FOOTY fans talk about it with a fondness usually reserved for a first child.
2001 – The Super Draft – the year we discovered names like Luke Hodge, Chris Judd, Dane Swan and Gary Ablett. Well, rediscovered Gary Ablett.
But as the seasons go by, more of these superstars are hanging up the boots.
Juddy’s body finally decided it was time to spend more time with Twiggers. Swanny’s leg snapped in two. And Gaz … Gaz just keeps being Gaz.
Today, The Hickey Stand pays tribute to the 21 players from The Super Draft who made it so.
1: GARY ABLETT JR – (Geelong/Gold Coast)
Drafted: Pick 40 (Father-son)
Games: 300 – Goals: 386
ARGUABLY the greatest player of his generation, Ablett has done it all.
Two Brownlows, two premierships, a veritable shit ton of All-Australian selections.
He’s also made footy relevant on the Gold Coast at a time most locals can’t see through the haze of white powder that hangs around Surfers Paradise. What a genius.
2: LUKE HODGE – (Hawthorn)
Drafted: Pick 1
Games: 299 – Goals: 192
HODGEY was so big in 2001 he had a flip phone.
Despite what you may have thought at the time, it got even better for the overall number one pick.
Four premierships with the Hawks, two Norm Smith Medals, and more or less the same haircut for 15 years. Consistency has always been one of his great traits.
3: CHRIS JUDD – (West Coast/Carlton)
Drafted: Pick 3
Games: 279 – Goals: 228
TWO Brownlows and a premiership ain’t bad.
But Juddy’s greatest achievement was staying off the gear while his West Coast teammates got higher than a Leo Barry game-saving mark.
Single-handedly making Carlton briefly relevant again also deserves a mention. And Twiggers. Twiggers is alright as well.
4: JIMMY BARTEL – (Geelong)
Drafted: Pick 8
Games: 305 – Goals: 202
THE chant in the outer at Kardinia Park to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar says it all.
“Jimmy Bartel, superstar, he’s got more medals than St Kilda”.
Three premierships, a Brownlow, a Norm Smith, two All-Australians – yep, it almost checks out.
Bizarrely, though, he never won a club best and fairest.
5: DANE SWAN – (Collingwood)
Drafted: Pick 58
Games: 258 – Goals: 211
IS there a player that has ever epitomised Collingwood more than Dane Swan?
Covered in tattoos, convicted of affray, involved in nude photo scandals, banned for drinking – and very bloody good at football.
A slow starter, Swan finished his career with a Brownlow, a premiership, and five All-Australian gigs.
The undisputed value pick of The Super Draft.
6: STEVE JOHNSON – (Geelong/GWS)
Drafted: Pick 24
Games: 286 – Goals: 506
IT still feels dirty putting “GWS” next to Stevie J’s name.
Like a girlfriend that does that thing you like – but also does it to everyone else – Stevie’s relationship with Cats supporters was complicated.
You loved him one minute then hated him the next – but you loved him BECAUSE you hated him.
Master of the difficult, gibberer of the basics, Stevie will always be remembered fondly at the Cattery for being special in all definitions of the word.
7: SAM MITCHELL – (Hawthorn/West Coast)
Drafted: Pick 36
Games: 321 – Goals: 68
MITCHELL is like the anti-Stevie J.
Never flashy but unlikely to do anything stupid, his consistency was a massive part of Hawthorn’s four flags.
And check out that Nick Carter-esque hairstyle. Hello ladies.
8: AARON SANDILANDS – (Fremantle)
Drafted: Pick 33 of the rookie draft
Games: 254 – Goals: 92
ALRIGHT, we’re sort of cheating here.
Sandilands wasn’t picked in the 2001 National Draft, but the 2002 Rookie Draft that followed directly after.
All that means is that he could have been picked in the big show and wasn’t.
Second only to Dean Cox as the ruckman of his generation, Sandi is best remembered for his cameo in Happy Gilmore.
9: LEIGH MONTAGNA – (St Kilda)
Drafted: Pick 37
Games: 285 – Goals: 155
ONE of a host of Saints players who were desperately unlucky not to have “premiership player” next to their name.
Still, there’s always hope of that changing this season!
Yeah, alright, there’s not.
10: BRIAN LAKE – (Western Bulldogs/Hawthorn)
Drafted: Pick 71
Games: 251 – Goals: 34
THE artist formerly known as Brian Harris was another bargain buy of the draft, although we only really saw his best when he moved to the star-studded Hawks.
That’s what happens when you have guys like Hodge and Mitchell around you. It brings out your potential.
It’s a little known fact that Paul Puopolo is actually just a pie-seller that accidentally ran out on to the ‘G one day.
11: NICK DAL SANTO – (St Kilda/North Melbourne)
Drafted: Pick 13
Games: 322 – Goals: 156
THE first of the 2001 draftees to notch 300 games, it speaks volumes to Dal’s courage and durability.
Plus there’s a picture of him on the internet with his little Dal out – that alone would have sent me into hiding.
12: JAMES KELLY – (Geelong/Essendon)
Drafted: Pick 17
Games: 306 – Goals: 90
ESSENDON midfielder James Kelly. *Shudder*.
The unsung hero of a Geelong midfield that will be remembered for Ablett, Bartel, Joel Corey and Joel Selwood, Kelly scored three premierships as payment for his services.
He said he remembers the 2007 Grand Final fondly for how hot Natalie Bassingthwaighte looked singing the national anthem. It brings a tear to the eye.
13: LUKE BALL – (St Kilda/Collingwood)
Drafted: Pick 2
Games: 223 – Goals: 91
THE things people do for a premiership.
Ball sold his soul in 2010 to Eddie McGuire in order to win the flag with Collingwood.
As is the devil’s way, though, he made sure it was against Ball’s old St Kilda teammates, so Luke could never truly enjoy the experience.
Loopholes are the devil’s play thing.
14: MATTHEW BOYD – (Western Bulldogs)
Drafted: Pick 23 of the rookie draft
Games: 291 – Goals: 85
ANOTHER rookie draft graduate, Boyd has been a mainstay in a Dogs team that has gone from pretty good to rubbish to pretty good again.
Other than being a sturdy midfielder that gets the ball a lot, does anyone actually know anything about Boyd? Does he speak? Does he exist outside of the football field?
We’ll look into it.
15: JARRAD WAITE – (Carlton/North Melbourne)
Drafted: Pick 46 (Father-son)
Games: 229 – Goals: 340
NOW we’re pushing it.
Jarrad Waite is a fine footballer who actually seems to be getting better with age.
Or maybe it’s just that he left Carlton. Yeah. That’s it.
16: BEN RUTTEN – (Adelaide)
Drafted: Pick 40 of the rookie draft
Games: 229 – Goals: 9
RUTTEN is exceptional for the fact that he was a talented Crows key position player that didn’t decide to chase the cash elsewhere.
A full back that was as good as any on his day.
17: CAMPBELL BROWN – (Hawthorn/Gold Coast)
Drafted: Pick 32
Games: 205 – Goals: 109
PICTURED with his mother Val, Campbell Brown was a key part in the unsociable aspect of Hawks footy in the mid-noughties.
He took the role so seriously that it occasionally spilled out onto the streets, like an angry and bloodthirsty method actor.
He could also play footy a bit.
18: DAVID HALE – (North Melbourne/Hawthorn)
Drafted: Pick 7
Games: 237 – Goals: 217
WHO would have thought that skinny kid in the picture would turn into the skinny man he became?
Looking like the anorexic cousin of the Rougheads, Hale played his part in snagging a flag or two for the Hawks.
He also kicked 8 against Geelong one dark day in 2008.
19: MATT MAGUIRE – (St Kilda/Brisbane)
Drafted: Pick 21
Games: 170 – Goals: 21
LEGEND has it that Geelong was keen on drafting Maguire with pick 24 in The Super Draft.
Instead, St Kilda got in first and the Cats were left to take Stevie J – a bloke who wasn’t half bad at bagging the odd goal or two.
Maguire could have been a great pick if he didn’t snap his leg in two just as he was hitting his straps for the Saints. YouTube it. It’s not nice.
20: PAUL MEDHURST – (Fremantle/Collingwood)
Drafted: Pick 56
Games: 168 – Goals: 274
THE original Fremantle pest before Hayden Ballantyne took it to unfathomable levels of pestiness.
Medhurst played his best footy at Collingwood and scored an All Australian gig while wearing black and white.
21: ADAM SCHNEIDER – (Sydney/St Kilda)
Drafted: Pick 60
Games: 228 – Goals: 259
UH oh, we’ve drawn Judge Schneider.
For some reason, Schneider seemed to make the teams he played in significantly better without making a significant impact on the stats sheet.
A bit like salt on a steak…the change was minimal…but you can tell it made it ever so slightly better.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Xavier Clarke (St Kilda); Ashley Sampi (West Coast); Martin Mattner (Adelaide/Sydney); Jason Gram (Brisbane/St Kilda); Lewis Roberts-Thomson (Sydney); David Rodan (Richmond/Port Adelaide); Andrew Welsh (Essendon); Brad Miller (Melbourne); Andrew Carrazzo (Geelong/Carlton); Mark Jamar (Melbourne); Bret Thornton (Carlton/GWS); Quinten Lynch (West Coast/Collingwood);