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Melbourne at the AFL Draft 1986-2013

Matt Burgan  November 19, 2013 3:55 PM

ON THURSDAY, three players will join the Melbourne Football Club via the 28th NAB AFL Draft, held on the Gold Coast for the second consecutive year.

The AFL Draft has become a significant event on the AFL calendar – a far cry from its early beginnings, back in 1986. Now, it’s a much-anticipated event in the AFL community, as the nation’s finest young talent disperses across the country. The addition of free agency and an extended trade period has added greater scope to the off-season recruiting period in October and November.

Drafting methods are far more comprehensive today, when players are scrutinised to the nth degree. Resources are heavily invested into player recruitment.

Still, it’s fascinating to look back on where some of the players were selected – even if there were some hits and misses along the way.

In Melbourne’s case last year, it had seven picks, although three were already pre-determined (Jack Viney as a father/son selection and Daniel Nicholson and Michael Evans as promoted rookies).

The Demons settled on Jimmy Toumpas (selection No.4), Dean Kent (No.48), Matt Jones (No.52) and Dean Terlich (No.68), who all debuted in 2013. Toumpas and Kent showed enough talent to suggest they will have a strong future at the club, while Terlich and Jones finished third and fourth respectively in this year’s best and fairest count – a fine effort from two mature-age draftees.

This year, Melbourne has four selections, including three ‘live’ picks: No.9, No.40 and No.57. The Demons also have pick No.82, but will officially elevate Mitch Clisby from the rookie list with this selection.

It will be just the third time since 1986 that Melbourne has had a No.9 pick. The two previous players chosen there were Martin Pike (1992) and Luke Molan (2001).

Pike proved to be a four-time AFL premiership player – one with the Kangaroos and three with the Brisbane Lions – but he lasted just two seasons with Melbourne, although he was key part of the club’s 1994 finals surge.

Molan, a key defender, suffered some serious injuries and never managed a senior match.

Although the Demons have landed two talls with this pick, expect the Dees to snap up a midfielder this time around.

Melbourne’s second pick will be at No.40. The only player to have been selected by Melbourne at No.40 was Nick White, formerly on Richmond’s list, in 1991. He didn’t play a match with the Demons.

Similarly, Melbourne’s third pick at No.57 has produced just one Demon and like White, Shepparton’s Tim Moreland didn’t play a game for the Dees, after he was claimed in the 1989 AFL Draft.

Clibsy joins Tasmanian Duncan O’Toole (1996) as Melbourne’s only other No.82 selection. O’Toole didn’t play an AFL match.

Reflecting on Melbourne’s first AFL Draft in 1986 is a fascinating look.

Melbourne’s first ever selection was Steven Febey at No.3. He proved an outstanding choice, playing 258 matches – the fifth most in Melbourne’s history – behind only David Neitz (306 matches), Robert Flower (272), Adem Yze (271) and Jim Stynes (264).

Former chief executive officer Cameron Schwab was Melbourne’s recruiting manager back in 1986-87, during an era when the draft was speculative and somewhat difficult to lure prominent players from the SANFL and WAFL.

For example, the great Darren Jarman – a three-time premiership player with Hawthorn (1991) and Adelaide (1997-98) – was claimed in Melbourne’s first meeting at pick No.55. But he couldn’t be lured from South Australia.

Still, Matthew Febey – the twin brother of Steven – also proved to be a fine player for the Demons, notching up 143 matches, after being claimed in the inaugural Draft.

In 1987, the Demons claimed Andrew Obst (150 matches), Stephen Tingay (162) and Jay Viney (23) – the brother of Melbourne great Todd – from five picks. But the talented Tim McNeil – Melbourne’s first selection at No.11 – never played a game, due to a serious achilles injury.

Interestingly, from Melbourne’s first two Draft meetings, Tingay was the only Victorian player chosen from 10 picks. Instead, Melbourne’s first four players selected in 1986 were from Tasmania, with the rest coming from South Australia.

More than a decade later, the 1999 Draft proved to be one of Melbourne’s most successful, with 764 matches coming from that meeting.

Brad Green, who retired at the end of the 2012 season, played the most with 254 games. Paul Wheatley achieved 135 games, Michael Clark (one), Matthew Whelan (150) and Cameron Bruce (224). Bruce also added another 10 matches with Hawthorn in 2011-12. Shannon O’Brien was the only one from that Draft who didn’t play a senior game.

Melbourne has had the No.1 draft choice three times, selecting Travis Johnstone (1997), Jack Watts (2008) and Tom Scully (2009). 

Overall, the Demons have had 16 top 10 AFL Draft picks – including the likes of Jack Trengove (No.2 in 2009), (Colin Sylvia (No.3 in 2003) and Allen Jakovich (No.6 in 1990) – with the 17th to come this year.

Melbourne has never had a pick at No.7 or No.8, but has selected a player at every selection from No.9 to No.27.

It has never had picks at No.28, No.38, No.44, No.47, No.49, No.56, No.58, No.61, No.65, No.67, No.70, No.74, No.78-No.79, No.86-No.95, No.98, No.100-No.110 or No.112-No.121.

Interestingly, pick No.50 has been the most utilised by Melbourne. Stephen Tingay (1987), Luke Ottens (1997), Matthew Whelan (1999), Jack Fitzpatrick (2009) and Troy Davis (2010) were all claimed at this number.

Probably the best bargain basement recruit was tenacious ball-winner Guy Rigoni, who was Melbourne’s leading possession winner in the 2000 Grand Final.

Rigoni, who was selected at No.77 in the 1997 AFL Draft, played 107 matches for the Demons.

He played 80 matches in his first four years – including 70 in his first three seasons – before a serious back injury forced him to miss the 2002 season. He was then delisted and redrafted in the Pre-Season Draft in December 2002 and managed to add another 27 matches, before retiring.

Father/son choice Tom Kavanagh, claimed at No.111 in 1988, is the highest Melbourne draftee to have played an AFL match. He played two games for the Demons in 1989, before adding eight with Fitzroy.

Damon Munt, who never played an AFL match, was Melbourne’s highest overall selection, at No.122 in 1992.

Over the years, Melbourne has had recruiting managers Schwab (1986-87), Jim Durnan (1988-90), Richard Griffiths (1991-95), Craig Cameron (1996-2007), Barry Prendergast (2008-2011) and Todd Viney (2012) selecting the players at the AFL Draft.

This year, with Viney moving into the role of manager of player personnel, it will be national recruiting manager Jason Taylor calling the names out for the first time, after being the highly-respected Derek Hine’s right-hand man at Collingwood.

It will be another opportunity for the Demons to rebuild their list and Taylor and his team to make their mark on the Melbourne Football Club.

Every Melbourne player to be selected in the NAB AFL Draft since 1986 (in draft number order)

1 – Travis Johnstone (1997), Jack Watts (2008), Tom Scully (2009)

2 – Jack Trengove (2009)

3 – Steven Febey (1986), Darren Kowal (1991), Colin Sylvia (2003)

4 – Cale Morton (2007), Jimmy Toumpas (2012)

5 – Jason Norrish (1991), Brock McLean (2003)

6 – Allen Jakovich (1990)

9 – Martin Pike (1992), Luke Molan (2001), TBC (2013)

10 – Andrew Lamprill (1991), Trent Ormond-Allen (1993)

11 – Tim McNeil (1987), Donald Cockatoo-Collins (1995), Brent Grgic (1996), Jordan Gysberts (2009)

12 – Nathan Jones (2005), James Frawley (2006), Lucas Cook (2010)

13 – Darren Bennett (1989), Chris Lamb (1998), Matthew Bate (2004)

14 – Daniel Bell (2002), Jack Grimes (2007)

15 – Nicholas Smith (2002), Lynden Dunn (2004)

16 – Matthew Febey (1986), Adem Yze (1994), Scott Thompson (2000)

17 – Sam Blease (2008)

18 – Luke Tapscott (2009)

19 – Garry Merritt (1990), Phil Gilbert (1991), Brad Green (1999), James Strauss (2008)

20 – Paul Wheatley (1999)

21 – Addam Maric (2007)

22 – Alistair Nicholson (1996), Troy Longmuir (1997)

23 – Matthew MacKay (1991)

24 – Mark Ducker (1987), Brett Jeffrey (1992)

25 – Paul Rouvray (1989), Steven Armstrong (2001)

26 – Aaron Rogers (2001), Jared Rivers (2002), Jack Viney (father/son – 2012)

27 – Rod Keogh (1988), Brad Hall (1993)

29 – Craig Walker (1986)

30 – Hayden Lamaro (1996), Ricky Petterd (2006)

31 – Haydon Kilmartin (1991)

32 – Micah Berry (1991)

33 – Jeremy Howe (2010)

34 – Michael Polley (1994), Max Gawn (2009)

35 – Jamie Bennell (2008)

36 – Jason Dullard (1991), Chris Johnson (father/son – 2003), Rory Taggert (2011)

37 – Andrew Obst (1987)

39 – Matthew Kluzek (1992), Matthew Blake (1997), Gary Moorcroft (2002)

40 – Nick White (1991), TBC (2013)

41 – Michael Hobbes (1988)

42 – Andy Lovell (1986), Michael Prentice (1993), Michael Clark (1999)

43 – Michael Newton (2004)

45 – Clayton Gardiner (1996)

46 – Colin Garland (2006)

48 – Dean Kent (2012)

50 – Stephen Tingay (1987), Luke Ottens (1997), Matthew Whelan (1999), Jack Fitzpatrick (2009), Troy Davis (2010)

51 – Clay Sampson (1994), Neville Jetta (2008)

52 – Josh Tynan (2011), Matt Jones (2012)

53 – Simon Buckley (2005), Kyle Cheney (2007), Tom McDonald (2010)

54 – Daniel Clarke (1992), Cameron Hunter (2002), James Sellar (2011)

55 – Darren Jarman (1986), Andrew Ford (1988), Mark Bradly (1995), Brad Miller (2001)

57 – Tim Moreland (1989), TBC (2013)

59 – Anthony McDonald (1996)

60 – Darren O’Brien (1995), Luke Speers (1998), Clint Bartram (2005)

62 – Daniel Breese (2000), Isaac Weetra (2006)

63 – Jay Viney (1987), Fabian Francis (1990), Shannon O’Brien (1999)

64 – Cameron Bruce (1999), Rohan Bail (2008)

66 – Nathan Brown (1997), Ryan Ferguson (2002), Tom McNamara (2007)

68 – Luke Norman (1994), Russell Robertson (1996), Heath Neville (2005), Dean Terlich (2012)

69 – Matthew Mahoney (1988), Scott Simister (1992)

71 – Glenn Wilkins (1989), Daniel Nicholson (rookie elevation – 2012)

72 – Ashley Gehling (1995), Luke Taylor (1998), Michael Evans (rookie elevation – 2012)

73 – Ross Funcke (2000)

75 – Robert Panozzo (1990), Mark Winterton (1996)

76 – Todd McHardy (1994)

77 – Niall Buckley (1990), Guy Rigoni (1997)

80 – Mitchell Craig (2000)

81 – Jordie McKenzie (rookie elevation – 2010)

82 – Duncan O’Toole (1996), Mitch Clisby (rookie elevation – 2013)

83 – Brian Stynes (1988), Ashley Gehling (1996)

84 – Damien Gaspar (1992)

85 – Anthony Tohill (1989)

96 – Jake Spencer (rookie elevation – 2010)

97 – Tom Grehan (1988)

99 – Jeff Hilton (1992)

111 – Tom Kavanagh (father/son – 1988)

122 – Damon Munt (1992)