Adam Curley dissects the NSW Greatest Team of All Time

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FITZROY and Australian Football Hall of Fame legend Haydn Bunton heads the list of stars honoured in Sydney on Thursday after being named in the Greatest New South Wales team of all-time.

Bunton, won three Brownlow Medals with the Lions in the 1930s and three Sandover Medals when he moved to the WAFL to play for Subiaco after he left the VFL, was named as the starting rover.

Before his latest accolade, Bunton was already a team of the century member for the AFL, along with Fitzroy, Subiaco and NSW.

The team is littered with greats including North Melbourne champion Wayne Carey (who was named captain), Brownlow medallists Paul Kelly and Shane Crawford, and St Kilda Hall of Famer Lenny Hayes.

Kelly and Essendon premiership skipper Terry Daniher were named as joint vice-captains.

After being named skipper, Carey told media he was always fiercely proud of his NSW heritage, despite spending time living in other states and representing Victoria and South Australia in state footy.

“I was born and bred in Wagga Wagga, I’m a New South Welshman and this is a huge honour. When you listen to some of the names read out, it [is] a pretty good team,” he said.

“Today was a special day to acknowledge and congratulate (not just those named), but also those who weren’t named.

“I wouldn’t mind running out with that group.”

The skipper of North’s Team of the Century paid special tribute to fellow Wagga product and Swans great Kelly, with the pair famously captaining their respective sides in the 1996 Grand Final at the MCG, which the Kangaroos won by 43 points.

“To have two boys not only from New South Wales, but from the same country town, standing there as opposing captains in that game, I’m not sure it’s ever been done before,” he said.

“It was pretty special actually and I’ve got a lot of respect for Paul Kelly, he was one of the toughest players ever.”

Sydney coach John Longmire joined long-time NSW and former Kangaroos teammate Carey, Daniher and Saints goalkicking star Bill Mohr (who booted 735 goals from 195 games from 1929-41) in a powerful forward line.

Swans club champions and flag-winners Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack were named in the line-up alongside Geelong forward Tom Hawkins and Hawthorn’s three-time premiership duo Luke Breust and Isaac Smith.

Four-time premiership coach Allan Jeans – who took St Kilda to its only flag in 1966, and Hawthorn to flags in 1983, ’86 and ’89 – was named as the team’s coach, along with former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher.

The project, conceived by the NSW Australian Football History Society and AFL NSW/ACT, was driven by former Sydney chairman Richard Colless, who hand-picked a panel of experts to help with the tough task of picking the final 22.

Respected journalist Mike Sheahan and 1988 Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy acted as senior selectors, with footy historians and authors Ian Granland, Rod Gillett and Miles Wilks, AFL NSW/ACT boss Sam Graham and AFL commissioner Gabrielle Trainor the rest of the selection team.

NSW products have won seven Brownlow Medals, five Magarey Medals in the SANFL, and three Sandover Medals in the WAFL.

Greatest NSW team of all time

B: Chris Lethbridge (Sydney YMCA/Fitzroy), Leo Barry (Deniliquin/Sydney), Ross Henshaw (North Albury/North Melbourne)
HB: Jarryd McVeigh (Pennant Hills/Sydney), Gordon Strang (East Albury/Richmond), Dennis Carroll (Albury Tigers/Sydney)
C: Shane Crawford (Finley/Hawthorn), Lenny Hayes (Pennant Hills/St Kilda), Neil Davies (Central Broken Hill/Glenelg)
HF: Terry Daniher (Ungarie/Essendon), Wayne Carey (North Wagga/North Melbourne), Luke Breust (Temora/Hawthorn)
F: Paul Kelly (Wagga Tigers/Sydney), Bill Mohr (Wagga Tigers/St Kilda), John Longmire (Corowa-Rutherglen/North Melbourne)
R: Bruce McGregor (West Broken Hill/West Adelaide), Brett Kirk (North Albury/Sydney), Haydn Bunton (West Albury/Fitzroy)
I/C: Mark Maclure (East Sydney/Carlton), Isaac Smith (Wagga Tigers/Hawthorn), Kieren Jack (Pennant Hills/Sydney), Tom Hawkins (Finley/Geelong)

Selection criteria

  • – The rules governing selection for NSW in State of Origin apply.
  • – If a player went to school interstate but their parents remained in NSW, they remain eligible (e.g. Shane Crawford and Neale Daniher).
  • – A player had to have played a minimum of 100 games in a senior league (VFL/AFL, SANFL, WAFL).
  • – Selection is based on quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
  • – Players must be placed in positions where they predominantly played throughout their careers.

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