As part of this week’s Indigenous Round, we continue to look at some of the prominent AFL Indigenous identities who have been involved in football, as well as key milestone moments that have changed the game.
Nicky Winmar will forever be remembered in history as the Indigenous player from “that photo”. After a long day of racist abuse from a hostile Collingwood crowd, Winmar turned to the stands, lifted his jumper and pointed to his skin, saying “I’m black and I’m proud to be black”. The gesture lifted the lid to the public on the racial abuse that Indigenous players had suffered over the past eighty years in the VFL.
Winmar played 230 games for St Kilda and a further 21 for the Western Bulldogs over a 12 year career. A highly skilled player, Winmar was the first Indigenous player to play 200 games and is a member of both the St Kilda and Indigenous Team of the Century.
Michael Long was an outstanding player for Essendon through the 1990s and early 2000s. A two-time premiership player and Norm Smith medallist, Long spoke out against racial abuse.
He has been a spokesman for Indigenous issues ever since, and in 2004 set out on foot to walk from Melbourne to Canberra to meet with then Prime Minister, John Howard to raise Indigenous issues with him. This walk has been commemorated by the Long Walk to the ‘G before the Dreamtime game.
Gavin Wanganeen was the first Indigenous player to win a Brownlow Medal when he topped the medal count in 1993 at the tender age of 20. What made the win even more remarkable was that he was a back-pocket player, unthinkable in today’s midfield-dominant medal counts.
Wanganeen played 127 games for Essendon and 173 games for Port Adelaide and was a two-time premiership player (1993 and 2004). He is in both the Indigenous and Essendon Team of the Century.
Andrew McLeod is an Adelaide legend, having played 340 games for the club, the most played by an Indigenous player of all time. He performed the extraordinary feat of winning consecutive Norm Smith medals in 1997 and 1998, the only player to have done so.
In a move that would kick-start his AFL career, McLeod’s father tricked him into moving down to Adelaide permanently for what he thought was a holiday. He played for the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL in the seniors as a teenager and announced himself as a player capable of performing at the highest level.
Marngrook Footy Show
Now broadcast on NITV, Marngrook started as a radio show created and hosted by Grant Hansen and Alan Thorpe. Regular correspondents included Derek Kickett, Gilbert McAdam, Michael McLean, Chris Johnson and Robbie Ahmat.
Marngrook discussed the big footy issues of the week with a heavy focus on Indigenous players. The show started being screened in its current television format in 2007, with McAdam joining Hansen in a co-hosting role. Marngrook is also notable for featuring female reporters Leila Gurrawiwi and Shelley Ware, as well as several Indigenous players and bands every week.
Indigenous Team of the Century
The Indigenous Team of the Century was created in 2005. The selectors were Ernie Dingo, Glenn James, Kevin Sheedy, Kevin Sheehan, Mike Sheahan, Michelangelo Rucci, Col Hutchison and Pat Dodson. 24 players were selected, with Barry Cable named as coach, Polly Farmer captain and Glenn James as the umpire.
The team was selected to celebrate 100 years since Joe Johnson, the first recognised Indigenous player, made his debut for Fitzroy. Adam Goodes is the only player selected to be still playing.
Dreamtime at the ‘G and Indigenous Round
Dreamtime at the ‘G was first implemented by Essendon and Richmond in 2005 as a ‘thank you’ for the contribution of Indigenous players to football. Originally held in NAIDOC Week (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee), it moved in 2007 to the new Indigenous Round.
Indigenous Round is a celebration of Indigenous talent both on and off the field. A centre-point of the Indigenous Round is the Dreamtime game, which incorporates the Long Walk to the ‘G, led by Michael Long, which commemorates his walk from Melbourne to Canberra to meet with then Prime Minister John Howard.
Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin played 182 games for Hawthorn between 2005-2013, before moving to Sydney for the start of this season. In that time he played in two premierships and won two Coleman medals. Franklin averaged just over three goals a game at Hawthorn. Renowned for his athleticism, Franklin was also the first Indigenous player to kick 100 goals in a season, which he did in 2008.
Adam Goodes is a two-time Brownlow Medallist and premiership player for the Sydney Swans. His extraordinary athleticism and skills saw him picked in the Indigenous Team of the Century in just his sixth season. Goodes has become a spokesman for Indigenous issues and was awarded the 2014 Australian of the Year. Goodes is also poised to break the games record for Indigenous players in 2014.