Richie Vandenberg (Hawthorn 1998-2007)
145 games, 64 goals
Richie Vandenberg was a tough midfielder whose forthright nature and honestly led Alastair Clarkson to appoint him captain for the 2005 season. The year prior, Vandenberg had been a major participant in the brawl against Essendon that became known as the “Line in the Sand” game. Although he was suspended for six matches, he showed that Hawthorn were not going to be physically bullied. Vandenberg’s best year was in 2002, when he picked up ten Brownlow votes. He led Hawthorn to the finals in 2007, but retired after the Hawks’ season was over as injuries took their toll.

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Jack Viney (Melbourne 2013-)
135 games, 36 goals
Coming to Melbourne as a father-son selection, Jack Viney is an in-and-under midfielder who made an immediate impact with 22 touches and a goal in his first game. He was nominated for the Rising Star award later that year, and was named Melbourne’s best first year player. In 2015 he enjoyed a breakout season, as he became a quality tagger as well as winning his own ball, and finished second in the best and fairest. Viney went one better the following season, and was seen as an obvious choice to succeed Nathan Jones as captain for the 2017 season. He led the club for three seasons before handing the role to Max Gawn for 2020.

Jack Viney Melbourne Demons AFL 2017

(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Ty Vickery (Richmond 2009-16, Hawthorn 2017)
125 games, 160 goals
Ty Vickery was a ruckman-turned-forward who often bore the brunt of fan wrath for apparent under-performance. He was able to put together a respectable career in any event, twice finishing second in Richmond’s goal kicking and finishing fifth in the club’s best and fairest in 2011. In 2013, Vickery showed what he was capable of with a strong performance against St Kilda winning him the Ian Stewart Medal for best on ground. He moved to Hawthorn after the 2016 season, but retired after one year having lost his passion for the game.

Lazar Vidovic (St Kilda 1989-97)
80 games, 13 goals
An aggressive and unpredictable ruckman, Lazar Vidovic was never the main man for St Kilda but a more than handy back-up. He missed the 1990 season with a knee injury but returned to play some useful footy throughout the 1990s. Vidovic is best remembered for his actions in Fremantle’s first ever game, sparking a brawl and being suspended for six weeks after his frustrations boiled over. In 1997, he injured his knee in Round 22, causing him to miss St Kilda’s run to the grand final. Some contend that the Saints would have won the flag had either Vidovic or Peter Everitt been available.

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Emergencies

Clarrie Vontom (St Kilda 1939-45)
86 games, 78 goals
Clarrie Vontom was already 25 when he debuted for St Kilda, and in his first season finished third in the club’s goal kicking. He was a clever forward pocket who could rotate onto the ball, and was known for fearlessly throwing himself into every contest. When Frank Kelly was transferred due to war service in 1944, Vontom stepped up to lead St Kilda as captain for the remainder of the year and 1945, his last in the VFL.

Dick Vernon (Collingwood 1909-11)
51 games, 12 goals
Dick Vernon played only three seasons in the VFL, but was an ever present for Collingwood in those years. He had been recruited from Boulder City in Western Australia, spending time on the ball with the legendary Phil Matson. Vernon was named on the half forward flank for the 1910 premiership, and in the forward pocket of the 1911 grand final, his last match at the top level. After his career ended, he umpired in four VFL matches in 1912.

Bill Vanthoff (Melbourne 1930-34)
60 games, 42 goals
Unable to break into the strong Collingwood side of the era, Bill Vanthoff moved to Melbourne where he made a name for himself as a clever forward and rover, kicking four goals against Footscray in his first season and at least 12 in each of his first three years. He represented Victoria in 1933, but dropped off in form alarmingly the following season, after which he was released. Vanthoff has the distinction of having been a curator of the MCG during his career, before becoming head curator during the 1950s for six years.

Next up is the W team, where brilliance and hardness feature in equal measure.