Players you thought were going to be elite but never got there

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Guardian Hawk

Premiership Player
Oct 16, 2003
4,663
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Murrumbeena
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Hawthorn
Original post was comparing individual players against each other. Now you've gone off on a tangent about team collective's in one of the most lopsided era's in the 16+ team AFL era.

Lloyd actually has a much better goals per game average than Franklin who might I add did leave Hawthorn after two premierships and only 2 Coleman's, Lloyd has 3 colemans ;) meanwhile his AA's were predomaaintly won at Sydney (5 v Hawks 4) so again, semantics but you are underselling Lloyd here.

You stated Roughy had versatility, Lucas won a club b&f as a CHB and was a 2 x club b&f winner. Roughead 0. Roughead kicked 107 more goals in 13 more games, take away Lucas' 1.5 seasons where he played defence and goals per game he was pretty much on par with your man.

Bewick's 6 state of origin games suggests in one of the toughest era's in AFL history he was on the cusp of AA selection so maybe not at the level of your man, his (1.4) goals per game is actually not as bad as Breusts (1.8) and has 2 premierships under his belt (comparable to Breust's 3).

Mercuri literally came second in the Brownlow medal in 1999, whilst Rioli's 1.4 goals a game is nice, Mecuri's 1.16 for a midfielder resting forward appears much much better.

I'll give you Gunston, we had a plethora of guys in and around that 3rd tall fwd role. Paul Barnard (140 games for Essendon) was the most consistent and Gunston has him covered easily.

Hird is Hird as you mentioned.


Now I am not disagreeing with you, just feel you are seriously dispelling that Essendon team due to your Hawthorn bias. Franklin's Colemans were margins - 2017 (+4, J.Kennedy played 5 less games)
  • 2014 (+4, Roughead played 1 more game)
  • 2011 (+13, T.Cloke played 3 more goals)
  • 2008 (+14, Fev second with 3 less games)

Compare that to Lloyd's dominance in his era where he won Colemans'

  • 2000 (+ 33, Jeff Farmer played 2 less games)
  • 2001 (+ 46, Richo played 1 more game)
  • 2003 (+ 15, same amount of goals as second placed Neitz)


Now Buddy is nice and all but I don't think people realise just how dominant Lloyd was at his peak. The closest a player got to his dominance was probably Gehrig who incidentally kicked 7 more goals in 1 more game than my man in 2004. Buddy's highlights seduces a lot of people, and obviously more so the Hawks supporters but digging deeper players from yesteryear was just as good, if not better when you dig a little deeper.

For the record, I do agree that Breust, Gunston were easily better players than the aforementioned Bombers guys but underselling the 'stars' when you do dig deeper.

Not sure how you have concluded I am underselling your stars? and certainly not demonstrated bias as per your original claim given I almost only used facts. The very first line of my post is agreeing that the Essendon forward line is 'incredible'. I then suggested there was some stiff competition' to be the greatest ever. In other words, they are in the conversation, just maybe not the actual no 1. I'll give you a hint - if a rival supporter believes your players are in the mix for the greatest ever, they are not being undersold.

I absolutely rate the players you've mentioned for the reasons you've mentioned (nearly all of which I touched on myself).

I did not suggest the Hawthorn players 'were miles better' or 'shits on' their Essendon counterparts or any other biased language. I provided pretty undeniable (and balanced rationale) for why I had the Hawthorn players shade their Essendon equivalents. The ironly is that after calling me out, you seem to largely agree with my assessments anyway.

On some specific points:
Original post was comparing individual players against each other. Now you've gone off on a tangent about team collective's in one of the most lopsided era's in the 16+ team AFL era.
Dunno if you misread it but my post had nothing to do with team collectives (and therefore lopsided eras have no relevance). I added up the career tallies of the 6 Hawks named to the 6 Bombers named to emphasise the difference in their impact in the most important metric for forwards: goals. 5 of the 6 Hawks have more goals than their Essendon counterparts, despite individual tallies now being much lower (and 3 of them are still going). Not small margins either. Some have kicked several hundred goals more.

You stated Roughy had versatility, Lucas won a club b&f as a CHB and was a 2 x club b&f winner. Roughead 0. Roughead kicked 107 more goals in 13 more games, take away Lucas' 1.5 seasons where he played defence and goals per game he was pretty much on par with your man.

I stated myself Lucas' versatility was good for the reasons you mention. Roughead also spent 2 years at CHB and spent another 2 years as a regular ruck rotation (where he was AA). He also spent considerable chunks as a dominant centre square midfield rotation. That's why I suggested Roughy was more versatile. Lucas could play back and forward to good effect. Roughead played back, forward, ruck and mid to good effect. There's no need to remove Lucas' 1.5 season when Roughy spent far more time away from the forward line than Lucas did and still kicked more 107 goals, won a Coleman, multiple AA's, big bags in finals, etc.

Mercuri literally came second in the Brownlow medal in 1999, whilst Rioli's 1.4 goals a game is nice, Mecuri's 1.16 for a midfielder resting forward appears much much better.

Again, it feels like you didn't read my post all that closely. I highlighted that Mercuri's peak (i.e. 99) was better than Rioli's. Thing is, every individual accolade in Mercuri's career came in that season. In fact, Mercuri never cracked 10 votes any other year. That's why I suggested that Rioli may have been more consistent as Rioli was elite throughout, won multiple AA's, a Norm Smith medal another year, etc. Even then, I conceded that they were different players so hard to compare and that only as a forward, you might pick Rioli (remembering that Mercuri's best years, including 99, came from the midfield). I think it is a pretty fair and reasonable assessment that as a forward you would pick Rioli.

I'm not keen to go down the Buddy vs Lloyd rabbit hole again but if you somehow think I'm suggesting that Lloyd wasn't a gun, you are sorely mistaken. I rate Lloyd as the best pure full forward since Lockett and one of the all time greats. Not unreasonable (and certainly no 'biased' insult) to suggest Buddy may now have gone past for the reasons I mentioned.

At the end of the day, all 6 Hawks were All Australians whilst only 3 of the Bombers were. The Hawks 6 won 2 more Colemans and will likely end up kicking 700 odd more goals than the Essendon 6 in a reduced scoring era. That's the equivalent of adding an extra Tom Hawkins or Jack Riewoldt to your forward line. I don't think it was biased to suggest 'stiff competition' to being the greatest ever in that context. I have the utmost respect for those Essendon champions (despite a strong dislike for your mob).
 

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Elmer_Judd

🎷🦍 🍀🏆
Jul 25, 2019
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I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in how Andrew Walker's career panned out (having said that, most of it is due to the basket case that was the Carlton Footy Club in that decade and a half he he was there as a player)

Jarrod Waite another with so much potential unfulfilled (least at Carlton, gave North a few good years)

Biggest tragedy from a Carlton perspective was Peter Motley though ..
 

emuboy

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Dec 17, 2006
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Richmond thanks to their lowly ladder position in 1992 were able to draft a gun young player from WAFL team South Fremantle named Wayne Hernaman. He played 17 games for the Tigers in a great debut season in 1993 fully living up to his potential and looked set for a long and productive career at Richmond.

Then the next year, Hernaman played just three games for the Tigers late in the 1994 season (injuries may have been a factor) and was delisted at the end of the year. Strangely, no other AFL club took a punt on drafting him despite his young age and that he had shown he could play at this level, he did not return to WA to South Fremantle or a rival WAFL club, he didn't stay in Victoria and play for a VFL team, go across the border to the SANFL or play in one of the other state leagues and there wasn't any mention of a career-ending injury on or off the field. He simply seemed to vanish off the face of the earth, never to be seen or heard of again.
 

Catsnlakers

Even Hank Moody is in awe of Geelong!
Oct 2, 2016
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Cory Gregson, shame.

Remember being pumped for Darcy Lang when he scored his first goal in front of a home crowd at K Park, thought he was going to be something.
Gregson is a decent call actually, I remember a night game against the Pies when he was very young & he was close to B.O.G, bombing goals from outside 50 & everything, just never went on with it, definitely a shame.
 

Pure_Ownage

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Nov 26, 2008
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Steven King, Michael Gardiner and Brad Ottens had careers, that while fine, were nowhere as good as their dominant early form would suggest they would be.

King and Ottens would both make AA teams as 21 year olds but would never be selected again.

Gardiner also only made it just once, in 2003, but at 23/24 and was on the bench.

FWIW all of them played in the 2009 GF.

The common thread is injuries. All had the ability to be elite but their bodies held them back.

That said geelong dont win 3 flags without ottens he was structurally critical and the number of rucks we have churned through since him proves it. And gardiner and king were very good for st kilda for a couple of years there.
 

Pure_Ownage

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Gregson is a decent call actually, I remember a night game against the Pies when he was very young & he was close to B.O.G, bombing goals from outside 50 & everything, just never went on with it, definitely a shame.

He looked like he was going to be anything but after his foot injury was not the same player, similar with cockatoo who showed some real signs and then post hamstring injuries has just never found it again.
 

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Pure_Ownage

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Nov 26, 2008
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Has to be Harley Bennell for mine. I remember a game in 2014, absolutely tore us to shreds and racked up 30+ with 6 goals to his name. Looked like he'd be a top 5 player in the game one day. Unfortunately injury and off-field troubles derailed him in the end.

Honorable mention to Dan Menzel. Had us Cats supporters thinking we'd found the next Stevie J in 2011, maybe even better. Still carved out and okay career but was never the same after those knee injuries.

Absolutely..i remembered that game and bennell was amazing..unfortunately didnt have the right attitude off field and then the injuries.

Another was damian cupido..had all the talent in the world and could have been easily A grade but the professionalism wasnt there.
 

WillHayward

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 13, 2018
11,229
15,410
South Melbourne
AFL Club
Sydney
Jarrod Brennan - end thread
Great nomination.
One of all my time favourite players.
Bloke was an absolute freak of nature and could have been anything.
Could do some ridiculous things.
Prodigious talent.
Probably played in all 18 positions over his career at some stage.
 
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Brad_5668

Draftee
Dec 31, 2022
4
3
AFL Club
Melbourne
Big Bas Zempalis. Absolute jet for West Perth, unfortunately liked the amber fluid a little too much, otherwise could have seen him playing in the Big League. Although went on to higher honours, becoming Mayor of Perth.

View attachment 1587239
Zempalis was also injury prone and probably missed more football than he should have played. His last game for West Perth was a reserves scratch match against Swan Districts at Leederville in 1993 from memory. After West Perth's last game the previous season someone forgot to take the padding of the gola posts, which meant they had hardened after being left in the sun for 5 months. During the game, Basil's face had several cuts after coming into contact with the padding and he had to leave the field.
He was also just starting a media career at Channel 7 and they basically said to him he had to decide what was more important. He retired soon after that game.
 

Dixie Flatline

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Jun 3, 2005
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Goes back a few years now, but Tony Hall. Had it all. Skills, toughness, courage. Dominated the SANFL with Glenelg and then looked set to be just as dominant when Hawthorn recruited him (the Hawks signed him to a Form Four in 1986, but he played one more season in the SANFL before coming to the VFL). Played every game for Hawthorn in 1988, was named All-Australian and finished fourth in the Brownlow. At this time, he was 22 turning 23, so coming into his prime as a footballer.

Unfortunately, in a State of Origin game between Victoria and South Australia in 1989, he was tackled by his club teammate, Andy Collins, and his knee was severely injured, rupturing three separate knee ligaments in the incident (the PCL, the LCL and the ACL). He missed a fair amount of football (16 months of recovery) but made it back with the Hawks to add a second VFL premiership to the collection in 1991. It was amazing that he was able to come back and play at all, but he was never the same afterwards. Joined the Crows at the end of the 1993 season, but only played 17 games for the Crows in 1994-95 before retiring.
 

Dixie Flatline

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Probably only Hawthorn supporters will likely remember him, but Adrian Cox was someone who could have been pretty bloody excellent as a player, but he never had the mental application or fortitude to make it. Peter Schwab indulged him because he could see how talented Cox was as a footballer, but when Clarkson came to Hawthorn at the back end of 2004, he was pretty much the first out the door at the end of the season, as Clarkson didn't have time for him.
 
Apr 19, 2006
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The local Satanist Cabal
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Probably only Hawthorn supporters will likely remember him, but Adrian Cox was someone who could have been pretty bloody excellent as a player, but he never had the mental application or fortitude to make it. Peter Schwab indulged him because he could see how talented Cox was as a footballer, but when Clarkson came to Hawthorn at the back end of 2004, he was pretty much the first out the door at the end of the season, as Clarkson didn't have time for him.
He was a freak.

 
Apr 19, 2006
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Might get flamed for this but Brett Deledio.

Very, VERY good player, but had all the tools to be a top 5 player in the game, but just seemed to coast on his talent.
I blame Richmond for that. Plenty of very talented kids turned into nothing over that period at the club.
 

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