Club greats into Hall of Fame

Five champions of the modern era and a Carlton great of the 1940s are the latest inductees into the AFL Hall of Fame.

Contemporary stars Matthew Richardson, Andrew McLeod, Anthony Koutoufides, Brad Johnson and Warren Tredrea joined the Blues' 1947 premiership captain Ern Henfry in being admitted in a ceremony on Wednesday night at Crown Casino.

Their honours take membership of the pantheon of Australian football greats to 257. No members were elevated to join the 25 official Legends of the game as that group cannot number more than 10 per cent of inductees.

A notable omission this year was Brownlow medallist Ben Cousins. He fitted the criteria of having been retired from the game for three years, is a four-time West Coast best and fairest winner and five-time All-Australian, but his well-documented battle with drug addiction has clearly been regarded as too controversial to warrant his immediate inclusion.

Henfry, who died in 2006 at the age of 85, was recognised for leading Carlton to the flag in his first year at the club, as well as two best and fairests and a distinguished career with Perth in the WAFL.

But the other five inductees were all pivotal figures in the AFL era as the game pushed into the 21st century – South Australian expansion club stars McLeod and Tredrea, Carlton's Koutoufides and Richmond and Western Bulldogs favourites Richardson and Johnson all starting their careers within a five-year span between 1992 and 1997.

There's certainly plenty of symmetry in the pairings of Richardson and Johnson, along with that of McLeod and Tredrea.

Richo and Johnno were staunch favourites of their clubs' supporters, for their passion and commitment to frequently unsuccessful causes.

Neither got to taste premiership success in a combined 34 seasons and 646 games of football, though both were teased along the way. Johnson played in five losing preliminary finals, his last game of AFL football the Bulldogs' 2010 preliminary final loss to St Kilda.

Johnson's 364 games are not only a record for the Dogs, but place him ninth among the all-time AFL games record-holders, only recently overtaken by North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey. He won three best and fairests with his only club and was named an All-Australian six times.

Richardson's flirtation with September was more fleeting. Out with a serious knee injury when Richmond made its first finals appearance for 13 years in 1995, he had to wait until 2001, his ninth season of AFL football, for a shot at finals glory.

But in some of Richmond's darkest hours since its last premiership in 1980, Richardson remained a hero of the Tiger army.

A three-time All-Australian, he won the Tigers' best and fairest in 2007. Richardson's 800 goals put him 11th, topping the Tigers' goalkicking 13 times.

McLeod and Tredrea were key figures in South Australia's introduction to a national football league, each part of a first AFL premiership for respective clubs Adelaide and Port Adelaide.

McLeod was the consummate big-occasion player, underlined by his winning of consecutive Norm Smith Medals in Adelaide's back-to-back premierships of 1997-98.

Tredrea came into the Port side as a young goalkicking prodigy and retired having topped the Power's goalkicking eight times, winning four best and fairests and as many All-Australian nominations. He was acting captain in the absence of the injured Matthew Primus when Port won its first flag in 2004.

Koutoufides was one of the young guns in Carlton's last premiership side of 1995, finishing with 278 games over 16 seasons before he retired in 2007.

The incredibly athletic big man with a distinguished background in junior athletics, was a rare breed when he first came into the game, tall enough to hold down key positions, but agile enough to play on-ball, even on a wing, where the Blues used him regularly in his early years. He was another fan favourite, whose ability to pick up the ball one-handed was a trademark.

The story Club greats into Hall of Fame first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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