Since the birth of Australian rules football and the VFL/AFL, we've seen a number of great players and legends step onto the proverbial arena and grace us with their abilities to wow spectators and come up in big moments.
To celebrate Grand Final week, I've decided to name each club's greatest team of all time - a team full of each club's best-ever players in a six-part series, culminating with the two sides squaring off in this year's AFL Grand Final - Adelaide and Richmond - to be named on the morning of the Grand Final.
Today is the first part of six in this special series, as I go through each team in the order that they finished - from 18th to the final two. Today sees me name the best players from Brisbane, Gold Coast and Carlton respectively.
Having a look at Brisbane's all-time team, it shouldn't come as a shock to have the majority of the team from their golden era, in which saw the club win three premierships in a row from 2001-03 and then make a fourth consecutive Grand Final in 2004. Since then, the Lions haven't tasted much Finals action, only making it to September just once. 20 of the 24 selected in this squad were involved in Brisbane's three-peat. Please note that I didn't include anyone from Fitzroy or the Brisbane Bears before the merger.
In the back-line they had All-Australian defenders Chris Johnson at back-pocket and Justin Leppitsch at centre-half back. Johnson's creativity was a huge component in his game, whilst Leppitsch was remarkable at marshaling his defenders together and stopping his direct opponents. His partner-in-crime Mal Michael was a very underrated full-back, given that he had no All-Australian selections to back up his talents. Lining up at half-back alongside Leppitsch will be Chris Scott and Darryl White, both of whom were very tough, but very skillful defenders and Marcus Ashcroft, a ball-winning defender who played over 300 career games with Brisbane.
The opposite end of the ground possess some of Brisbane's most exciting and dangerous forwards. With Jonathan Brown, Daniel Bradshaw and Alastair Lynch, who were deemed as Brisbane's big three of forwards, they have kicked a combined 1751 goals and have won Brisbane's goal-kicking award 12 times - this trio was very hard to stop back then. At half-forward, there is triple-premiership player Craig McRae and a former Brownlow medallist, a four-time All-Australian and two-time Brisbane best and fairest winner Jason Akermanis whilst two-time Brisbane best and fairest winner Dayne Zorko is named in the pocket.
But the midfield is where I think this side shines the most, You've got two Brownlow medallists in Michael Voss and Simon Black and a Norm Smith medallist in Shaun Hart starting in the middle and All-Australians in Dayne Beams and Nigel Lappin running the wings. Triple premiership ruckman Clark Keating is named as starting ruckman, but Stefan Martin will be a very good back-up as he can win his own ball as well as win his fair share of hitouts. Coming off the bench is loads of superstar midfield talent, with dual best and fairest winner and ball magnet Tom Rockliff, as well as premiership players Martin Pike, Luke Power, Brad Scott and Tim Notting all capable of playing several roles around the ground.
B: Chris Johnson, Mal Michael, Marcus Ashcroft
HB: Chris Scott, Justin Leppitsch, Darryl White
C: Dayne Beams, Michael Voss, Nigel Lappin
HF: Jason Akermanis, Jonathan Brown, Craig McRae
F: Daniel Bradshaw, Alastair Lynch, Dayne Zorko
FOL: Clark Keating, Simon Black, Shaun Hart
INT: Luke Power, Tom Rockliff, Stefan Martin, Brad Scott, Martin Pike, Tim Notting
Gold Coast Suns
The Gold Coast Suns' all-time team was a bit tricky seeing as they were only introduced into the league six years ago, but the one thing I found very interesting about this was that seven of the 24 players on this side have gone on to play at other clubs with some of them already forging solid careers.
The team starts with the obvious choice of Gary Ablett in the middle, he won three club best and fairests, multiple All-Australian selections and even a Brownlow Medal, and whilst it looks like his time at Gold Coast appears to be at an ugly end, there's no question that he's undoubtedly Gold Coast's best player, however his supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Jaeger O'Meara unanimously won the league's Rising Star award in 2013 but was plagued with injury before bailing to Hawthorn, Michael Barlow proved to be a very handy recruit in 2017 before a broken leg ruined his season, whilst Michael Rischitelli and Dion Prestia have also had their solid share of injuries. Tom Nicholls has been solid in the ruck and will rotate with the former Sun Zac Smith, who has also been very solid since playing for Geelong. Aaron Hall, Touk Miller and David Swallow have all had reasonable careers so far and will come off the bench.
Tom Lynch is perhaps the next best player on this team after Ablett, given that he managed to kick 66 goals for a struggling Suns' side in 2016 and if Charlie Dixon hadn't gone to Port Adelaide, would still form a formidable duo down forward, although Peter Wright is developing alright and looms as a real threat in future years. Jack Martin and ex-Sun Harley Bennell have the capacity to be match-winners with their elite pace and nous for the goals, but with injury and a little bit of undiscipline (Bennell) haven't been able to hit their best footy, whilst former Suns Josh Caddy and Mav Weller round out the forwards as both have managed solid careers so far since leaving the Gold Coast.
In defence, expect nothing out of the ordinary as Steven May and Rory Thompson man the key-defender positions, May is incredibly underrated as a defender as he has saved the Suns from even further embarrassment numerous times and Thompson has been solid whenever he has been on the park as injuries has prevented him from playing his best over the past few years. Kade Kolodjashnij and Adam Saad as well as Jarrod Harbrow who brings a veteran presence, and if Nick Malceski's stay at the Suns wasn't wrecked by injury, then it would be a solid quartet of rebounding defenders. Having Trent McKenzie's booming left boot has also proven to be an asset in defence at times.
B: Jarrod Harbrow, Steven May, Adam Saad
HB: Kade Kolodjashnij, Rory Thompson, Nick Malceski
C: Jaeger O'Meara, Gary Ablett, Michael Barlow
HF: Harley Bennell, Tom Lynch, Josh Caddy
F: Jack Martin, Charlie Dixon, Maverick Weller
FOL: Tom Nicholls, Michael Rischitelli, Dion Prestia
INT: Peter Wright, Aaron Hall, Zac Smith, David Swallow, Touk Miller, Trent McKenzie
Given that Carlton boast such a rich history, this team proved to be one of the hardest teams to assemble, but I've plucked out players from numerous eras, including some from now, which sounds a little absurd given that the Blues face a rebuilding period, but Kade Simpson and Marc Murphy should deserve spots in the side, given how outstanding they've been for so long, and whilst Sam Docherty sounds a little controversial, he's amongst the best rebounding defenders in the game today and should be in the discussion when his career is over.
Let's go through the rest of the team, starting with the Silvagni's who are without question one of the better football families in the history of the AFL. It starts with Sergio, who was named in the midfield – a two-time premiership player and two-time club best and fairest winner and along with fellow premiership team mate and league legend John Nicholls in the ruck, it would be interesting to see how they both coincide with the likes of Greg Williams and Chris Judd in the middle – both superstars and both Brownlow Medallists. On top of this you have Carlton's games record holder Craig Bradley – a three-time club best and fairest and two-time premiership star and Wayne Johnston – a four-time premiership player on the wings, as well as having current captain Murphy, three-time best and fairest and premiership player Brett Ratten, and two-time premiership ruckman Justin Madden then it is an incredibly potent midfield.
Then there's Sergio's son, Stephen or better known to the AFL community as 'SOS' (Son of Sergio). Stephen's career was a bit more extensive than his father's including two best and fairest, two premierships, five All-Australians, the full-back of the AFL's team of the century and over 312 games. The team-mates surrounding 'SOS' can't be ignored here, as he has future club legend Kade Simpson, as well as club legends in four-time club best and fairest winner and Norm Smith Medallist in 1981 Bruce Doull, Brownlow Medallists Bert Deacon and John James and two-time premiership defender Geoff Southby as well as premiership defender Andrew McKay and current players Kade Simpson and Sam Docherty.
Carlton's forward line might be a little top-heavy, considering the names, but there is definitely no shortage of goals kicked. Between Stephen Kernahan, Harry Vallence and Brendan Fevola – Carlton's three greatest goalkickers, they have kicked a combined total of 2035 goals, which is extraordinary. With another league legend in Alex Jesaulenko and six-time club leading goal kicker Horrie Clover, that takes the combined goals total to 2875 goals between just five forwards. With Anthony Koutoufides named in the pocket, it brings in another solid marking, yet athletic option as well as another midfield option, and with Robert Walls – another player who has bagged over 350 goals with the Blues on the bench, this side has an abundance of goal-kicking talent.
B: Bruce Doull, Stephen Silvagni, Geoff Southby
HB: Kade Simpson, Bert Deacon, John James
C: Craig Bradley, Greg Williams, Wayne Johnston
HF: Alex Jesaulenko, Stephen Kernahan, Horrie Clover
F: Brendan Fevola, Harry Vallence, Anthony Koutoufides
FOL: John Nicholls, Chris Judd, Sergio Silvagni
INT: Sam Docherty, Marc Murphy, Andrew McKay, Robert Walls, Brett Ratten, Justin Madden
Stay tuned on Bulldogs Centre tomorrow as we present part two of our All-Time Teams, with North Melbourne, Fremantle and Collingwood to be named on Tuesday.