The special history of guernsey number 2

May 15, 2019 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Nigel Dawe

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” – Albert Einstein

There’s something about milestones, club records and overall numbers in footy (especially those that pertain to guernsey number 2 of the red and blue) that just brings out my inner be-duffle coated 11-year-old and makes it 1987 all over again for me. And as a kid I don’t recall having any more larger than life hero than the mercurial number 2 wearing Robbie Flower – he was the very reason I started going for Melbourne in the first place. It was his sheer unrivalled silky skills and the legendary aura of his courage and loyalty to the one club – the same club he followed as a boy and even sat out of the game for 12 months so as to get the chance to play for.

The stats are one thing, and off the top of my head to this day I can still rattle them off as if they were my own PIN number or password – 272 games, 315 goals between 1973-87. Having bowed out of the sport a club games record holder and absolute icon of the Melbourne Demons, few will ever come close to how Robbie so personified all that is grand and true about the team of the red and the blue.

So now, skip forward 32 years and one equally loyal and true Nathan Jones is set to run out for the 273rd time this week wearing that same famous #2 and surely on his way to toppling David Neitz’s own club record of 306 games, in time. Which got me reflecting on the actual tale or journey of guernsey number 2 for the Melbourne Football Club.

The first custodian (as 1911 saw the introduction of player numbers) was none other than the slick goalsquare ace Harry Brereton – VFL leading goal kicker of 1912 and holder of a rather obscure team statistic, in that league topping season he kicked 41% of the Melbourne team’s entire output of goals, which no one in the club’s history before or since has bettered.

Without going through every player to don our #2 (which is all up around 20 people), perhaps the most infamous and ‘little known’ wearer – for one-appearance only – was none other than Ron Barassi in the now famous and rather ill-fated Grand Final of 1958. Because of a breach in who could list or report on player guernsey numbers – both sides had to alter the numbers that their players actually wore that day, and so our gritty and fire-brand Barassi for the only game of his career sported a number that wasn’t his usual, albeit absolutely iconic and luck-bringing ‘31’.


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