After a week of headlines, this is the good news story everyone at Essendon needed.
As I mentioned in my earlier article, AFL top 100: Nicknames by clubs, the “younger” clubs have been lacking in well-known nicknames, so composite lists have been necessary.
13. ‘Thommo’: If Scott Thompson (2001) had managed to play all his career at the Crows he would be fifth on the Crows’ top 100-game players list.
12. ‘Jars’: Like No.13 above, a variation on the surname, but not the only nickname bestowed on Andrew Jarman (1991) – see No.5 below.
11. ‘Bunji’: The brilliant Andrew McLeod (1995) was given the nickname ‘Bunji’ (which means ‘Brother’) that he had earlier been given while playing in Darwin, but it wasn’t his first nickname at the Crows – see No.11 below.
10. ‘Hamburger’: When Andrew McLeod (1995) first arrived at Adelaide, he was considered to be chubby by his teammates.
9. ‘Bassy’: Nathan Bassett was a 200-game player at the Crows who gave them good service from the time that he arrived at the club in 1998.
8. ‘Godra’: Anthony Dale Modra (1992). Modra’s aerial ability was unsurpassed in his prime, and he was nominated for Mark of the Year on numerous occasions, winning the award in 1993, 1997 and 2000. He also won Goal of the Year in 1995.
7. ‘Stiffy’: Graham Johncock (2002). An attacking footballer with great pace and an ability to read the play.
6. ‘Tex’: Taylor Walker (2009) is Adelaide’s leading all-time goal kicker.
5. ‘The Wizard’: Darren Jarman (1991) played in premierships at both Hawthorn and Adelaide.
4. ‘The Magician’: Andrew Jarman (1991) started his AFL career in the same year that brother Darren started with Hawthorn. Andrew played 110 games for the Crows.
3. ‘Knuckles’: Although Neil Kerley never played AFL/VFL football, in South Australia he was known as ‘Mr Football’.
2. ‘Roo’: Mark Ricciuto (1993) played over 300 games for the Crows, winning three best and fairest awards and sharing the 2003 Brownlow Medal with Adam Goodes and Nathan Buckley.
1. ‘The Birdman’: Brett Burton was known as ‘The Birdman’ because of his incredible high making ability. Burton was twice Adelaide’s leading goal kicker and won Mark of the Year in 2009.
6. ‘Boonj’: Ashley McGrath (2001). McGrath played over 200 games for Brisbane after being recruited from South Fremantle.
5. “Aka”. Jason Akermanis (1995) was a headline grabber with both his football skills and outspoken comments. Triple-premiership player and Brownlow Medal winner in 2001.
4. ‘D9’: I was alerted to this nickname by Tom Roker and it certainly suits the three-club player who played slightly more games for Brisbane than Fitzroy or Collingwood.
3. ‘Mr September’: Another one from Tom, describing Clark Keating (1996), a local from Surfers Paradise who starred in finals.
2. ‘The Magician’: Adelaide were not the only club to boast a magician. Brisbane’s captain, Dayne Zorko (2012), made a huge impression in his first year, and has shone every year since.
1. ‘The Hitman’: Radio commentator Derryn Hinch labelled Essendon’s Roger Merrett (1978) with this unwanted tag on the eve of the 1983 finals. A strong and ruthless player, Merrett was reported twice in the grand final that year, and suspended for two weeks.
Merrett was cleared to the Brisbane Bears in 1988 in a decision that Kevin Sheedy later conceded was “the worst decision of his career”.
A quintessential, archetypal on-field leader, Merrett placed his body on the line for his teammates time and time again, and seldom can the expression ‘leading from the front’ have found a more appropriate or deserving target.