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Melbourne Football Club

Warne-Smith named legend

MELBOURNE has named one of the game’s greats, dual Brownlow Medallist Ivor Warne-Smith, as its fifth legend at its annual Commencement Dinner at Crown on Thursday night.

The club also announced Geoff Case, Maurie Gibb, Alan Johnson, Clyde Laidlaw and Wally Lock into its Hall of Fame, and named Bernie Dunn, Jackie Emmerton, Mark Jamar, Andrew Leoncelli, Laurie Mithen and Brian Wilson as Life Members.

Warne-Smith joins Norm Smith, who was Melbourne’s first Legend in 2001, along with Ron Barassi (2003), Ian Ridley (2006) and Donald Cordner (2008) as the other legends of Melbourne.

A member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, Warne-Smith was regarded as one of the most versatile players the game has ever seen.
He won his first Brownlow Medal in 1926, and his second in 1928.

In the medal’s sixth year, he almost claimed his third Brownlow, when he came second to Collingwood’s Albert Collier in 1929.

Among the five Hall of Fame members, four played in a total of 11 premierships.

Warne-Smith’s grandson Drew accepted the honour, as his grandfather died aged 62 in 1960.

Case (1955, 1957 and 1959-60) and Laidlaw (1955-56 and 1959-60) were part of the dominant 1950s and early 1960s premierships. Gibb (1940-41) and Lock (1941) were members of Melbourne’s flags during World War II.

Johnson was a much loved Demon of the 1980s, and was a member of the 1988 Grand Final side.

Four players and two administrators form the latest group of Life Members.

Mithen, a five-time premiership player, is just one of 21 players in VFL/AFL history to play in five premierships or more; Wilson was one of the youngest winners of the Brownlow Medal when he claimed it in 1982.

Leoncelli, a member of Melbourne’s 2000 Grand Final side, and Jamar, the only current day player to be awarded this year, represent the modern era.

Emmerton has the distinction of becoming the first female to be awarded Melbourne Life Membership. She was a constant of the football department from 1994-2012, until moving into the club’s administration on a full-time basis for 2013.

Dunn was also rewarded for more than 20 years of recruiting, predominantly based in Western Australia.  

Hall of Fame Legend
Ivor Warne-Smith (represented by grandson Drew Warne-Smith)

Warne-Smith was the first player to become a dual Brownlow Medallist (1926 and 1928). He also finished runner-up to Albert Collier in 1929. Warne-Smith made his senior debut in 1919 after returning from wartime service, but soon headed to play in Tasmania. He returned to Melbourne for the 1925 season and played in the 1926 premiership. From 1928-31, he was captain-coach of Melbourne and in 1932, he was coach. Warne-Smith became a household name of the game and could ‘play anywhere’. His club service continued after a second stint of military service in World War II. From 1949 until his death in 1960, Warne-Smith was Melbourne’s chairman of selectors, a mentor of Norm Smith, and one of the ‘architects’ of a great era through the 1950s and into the 1960s. He was also named in Melbourne’s team of the century and Tasmania’s team of the century and hall of fame.

Hall of Fame
Geoff Case
Case was a fearless and physically powerful half-back flanker, renowned for his burst of speed and kicking prowess. Emerging from Melbourne High, Case cemented a place in defence in 1954 and was named alongside Ron Barassi as one of the recruits of the year. A member of the 1955, 1957 and 1959-60 premierships, Case’s career was compromised by time spent on National Service, along with unfortunate injuries, including one which saw him miss the 1956 triumph. Following his retirement at the end of 1962, Case continued serving the club, holding the post of director for several seasons.

Maurie Gibb (represented by daughter Lois McNamara)
An integral character of the MCC and the Melbourne Football Club, Maurie Gibb exemplified the description of ‘quiet achiever’. Joining Melbourne in 1934 from Rosedale in Gippsland, he was given a job as clerk at the MCC, retiring 43 years later as assistant secretary. A half-forward flanker equipped with high marking, accurate kicking and elusiveness, Gibb was versatile and reliable. His best work was done on the half-forward flank, where he was famed for his accurate passing to forwards. Struck down by a shoulder injury in 1936, Gibb rebounded to play a vital role in the 1940-41 premiership wins. He finished his playing career upon entering the army in 1943, but later continued his connection with the club, not only through his MCC employment, but also on the MFC board and as secretary of the club’s social committee.

Alan Johnson
Originally from Perth, Johnson had a formidable reputation for his work as a centreman before coming to Melbourne. Snapped up as Melbourne’s first pick in the inaugural interstate draft, he became a central part of the resurgent team of the late 1980s, playing 135 games between 1982 and 1990. Winning two best and fairest awards in 1983 and 1989, Johnson was also a regular representative for Western Australia. While he missed the run home to the 1987 finals with a nasty hamstring injury, Johnson rebounded in 1988, playing a vital part in an elimination final win against the West Coast Eagles. It was with justification that coach John Northey wrote that Johnson’s season “was a real bonus”, as he added the extra strength needed for a young team. Johnson bowed out at the end of 1990.

Clyde Laidlaw
A robust centre half-forward from Portland, Laidlaw overcame injuries early in his career to make his mark at half-forward in 124 games from 1954-62.  During that time, his power, marking and kicking became highlights of the side’s performances, and he was an integral member of the 1955-56 and 1959-60 premierships. Although he missed the 1957 win with a thigh injury, Laidlaw rebounded to excel in 1959, and was hailed for his achievements. The club’s annual report said: “Early in the year it was obvious that this player was vastly improved in all phases of the game. His strength and safe marking, backed up by an extra yard of pace, made him outstanding in the position of centre half-forward.” Injury curtailed Laidlaw again in later seasons, and he retired after playing just two games in 1962.

Wally Lock (represented by son Geoff Lock)
Emerging from Maryborough in 1936, Lock earned a reputation for his toughness. According to Norm Smith, Lock was the hardest half-back he had ever seen. He would stop at nothing to block opposition attacks, no matter what the penalty.  Lock missed the 1939 Grand Final – and premiership – after being suspended in the second semi-final. After missing the 1940 premiership through injury, Lock bounced back to be one of the best in the 1941 premiership win. He went on to join the army in 1942 and serve until January 1946. Returning to the club, he played out his career in style. Although he missed the 1948 triumph, Lock won the best and fairest in 1947, and reached 140 games before his retirement in 1949.

Life Members
Bernie Dunn
Dunn first became involved with the club in 1991, acting as the Western Australian-based recruiting scout – a position he still holds today. In 1992, he moved to Melbourne to take up the role of full-time recruiting officer, before returning to WA for family reasons in 1994. Since then, Dunn has been the club’s main recruiting resource in WA. He also acted as the club’s forward Scout for all WA games from 1994-2008.

Jackie Emmerton
Emmerton has the honour of becoming the first female to gain life membership of the Melbourne Football Club. Joining the club in 1994, Emmerton became secretary/coordinator for the football department. This role included dealing with financial and contractual documentation, organising player medical appointments and training schedules. It also involved acting as the liaison between the administration and football sides of the business. In 2012, Emmerton accepted the role of gifting and relationships manager, utilising her extensive network and knowledge of the club to help grow this important area.

Mark Jamar
Originally drafted as a rookie in December 2001, Jamar made his AFL debut in 2003. After serving a long apprenticeship and battling several injuries, Jamar took his game to another level in 2010, when he had the second most hit outs in the League. He was also named All-Australian in 2010 and finished third in the club’s best and fairest. He was also a member of Melbourne’s leadership group in 2012. Entering 2013, Jamar has played 124 games and kicked 45 goals.

Andrew Leoncelli
After stints with Carlton and Old Xaverians, Leoncelli made his debut for Melbourne against Geelong in 1996. He displayed a great work ethic and intelligence to enhance Melbourne’s midfield for eight seasons. He always applied himself during games, was a great tackler and won the hard ball, being committed no matter the cost. Leoncelli played 146 games for Melbourne between 1996 and 2003, including the 2000 Grand Final, and the 1998 and 2002 finals series. He finished third in the 1997 and 1999 best and fairest, and was named best clubman in 1998. Leoncelli was also named deputy vice-captain after just 64 matches. He also represented Victoria against South Australia in 1999. Leoncelli served as a director between 2007-10, including on the list management subcommittee, and as a member of the strategic relationships and facilities project team.

Laurie Mithen
A talented half-forward flanker and centreman from Ormond, Mithen played 153 games and was a member of five premierships: 1955-56-57 and 1959-60. A solid and well balanced player, Mithen was a brilliant kick, great mark and adept on either side of his body. At his dominant best, Mithen had the ball on a string. He won two best and fairest in 1958-59 and was named on the interchange in the team of the century.

Brian Wilson
One of the youngest ever Brownlow Medal winners, Wilson won the award at just 20 years old. It was his first year at Melbourne, after he played with Footscray and North Melbourne. He played 154 games for Melbourne (209 overall) and kicked 208 goals (246 in total) from 1982-90. Wilson finished third in the 1982 best and fairest and second in 1987. He was also an integral part of Melbourne’s late 1980s resurgence, with his confidence and spirit a feature. Wilson was a member of Melbourne’s 1988 Grand Final, and he led the club’s goalkicking in 1985. He also represented Victoria in 1982-83 and 1988.