Carlton's Bruce Doull deserves legend status

Carlton's Bruce Doull (right) with Hawthorn's Michael Tuck during a match in August, 1990. Photo: Getty Images
Carlton's Bruce Doull (right) with Hawthorn's Michael Tuck during a match in August, 1990. Photo: Getty Images

As the latest Australian Football Hall of Fame legend, John Kennedy senior is a worthy recipient.

The Hawthorn great and former AFL Commission chairman was named the 29th legend last week and his immense contribution to the game is undeniable.

His elevation was overdue, but there are other Hall of Fame inductees deserving of the accolade.

While the selection committee's task on an annual basis is not easy, balancing the requirements and requests of various state leagues and clubs, there is an undeniable imbalance in the process.

Despite the undoubted qualities of the 29 legends, most are forwards or midfielders, considered the game's most glamorous players. In contrast defenders, often unsung in individual awards such as the Brownlow Medal, have been ignored.

The late Ted Whitten senior and Fitzroy great Kevin Murray are the only legends to fill defensive positions regularly during their careers.

Even then, Whitten, named as centre half-back in the AFL Team of the Century in 1996, spent a lot of time in attack, and Murray (half-back in the same team) developed into an outstanding midfielder.

And you can't count Kevin Sheedy, who spent much of his playing career with Richmond as a back pocket. Sheedy was nominated as a legend for his coaching acumen and contribution to the game's development nationally.

Alongside Whitten and Murray in that AFL Team of the Century in 1996 was Carlton champion Bruce Doull, who should be elevated to legend status.

Doull, a four-time best and fairest winner and four-time premiership player, was the ultimate defender - well balanced, cool under pressure, beautiful kick and ability to play on different types of opponents.

Doull, who turns 70 in September, has always been an intensely private person, so this year would have been a perfect opportunity to present him with a deserved accolade without putting him in a room full of people.

He deserves to be recognised - maybe in two years when the next legend is named.

Bourke, Richards must be elevated

As well as Doull, there are at least two others who should be elevated to legend status in the future.

Richmond champion Francis Bourke, named on the wing in the AFL Team of the Century, was a five-time premiership player who became a grand defender later in his career.

And the late Lou Richards, the 1953 Collingwood premiership captain who became a media star.

Magpies president Eddie McGuire has long argued for Richards' elevation, but the argument against Lou's inclusion is that he wasn't a good enough player.

The AFL says individuals are nominated for legend status if they have caused the game to change significantly for the better.

With Richards' massive contribution in the media post his football career, having worked closely with Lou at the Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial in the 1980s, I believe he qualifies.

Here's a few others from the past who should be considered for future inclusion into the Hall of Fame - multiple Hawthorn premiership players Gary Buckenara and Chris Mew, former Carlton stars Rod Ashman and David McKay, Footscray's 1980 Brownlow Medallist Kelvin Templeton and Brent Crosswell, a four-time premiership player with the Blues and North Melbourne.

Dances with Eagles doco?

Eagles' John Worsfold and coach Mick Malthouse hold aloft the 1992 premiership trophy after beating Geelong in the AFL Grand Final. Photo: Tony Feder/Getty Images

Eagles' John Worsfold and coach Mick Malthouse hold aloft the 1992 premiership trophy after beating Geelong in the AFL Grand Final. Photo: Tony Feder/Getty Images

With no live sport for more than two months during the lockdown period, many people tuned in to watch The Last Dance, a superb 10-part co-produced by Netflix and ESPN Films.

The mini-series focused on the career of NBA great Michael Jordan and his last season with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98, when they claimed their sixth title in eight seasons.

I was captivated by the documentary and wondered if an AFL equivalent could be produced and generate as much interest locally.

Without the footage and accessibility it would be difficult to replicate but one that immediately comes to mind is the rise, fall and rise again of the West Coast Eagles.

There are so many storylines to pursue - the club's birth at the end of 1986, the two premierships under coach Mick Malthouse, the drug-related death of the much-loved and admired Chris Mainwaring and eventual demise of his great friend Ben Cousins, the bitter rivalry with the Swans encapsulated in two classic grand finals, and finally the trade with Carlton resulting in Chris Judd returning to Victoria and Josh Kennedy becoming such a crucial part of the Eagles' return to the top in the past five years under Adam Simpson.

There is plenty of material to work with and it would make for riveting viewing with sufficient resources and production values.

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While this column will be heavy on AFL content during the season, feel free to inquire about any sport.

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  • This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas
This story It's time to make Doull a legend first appeared on The Canberra Times.