Capper was noted for his marking ability rather than his kicking accuracy. His style of using his hands to climb the back of players was a source of controversy with many claiming his marks should have been free kicks to his opponents. Eventually the rules of marking were more strictly enforced.
When Capper moved to the Brisbane Bears at the end of the 1987 season with a $350,000 three year contract, he became the highest paid player in the VFL. Capper did not do well in Queensland and returned to Sydney after having kicked only 71 goals in 34 games. At the end of his VFL career, he returned to Queensland in 1992 to play semi-professionally with the Southport Sharks.
1. Warwick Capper
Sydney Swans/Brisbane Bears
Capper was spotted by the Swans playing for Oakleigh in the early 1980s and quickly became a fan favourite in the harbour city. The blond-haired forward in the tight white shorts became famous for his high marking ability and also finished runner-up in the Coleman Medal in 1986 -87. He has remained in the spotlight since retiring from the game in 1992.
In 1988, following the Brisbane Bears' rocky debut season in the then-VFL, it was imagined that the sight of Capper's buttock-hugging shorts would be just the thing to lure the white-shoe brigade and friends to Carrara. Capper was thus lured from the financially beleaguered Swans and Sydney lost its most marketable figure and kicker of a century of goals in 1987.
Capper was a flop at his new club. The big ground at Carrara didn't suit him and, worse, he became the personification of the Bears' identity crisis. The club's president, Paul Cronin, wanted Capper playing regardless of form. Brisbane's original coach, Peter Knights, says Cronin told him: "Under no circumstances will an asset like Warwick Capper be running around in the seconds."
Warwick Capper wore spray-on shorts that were the height of vulgarity, white boots (when few, if any, did), and had spiked blonde hair. To use an expression from the 1960s, I dug Warwick Capper as a footballer.
I saw him get bashed one day at Victoria Park, held in a headlock by a Collingwood ruckman and simultaneously punched in the face. I saw his head recoil with the force of the blow. He had no defence to that sort of thuggery but he still kept on his way like some brilliant squawking bird of the jungle.
He was an ugly but reasonably effective kick. He was a thrilling mark - promiscuously so since he leapt for high balls in ways that always seemed to involve him rubbing his groin into his opponent's ear as he swung around above them like the world's vainest weathercock.
It can be argued that, in the end, winning games is more likely to draw crowds than aesthetics. It can also be said, and quite rightly, that no coach or administration should compromise on their team's on-field effort for the purposes of marketing their game or their club. The Brisbane Bears once did that by playing an out-of-form Warwick Capper, and were rightly condemned.
After producing hauls of 92 and 103 goals in 1986 and 1987, Capper managed 71 goals from 34 games in his three years with Brisbane. He blamed bitterness from teammates jealous of his huge pay packet for his failure.
''They couldn't handle me, I was too big for them,'' Capper said. ''I was the first $1 million player, I think I was worth that in awareness and publicity. I made the Swans millions out of their marketing. Every time I led out they [the Brisbane players] kicked it over my head. I was the highest-paid decoy full-forward in history.''
Capper, who retired with 388 goals from 124 games, said the move to Brisbane cost him ''300-400 goals'' and cut short his career by three years. ''It was a little bit [of a regret],'' said Capper, who was inducted into the Swans' Hall of Fame this year. ''I should have stayed after I kicked a hundred but unfortunately the club was broke and they needed to pay the tax man.''
The club admits it has been poor at acknowledging former stars but has set out to change that, introducing two past player events for the first time.
But former Bears star and human headline Warwick Capper is missing in action. "We're trying to track him down to confirm after he initially said he'd love to attend," the spokesman said."His last location that we know of was in Thailand ... we think."
Confidential suspects this must be the first time in recent memory that somebody actually sought out Capper.
Warwick Capper, as cuddly as a Brisbane Bear, has always been in the news. He's a talking point whether he is kicking goals or barely getting a kick. Now, after a publicity-filled career, he is scheduled to play his 100th match. Capper, 25, has his knockers — plenty of them, and particularly since he moved to the Brisbane Bears in 1988.
But, the fact remains, he kicked 103 goals in 1987, a feat that has eluded many other forwards. Long-haired, trendy, high-flying Capper started with the Sydney Swans in 1983 after coming from Oakleigh Districts. Some of his aerial displays in his 99 games have been breathtaking.