The unheralded number 44

Number 44 is not a number accustomed to football superstars. 44 is a number that is usually given to footballers who barely make it onto a football list or a young draftee, who has to earn his stripes before being given a lower number.

But at Carlton and Geelong, 44 is a number worn with great pedigree.

Footballing wise, Justin Madden and Corey Enright were extreme opposites. In his own words, Madden was a lumbering ruckman who could not run, but could use his height and footballing smarts to forge a career.

Enright is 19 centimetres shorter than Madden and forged a career playing across halfback in a Geelong side deemed one of the best to ever grace the football field.

Despite the gulf in their abilities, Madden and Enright’s careers drew similar paths. Both players played 332 games wearing number 44 and both were held in high regard internally at their clubs, but did not receive much acclaim from the wider footballing public.

Madden began his career as a tall, skinny ruckman at Essendon in 1980. Recruited from Airport West, Madden was played predominately as a forward, because his brother Simon played in the ruck.

Realising his chances of dethroning his brother in the ruck were slim, Madden transferred to Carlton at the end of the 1982 season.

At first, Madden played in the forward pocket, but soon he was moved into the ruck and retained that mantle for the remainder of his career.

Madden was a cult figure to Carlton supports, due to his bubbly personality and awkward style of play.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s Open Mike, Madden said he always wanted to have fun on the football field and didn’t take the game too seriously.

The ruckman played with some of the greats of the game, including Greg Williams, Stephen Kernahan, Stephen Silvagni and Anthony Koutoufides. Because of the superstars he played with, Madden’s own success went unnoticed.

Madden leaping for a mark.

Madden won two premierships, two John Nicholls Medals (Carlton Best and Fairest award) and was an All-Australian, as well as finishing runner-up to Brad Hardie in the 1985 Brownlow Medal,

Similarly to Madden, Corey Enright had great success at his football club, without receiving the fame of his teammates.

Enright was drafted with pick 47 in the 1999 draft by the Geelong Football Club. Originally from Adelaide, Enright moved to the Cats with Joel Corey, Paul Chapman and Cameron Ling, who were all recruited in the same draft,

An extremely hard worker, who used his leg speed and strong pair of hands to his advantage, Enright won Geelong’s best first year player award in 2001.

2001 would be a pivotal year in the future of the Geelong Football Club, as they recruited Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly, Steve Johnson and Garry Ablett in the draft.

The names Bartel, Kelly, Johnson, Chapman, Corey and Ling all featured alongside Enright in the Cats best in the 2007 Grand Final. Enright finished the with 29 disposals and four marks, outstanding numbers for a Cats defender in the game they won by 119 points.

Enright always possessed dashing speed.

Enright would reach the pinnacle of his career in the following years, claiming six All-Australians (2008-11, 13, 16) and three premierships (2007, 09, 11).

Enright’s biggest achievement was winning two Carji Greeves Medals (Geelong Best and Fairest award) in premiership years.

On the night he claimed the 2011 Carji Greeves Medal, Geelong coach Chris Scott introduced Enright as “still the most underrated player in the competition”.

Enright finally started to receive recognition from the wider public later in his career. This was largely due to the departures of his more heralded teammates.

But like Madden, Enright would prefer to be an unheralded player in a successful team.

When asked by Mike Sheahan on Open Mike if there was ever the possibility of switching to a lower number, Madden said he was given the option, but preferred to remain in number 44, because it reminded him that he was not one of the best players in the team and needed to work hard to remain in the best 22.

Knowing the type of player Enright was, he too, probably preferred wearing number 44 to remind himself of all the hard work he completed to forge a successful career.




AFL Championship

Imagine if AFL clubs played for a title that could be won weekly.

A title similar to the one’s seen in the world of Boxing, UFC and the WWE.

The AFL Championship is a title that is up for grabs during every round of the home and away season.

Teams defeating the previous holder of the title win the belt.

The championship first began in 1898, a year after the inaugural season of the VFL.

The 1897 season was a year played out to determine the championship holder, which ended up being Essendon, who defeated Melbourne in the Grand Final.

The Bombers entered 1898 as the inaugural champions and started the campaign strongly, winning their first five games.

In round six the Bombers were defeated by Geelong, who became the new titleholders.

From there, the championship was shared between all the VFL/AFL clubs for 120 years, including University, who held the crown on two separate occasions for a total of four weeks.

During the 2018 season, regular updates on the title holder will be posted on the Sportdot Twitter and Facebook page.

For more information on the AFL Championship, click on the link below.

Why Essendon DON’T deserve pick 1

My opinion as to whether Essendon deserve the number one pick has changed as much as Sam Newman’s face.

At the start of the year I supported the idea of Essendon receiving the first pick if they finished last and even opposed David Koch when he spoke out on the matter.

But the more I look at it, the more I disapprove. Essendon cheated and no matter how the club and players sugar coat it, the fact is, the club injected their players with substances, many, which they can not identify, all with the aim to enhance their performances.

Essendon have been poor this season but their on-field woes have nothing to do with list management or a lack of talent.

Take three All-Australian’s and a Brownlow medallist out of any side and you will see a dip in form.

If the Bombers had Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, Heath Hocking, Travis Colyer and David Meyers in their side would they finish last?

The answer is a resounding no and we know this because the Bombers have stated that they believe with the return of these players, they will be challenging for the finals next season.

So if Essendon’s struggles this season were due to their best players being banned for cheating then why do they deserve the number one pick ahead of clubs who are truly deplorable?

Brisbane finished the season with three wins and 0.6% off the wooden spoon and, barring injuries they had a full list to choose from. The Lions were terrible this season, evident by an average of over 130 points conceded per game and by the sacking of their coach, Justin Leppitsch.

The Lions are a club in dire need of the best picks possible and ideally need the first pick in the national and preseason draft to rapidly improve their performances.

The last time a club was as bad as the 2016 Brisbane side was in 2009, when Melbourne were given a priority, along with pick one.

Essendon supporters will argue that their club has gone through enough in the past four years and that they had already been punished for their misdemeanour by being banned from the 2013 finals series, while also losing their first and second round draft picks in 2013 and 2014.

The AFL must always be wary when stripping clubs of draft picks and the effects it can have on clubs in the years to come, as Carlton supporters love to point out after being stripped of their picks in 2002.

14 years on and Carlton are still feeling the affects of the suspension, something that the AFL would not want to see repeated with the Bombers.

Essendon have to be treated as a normal club for the benefit of the fans and the greater good of the AFL.

But that does not mean they deserve the best pick in the land to secure the best young talent in Australia and possible a midfield star in Jaeger O’Meara.

In 2013 when Essendon were suspended from the finals series, they automatically finished in ninth spot on the ladder, instead of last, because the AFL did not want to hand the club their first wooden spoon since 1933.

While the club did deserve to play this season without any suppression, the AFL should have determined that the club be given the draft picks handed to the side that finishes ninth.

This ensures that the Bombers receive a decent pick, without hampering the other bottom nine sides who have ended the season wherever the have without the injustice of a club suspension.

Without any compromises from Free Agency compensation, Essendon would receive the ninth best pick.

Some players in the past 10 years who have been selected with pick 9 include; Darcy Moore, Nick Vlastuin, Adam Tomlinson, Dion Prestia, Jack Ziebell, Ben McEvoy and David Armitage.

The amount of talent that has been selected with pick nine shows Essendon would still be able to challenge for finals next season.

And giving Essendon the picks deserving of the ninth place side will let teams like Brisbane receive the picks they deserve.

No matter what Essendon has been through off-field in recent season, they have still played in more finals series than Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne in the past seven years.