Hurst All Stars packed with AFL talent
By Richard Jones
Picking a Sandhurst All Stars team from players who have turned out for VFL/AFL clubs is no easy matter.
The Dragons boast the highest number of footballers who have gone on into the top level of Australian Rules footy among regional and country clubs.
Just have a quick scan of the side listed below.
From captain Joel Selwood who has played in three premiership teams and in no fewer than 10 preliminary finals (an AFL record in itself) among his 309 games to Hawthorn premiership skipper and later senior coach Graham Arthur who’s the vice-captain, there’s a rich mix of talent and durability.
And every one of these people played at the highest level.
The Selwood family boats three Hurst stars in the line-up. Apart from skipper Joel there’s half-back flanker Adam (156 games) and inside mid Scott, known as ‘Scooter’, on a wing (169 games).
Coach Bob McCaskill is one of the BFNL’s first five Legends, inducted in November 2019.
Nine premierships with the Hurst, featuring the never-equalled six-in-a-row from 1929 to 1934 led to footy writers, historians and pundits christening McCaskill as the ‘Prince of Coaches’.
Mainly using himself as a centreman Bob played 249 senior games for the Maroons from 1927 to 1940 after sitting-out the 1926 season when VFL club Richmond refused to grant him a clearance.
Apart from the ‘Stellar Six’, Bob was also coach when Sandhurst won BFL flags in 1927, 1937 and 1940.
He went on to coach North Melbourne (102 games) and Hawthorn (36) in the then VFL before passing away very early at the age of 56.
Let’s look at the Cardinals/Maroons/Dragons line-up in more detail.
Across the full-back line there’s Richmond key defender and 1967 premiership captain the late Fred Swift who played 146 games with the Tigers along with St Kilda and Melbourne back pocket specialist Frank Roberts.
Frank played 113 games in the then VFL including the 1939 and 1940 premiership teams with the Demons.
Like Swift, Roberts played twice for the big V.
Incomparable full-back Geoff Southby was an automatic pick. He played 268 games for Carlton and 12 for the Big V, was a key member of the Blues’ 1972 and ’79 flag-winning teams and is a member of the Carlton Team of the Century and the Blues Hall of Fame along with membership in the AFL Hall of Fame.
Then on the half-back line there’s 2006 West Coast premiership player Adam Selwood who played 156 AFL matches and four for Australia, Carlton and Melbourne close-checking defender Peter Rohde (162 matches) who went on to coach the Western Bulldogs from 2002 to 2004 and Michael Sexton in the key defensive post.
Sexton played exactly 200 games for Carlton including the 1995 premiership side (over Geelong) and was an All-Australian in 1996-97.
The centreline boasts another star-studded trio.
Vice-captain and centreman Graham Arthur turned out in 237 games for Hawthorn and 12 for Victoria, was Hawks’ captain from 1960-68 (including for the 1961 premiership side), coached the Hawks in 1964-65, is a member of the Hawthorn Team of the Century and in both the Hawthorn and AFL Halls of Fame.
Wingmen Scott Selwood and Nick Dal Santo come from more recent decades.
Dal Santo played 260 games for St Kilda and then 62 for North Melbourne and also turned out in two for Australia in international rules. He has a magnificent total of 322 AFL appearances over his 14-year career.
Scott Selwood played 169 games in total for West Coast (2008-2015: 135) and later 34 for Geelong (2016-2019) and won the Eagles’ John Worsfold Medal in 2012.
On the half-forward flanks are Frank Coghlan and Brendan Edwards. Coghlan played 109 games for St Kilda before returning to the QEO to play once again for the Hurst while Edwards turned out for Hawthorn in 109 games, including the 1961 premiership side, and eight times for Victoria.
He’s a member of both the Hawthorn Team of the Century and the Hawks’ Hall of Fame.
So what about the other forwards ? Well, at centre half-forward we’ve got big Bruce Reid (not the late Federal politican with an identical name, however, although that Bruce did also play for the Maroons), who has 119 games at Footscray and Carlton to his name.
Plus Bruce is a member of the Carlton Hall of Fame.
The full-forward is a genuine star of the pre-World War 2 era.
Cresswell ‘Mickey’ Crisp played 183 games and booted 281 goals for the Blues at Princes Park (1931-1941), was in the 1938 Carlton premiership side and won the Blues’ fairest and best awards in 1934 and 1938.
Not overly tall for a major forward at just 173 cm (5 ft. 8 ins.) Mickey still managed 53 goals in 1932, his best individual tally.
He turned out four times for the Big V in interstate matches.
In the forward pockets are Kevin ‘Shifter’ Sheehan and Kevin Higgins.
Sheehan played 102 games for Geelong while Higgins ran out in 153 matches for Geelong and Fitzroy.
Ray McHugh who played 61 matches for St. Kilda is the No. 1 ruckman, while alongside him at the centre bounce would be the skipper Joel Selwood.
Three-time premiership player at Geelong (and in five Cats’ grand final sides) Selwood is one of the greatest on-ball players of recent seasons.
He’s racked up 309 games, is the Cats’ longest serving skipper (2012-2020), and has been an All-Australian six times.
Additionally, Selwood was named the All-Australian team captain in 2013-2014-2016.
His other achievements are just too numerous to list here but suffice it to say he’s won the Cats’ Carji Greeves fairest and best medal three times and has booted 162 goals for Geelong.
Fellow on-baller Trevor Keogh started with the Hurst as a teenager and then racked up an impressive 208 games with Carlton including playing in the Blues’ premiership sides of 1972 and 1979.
He was Carlton’s fairest and best in 1976 and 1978 and is a member of the Blues’ Team of the Century and also in the Hall of Fame.
There’s a fair bit of talent on the interchange bench as well. Brian Walsh played 115 games for Carlton and Essendon and back home in central Victoria has an illustrious senior BFL coaching record..
Brendan Hartney played 32 games for Carlton (1981-85) along with winning two BFL Michelsen Medals in 1987 and 1989 when back on the QEO, while Vin English notched 115 games with the Blues.
Cyril Gambetta pulled on the St Kilda guernsey for 129 games between 1922 and 1931 (75 goals) and played for the Big V twice.
Cyril had started his senior career with then VFA club Hawthorn in 1921 for 12 games.
The Hawks weren’t admitted into the top flight VFL until 1925.
Plus fellow interchange player Bert Edwards was in Richmond colours for 121 games including the Tigers’ 1943 premiership side.
And George Collard racked up a total of 72 games for Carlton (16) and South Melbourne (56) between 1935 and 1942.
Collard stood at 187 cm (6 ft 2 ins.) so was often used across the half-forward line.
So all-in-all it’s a very, very good side overall.
The Dragons’ All-Time VFL/AFL greatest side
B: Frank Roberts, Geoff Southby, Fred Swift.
Hb: Adam Selwood, Michael Sexton, Peter Rohde.
C: Nick Dal Santo, Graham Arthur (v-c), Scott Selwood.
Hf: Brendan Edwards, Bruce Reid, Frank Coghlan.
F: Kevin Sheehan, Mickey Crisp, Kevin Higgins.
Foll: Ray McHugh, Joel Selwood (capt.), Trevor Keogh.
Inter from: Brian Walsh, Vin English, Brendan Hartney, Bert Edwards, Cyril Gambetta, George Collard.
Coach: Bob McCaskill (9 Hurst premierships).
Acknowledgements to Dragons’ 150 years committee and fellow general business co-panellists Shane Hartney (chairman), Darren Lewis, Danny Ellis and others with whom I shared many a long night in the mid-2000s before our committee came up with the final picks.
With a fair bit of later information and stats available, especially for the Selwoods and Dal Santo, I’ve updated our original selections.