Sport

Goulburn Valley League’s AFL players in detail

By Alex Mitchell

Since 1904, 164 footballers have played VFL/AFL games after being recruited directly from a Goulburn Valley League list.

The league — courtesy of many hours work from football historians — has compiled a list of all footballers that have played at the sport's top level, and the remarkable effort revealed more than 8000 games and 4700 goals between those players.

The two most recent GVL seniors premiers — Kyabram and Shepparton — claim the honours as the league's preeminent talent factories, with each club boasting 28 players that have progressed from their ranks to the big leagues, although the Bears get the nod via the tie-breaker of games played, with 1496 games from their products compared with 1476 from Bombers.

The list spans 115 years; Kyabram's Tom Hawkins became the first GVL product to play VFL in 1904 with a solitary game for South Melbourne, with Euroa's Will Hayes the most recent local to debut after taking to the field for the Western Bulldogs last year.

General analysis of the data revealed 68 per cent of the 164 players would play 50 games or less in the VFL/AFL, further strengthening the achievement of those displaying serious longevity; Seymour's David Mundy (Fremantle) tops the list with his 316 games (to the end of last year), while Kyabram's Brett Deledio (Richmond and GWS), Shepparton United's Adem Yze (Melbourne), and Shepparton's Anthony Stevens (North Melbourne) are the others to pass 250.

The 1960s proved to be the region's most successful decade, responsible for 24 VFL/AFL debuts, the 1980s and 2000s each responsible for 20.

Nine players — Deledio, Mundy, Yze, Stevens, Tom Rockliff (Benalla), Garry Lyon (Kyabram), Clayton Oliver (Mooroopna), Steven King and Steven Tingay (Shepparton) — have earned All-Australian honours, while eight have played in a combined 14 flags, helped by Dick Clay's (Kyabram) four and Shaun Hart's (United) three.

Here are some club-by-club nuggets to honour the region's high-achievers.

Benalla: Its six products are responsible for a whopping 639 games, an average of 106.5 a player to make it the only club with an average of more than 100. That is largely thanks to Jarrad Waite (244) and Rockliff (190), but with three players still in the league should continue to grow even further. Top three: Jarrad Waite 244, Tom Rockliff 190, Caleb Marchbank 46.

Echuca: 10 Murray Bombers progressed to the top-tier, with current senior coach Andrew Walker the longest tenured with 202 games. Top three: Andrew Walker 202, Graeme Landy 174, Ollie Wines 141.

Euroa: For a small town, Euroa's four AFL players since 1998 highlight its ability to foster talent. Collingwood's Jamie Elliott became the first Magpie to pass 100 games last season, also kicking a cool 165 goals in those games. Top three: Jamie Elliott 106, Rory Hilton 91, Andrew Mills 14.

Kyabram: While producing the equal most top-tier players, Kyabram has also had some of the region's most decorated. Dick Clay won four premierships, while Charlie Fisher and William James won one each, while Deledio and Lyon have five All-Australian nods between them. Top three: Brett Deledio 275, Garry Lyon 226, Dick Clay 213.

Lemnos/Shepparton Swans: Current Hawk Jarman Impey is already the longest tenured Swan in the AFL and at just 24, seems poised to set quite a high mark. Morrish medallist Les Bamblett and premiership winner Barney McKellar are other standouts. Top three: Jarman Impey 116, Gary Hamer 50, Les Bamblett 48.

Mansfield: Collingwood champion Josh Fraser shoulders the load for the high country, with 200 games with the Magpies before another 18 with the Gold Coast. Top three: Josh Fraser 218, James Cousins 19, Andrew Browne 12.

Mooroopna: The Cats have produced two Victorian representatives in Fred Hawking and Clyde Helmer, while Oliver became the club's first All-Australian in 2018. Gold Coast's Jarrod Harbrow tops the games played list, well on track to pass the 250-mark this year. Top three: Jarrod Harbrow 245, Fred Hawking 102, Clayton Oliver 83.

Murchison: Leo Dwyer was the clear standout of Murchison's five VFL products, a Victorian representative in his 71 games for North Melbourne. Top three: Leo Dywer 71, John Svenson 36, Fred Robinson 15.

Nagambie: Two Nagambie products were recruited during its GVL tenure, with Graeme and Rob Taylor combining for 15 Footscray games in the 1960s. Top two: Robert Taylor 13, Graeme Taylor 2.

Rochester: Dave Williams spent six seasons at Melbourne and certainly made an impact, kicking 102 goals in his 67 games. Joe Atley is the only current-listed AFL player recruited from Rochester, with brother Shaun recruited from Wodonga. Top three: David Williams 67, Ash Watson 7, Joe Atley 4.

Rushworth: Five Tigers were recruited to the VFL, but none performed better than Essendon's Greg Stockdale, who helped himself to 189 goals in 106 games in his nine seasons, also earning himself a best-and-fairest and representing Victoria. Top three: Dick Abikhair 120, Greg Stockdale 106, Len May 21.

Seymour: David Mundy's lengthy career makes him the Lions’ most decorated product, with captaincy and the Rising Star among his accolades. Three Lions made the VFL in the 1980s — Tony Barnes, Michael O'Sullivan and Russell Richards. Top three: David Mundy 316, Russell Richards 81, Josh Schache 54.

Shepparton United: Two genuine champions have emerged from United in Shaun Hart and Adem Yze. A triple-premierhip player Hart's honours also include the 2002 Norm Smith Medal, while Yze found 255 goals in 257 games and played for Victoria. The Demons have had seven players pass 50 games. Top three: Adem Yze 257, Shaun Hart 228, Chris Connolly 84.

Shepparton: Three VFL/AFL premiership players have been recruited from Shepparton in Shannon Byrnes (Geelong), Campbell McPherson (Hawthorn) and Barry Vagg (Melbourne). It boasts six 100-plus-gamers with two of them pushing on to pass 200. Top three: Anthony Stevens 252, Steven King 240, Steven Tingay 138.

Stanhope: Two Lions joined the VFL ranks in the 1950s — Bert Connolly and Ellis Hicks. Top two: Bert Connolly 11, Ellis Hicks 5.

Tatura: While Tatura has no current pros, it has well and truly held its own over time with 15 Bulldogs playing VFL/AFL. Adrian Battiston was the only one of these to play more than 100 games, and also picked up the Morrish Medal for best player in the VFL under-19 competition in 1981. Top three: Adrian Battiston 105, Michael Stevens 61, Sean Charles 56.

Tongala: Only Ian Graham played more than eight VFL/AFL games after being recruited from Tongala, kicking 131 goals in 63 games for Collingwood in the 1960s. Top three: Ian Graham 131, Blake Campbell 8, Brendon Parker 5.

AFL players recruited from GVL clubs

Shepparton - 28

Kyabram - 28

Mooroopna - 18

Shepparton United - 15

Tatura - 15

Echuca - 10

Seymour - 8

Shepparton Swans/Lemnos - 7

Benalla - 6

Euroa - 5

Murchison - 5

Rushworth - 5

Tongala - 4

Mansfield - 3

Rochester - 3

Nagambie - 2

Stanhope - 2

Debuts per decade

1900s - 3

1910s - 7

1920s - 13

1930s - 10

1940s - 6

1950s - 12

1960s - 24

1970s - 18

1980s - 20

1990s - 17

2000s - 20

2010s - 14

Games played by experience bracket

0-50 - 112

51-100 - 24

101-150 - 14

151-200 - 2

201-250 - 8

251-300 - 3

300+ - 1