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Four AFL greats inducted to Hall of Fame

By Roger Vaughan 09/06/2011 10:35:39 PM Comments (0)

Four AFL modern masters - all Brownlow Medallists and club captains - lead this year's Hall Of Fame inductees.

Essendon great James Hird, Brisbane three-time premiership captain Michael Voss, Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley and Adelaide's imposing utility Mark Ricciuto were among six inductees at Thursday night's black tie function in Melbourne.

Tasmanian football icon Horrie Gorringe and Tony Charlton, a pioneer of AFL TV coverage, were the other men this year to receive one of the AFL's highest individual honours.

Hird, Buckley, Voss and Ricciuto were in a group of all-time greats who retired in 2006-07.

St Kilda's two-time Brownlow Medallist Robert Harvey, North Melbourne's Shinboner Of The Century Glenn Archer and Western Bulldogs star Chris Grant also retired in 2007, but it is surely a matter of time before they eventually join the Hall Of Fame.

Owing to selection rules, there are no more than six inductees each year and one of them this time had to be an umpire, administrator or member of the media.

Also, there was no official legend named this year because this select group can only be 10 per cent of the total number of Hall Of Fame members.

There are 23 legends and now 239 members.

Hird and Voss now coach the clubs where they forged their formidable reputations, while Buckley is an assistant with the Magpies and will take over next year from Mick Malthouse thanks to their succession plan.

Hird and Voss shared the 1996 Brownlow Medal, while Buckley and Ricciuto shared the honour with Sydney's Adam Goodes in 2003.

Between them, Hird, Voss, Buckley and Ricciuto shared 19 club best and fairest awards and 25 All-Australian selections.

After being a member of Essendon's "Baby Bombers" premiership team in 1993, Hird captained the club to their 2000 flag in his glittering 253-game career.

Voss played 289 games for Brisbane and was a pivotal member of their premiership three-peat from 2001-03 - regarded as one of the greatest teams in VFL-AFL history.

Buckley never played in a premiership side in his 20 games at Brisbane and 260 games at Collingwood, but he achieved the rare distinction of winning a Norm Smith Medal as best afield in a grand final despite playing in the losing side.

That happened in 2002, when the 'Pies went close to a major upset over the Lions.

Ricciuto played 312 games for the Crows, then a club record, and played in their 1998 premiership team.

He was the quickest player to 300 games and also the second-youngest to achieve the milestone.

Gorringe died in 1994, aged 99, and played from 1914-30 with Tasmanian club Cananore.

He played in five premiership teams and was named as a forward pocket in Tasmania's team of the century.

Gorringe joined Darrell Baldock and Peter Hudson as Tasmanian football Hall Of Fame official icons.

Charlton remains a well-known master of ceremonies in Melbourne and was involved in the first live broadcast of a VFL match by Channel Seven in April, 1957.

He was a broadcaster and commentator from 1949-70.

As he was presented on stage, Hird was asked how it felt to be inducted along with his three contemporaries.

"Definitely, it's a huge honour - Mark Ricciuto, a great captain of his footy club, Michael Voss, a three-time, premiership captain.

"Bucks, we actually played junior footy together ... under 11s or under 12s, we spent a year together at Ainslie in Canberra.

"To see two kids out of that program come to the AFL, and end up here is pretty amazing."

Hird said his dreams were always about playing for Essendon, where his family has a long-standing connection.

"I'm not sure how I would have gone at another club, Essendon was in the blood," he said.

"Essendon was everything to me as a kid and fortunately I got to live my dreams.

"My dream has been to captain Essendon in a premiership team and very few people get to live their dream - I was very lucky to do that."

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