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by Matt Quinn
24th November 2005
There's very little left to footy in any given year when the average footy fan starts salivating about a bunch of guys sitting in a room, calling out the names of a bunch of kids most of us have never heard of, like team captains in the school playground try to get the best kids to play with them. So it is though, we approach the draft with a bit of anticipation, and a bit of interest, waiting to see who are going to be the next batch of youngsters to pull on the blue and gold.

Now if you're interested in phantom drafts, you're in the wrong place, I'd suggest you can look at Burgatron's draft at the AFL site, or, or any of a dozen different sites where they discuss this year's young talent. Instead, this is a review of the Eagles history at the draft table.

The Eagles, being a newly formed club, didn't participate in the original VFL draft of 1986, where Victorian clubs drafted anyone with any talent from outside WA pretty much regardless of whether they actually had any interest in playing in the VFL at the time. (the Eagles had a moratorium on WA at the time). Certainly the lack of requirement to nominate for the draft made for some interesting decisions over the years. Half the Adelaide Crows initial squad officially came from other AFL clubs - despite many of the players never having played a senior game outside the SANFL. Plenty of players simply told the club that drafted them that they just weren't interested (particularly if that club was the Bears), and that they'd just wait.

At this time, the Eagles put together an initial squad of 35 players, that I believe was this:

1. Wally Matera (South Fremantle)
2. Rob Wiley (Perth)
3. Chris Mainwairing (East Fremantle)
4. Ross Glendinning (North Melbourne / East Perth)
5. Dwayne Lamb (Subiaco)
6. Geoff Miles (Claremont)
7. Phil Narkle (Swan Districts)
8. Steve Malaxos (Hawthorn/Claremont)
9. Glen O'Loughlin (Subiaco)
10. Dean Turner (Fitzroy/East Perth)
11. Peter Davidson (Claremont)
12. Phil Scott (Subiaco)
14. Michael Brennan (East Fremantle)
15. Dean Laidley (West Perth)
16. John Annear (Richmond / Claremont)
18. Andrew MacNish (Subiaco)
19. Darren Bennett (East Fremantle)
20. Paul Peos (East Perth)
21. David O'Connell (Claremont)
22. Michael O'Connell (Claremont)
23. Glen Bartlett (East Perth)
24. John Worsfold (South Fremantle)
25. Laurie Keene (Subiaco)
26. Alex Ischenko (East Perth)
27. Mark Zanotti (Subiaco)
28. Chris Lewis (Claremont)
30. John Gastev (Claremont)
32. Murray Wrensted (East Fremantle)
33. Don Holmes (Swan Districts)
34. Sean King (West Perth)
35. Dean Warwick (West Perth)
37. Paul Mifka (West Perth)
38. Adrian Barich (Perth)
45. Andrew Lockyer (East Fremantle)

Of course, the Eagles were limited at that time to just 35 players, and had been sued by Hawthorn when attempting to recruit Gary Buckenara and Paul Harding to the club. Still, it wasn't a bad initial squad, and had a few key players already there who would become the backbone of the premiership teams of the early 90s.

The 1987 draft also didn't include the newly formed Eagles, who were allowed to add a few new players from the WAFL, plus Murray Rance, recruited home from the Bulldogs.

Murray Rance (Swan Districts/Footscray)
Kevin Caton (Swan Districts)
Joe Cormack (Swan Districts)
Shane Ellis (East Fremantle)
Richard Geary (South Fremantle)
Peter Higgins (Claremont)
Brent Hutton (Swan Districts)
Don Langsford (Swan Districts)
Troy Ugle (Swan Districts)
Clinton Browning (East Fremantle)
Guy McKenna (Claremont)

The advent of John Todd was pretty obvious on this list, where it appears he collected everyone he knew from Swan Districts. Of course, the biggest name added to the list in this period was talented half back flanker and eventual club captain Guy McKenna.

2. Todd Breman (Subiaco)
10. Peter Higgins (Claremont)
24. David Hynes (Port Adelaide)
38. Jeremy Crough (South Bendigo)
44. Scott Williamson (Wangaratta Rovers)
52. Darren Bartsch (West Adelaide)
66. Matt Richardson (Warracknabeal)
80. Damian Berto (St Marys)
94. Andrew Geddes (Katunga)
108. Peter Melesso (Claremont)

Pre-Draft Selections
Stevan Jackson (South Fremantle)
Don Pyke (Claremont)
Peter Sumich (South Fremantle)
Craig Turley (West Perth)
Scott Watters (South Fremantle)

The Eagles might as well have not bothered during the main round of the 1988 draft. After trading away Alex Ischenko for pick 2, it was used for the at best useful Todd Breman, while the only really useful player to come from that draft was David Hynes from Port Adelaide. As was true of most of the Eagles early seasons of drafting the Eagles cleaned up on the pre-draft selections, with Don Pyke, Peter Sumich and Craig Turley all genuine talents. Stevan Jackson and Scott Watters later proved useful on the trade table.

4. Peter Matera (South Fremantle)
50. Dean Irving (South Fremantle)
64. Tony Evans (Claremont)
78. Steven Schwerdt (Central District)
92. Brett Heady (Subiaco)
112. Ashley McIntosh (Claremont)

Additional selections
Dean Kemp (Subiaco)
Anthony Begovich (Claremont)
Brad Gwilliam (West Perth)

Pre-draft selections
Ryan Turnbull (Claremont)
Peter Mann (Claremont)

Peter Wilson (Richmond)

The Eagles were granted the right for the 1990 season to enlarge the list to match the size of the lists of other clubs, and as such had a lot of picks, including some pre-draft selections. The Eagles cleaned up in this draft, setting the tone for years of dominance. Any draft that nets the talents of Peter Matera, Dean Kemp, Brett Heady, Ashley McIntosh and Ryan Turnbull would have opposition clubs looking for their brown undies. Even the lesser names were useful, with Dean Irving useful and Anthony Begovich later traded to Sydney in the trade that got us the pick we used for Drew Banfield. The Eagles also traded two early picks for former Shark Peter Wilson, the only Eagle who played in the Eagles' first ever game - for Richmond.

9 Matt Clape (East Perth)
12 Shane Porter (North Launceston)
20 Robert West (Wodonga)
36 Matthew Burton (Subiaco)
64 Derek Hall (West Perth)
69 Gavin Cooney (Clarence)
83 Mark Williams (Sandhurst)

Zone Selections
Mitchell White (Subiaco)
Glen Jakovich (South Fremantle)

Dale Kickett (Fitzroy)
Mark Hepburn (North)
Ian Dargie (St Kilda)

After making out like bandits in 1989, the 1990 draft proper had poor pickings for the Eagles with the most useful player drafted being Matt Clape at 9. However, the Eagles still had zone selections and they were used to devastating effect, picking up Glen Jakovich and Mitchell White. Without White and Jakovich the 1990 season would have been a dead loss

16 Daniel Metropolis (Subiaco)
24 Kane Morphett (East Fremantle)
25 Steven Davies (Subiaco)
29 Matthew Connell (Subiaco)
42 Peter Freeman (St Kilda)
74 Brendan Krummel (East Fremantle)

Paul Gow (Footscray)
Paul Harding (St Kilda)
Trent Nichols (Richmond)
David Regan (Essendon)

Zone Selection
Jason Ball (Swan Districts)

The 1991 trade period netted the Eagles two useful names, Daniel Metropolis and Jason Ball. While neither were outstanding in their time, Ball (now at Sydney) was a better than average ruckman/forward, playing in the 1994 premiership side, while Metro was a useful utility player in 108 games for the Eagles. Of the rest, the best value was Brendan Krummell who was traded to Freo for a compensation pick (his value to the club is mostly in what he got in trade), while Paul Harding was a reasonable ruckman who held up the ruck in the 1992 premiership team. Matt Connell went on to make his name at the Crows. The rest - well they didn't amount to much, playing a grand total of four games between them.

1. Drew Banfield (Subiaco)
8. Paul Symmons (West Perth)
19. Lee Walker (East Perth)
21. Shane Bond (Port Adelaide)
34. Travis Burton (Subiaco)
49. Jarrad Schofield (Subiaco)
64. Tony Godden (Subiaco)
79. Brett Spinks (South Fremantle)
94. Rhys Croxford (Claremont)
109. David Muir (Claremont)
124. Brayden Lyle (Port Adelaide)

The 1992 draft was a bonanza for those nominating, with 124 players taken all up.
The Eagles secured the first pick by trading Scott Watters and Anthony Begovich to Sydney and pick 8 by trading Dean Laidley to the Kangaroos. Both would be considered brilliant trades in the current era. The highest profile Eagles selected in this draft were the long lasting Drew Banfield at pick 1, eventual 99 game player Paul Symmonds at 8 and Jarrad Schofield who has ended up playing a majority of his career at Port Adelaide.

Notable in this draft is Brayden Lyle, the player picked up at the highest number in all drafts to date, 124. For a 124th pick he was reasonably handy before moving back to Port for the 1997 season. Among the others were Tony Godden who, like Brendan Krummel from 1991 ended up at the Dockers for compensation picks where the Eagles made out like bandits, the first appearance on an AFL list of possibly the unluckiest AFL player ever in Lee Walker, and 1994 premiership player Shane Bond.

16 Fraser Gehrig (Murray U18)
33 Ben Robbins (Gippsland U18)
43 Jason Heatley (Subiaco)

The 1993 draft was nice and shallow for the Eagles, with only three picks made. All three players eventually played AFL football, and all three eventually left the Eagles looking for other pastures. Fraser Gehrig was the standout from this set, playing 115 games for the Eagles before shifting home to St Kilda where he picked up this year's Coleman Medal. Jason Heatley also impressed in front of goal after a move to St Kilda while Ben Robbins moved first to Brisbane then Footscray looking for a football home.

12 Shane Sikora (Murray U18)
37 Ashley Blurton (West Perth)
44 Jeremy Dyer (Geelong U18)
54 Ian Downsborough (West Perth)
71 Jason Spinks (Sydney)

Michael Dunstan (Fitzroy, for pick 19 - Ben Holland)

17 Paul Peos (Brisbane)

Compensation Pick from Freo*
Chad Morrison (Southern U18 - for Brendan Krummel)

*Both these selections were made in early 1995 before the pre-season draft was moved

The 1994 drafts and trade periods were pretty light on for talent incoming to the Eagles. The only selection of note was Chad Morrison who left after 2004 just two games short of life membership, certainly a win for the Eagles who only had to give up Brendan Krummell. Ian Downsborough's claim to fame was being the player Port took giving the Eagles the #1 pick in the 1996 draft, while Paul Peos was an inaugural Eagle returning to the club after a few seasons with the Bears in Brisbane.

3. Brendon Fewster (West Perth)
14. Luke Trew (Murray U18)
30. Craig Smoker (West Perth)
44. Jonson Clifton (Swan Districts)
57. Paul Whitelaw (West Perth)
66. Neil Marshall (Claremont)

Ben Cousins (East Fremantle)

Phillip Matera (South Fremantle/Freo, for David Hynes)
Andy Lovell (Melbourne - for Craig Turley)

13. Andrew Donnelly (Subiaco)

Compensation Pick from Freo*
David Wirrpunda (Eastern U18 - for Tony Godden)

A bit of talent joined the Eagles for the 1996 season. The biggest coup was getting Ben Cousins to the club under Father/Son from under the noses of Geelong and Fremantle (today Cousins would not be eligible for F/S at the Eagles as the rules have changed). Freo for some reason took Tony Godden off the Eagles who promptly recruited the 16 year old David Wirrpunda with the compensation pick, a monster win for the club, while Freo's brain explosions continued when they traded Phil Matera to the Eagles to join Peter in exchange for David Hynes. Freo even threw in pick 3 as a sweetener!).

Of the players actually picked up in the drafts, the best was the Eagles pre-season pick, Andrew Donnelly, who actually won the 1996 Eagles rookie of the year ahead of Ben Cousins who won the Rising Star. The Eagles had also managed to extract pick 3 off the Dockers, but in the end wasted it on Buzz Fewster - a talent who never quite made it and was then sent to Freo anyway a few years later. The rest of the picks. Hmmm, only Neil Marshall ever got a game, managing four games in an undistinguished career.

The only two players remaining from this draft after the retirement of Phil Matera are Ben Cousins and David Wirrpunda. A pretty good pairing in my opinion...

1 Michael Gardiner (Claremont)*
24 Josh Wooden (NSW-ACT)
39 Nicholas Stone (Claremont)
53 Michael Braun (Bendigo)
57 Trent Cummings (Fitzroy)*

Ilija Grgic (Footscray - for Luke Trew, pick 20)

Picks gained for trades (*)
1 (Port Adelaide - Ian Downsborough)
57 (Port Adelaide - Brayden Lyle + Shane Bond)

Another new team entering the competition, and the Eagles once again managed to wangle good picks for average players. Port Adelaide took Ian Downsborough for pick one in the draft, where Michael Gardiner was an obvious selection (the Eagles also traded Brayden Lyle and Shane Bond to Port for pick 57, but all up the Eagles cleaned up on the trades with Port).

The Eagles would also have been fairly happy with the rest of this draft, picking up the hardworking Michael Braun at the bargain basement pick 53, while Josh Wooden has been a useful servant of the club. Trent Cummings might be best remembered fot electing to sue the club for damages caused by injury.

Michael Braun from this draft became the first Victorian to become a life member of the club when he played his 150th game in 2006. It seems likely that Braun will be the last of the 1996 draftees at the club if Michael Gardiner is removed from the list at the end of the season as seems likely.

12. Jaxon Crabb (Claremont)
13. Callum Chambers (Gippsland U18)*
28. Rowan Jones (Claremont)
34. Andrew Williams (Dandenong U18)*
37. Todd Holmes (Subiaco)*
44. David Antonowicz (Western U18)
60. Phillip Read (East Fremantle)

Picks gained for trades (*)
13 (Geelong - Brett Spinks)
34 (Melbourne - Craig Smoker)
37 (Richmond - Ashley Blurton)

Certainly the Eagles wouldn't look back at the 1997 draft with particular relish. Rowan Jones is the only player still at the club, and has been mostly a solid if unspectacular member of the team, and was one of the club vice captains in 2004. Both Phil Read and Andrew Williams were useful pickups with 60 odd games apiece at the club, but are currently continuing their careers elsewhere (Williams is struggling at Collingwood, while Read has done OK at the Demons).

The high picks were not great, with Callum Chambers proving to be too inconsistent in the 51 games before his recent offloading to Carlton. Jaxon Crabb never showed why he was picked in the first round during his breif spell at the Eagles, nor at Port after the SA club threw him a lifeline.

While both Holmes and Antonowicz managed senior games, neither impressed during their very short careers.

The one that hurts the most from this draft was Brisbane drafting a young West Australian who had been training with the Eagles at pick 31 - there are persistent rumours that the Eagles had intended picking up Simon Black at 34...

10 Brandon Hill (Peel Thunder)
26 Michael O'Brien (Bendigo U18)
57 Andrew Embley (Swan Districts)
69 Scott Bennett (East Fremantle)
89 Joel Duckworth (East Fremantle)

Scott Cummings (Port Adelaide - Jarrad Schofield)
Chad Rintoul (Adelaide - Pick 80)

Rookie Elevated
Chad Fletcher (Subiaco)
Laurie Bellotti (Claremont)

The Eagles late 90s drafting has been often questioned for how it let the club down, and 1998 was no exception, with Hill, O'Brien, Bennett and Duckworth managing just three senior games between them. However, if you look harder, there are sometimes some impressive selections. Andrew Embley at 57 is such a selection, although for many years it looked like he would struggle to fulfil his potential.

The other impressive name on the list is Chad Fletcher (admittedly he wasn't actually drafted in this season). You're always happy to get a good player off the rookie list, and Fletcher has impressed in the last couple of years, indeed getting All-Australian selection in 2004. Sadly Laurie Belotti didn't survive the Ken Judge years after an OK 1999.

Trading was a mixed bag. Normally you'd be happy with getting a Coleman Medallist for an inconsistent midfielder, but Scotty Cummings only managed 45 games for the Eagles, while Jarrad Schofield played 131 for Port, including the 2004 Grand Final. In the end it probably broke even at best. Chad Rintoul was a fine pickup in exchange for pick 80, but he didn't last at the club and was delisted apparently for getting a bit greedy in his contract renegotiations.

11. Darren Glass (Perth)*
14. Travis Gaspar (South Fremantle)
16. David Haynes (Geelong U18)*
29. Adam Hunter (Swan Districts)
41. Kane Munro (Bendigo U18)*

Picks gained for trades (*)
11, 41 (Sydney - Jason Ball)
16 (Fremantle - Brendon Fewster)

We're starting to get to drafts where the eventual outcome is still up in the air. The Eagles selected a couple of talented WA key position players in this draft with two first round picks - Darren Glass is currently the clubs first choice full back, but Travis Gaspar has not been able to get on the field enough to fulful his potential. The other first round pick the Eagles took, David Haynes, is not at the club any longer, although he was at times useful, and netted the Eagles back pick 20 in the 2003 draft.

In addition to the first rounders, the Eagles took two lower picks. Adam Hunter is by far the more successful, showing regular signs of talent as a defender. Kane "the Munny Man" Munro was always a project player, and never made it through to a regular AFL berth before his delisting this year. Munro probably had one outstanding game, the 2002 Elimination Final, but was just too skinny to hold his own at AFL level.

5. Andrew McDougall (Perth)
18. Daniel Kerr (East Fremantle) *
36. Jeremy Humm (North Ballarat U18)
45. Trent Carroll (Fremantle) *

Michael Collica (Hawthorn - Pick 21)
Greg Harding (Fremantle - Daniel Metropolis, pick 51)
Mark Merenda (Richmond - pick 57)
Michael Prior (Essendon - pick 27)
David Sierakowski (St Kilda (with pick 18) - Fraser Gehrig)
Richard Taylor (Hawthorn pick 21)

Picks gained for trades (*)
18 (St Kilda - Fraser Gehrig)
45 (Geelong - Mitchell White)

Rookie Elevated
Dean Cox (East Perth)
Kasey Green (East Fremantle)

3. Troy Wilson (East Perth)

The Eagles did OK in this draft. While trading Fraser Gehrig away for pick 18 looks bad now, the fact is that pick 18 turned out to be the talented but somewhat temperamental Daniel Kerr who is now an integral part of the Eagles midfield, and his runner up to Cousins in the 2005 Brownlow Medal proved his value.

The other two draftees, the recycled Trent Carroll, and hard nut Jeremy Humm were both triers who didn't quite make it at AFL level. Carroll was delisted at the end of 2004, while Humm lasted until the end of the 2005 season.

The Eagles in hindsight might wish they'd left the trade table alone when looking at the incoming players. Not one of the six players that joined the Eagles in trade week lasted four years. Michael Collica showed a bit early on, playing 45 games before being delisted, while Richard Taylor was OK for a couple of seasons.

I was living in London when this draft period went by, and as I'm a Royals supporter, my brother sent me the back page of The West after their 2000 WAFL Grand Final win. On the page is an article about the Simpson Medallist, with a suggestion that he could be elevated to the Eagles main list. Big Dean Cox has certainly proven that right, and was probably one of the better AFL ruckmen in 2004. The other rookie elevation, Kasey Green had a chequered career, just about frozen out in 2005 before being a surprise selection for the Grand Final team. That aside, Green was delisted at the end of the season, likely at his own request.

The most interesting pick in many ways was the inexplicable selection of 29 year old Troy Wilson from East Perth in the Pre-season draft. However in a way it was a stroke of mad genius, as while Willo is now gone again, he got quite a cult following in his short career.

3. Chris Judd (Sandringham U18)^
6. Ashley Sampi (South Fremantle)
22. Mark Seaby (West Perth)
38. Ashley Hansen (Oakleigh U18)

^ Priority pick for less than five wins in the season

Judd. Need I say more? The Eagles first Brownlow Medallist was a somewhat surprising pick at three, as most pundits tipped the Eagles to draft eventual Docker Graham Polak. However the recruiting team deserve credit for this selection as Judd has been the clear standout from this draft. Ashley Sampi on the other hand both delights and frustrates Eagles fans. He does the hard things most of the time, and shows patches of brilliance, yet sometimes disappears out of the game for long periods.

The two talls have not quite had the exposure that their smaller counterparts have. Ashley Hansen had to wait more than two seasons to make his debut, and apparently almost walked out on the club at the end of 2003 for lack of opportunity, but when chances came his way, he's proven to be a capable center half forward. Mark Seaby also struggled to break into the side, requiring Michael Gardiner to go down before he got his chance. Still, he's proven to be a solid understudy to Dean Cox, and is still in his infancy as far as being a ruckman goes.

24 Paul Johnson (Dandenong U18 - now at Melbourne)
37 Brent Staker (NSW-ACT U18)
53 Adam Selwood (Bendigo U18)

Damien Adkins (Collingwood - Andrew Williams)
Daniel Chick (Hawthorn - pick 8)

Rookie Elevation
Quinten Lynch (West Perth)

Paul Johnson never quite got going at the Eagles, and his only game, the first derby of 2003 turned out to be it for the big Victorian who headed home to the Demons at the end of 2004. The other two selections however are showing they have quite a bit of potential for lateish picks, with the jury still out on Brent Staker, but favourably inclined to think he could make it, while Adam Selwood's 2005 Preliminary Final was pretty good stuff and shows he could be a more than useful player.

11. Beau Waters (West Adelaide)
20. Sam Butler (Central Districts)
26. Daniel McConnell (Eastern Ranges U18 - now at Kangaroos)

Daniel McConnell's stay at the Eagles was short, with two games before heading back to the Kangaroos at the end of 2005. The other two players however have become priorities for the Eagles to retain. Sam Butler has shown that his conversion from Soccer was probably a good thing, although he still has a lot to learn about the game, while Beau Waters was unfortunate to miss the entire 2005 season with ostetis pubis after a very good first season in 2004.

29. Matt Rosa (North Ballarat)*
37. Mark LeCras (West Perth)
44. Mitch Morton (Claremont - Father Son)
57. Brad Smith (Subiaco) *

Traded in
Tyson Stenglein (Adelaide, picks 12, 28)

Picks gained for trades (*)
29 (Melbourne - Paul Johnson)
57 (Carlton - Callum Chambers)

Rookie Elevation
Mark Nicoski (Subiaco)
Brett Jones (Claremont)

They're a nice couple of rookie nominations there, with Nicoski looking like he could be a very good player in a couple of years, while Brett Jones looks to become a solid defender with more experience under his belt.

The younger recruits all had a taste of AFL in 2005, playing two or three games, but none stamped their name on the game like Waters and Butler did in 2004. Still, Morton was touted as a possible top five pick had he not gone father-son, and showed some of the talent we hope is there (and apparently also found out that Woosha has a temper.... Mitch, we could have all told you that!)

Brad Smith, the new unluckiest man in football (see Lee Walker above) would probably have got a real chance in either 2005 or 2006 - right up until he did his knee in pre-season training for both seasons.

The single trade of the season was Tyson Stenglein, effectively for pick 12 and a loss of one spot in the second round. Overall, a superlative trade, with Stinger fitting in perfectly at the club.

11. Shannon Hurn (Central Districts)
29. Ben McKinley (Northern Knights U18)
34. Matthew Spangher (Eastern Ranges U18)

Rookie Elevation
Jaymie Graham (South Fremantle)

Last update: Wed 9th August 2006


2005-11-30 10:09:44
compiled very well Mr.Q .

Great Stuff
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