The 4 players who had a master’s degree in badassery



THE Melbourne utility didn’t do things in halves. He did them in doubles.

Rocking a double-barrel surname before all the cool kids were doing it, Warne-Smith won two Brownlow Medals, was captain and coach of the Demons, was selected to represent Tasmania and Victoria, and FOUGHT IN TWO GODDAMN WORLD WARS.

Enlisting for World War I in 1915 as a 17-year-old, Warne-Smith fought at Gallipoli and the Western Front – tragically losing two of his three brothers in battle.

35-odd years later, he decided the Italians and the Japanese deserved a furious morsel of Ivor, and served it up to them in the Middle-East, New Guinea and Borneo.

When Warne-Smith wasn’t injecting fear into the hearts of his enemies, he worked as an orchardist, a journalist, an oil executive, and chairman of selectors for Melbourne FC throughout the club’s most successful period in its long history.

Warne-Smith finally lost his life in 1960 to heart disease, but it’s rumoured that Death needed a nap and a Panadol afterwards.



HAVING endured the nightmare of playing for St Kilda in 1936, Peter Chitty was locked-up in Changi Prison in 1942.

It’s unlikely the two events were linked.

Captured by the Japanese during the Fall of Singapore, Chitty and 50,000 of his military mates endured cruel and life threatening conditions as POWs at Changi.

Despite a lack of sustenance and health care, the Australian prisoners – led by 1933 Brownlow Medallist Wilfred Smallhorn – formed the Changi Football League to stave off the boredom.

Chitty played for “Geelong” during the season , before captaining Victoria in a game against players from the other states at the end of the year. He received the Changi Brownlow for his performance.

Impressed by his obvious skill and bravery, the Japanese traded Chitty to the Burma Railway in the off-season.

Not known for their sports science or, ya know, regard for life at all, the slavers on the railway were responsible for 12,600 Allied POW deaths.

For his part, Chitty survived the railway, carrying a fellow soldier who was dying from malaria 200km along the way. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his service.



BOB Quinn ran at a machine gun.

A fucking machine gun. These days if you run back into a pack you’re considered gutsy.

The Port Adelaide captain-coach of 1939 enlisted in the Army in 1940 and was promptly sent to a little-known North African town called Tobruk.

As the Germans advanced in 1941, Quinn and his men were tasked with taking out a German machine gun post that was protected with barbed wire.

Trapped in a trench with limited ammunition, it was decided the soldiers would one-by-one run out into the open, lay down a length of pipe, run back, send the next bloke to connect another length of pipe, and eventually roll a grenade down the pipe to blow-up the barbed wire.

Quinn decided he would go last, meaning he had the furthest to run and would be closest to the gun fire.

About a dozen of Quinn’s men died. Quinn himself was wounded – but they managed to wipe out the German machine gun post.

By 1943, Quinn had been transferred to New Guinea for a change of scenery and to unleash his badassery on a different enemy.

Once again he was wounded. This time in the knee, arm and face.

Sent home in 1944, Quinn would have been forgiven if he decided to lay low for a while, drink some tea or breed cats or some other mundane shit.

Instead he went right back to Port Adelaide FC, playing Round 1 of the 1944 season just months after being wounded in New Guinea.

Quinn would eventually finish his career in 1947 with his fourth club best and fairest, 186 games and 386 goals.



I KNOW what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking Jason McCartney’s story doesn’t compare to the guys above. Maybe it doesn’t.

But here’s the thing. I burnt my arm on a clothes iron once and by fuck it hurt.

McCartney suffered second degree burns to 50% of his body in the Bali bombings. Despite what must have been immense pain, the North Melbourne key position player didn’t seek help for his injuries, instead helping those around him.

Once he was flown back to Australia, the extent of his injuries was revealed and he almost died on the operating table.

The bombings happened in October, 2002. McCartney was back in the North Melbourne seniors team by June 2003.

If that’s not badassery, I don’t know what is.






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