THERE’S nothing quite like it when the son of a gun debuts.
It’s a fresh feeling of positivity with just a hint of the familiar.
For long suffering Cats fans in 2002, it came from a short kid with a mop of blond hair and a famous name. Then again in 2007, when a giant lump of a lad from Finley slotted into full-forward and made an immediate impact.
That feeling is something that Blues and Bombers supporters are soaking themselves in this season.
Through the gloom of a tough 2016 came the thinnest ray of sunlight in the form of two skinny kids with surnames already etched in gold on the honour boards at Windy Hill and Princes Park.
Jake Long and Jack Silvagni might be raw, they might not reach the lofty heights of their legendary dads or even make a significant dent on the footy record books – but right now they symbolise hope.
Hope of a successful future. Hope of even the smallest bit of their dad’s talents. Hope that one day they might join the list of fathers and sons below who have notched the most games combined.
And hope – that desperate, gut-wrenching hope – that one day they will be more of a Gary Ablett than a Nathan Ablett.
— THE CLOKES —
Father: David Cloke (Tigers/Magpies) – 333 games
Sons: Jason Cloke (Magpies) – 76 games; Cameron Cloke (Magpies/Blues/Power) – 58 games; Travis Cloke (Magpies) – 245 games
DAVID Cloke’s ability to produce male offspring who are kinda half alright at footy is the main reason the Cloke family holds the record.
With just over 700 games combined, they mercifully have only one Collingwood premiership between them – the 2010 replay win over the Saints in which only Travis was a part of.
They’re a tight-knit bunch, too, with David acting as Travis’ manager as the Magpies look to offload him this year, while Cameron and Jason have been going Ken Bruce on the EDFL for Cragieburn, putting up ridiculous goalkicking stats.
— THE FLETCHERS —
Father: Ken Fletcher (Bombers) – 264 games
Son: Dustin Fletcher (Bombers) – 400 games
ESSENDON threw the line into the wild waters of father-son selections for the first time in 1992 and caught a trophy fish.
Still at high school when he debuted in 1993, Dustin Fletcher would go on to be just the third man to register 400 games in the big leagues, snagging two premierships along the way.
With 664 games between them, Ken and Dustin comfortably hold the record for the most games played between a father and a son. No other pairing has cracked 600. Yet.
— THE TUCKS —
Father: Michael Tuck (Hawks) – 426 games
Sons: Shane Tuck (Tigers) – 173 games; Travis Tuck (Hawks) – 20 games
SHANE Tuck was one game short of becoming just the second father-son duo with dad Michael to make the magical 600 game mark.
To be fair, he probably got jack of the the black and yellow cards he was dealt. In a career spanning from 2004 to 2013, Shane played in just one final – the 2013 elimination final loss to Carlton, a team that had finished ninth.
His dad, meanwhile, played in a record 7 premierships, 11 grand finals, and 39 finals.
Life ain’t fair.
— THE SHAWS —
Father: Ray Shaw (Magpies) – 146 games
Sons: Rhyce Shaw (Magpies/Swans) – 237 games; Heath Shaw (Magpies/Giants) – 233 games
AS an entire family, the Shaws hold the record for the most games ever played at VFL/AFL level.
Before the 2016 season started it was held by the Abletts, but Gary Jr’s injury troubles – and Heath Shaw’s continued good form – has seen them sneak ahead.
When you add in uncle Tony’s 313 games, and uncle Neville’s 43, the Shaws have played 972 games between them and are well on track to becoming the first family ever to notch 1000 games combined.
— THE ABLETTS —
Father: Gary Ablett Sr (Hawks/Cats) – 248 games
Sons: Gary Ablett Jr (Cats/Suns) – 288 games; Nathan Ablett (Cats/Suns) – 34 games
QUANTITY is one thing. Quality is another.
Feel free to argue that there’s another father-son duo that’s better than Gary Sr and Gary Jr but – ya know – you’d be completely and utterly wrong.
Altogether the Ablett family has played 970 games between them with uncle Geoff’s 229 games, uncle Kevin’s 38 games, and cousin Luke’s 133 games added in.
If you want to get technical though, you could probably add in the Tuck’s games as well, after Michael married Gary Sr’s sister, Fay, and produced Shane and Travis.
That’s 1589 games combined.
— THE CORNES’ —
Father: Graham Cornes (Kangaroos) – 5 games
Sons: Chad Cornes (Power/Giants) – 255 games; Kane Cornes (Power) – 300 games
ALRIGHT, to placate our rabid South Australian readers, Graham Cornes played 317 games for Glenelg and 47 games for South Adelaide in the SANFL.
Happy? Of course you’re not, you’re from South Australia.
We have to admit though, that is a hell of a record – 924 games combined at just about the highest level of the sport.
It could have been more, too, if Kane Cornes hadn’t decided to somewhat prematurely end his career to become a firefighter. Appropriately, Port Adelaide’s hopes of being a finals force have gone up in flames since he left.
— THE SILVAGNIS —
Father: Sergio Silvagni (Blues) – 239 games
Son: Stephen Silvagni (Blues) – 312 games
THERE are so many great ‘S’ names out there. Simon. Shaun. Sam. Even friggin’ Sparkles would have been acceptable.
But Stephen and Jo Silvagni just had to go and ruin it all by getting on the 90’s/00’s Jack bandwagon.
Now when Silvagni junior inevitably produces a talented heir for Carlton, we’ll have to call him SOJ for the rest of his life. Utterly disappointing.
— THE PANNAMS —
Father: Charlie Pannam Sr (Magpies/Tigers) – 193 games
Sons: Charlie Pannam Jr (Magpies/Swans) – 142 games; Alby Pannam (Magpies/Tigers) – 183 games
LIKE other families on this list, the Pannams aren’t just about the father-son lineage.
While Charlie Sr, Charlie Jr and Alby Pannam sit 8th on the list of most games played by a dad and his boys, Albert Pannam (Charlie Sr’s brother) played 28 games, before Lou and Ron Richards (Charlie Sr’s grandsons) played 393 games for Collingwood between them.
Lou, of course, would go on to become one of the most recognisable names in footy. We still miss him running Lou’s Handball on a Sunday morning. You just don’t get characters like that anymore.
— THE WATSONS —
Father: Tim Watson (Bombers) – 307 games
Son: Jobe Watson (Bombers) – 200 games
THERE was once a thread on BigFooty.com that confidently stated Nathan Ablett would play more games and be more successful than Jobe Watson.
It’s the only time BigFooty has ever got anything wrong. Ever.
Despite the Essendon supplements saga – in which a bunch of young blokes who didn’t know any better put their trust in an organisation that would go on to screw them – Jobe Watson’s career has been exceptional.
One of the best blokes in football, Watson currently lives in New York and works as a barista, opening the eyes of the world to the pleasure that is a decent flat white.
We hope he comes back to the game next season, whether that’s in black and red or elsewhere.
— THE SCARLETTS —
Father: John Scarlett (Cats/Swans) – 212 games
Son: Matthew Scarlett (Cats) – 284 games
THE first father-son selection at a time when the Cats were trying to exclusively populate their list with them (David Clarke, Marc Woolnough, Tim Callan, Mark Blake, Tom Hawkins, the Abletts), Scarlett went on to become one of the best full-backs we’ve ever seen.
The only guys that could match him in our eyes? Stephen Silvagni (son of Sergio), Dustin Fletcher (son of Ken), and currently, Alex Rance (son of Murray).
There must be something about being the son of a league player and being able to read the game with such precision.
On a side note, Scarlett had a child with Bruce Nankervis’ daughter, Jodie, the niece of former Geelong games record-holder Ian Nankervis.
There’s obviously also something about famous footy families procreating.
— THE RANKINS —
Father: Teddy Rankin (Cats) – 180
Sons: Bert Rankin (Cats) – 132 games; Cliff Rankin (Cats) – 153 games; Doug Rankin (Cats) – 9 games
AN inaugural member of Geelong’s 1897 team, Edwin “Teddy” Rankin is credited with being the first player to touch the ball on the ground in the wet instead of trying to bounce it, and was a staunch believer in the game remaining amateur, fighting against player payments.
Cliff Rankin was a gunner in France during WWI, and was Geelong’s captain-coach when the club won its first premiership in 1925.
Bert Rankin captained Victoria and is said to be the man who introduced the Cats nickname to Geelong in the 1920’s.
So, ya know, just an average family.