Season 2020 may prove to be the end of an era of Shaw family involvement with the departure of Rhyce Shaw as the senior coach at North Melbourne, and the departure of younger brother Heath Shaw as a player at Greater Western Sydney.
For the past 47 years, with the exception of one year (1995), the Shaw dynasty has been a major contributor to the fabric of the VFL/AFL, with one or more members impacting on the history, success and culture of six different clubs during that time.
Ray ‘Rick’ Shaw won the JJ Liston Trophy for the best and fairest player in the VFA while playing for Preston in 1973 and was immediately recruited by Collingwood – the most famous club in the VFL – as a ready-made player at 19 years of age.
Coach Neil Mann – in his last year as coach – picked him for Round 1 in 1974 and he went on to play 21 games in his first season, including two finals. In 1977 he was joined by his brother, Anthony ‘Tony’ Shaw, and won the club’s best and fairest in 1978, becoming captain of the club in 1979 and leading the club to two successive grand final losses. He left the Magpies in 1981 and returned to a successful career at Preston.
By now, younger brother Tony was a successful rover/centreman at the club and Tony went on to win the best and fairest in 1984, being joined at the club that year by his younger brother Neville. Tony then again followed brother Ray by being appointed captain in 1987, a position he held until 1993.
In 1990, he lead Collingwood to a premiership win against Essendon, winning the Norm Smith medal along the way and the Copeland Trophy (best and fairest) for a second time. He played on for one more year, handing over the captaincy to Gavin Brown but by 1996 he was back at the club, this time as non-playing coach. After four unsuccessful years in that role, he retired at the end of 1999.
By now, Rhyce Shaw, the eldest son of Ray, was ready to join the club and was drafted under the father-son rule, playing three games in 2000, and a total of 94 games for the club before moving on to Sydney and a successful career that included the 2012 premiership and ended in 2015.
Rhyce had been joined at Collingwood in 2005 by younger brother Heath, who developed as a running back and became a key member of the 2010 premiership. A series of undisciplined acts saw him put up for trade at the end of 2013, and he went on to become a key player at Greater Western Sydney, where he won the best and fairest in 2015.
Meanwhile, at the same time as Ray had joined Collingwood (1974), their first cousin Robert had arrived at Essendon from Tasmanian club, Sandy Bay. He played at Essendon until 1981 and went on to coach Fitzroy and Adelaide before becoming a vital part of Kevin Sheedy’s coaching staff at the Bombers.
All in all the five members of the Shaw family, over nearly a half century, have played 1072 games of VFL/AFL footy, representing four different clubs. They have coached four different clubs for a total of 247 games, scored 453 goals, witnessed the demise of one club and the rise of another.
They have played in winning and losing grand finals, won best and fairests, made All Australian teams and served their clubs well.
The name Shaw appears three times in the top 100 game players of all time at Collingwood, once at Greater Western Sydney and once at Sydney. It was only in this season that Tony Shaw was usurped as the greatest game player at the Magpies.
A litany of injuries, suspensions, and run-ins with coaches and administrators are all part of the rich history of the Shaw family and they should be thanked for their contribution to the AFL.