Draft history pre-1986

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Dec 18, 2002
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An oft repeated stat that comes up in everything to do with Melbourne is how Alan Johnson was the "first player picked in a national draft".

Obviously this has no connection to the actual national draft that started in 1986, but newspaper articles of the day do clearly show that there was a draft after the 1981 season where any player who wanted to travel east (it definately covered the WAFL but I'm not sure about the SANFL) and hadn't signed a form four with a VFL club could enter and be picked up in reverse order. Each club had two picks and it replaced the system of each club being given two form fours every year to buy players with.

BUT I never see any reference to any other player who got picked in this particular draft or any further drafts from then on. If Melbourne picked a second player I'm pretty sure he never played seniors and I've never seen any draft orders. Unfortunately Google News Archive is missing copies of The Age from around the time of the first draft so I can't use that as a guide.

Can anybody shed light on the selections that were made in drafts before the National Draft as we know it kicked off at the end of 1986?
 

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Done a bit more looking into it.

According to the 1982 WA Football Register, the following players were also taken along with Ross Ditchburn and Ken Judge in that 1981 draft:

Grant Campbell (East Perth) - Picked by St Kilda
Dean Turner (East Perth)
Wayne Otway (East Perth) - Picked by Essendon
Alan Johnson (Perth)
Craig Holden (Swan Districts)

The 1983 Register mentions the following for the 1982 Draft:

Gary Shaw (Claremont) - Collingwood
Baden Harper (Claremont) - Geelong
Ray Holden (West Perth) - Melbourne
David Palm (West Perth) - Richmond
Rod Lester-Smith (East Fremantle) - Hawthorn
Andrew Purser (East Fremantle) - Footscray
Brad Hardie (South Fremantle) - Geelong
Allan Sidebottom (Swan Districts) - St Kilda

No mention of the draft in the 1984 Register.
 
1981 VFL Draft

1 Alan Johnson Melbourne (Perth) 135 games
2 Neil Craig Footscray (Sturt) 0 games
3 Grant Campbell Saint Kilda (East Perth) 0 games
4 Mark Naley South Melbourne (South Adelaide) 0 games
5 Craig Holden North Melbourne (Swan Districts) 29 games
6 Peter Hofner Richmond (Port Adelaide) 0 games
7 Ken Judge Hawthorn (East Fremantle) 72 games
8 Wayne Otway Essendon (East Perth) 36 games
9 Dean Turner Fitzroy (East Perth) 54 games
10 Tony McGuinness Geelong (Glenelg) 0 games
11 Chris Carpenter Collingwood (Launceston) 0 games
12 Ross Ditchburn Carlton (Claremont) 28 games
13 Danny Hughes Melbourne (Port Adelaide) 124 games
14 Trevor Clisby Footscray (North Adelaide) 0 games
15 Geoff Linke Saint Kilda (South Adelaide) 2 games
16 Phil Brooksby South Melbourne (South Adelaide) 0 games
17 Tom Warhurst North Melbourne (Norwood) 0 games
18 David Tiller Richmond (North Adelaide) 0 games
19 John Platten Hawthorn (Central Districts) 258 games
20 Stephen Copping Essendon (Glenelg) 42 games
21 Chris McDermott Fitzroy (Glenelg) 0 games
22 Greg McAdam Geelong (North Adelaide) 0 games
23 Scott Knight Collingwood (North Launceston) 5 games
24 Chris Veide Carlton (Glenelg) 0 games

I found this list in an old file. I'm still trying to track down the 1982 draft details - I'm sure there were just the 2 drafts held. It looks like Andrew Purser went at number 1 to Footscray and Gary Shaw to Collingwood at number 3.
 
I had no luck tracking down any more details of the 1982 draft myself, but fortunately the wonderful Kevin Taylor (Footystats) supplied me with the list, so here it is:-

1982 VFL Draft

1. Footscray, Andrew Purser (East Fremantle, W.A.) 112 games
2. St Kilda, Allan Sidebottom (Swan Districts, W.A.) 55 games
3. Collingwood, Gary Shaw (Claremont, W.A.) 32 games
4. Geelong, Baden Harper (Claremont, W.A.) 0 games
5. Melbourne, Keith Thomas (Norwood, S.A.) 0 games
6. Swans, Peter Motley (Sturt, S.A.) 0 games
7. Fitzroy, Bill Lokan (North Adelaide, S.A.) 87 games
8. Essendon, Brenton Phillips (North Adelaide, S.A.) 10 games
9. North Melbourne, Richard Cousins (Central District, S.A.) 0 games
10. Hawthorn, Rod Lester-Smith (East Fremantle, W.A.) 70 games
11. Richmond, David Palm (West Perth, W.A.) 104 games
12. Carlton, Jon Simpson, Woodville, S.A.) 0 games
13. Footscray, Peter Walker (East Launceston, Tas.) 0 games
14. St Kilda, David Grant (City South, Tas.) 191 games
15. Collingwood, Carl Herbert (Mayne, Qld.) 3 games
16. Geelong, Brad Hardie (South Fremantle, W.A.) 0 games
17. Melbourne, Ray Holden (West Perth, W.A.) 3 games
18. Swans, Greg Anderson (Port Adelaide, S.A.) 0 games
19. Fitzroy, Grant Fielke (West Adelaide, S.A.) 0 games
20. Essendon, Tony Antrobus (North Adelaide, S.A.) 22 games
21. North Melbourne, Garry McIntosh (Norwood, S.A.) 0 games
22. Hawthorn, Greg Hodson (West Torrens, S.A.) 0 games
23. Richmond, Mark Howsley (Kedron, Qld.) 0 games
24. Carlton, Chris Gray (Swansea, Tas.)
0 games
 
Wow, this thread is a hidden little treasure.

I was in Adelaide in 1981-82 and I remember the locals being agitated about the Victorian clubs raiding their talent.

Like all drafts there were hits and misses. Some of the players listed as 0 games actually went to other clubs and had very good careers.

I do recall allegations that Collingwood had pursuaded the Dogs and Saints to let Gary Shaw slide through to pick #3. That didn't really pay off for them.

The SANFL was quite a decent standard back then and looking through some of these players is a good reminder of the talent being produced.
 
This site gives the two "forgotten drafts" a mention, which is good to see:- https://www.draftguru.com.au/

https://www.draftguru.com.au/years/1981
https://www.draftguru.com.au/years/1982

I'm hoping the AFL will one day stop pretending these two drafts never occurred, and include the details of them in their annual guide and on their website!

That's a nifty little site. Does what it aims to do without being too flashy. The "average picks per game" thing is really interesting; who knew pick six was usually a flop?
 
That's a nifty little site. Does what it aims to do without being too flashy. The "average picks per game" thing is really interesting; who knew pick six was usually a flop?
Yes, I really like it. I suspect not too many people know about it, but it has plenty of interesting stuff and deserves to be well patronised. It would be helpful if they provided some way for people to contact the site, however.
 
Yes, I really like it. I suspect not too many people know about it, but it has plenty of interesting stuff and deserves to be well patronised. It would be helpful if they provided some way for people to contact the site, however.

That is quite odd that there's no footer, acknowledgements page, 'about us' or anything of the sort.

I did a little bit of BF sleuthing and it looks like bergholt might either be the owner or have some sort of involvement? :)
 

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That is quite odd that there's no footer, acknowledgements page, 'about us' or anything of the sort.

I did a little bit of BF sleuthing and it looks like bergholt might either be the owner or have some sort of involvement? :)
Yes, I have communicated with him via BF. I sent him a correction or two and he asked me to let him know if I had any other feedback.
 
This site gives the two "forgotten drafts" a mention, which is good to see:- https://www.draftguru.com.au/

https://www.draftguru.com.au/years/1981
https://www.draftguru.com.au/years/1982

I'm hoping the AFL will one day stop pretending these two drafts never occurred, and include the details of them in their annual guide and on their website!

The reality is though, these were not drafts in a sense of, you draft a player that has agreed to go to a club.
Those drafts were more like rights to a player from another state and simply an invitation to that player to be interested in getting a transfer to that club in the VFL at the time. That is way I understand it.
I doubt even half of them went to any of these clubs.
When you draft a player now, that is it, he is yours as agreed by applying to be in the draft.

I doubt any players actually signed up to go into a draft in 1981 and 1982.
Would love to know more on full details of how it all came about and also dropped away.

I do not take much notice of AFL drafts as serious genuine pool of all the best young talent at the time until about mid 1990's.
That was when old zones were gone for clubs and under 19's.
Any drafts from 1986 to early 1990s are more akin to a draft pool the league have now for the rookie drafts. A pick 1 in a 1986 to 1991 drafts probably little more value to a number 1 pick in rookie drafts now.
Most of the young talent was already in club systems via zones and under 19 team. Or if in WA or SA geared to end up at West Coast Eagles in Perth or Crows in Adelaide by zone type priority concessions
 
The reality is though, these were not drafts in a sense of, you draft a player that has agreed to go to a club.
Those drafts were more like rights to a player from another state and simply an invitation to that player to be interested in getting a transfer to that club in the VFL at the time. That is way I understand it.
I doubt even half of them went to any of these clubs.
When you draft a player now, that is it, he is yours as agreed by applying to be in the draft.

I doubt any players actually signed up to go into a draft in 1981 and 1982.
Would love to know more on full details of how it all came about and also dropped away.

I do not take much notice of AFL drafts as serious genuine pool of all the best young talent at the time until about mid 1990's.
That was when old zones were gone for clubs and under 19's.
Any drafts from 1986 to early 1990s are more akin to a draft pool the league have now for the rookie drafts. A pick 1 in a 1986 to 1991 drafts probably little more value to a number 1 pick in rookie drafts now.
Most of the young talent was already in club systems via zones and under 19 team. Or if in WA or SA geared to end up at West Coast Eagles in Perth or Crows in Adelaide by zone type priority concessions
I do agree with much of what you have said here, but even though it was different to today's system in that players didn't nominate, and some of those named obviously didn't care less about going, they were still drafts, with the last placed team having first pick, and the top placed team having the last pick in both rounds.

While they were probably never considered to be a great success overall, from both drafts 11 of the 24 players played senior football for the club that nominated them. I imagine some others would have gone to the club but not played seniors, Jon Simpson to Carlton is such an example.

As they were a forerunner to the modern draft, occurred only a few years before the draft came in to stay, and there were a reasonable number of success stories, I think the AFL should at least mention them in their records, rather than act as if they never happened.
 
I do agree with much of what you have said here, but even though it was different to today's system in that players didn't nominate, and some of those named obviously didn't care less about going, they were still drafts, with the last placed team having first pick, and the top placed team having the last pick in both rounds.

While they were probably never considered to be a great success overall, from both drafts 11 of the 24 players played senior football for the club that nominated them. I imagine some others would have gone to the club but not played seniors, Jon Simpson to Carlton is such an example.

As they were a forerunner to the modern draft, occurred only a few years before the draft came in to stay, and there were a reasonable number of success stories, I think the AFL should at least mention them in their records, rather than act as if they never happened.


I would have thought they are mentioned in difference places. The thing is, even in their day of 1981 and 82 those drafts obviously were not seen as anything noteworthy in media. I followed the footy very closely then and I never knew Ross Ditchburn was in a draft at the time. We had lots of recruits from WA in early 80s to mid 80's. Peter Bosustow and Kenny Hunter came over together in 1981, Alan Montgomery and Ross Ditchburn next. Wayne Blackwell and Warren Ralph later , Brad Shine, Jon Dorotich, Richard Dennis, Peter Kenny, Peter Sartori, Stephan DaRui and some others in those times that never played a senior game but only recently did I come across Ditchburn was in some kind of draft back then. It clearly was not made a big deal back in that time by the league or media. He would have been spoken about like any other recruit from WAFL or SANFL as being brought over on some clearance from club interstate with a transfer fee.
 

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