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Melbourne Football Club


Melbourne launched its Reconciliation Action Plan at the Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square on Wednesday 19 July.

The RAP is a business plan that documents what an organisation commits to and will contribute to reconciliation in Australia.

It is an actionable, living document and together with Reconciliation Australia this is reviewed and reported on annually.

To download the full document please click here.

This year has been a big one for the Melbourne Football Club in the Indigenous space. From the first bounce, the club invested in a the new role of Indigenous Project Officer to help with the welfare and guidance of the young Indigenous men and women on our lists, to Launch the Club’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and subsequently being responsible for implementing the actions required to follow it through. The role also managed the launch of the Next Generation Academy (NGA) in Alice Springs, which is an area that is going to continue to grow and one where we believe our Club and AFL can have a massive impact on the lives of not just our Indigenous community but the broader community as well.

For the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round several of the staff that were instrumental in the creation of our RAP were given the opportunity to attend a cultural immersion experience as part of the lead up to the game in Alice Springs. This involved a tour of the local sights in Alice Springs with a local Aboriginal guide, followed by a dining experience like no other, under the stars with the back drop of the MacDonnell ranges. The tour and dinner were run and catered for by experienced chef “Bob” from RT tours Australia. The food consisted of traditional meats and bush foods with a stunning dessert, all cooked on the open fire.

 The next day the group drove to Santa Teresa to help with the Trachoma awareness day with Melbourne University eye clinic and helped deliver the message about cleaning your eyes and face regularly to help get rid of Trachoma. We then ran a footy clinic for all the young kids in the community which led to a kick to kick with the local football team. Once the kick to kick had finished we drove to an area that the locals use for camps to help troubled kids get back and reconnect to their culture, it was where we camped for the night. The experience of camping under the stars in a swag on the Red Dust around a camp fire with no distraction and nothing but nature was a life changing experience for all. Dinner was catered for by the local people of Santa Teresa and we were able to see and try food cooked traditionally, such as Kangaroo tail on open coals, which they have done for thousands of years.

For the game, the boys again had their boots painted for the Indigenous round by Nathan Patterson from Iluka Design. The boots were worn in conjunction with the Indigenous jumper designed by local artist Mandy Nicholson. For the first time ever, the Casey Demons wore the Indigenous jumpers in the VFL.

In July of this year MFC successfully launched their inaugural RAP at the Koorie Heritage Trust in federation square. In attendance for that day were some of our past indigenous players, Aaron Davey, Austin Wonaeamirri, Liam Jurrah, Shannon Motlop and myself. They were joined by our current Indigenous players – Dion Johnstone, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Aliesha Newman and Neville Jetta who spoke to the group and media about the program.  Our RAP is our way of helping to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous disadvantage through a series of actions, trainings, events and experiences. In essence, MFC aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment for any indigenous player or employee and our RAP reflects our commitment to this. (click link to view RAP)

The RAP launch was catered for by Something Wild Meats ( which is part owned by the Motlop Family. They put on an amazing spread of food which included  smoked crocodile, Emu and Kangaroo along with green ants and other bush foods. Our RAP booklets were printed by Deadly Designs which is an Indigenous owned and managed company.

As part of that week we launched the AFL’s first Indigenous mascot “Flash”. Such named in recognition of Aaron Davey who was  the First Indigenous player to win the Best and Fairest at Melbourne.

One of the things the current Indigenous boys mentioned they wanted to do in 2017 was wear the Indigenous jumper in Melbourne. Typically, our Indigenous round falls in Alice Springs where we are happy and proud to represent our indigenous culture and heritage, but we wanted to share this with our Melbourne family too. So as part of the RAP launch week the MFC created their own Indigenous round so the players could wear the Indigenous jumper in Melbourne in front of our faithful supporters. At the Chairman’s function, other past Indigenous players David and Donald Cockatoo-Collins, Phil Egan and Jeff Farmer and their families along with Austin Wonaeamirri and Liam Jurrah were invited to attend and help celebrate this historic week for the MFC.

The game was played and we had a live Welcome to Country performed by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin, a senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin nation; for the above-mentioned function and before the start of the game. Aunty Joy also helped us create a digital version of the welcome to country that we now play at all home games. Additionally, a live Welcome to Country is now delivered at our AGM and Best and Fairest count as part of our commitment to our RAP. In all internal meetings and events, a senior member of the club delivers and acknowledgement to country.

As you can see there has been a lot of work started in the indigenous space this year and it has been a sense of pride and enjoyment for the club as a whole. We have more exciting and innovative ideas for 2018 we look forward to sharing with you. It is important to remember though that conciliation is a journey and one to be constantly worked on. As such, Melbourne acknowledges this and is committed to impacting positively, consistently and frequently on this….for this our journey is only just beginning.




Melbourne Academy: Alice Springs

The Melbourne Academy run a series of development programs in Alice Springs

June 23, 2018  1:00 PM

Melbourne's Indigenous Player History

SOME of the game’s finest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have played for the Melbourne Football Club.

Entering 2018, 24 Indigenous players have played a VFL/AFL match for Melbourne.

The first Indigenous player to represent Melbourne was George ‘Nugget’ Simmonds, from Kerang, in 1924. He played four matches for the club.

It wasn’t until Eddie Jackson made his debut for Melbourne in 1947 that the club had its next Indigenous player.

Jackson was regarded as one of the most skilful players of his time – his ball-handling and kicking were features of his game.

He remains the club’s only Indigenous player to feature in a Melbourne premiership. He was 19th man in the 1948 flag.

Hailing from Echuca, Jackson played 84 matches for the Demons in six seasons.

Colin Graham became Melbourne’s third Indigenous player, when he debuted in 1975. He notched up 35 matches in four seasons.

Next was Les Bamblett, who played 11 games for Melbourne in 1983, before he crossed to the Bulldogs in 1984. Bamblett also won the Morrish Medal in 1982 – the Brownlow Medal equivalent – in the now defunct under 19s.

In 1988, Andy Lovell made his debut for the Demons and played 22 of a possible 25 matches in his first year, including the Grand Final. He became a fine player for the Dees.

Since Lovell’s debut, Melbourne has had 19 Indigenous players represent the club in 24 years.

The Demons had seven Indigenous players debut for the club in the 1990s: Phil Egan, Fabian Francis, Sean Charles, Jeff Farmer, David Cockatoo-Collins, Donald Cockatoo-Collins and Scott Chisholm.

In the 2000s, Matthew Whelan, Aaron Davey, Shannon Motlop, Byron Pickett, Isaac Weetra, Austin Wonaeamirri, Jamie Bennell, Neville Jetta and Liam Jurrah all debuted for the Dees.

Since 2014, Jay Kennedy Harris, Dom Barry and Jeff Garlett have donned the red and blue.   

Four Indigenous players have played 100 or more matches for Melbourne, with Aaron Davey (178 games) having played the most for the club.

Matthew Whelan, who became the first Indigenous Demon to play 150 matches, is next.

Lovell played 121 matches for the club, before moving to West Coast, and Farmer chalked up 118 matches, before switching to Fremantle.

Pickett, who won the 2004 Norm Smith Medal with Port Adelaide, was also named in the Australian Football Indigenous Team of the Century.

He is the only player in that team to have played for Melbourne, although it must be noted that when he was selected in that side, he was in his final season with the Power. 

Jackson, Lovell and Farmer were also named in Melbourne’s 150 Heroes in 2008.

And Davey remains the only Indigenous player to win the club’s best and fairest award: the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy. Farmer (1997-98 and 2000), Jurrah (2011) and Garlett (2017) are the only Indigenous players to win Melbourne’s goalkicking.

Farmer kicked 76 goals in 2000, the club's most recent Grand Final season. 

Former Melbourne player Chris Connolly, who coached Farmer at Fremantle, said 'The Wizard' was an outstanding AFL player. 

"Jeff Farmer was an amazing footballer, who kicked and created goals in many different ways," Connolly said. 

"What is underestimated was his brilliant defensive skills – his chasing, tackling and ability to create turnovers." 

In 2009, the club had six Indigenous players on its list: Whelan, Davey, Wonaeamirri, Bennell, Jetta and Jurrah.

The six players never played an AFL match together, as Wonaeamirri didn’t play a match in 2009, due to an injury-riddled season. But in round 12 that year – when Liam Jurrah made his AFL debut against Essendon – Melbourne fielded five Indigenous players for the first time.

In 2018, the Demons have four Indigenous players on their list: Garlett, Jetta, Kennedy Harris and Dion Johnstone, who is next in line to make his AFL debut. 

It highlights the significant contribution made by Indigenous players at Melbourne.

From Simmonds to Johnstone, the Demons have had some outstanding Indigenous talent representing the red and blue.

Indigenous Melbourne players
(Inc. Melbourne career, matches and goals only)


Les Bamblett (1983, 11 matches, 12 goals)
Convinced to join Melbourne after a chance meeting with Ron Barassi, Bamblett joined the club from Lemnos and won the 1982 Morrish Medal – the Brownlow Medal equivalent – in the under 19s. He made his debut in 1983, booting two goals. It proved to be his only year with the Demons, after he crossed to the Bulldogs for the 1984 season, where he played 37 games and kicked 59 goals, including 24 matches and 51 goals in 1985 – the year the Dogs made the preliminary final. Injuries interrupted his career. His nephews are Andrew Lovett and Chris Egan, who played in the AFL.

Dom Barry (2014, 5 matches, 0 goals)
Originally originally listed by GWS via its Northern Territory zone, Barry was traded to Melbourne in 2012. Barry didn’t play a match with Melbourne in his first season, but he toured Ireland with the Indigenous All Stars, as part of the International Rules Series at the end of 2013. He played five matches for Melbourne in 2014 and although he signed on with the club until the end of 2016, he decided to return to the Territory at the end of the 2014 season, citing family reasons. He reentered the AFL via the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, being selected by Port Adelaide for the 2018 season. As a 14-year-old, Barry moved to Victoria via an Indigenous tennis scholarship.

Jamie Bennell (2009-12, 57 matches, 23 goals)
Bennell played 35 games in his first two seasons, developing as a rebounding defender. He later spent time up forward and in 2010 kicked four goals in Melbourne’s first home and away match in Darwin – a one-point win over Port Adelaide. After more than 50 games with the club, Bennell was delisted at the end of 2012 and later joined West Coast Eagles, where he added 30 games.

Bennell celebrates with Aaron Davey

Sean Charles (1992-97, 47 matches, 60 goals)
Charles had a dazzling debut with Melbourne, booting five goals against North Melbourne in round 10, 1992. He was just 17 years and five days old. Injuries played a big part in Charles’ career, but he managed to kick 10 goals in consecutive weeks, including five against Carlton in the 1994 qualifying final. He played with Melbourne until the end of 1997, before joining Carlton. Charles suffered a serious leg break in his first game with the Blues in 1998 – he only appearance for the club – and he later joined St Kilda, playing eight matches in 2000.

Scott Chisholm (1999-00, 18 matches, 8 goals)
A member of Fremantle’s inaugural AFL side in 1995, Chisholm became a fine player with the Dockers, where he notched up 63 matches until the end of 1998. He was noted for his dashing style of play out of defence. Chisholm played 17 matches in his first season with Melbourne – he topped the club’s Brownlow Medal count with six votes – but played just the opening round in 2000, suffering a corked thigh.

David Cockatoo-Collins (1996-97, 2 matches, 0 goals)
The younger brother of Che Cockatoo-Collins and twin brother of Donald Cockatoo-Collins made his AFL debut in its opening round of the 1996 season against Geelong, where the Demons were smashed by 127 points. His only other appearance was against Collingwood in round 17, 1997.

Donald Cockatoo-Collins (1996-98, 9 matches, 3 goals)
Donald made his AFL debut in the same match as his twin brother David – in Melbourne’s 127-point loss against the Cats in round one, 1996. His four games in 1997 was his best return in a season. He was delisted at the end of the 1998 season.

Aaron Davey (2004-13, 178 matches, 174 goals)
Davey came to Melbourne after impressing in the VFL for Port Melbourne, where he won the Fothergill-Round Medal for the best young player. He made his debut in the first round of 2004 and immediately had an impact, with his livewire style of play, and his defensive pressure. He played 19 games in his first season – finishing runner-up in the NAB AFL Rising Star – and finished third in the best and fairest in 2005. Davey represented Australia in the International Rules Series in 2005-06 – he also kicked 37 majors for the Demons in 2006 – and in 2009, he won Melbourne’s best and fairest award. Davey became a member of Melbourne’s leadership group in 2010. In 2013, he again the Indigenous All Stars team against Ireland in the International Rules Series. Injuries played their part in the latter stage of his career, but he became one of Melbourne’s best – and most popular – players of the 2000s. He is the brother of Alwyn, who played for Essendon is cousins with 1993 Brownlow Medal winner, Gavin Wanganeen.

Aaron Davey celebrates a goal against the Lions

Phil Egan (1991, 1 match, 0 goals)
Egan played 125 games with Richmond from 1982-90, before crossing to Melbourne for the 1991 season. He played his only game for the Demons in round one, 1991 against West Coast, where Melbourne was thrashed by 79 points.

Jeff Farmer (1995-01, 118 matches, 259 goals)
‘The Wizard’ was an electrifying player for Melbourne. Originally tied to Fremantle’s inaugural list, he was swapped to Melbourne and made his debut in round one, 1995. He booted a goal with his first AFL kick and quickly became a favourite with the red and blue faithful. In 1998, he provided two great highlights – a brilliant, running goal against Hawthorn and a screamer against Richmond. Farmer spent seven seasons with the Demons, kicking 76 goals in Melbourne’s 2000 Grand Final year. In the same year, he bagged a nine-goal haul against Collingwood – all in the second half – and booted eight goals in the preliminary final against North Melbourne. In the Grand Final, he kicked an equal team-best three goals. Farmer was named All-Australian in 2000. At the end of the 2001 season, he returned to his native Western Australia and played for Fremantle from 2002-08, playing 131 games and kicking 224 goals.

Farmer gets the crowd going in 2000

Fabian Francis (1991, 1 matches, 0 goals)
‘Flash’ made his AFL debut with Melbourne, playing one game against Fitzroy in 1991, before adding 22 games with the Brisbane Bears from 1993-94 and 86 matches with Port Adelaide from 1997-2001.

Jeff Garlett (2015-current, 60 matches, 111 goals) *
Now in his fourth season at Melbourne, after playing 107 matches with Carlton from 2009-14, Garlett has been a fine player for Melbourne. He has kicked 39 goals or more in a season five times, including 40 in 2015 and 42 in 2017 for Melbourne. His 48 goals for the Blues in 2011 remains his best haul in a year, while he topped Carlton’s goalkicking in 2013. He was also a NAB AFL Rising Star nominee in 2010 at Carlton. In 2017, he led Melbourne’s goalkicking and was named in the All-Australian squad. An electrifying small forward, whose ability to chase and crumb is a feature of his play.

Garlett celebrates a goal

Colin Graham (1975-78, 35 matches, 32 goals)
Graham played 20 of his 35 matches with Melbourne in 1977 and was rewarded with 13 Brownlow Medal votes (one of the two seasons when both field umpires awarded votes on a 3-2-1 basis). He also kicked 20 goals in 1977. A left-footer with a long kick.

Eddie Jackson (1947-52, 84 games, 10 goals)
The second Indigenous person to play for Melbourne – and the only Indigenous Melbourne premiership player. Club great Jack Mueller helped lure Jackson over to the club, after he initially was set to join Richmond. He was named Melbourne’s best first year player in 1947, and was a member of the 1948 drawn Grand Final against Essendon, and played in Melbourne’s premiership win the following week. His 17 matches in 1951 was his best return in a season. His son Steven later played for Melbourne’s under 19s in 1981.  

Eddie Jackson.jpg
Eddie Jackson

Neville Jetta (2009-current, 116 matches, 24 goals) *
Made his AFL debut in round one, 2009, playing 15 matches in his first season, before injuries interrupted the early part of his career. Played 43 games in his first five seasons and was delisted at the end of the 2013 season. Redrafted as a rookie in the lead-up to the 2014 season and it was from that season that he transformed his game and went to another level, under then coach Paul Roos. He reinvented himself and soon became one of the best small defenders in the game. In 2017, he was named in the All-Australian squad and represented Australia in the International Rules Series. Now a highly-regarded player at Melbourne and among the competition. \

Jetta against the Lions

Liam Jurrah (2009-11, 35 matches, 81 goals)
Hailing from Yuendumu in Central Australia, Jurrah made his AFL debut in 2009 and quickly became a favourite among the Melbourne faithful and the football community. He gained a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in 2009 and kicked three bags of four goals in his first nine games that year. A shoulder injury ruined the start to the 2010 season, but he managed 21 goals in the last eight games of the season, which included the mark of the year in round 21. His best effort was five goals, which he achieved twice in 2010 and 2011. He led Melbourne’s goalkicking in 2011 with 40 goals from 18 games. Jurrah managed one more match in 2012, but injuries and personal issues forced him to finish with the club at the end of that season. But have provided plenty of excitement during his time in the AFL. 

Jay Kennedy Harris (2014-17, 28 matches, 11 goals)
Now in his fourth season at Melbourne, Kennedy Harris played 14 games in his first year and impressed considerably. He managed eight matches in 2015, but injuries ruined his 2016 season, where he didn’t play a match. He added six games in 2017, where he spent greater time in the midfield, but is expected to play most of 2018 as a forward.

Andy Lovell (1988-95, 121 matches, 146 goals)
Affectionately known as ‘Chopper’ – he was a star woodchopper as a teenager and his father was a champion axeman – Lovell made his debut for Melbourne as a 17-year-old, playing 22 games in his first year, including the 1988 Grand Final. Injuries interrupted his second season – he played one game in 1989 – while he added 12 matches in 1990 and five in 1991, including both finals. He kicked four majors in Melbourne’s elimination final win over Essendon in 1991, when teammate Allen Jakovich booted eight goals. In his last four seasons at Melbourne – from 1992-95 – he became an integral part of the side, playing 81 matches. In round 21, 1993, he kicked a career-best eight goals against Richmond. He also had an outstanding finals series in 1994 – one of Melbourne’s best sides since its most recent premiership. At the end of the 1995 season, he crossed to West Coast, where he was swapped for Craig Turley. Lovell played 43 games for the Eagles from 1996-98. He was later an assistant coach at Geelong, coach of Melbourne’s former VFL aligned side, Sandringham, and has been with Gold Coast Suns since they entered the AFL in 2011. 

Shannon Motlop (2005-06, 10 matches, 5 goals)
Motlop arrived at Melbourne following the tragic passing of Troy Broadbridge in the Indian Ocean Tsunami. A member of the Kangaroos’ premiership side in 1999 – he played 54 matches with the Roos from 1999-2003 – Motlop joined Melbourne from North Adelaide, where he played in 2004. Although he battled hamstring injuries in his first year with Melbourne, he played in the club’s elimination final. After notching up seven matches for the Demons in 2005, he added three more in 2006. During his time at Melbourne, he played in consecutive Sandringham premierships in 2005-06 – the club’s former VFL affiliate. His brother Daniel played for Port Adelaide and North Melbourne, while his younger brother Steven played with the Cats before crossing to the Power for the 2018 season.

Byron Pickett (2006-07, 29 matches, 16 goals)
Named in the Indigenous Team of the Century, Pickett was a hard-at-it, yet outstanding player, notching up 204 AFL games from 1997-2007. He played 120 matches with the Kangaroos from 1997-2002, 55 games with Port Adelaide from 2003-05 and made 29 appearances with Melbourne from 2006-07. In 1998, he won the NAB AFL Rising Star and played in the Roos’ Grand Final loss to Adelaide. He then played in a premiership with the Kangaroos, when they beat Carlton to win the 1999 Grand Final. In 2004, he played in Port Adelaide’s inaugural flag and won the Norm Smith Medal. At the end of the 2005 season, he crossed to Melbourne and was part of the red and blue’s 2006 finals campaign.

Byron Pickett in his playing days with the Dees

George Simmonds (1924, 4 matches, 4 goals)
The first Indigenous person to play with Melbourne, Simmonds made his debut in round 13, 1924 against Carlton. He kicked two goals in his second game.

Isaac Weetra (2008, 2 matches, 0 goals)
Made his AFL debut in the opening round of the 2008 season against Hawthorn and played the following week against Western Bulldogs – both massive losses by 104 and 95 points respectively. It was his only season at the Demons.

Matthew Whelan (2000-09, 150 matches, 15 goals)
A much-loved player among the Melbourne faithful throughout the 2000s, Whelan played 16 games in his first season and was on track to play in the club’s 2000 finals series and Grand Final, but suffered a neck injury in round 19. Although injuries interrupted his second season, and the latter part of his career, he played 63 games from 2002-04 and was an integral part of Melbourne’s team for much of the 2000s. He played in Melbourne’s three consecutive finals series from 2004-06. Noted for his fierce tackling, courage and ability to rebound from defence. Now works at the club as its Indigenous project officer.

Whelan during a game in 2006

Austin Wonaeamirri (2008, 2010-11, 31 matches, 37 goals)
Made an immediate impact in his first season, playing 18 of his 31 matches in 2008, Wonaeamirri kicked three goals in his fourth match against the Brisbane Lions and four majors the next round against Fremantle. He played a crucial role in Melbourne’s remarkable comeback win against the Dockers in round seven, 2008. He didn’t play a game in 2009, after hamstring and knee injuries ruined his season, while he added 13 games in 2010-11. ‘Aussie’, as he’s affectionately known, was the first Melbourne player to come from the Tiwi Islands.

Dion Johnstone
Drafted by Melbourne at No.64 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, Johnstone played a JLT Community Series match in his first year, but spent the 2017 developing in the VFL. He was named in Melbourne’s AFLX squad in 2018 and looks a promising small forward option for the club.  


Aliesha Newman

The first Indigenous women to play for Melbourne in the AFLW competition, Newman arrived at the club as a free agent in October 2016. She made her debut in Melbourne’s inaugural AFLW match against the Brisbane Lions at Casey Fields in round one, 2017.

Newman celebrates a goal