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Thread: Greatest ever Swan?

  1. #1

    Greatest ever Swan?

    Who is the greatest Swan ever?

    I daresay this topic has been done to death in previously but I can't recall it coming up in a big way in the past few years (forgive me if I'm wrong, my memory is short, and unreliable) and maybe it's time to rehash it? It's a quiet time of year with not a lot to talk about and it's nice to remember the past greats of the club who might otherwise get forgotten. Recently SEN published an article with Terry Wallace's choices for the club's greatest ever players. Wallace wrote https://www.sen.com.au/news/2020/02/...at-your-club/:

    “Tony Lockett is in calculations at a second club [Wallace had already nominated Plugger as St Kilda's greatest player]. I had him down as one potential.
    “Buddy Franklin has to be in the mix.
    “I ended up with Bobby Skilton. You talk about somebody who embodies everything a football club is, I think Bob Skilton embodies everything that the Swans are and South Melbourne were.”


    I thought this was a bit shallow and unilluminating (partially excused with the space limit he was apparently working with), with a recency bias.

    Now, first things first. What are the criteria? Is it:

    * the player whose best was the best? i.e. even if their career and achievements were cut short, but whose flame burned brightly but briefly; or

    * the greatest player to have played for the Swans?

    * or the player who made the greatest contribution to the Swans?

    Or maybe something else? Of course, even once you choose how to interpret the question, it is so difficult to compare players from different eras, plus there are players who played before there was tv or even film footage and it is impossible to know a great deal about how they played. But still there have been some other names that deserve real consideration.

    Regarding interpreting the task, I favour "the player who made the greatest contribution to the Swans". This seems the most important question. It's very well to have immense talent but if you don't back it up with achievements (even through no fault of your own if for instance you're killed in WWII or have a career-ending injury) then you regrettably don't have the right to be called the greatest. If we are looking at it this way, then, despite all the previous caveats, I think it's hard to go past Bob Skilton as clearly the greatest followed by Adam Goodes as a clear second. Buddy Franklin and Tony Lockett's claims are weakened by the fact they played more than half their careers at other clubs. Goodes 372 club games record, plus two premierships, 2 x Brownlow medals and captaincy, has to have him in front of those guys for mine.

    Depending on how you interpret the question, others in the conversation, apart from Lockett and Franklin, are Bob Pratt and Laurie Nash. They are superstars from another era who we have been lucky enough to have play for us. Lockett, the greatest goalkicker of all time, and Buddy the greatest goalkicker since Lockett will, I imagine, be well known to all of us. Pratt and Nash maybe a little less so. I don't wish to school RWOers who know much more about this than me, but for those who are unfamiliar with them Bob Pratt and Laurie Nash were both incredible players whose careers were cut short by World War II.

    Bob Pratt is in the conversation for greatest full forward of all time. He kicked the most goals in a season of anyone ever (now equal with Peter Hudson who repeated the feat in a higher scoring era). He kicked many huge bags of goals. He was famed for his high leaping and spectacular marking. He played in our last premiership before 2005, in 1933. He is a Swans and AFL 'Legend' - super exalted status conferred also on Skilton and Lockett and which I daresay will one day be given to Franklin and, hopefully, also Goodes. Here's a link to his wikipedia entry: Bob Pratt - Wikipedia.

    Laurie Nash was a brilliant centre half back who also played Test cricket. He also played in our 1933 premiership (and was best afield) and later captained the team. In fact he seems to have been extraordinary in just about everything he did (in sport - he was a much less distinguished policeman for a time). Roy Cazaly, who coached Nash, apparently considered Nash to be the greatest footballer ever (including Pratt), although I'm not sure when he said this. However, Nash played only 99 games (coincidentally about the same number as Lockett and Cazaly) and so his contribution must be regarded as less than that of Skilton or Goodes in my book. He was also our leading goalkicker in 1937 and again in 1945 so who knows the career he might have had but for WWII. Here's a link to his wikipedia entry: Laurie Nash - Wikipedia.

    Peter Bedford was also outstanding but I don't know much about him and I am hoping that some of you who saw him play will be able to fill the rest of us in with some more information about him. I can see he was 5 x B&F winner from 1969-1975 and captained our club for four seasons in the 70s. Bedford was also an excellent cricketer who represented Victoria and I'm pretty sure there are interviews with him on the Swans website and that he has said something like footy was always second to cricket for him (please correct me if I'm getting him mixed up with someone else). Actually I remembered rightly, here it is from last year with Ted Richards: Drive Time with Peter Bedford. He comes across as modest and polite - is this what he was like on the field?

    Here's hoping this topic is greeted with a modicum of enthusiasm rather than with eyerolls and groans.

  2. #2
    Goodes. How many of those other pretenders were Australian of the year ?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by barry View Post
    Goodes. How many of those other pretenders were Australian of the year ?

    I think Goodes is just ahead of Skilton.

    2 Brownlows v 3

    2 Premierships v 0

    Skilton a great great player but i have Goodes ahead.

    I dont think Plugger or Buddy are ahead of Jude Bolton Jarred McVeigh or Ryan O'keefe either!

  4. #4
    Veterans List aardvark's Avatar
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    Bobby Skilton gets my vote.

  5. #5
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    Premierships don't count, that depends on strength of the team.

    Skilton, 3 Brownlows, 8? B&F

  6. #6
    I'm going to base my vote purely on emotion and nostalgia, my vote goes for the guy that helped drag us out of the depths of the early 90's. Admittedly I'm biased as he was their when I started watching as a 10 year old in 91, so I may be looking back at his career with rose-tinted glasses, but I would like to nominate "Captain Courageous" Paul Kelly. Watching burst out of a pack at pace and delivering the ball inside 50 was such an inspiring thing to see, and he seemed to do it when we needed it time and time again. He took over the captaincy when we were at our absolute lowest and helped to build the platform that the Bloods culture became. Without him, none of the last 25ish years of success would be possible.

  7. #7
    I'm loving the love for Goodes. Predictably he is getting more recognition within the Swans supporter group than from the outside world. I would be delighted to see Goodes held up as the best, and he did it probably against more adversity, particularly at either end of his career.

    However, to be fair to Skilts, he did it all as an amateur without the generous rewards that players get these days (or even in Goodes' time), which makes it a bit easier when you don't have a day job that you have to get done at the same time. Plus he captained the team from 1961-1971 (compared to 2009-2012 for Goodes), won 9 B&Fs (compared to 3 B&Fs for Goodsey), is in the AFL Team of the Century (Gary Ablett Snr made it to the interchane bench) and carried our club through some of its darker times and gave more after his playing career was over by coaching the club for a couple of years as well. Even after that he continued to give and nobody was happier than him when we won in 2005 after having given so much to our club. Goodes had the benefit of being surrounded by many other great leaders who shared that load with him (Stuey Maxfield, Brett Kirk, Craig Bolton, Jude Bolton, Jarrad McVeigh etc etc.). So I am loathe to relegate 'Chimp' to second place.

    As regards Macca, Pebbles, Jude etc I agree their contribution to the club is greater than Buddy or Plugger but, champions that they were, they weren't the same level of player. I also want to acknowledge that Paul Kelly is indubitably a club great but not, for me, the greatest. Again, it comes down to your criteria.

    This conversation still has a strong recency bias. It's so easy to overlook the contributions of those that came before our time. Would love to hear more from any of you who saw Bedford or Skilton play (let alone any earlier period in the club's history). Have any of you known people who saw Bob Pratt and Laurie Nash and have some story you can contribute about them?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by barry View Post
    Goodes. How many of those other pretenders were Australian of the year ?
    Feel chuffed to have gotten you involved, barry. Haven't heard from you lately.

  8. #8
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    Our two greatest players are in this photo......but the greatest stands alone (see what I did there?).

    https://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/...cc571bec1048e7

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodspirit View Post

    This conversation still has a strong recency bias. It's so easy to overlook the contributions of those that came before our time. Would love to hear more from any of you who saw Bedford or Skilton play (let alone any earlier period in the club's history). Have any of you known people who saw Bob Pratt and Laurie Nash and have some story you can contribute about them?

    I saw Skilts play live quite a few times and on B&W TV Saturday night replay many times.....usually with take away. Good times.

    I saw speed, I saw amazing skill, I saw courage, I saw relentless team ethos, I saw him get banged up and come back for more, I saw unwavering consistency of effort......oh and did I mention I saw courage? There is a photo of Skilts with two black eyes and a squashed nose (and a massive smile) that is legendary. His career injury list is mind boggling.....no wonder he struggles a bit now.

    Bobby Skilton IS the Bloods spirit. He was my childhood hero. Our greatest player ever.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by stevoswan View Post
    I saw Skilts play live quite a few times and on B&W TV Saturday night replay many times.....usually with take away. Good times.

    I saw speed, I saw amazing skill, I saw courage, I saw relentless team ethos, I saw him get banged up and come back for more, I saw unwavering consistency of effort......oh and did I mention I saw courage? There is a photo of Skilts with two black eyes and a squashed nose (and a massive smile) that is legendary. His career injury list is mind boggling.....no wonder he struggles a bit now.

    Bobby Skilton IS the Bloods spirit. He was my childhood hero. Our greatest player ever.
    Thanks stevo. That's awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by dazedjosh View Post
    I'm going to base my vote purely on emotion and nostalgia, my vote goes for the guy that helped drag us out of the depths of the early 90's. Admittedly I'm biased as he was their when I started watching as a 10 year old in 91, so I may be looking back at his career with rose-tinted glasses, but I would like to nominate "Captain Courageous" Paul Kelly. Watching burst out of a pack at pace and delivering the ball inside 50 was such an inspiring thing to see, and he seemed to do it when we needed it time and time again. He took over the captaincy when we were at our absolute lowest and helped to build the platform that the Bloods culture became. Without him, none of the last 25ish years of success would be possible.
    excellent summation of one of our 3 greatest platers

  12. #12
    Bob Skilton for mine. I’ve heard Goodes talk several times at various functions (football and business) and he’s mentioned Skilton a couple of times. Based on what he said I’d think he’d be embarrassed to be put ahead of the great man in any assessment of the best Swan.

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