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.

 

 

 

Port Adelaide’s problems finding the perfect guernsey continue in 2017

The AFL is a great sport that truly captures the heart’s of Australian sport fanatics.

But like all sports there are areas of the AFL that can cause debate.

Holding the ball, head high contact, the Match Review Panel and drugs are all issues debated by fans and the media.

But one issue that is never raised and irritates me most in AFL are the team guernsey’s.

Guernsey’s were designed to set teams apart and make it easier for fans and players to recognise their teammates.

However, in the past few years manufacturers have designed guernsey’s that do not resemble the traditional appearance’s of teams and have resulted is clashes with opposition guernsey’s.

One of the major culprits of this trend is Port Adelaide.

Ten years ago Port Adelaide never had a clash issue with Adelaide, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda.

However with the decision to convert to an all black strip with a teal and white ‘V’ has led to a clash with numerous teams and created an unprecedented issue heading in the 2014 Elimination final against Richmond.

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Previous Port Adelaide guernsey’s

The week leading to the game focused on the AFL’s decision to force Port Adelaide to wear their white away jersey for the final even though the game was played in Adelaide.

Port were angered by the decision and decided to wear the traditional Port Adelaide SANFL guernsey.

Though Port looked wonderful in the traditional jersey, there would never have been a need to revert from their AFL home jumper if they added a white patch at the back of their guernsey.

Not only would a patch break up the bland black texture of the jumper, it would also keep in tradition with past Port Adelaide jumpers, which have always had a white patch.

For the 2017 season, Port Adelaide will wear a white patch at the back of their home guernsey’s but though this is a significant improvement, the Port Adelaide jersey is still bland for a club, which seeks to uphold it’s tradition, whilst progressing with the modern game.

In an ideal world the Power would be wearing their traditional black and white ‘prison bar’ guernsey that made them one of the most recognisable football clubs in Australia.

But with Collingwood holding the rights to the black and white in the AFL, the chances of the Power ever wearing the two shades is as slim as seeing the Loch Ness Monster.

Though the Power may never be able to wear black and white, it does not mean they can never revert to the ‘prison bar’ guernsey.

After watching the elimination final in 2014 I set out to design a modern version of the ‘prison bar’ strip, which would capture the history of Port Adelaide, without clashing with Collingwood or any other team in the competition.

The design I have created is the same as the traditional ‘prison bar’, but instead of being black and white, it is now predominately teal and black with a white patch.

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New Port Adelaide home guernsey designed by Sportdot

As well as being used for the home jumper, the ‘prion bar’ template can be used for a clash strip, with the all black base of the strip reworked to be either white or teal and the striped styled to be black.

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Alternative away strips designed by Sportdot

The ‘prison bar’ guernsey is one of the most unique jumpers in Australian football and it is a great shame that it is not used in the AFL.

But with a little use of imagination, Port Adelaide could once again don the ‘prison bar’ jumper.