The Port Melbourne Team of the Century - Web Blog - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fan blogs

The Port Melbourne Team of the Century

Port Melbourne, which entered the competition in 1886, established itself quickly to become one of the most traditional VFA/VFL clubs in the competition. It has been in a staggering 33 grand finals winning 15 of them and has produced nine J.J. Liston Trophy medallists. With statistics like this it was always going to be difficult to select a team of the century from such legendary names as Goss, Skilton, Cook, Brice and Lahiff.

At a star-studded affair at the Crown Casino the selectors weighed up the statistics and the influence of all its past players to select a privileged 24 players and one coach. The full forward position was one of the most difficult positions to select because Port has had eight individuals, which have won the VFA/VFL goal-kicking award on 20 different occasions. The stand out player who gained the full forward position was the legendary Fred Cook. He played 258 games from 1971-1984 and was best and fairest in 1976. He won a J.J. Liston trophy at Yarraville in 1970 and was Port Melbourne’s leading goal kicker for 11 years. Fred Cook was also a 6-time premiership player for the club and his 258 games for 1238 goals is a Port Melbourne record, which seems unlikely ever to be broken.

The outstanding Frank Johnson was named Captain of the side and his record shows why this man was one of the greatest players to ever pull on the treasured Borough jumper. He played 165 games in his eight-year career at the club and won an amazing 5 best and fairest awards. He was a J.J. Liston Trophy medallist in 1952 and was an all Australian in 1953 and 1956. His eight consecutive grand final appearances yielded only one victory in 1953 yet his record of playing in a grand final for each year of service is unparalleled. Frank was awarded life membership of the VFL at the beginning of this season to cap off a glittering career, which also included him being Captain/Coach of the Borough in 1956-1957. An AFL career at South Melbourne ended his playing days at Port Melbourne but such was his class that he won the South Best and Fairest in his first season. Frank Johnson was a gentleman of the club both on and off the field who was justly rewarded with the coveted Captaincy position of the Port Melbourne Team of the Century.

A man who they thought had red and blue blood traversing through his veins such was his love for the Port Melbourne Football club was club legend Tom Lahiff. Tom played 178 games from 1930-1945. He won the best and fairest in 1934 and 1940 and coached the club for six seasons. He was also a member of the 1940 and 1941 premiership sides. Tom was an aggressive and lively rover who never took a backward step in his career. His selection in the forward pocket next to the great Fred Cook was a fitting reward for such a loyal servant of the club.

Another name synonymous with Port Melbourne is Bill Swan. He played 219 games from 1976-1988, where he won two best and fairest and four premierships. He won the J.J. Liston trophy twice and captained the club from 1986-1988. Bill was a highly skilful and quick player for his small stature, who regularly racked up games of over 30 possessions. He made the centre position his own in his career but was selected on the wing in the Port Melbourne team of the Century.

The coach of the team went to Gary Brice. Gary’s Port Melbourne career began in 1967 and his impact was felt to such an extent that he was snapped up by South Melbourne in 1970. After 10 years at South Melbourne, Gary returned to Port to captain/coach for five seasons. He is the only coach in the history of the Port Melbourne Football club to win three successive Premierships from 1980-1982. This achievement was all the more remarkable due to the fact that many senior players were on the verge of retirement. Gary was renowned for his tough and often uncompromising style, which successfully brought out the best in all his players.

One player that was not selected in the team but must be mentioned is the South Melbourne triple Brownlow medallist Bobby Skilton. Bobby played just 11 games with the club, at the conclusion of his outstanding A.F.L. career, in 1972 but such was his class that he won the club’s best and fairest.

The night was a celebration of the Port Melbourne Football club’s great history and culture. All players, coaches, administrators and supporters acknowledged and remembered the players, which gave the club such a successful and proud history in a very emotional and enjoyable evening.

The Port Melbourne Team of the Century

B.P. Joe Garbutt F.B. Stan Plumridge B.P. Vic Aanensen
H.B. David King C.H.B. Bob Kelsey H.B. Bob Withers
W. Bill Swan C. Peter Bedford W. Billy McGee
H.F. Rob Freyer C.H.F. Ted Freyer H.F. Brian Walsh
F.P. Bob Bonnett F.F. Fred Cook F.P. Tom Lahiff
Foll. Frank Johnson (Capt.), Graeme Anderson, Bill Findlay
Inter.:Bill Bedford, Carl Bowen, Gary Brice, Norm Goss, David Holt, Reg Murray
Coach: Gary Brice.

The Williamstown V Geelong match from the Burbank Oval on Sunday August 17th will be the next game of VFL football you will hear at 1:30 on STEREO 974 (97.4 on the FM dial). All the action will be brought to you by commentators Mick Gallus and Shaun McManus complemented by special comments man Heath Buck (Ex Hammerhead full forward). Producer and match day reporter Mark Stone with statisticians David Bonnicci and Damian Tardio will ensure every angle of the game is covered.

Mick Gallus can be heard commentating the TXU VFL weekly on STEREO 974 throughout season 2003.

Tue 12/08/2003 Mick Gallus 168 views

2 Comments about this article

  • It was a great night, although I thought Greg Dermott deserved a spot in front of Kingy... Vic Aanensen in the back pocket? A top footballer, but as he said on the night.. He's never played that position in his life !


    Posted by David Lumley Sat Jan 24, 2004 05:07pm AEST
  • Why wasn't Jim Buckley included? A travesty of an omission! Who is this bloke Bedford in the centre? How many B&Fs did he can't count Brownlows!! Honestly, Jim made Freddie Cook look good. Anyhow, the girls loved me and I'm still better looking than Graeme Anderson and Sammy Holt!! Go Burra!

    Posted by Jim Buckley Wed Dec 04, 2013 03:25pm AEST

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.