Dane Rampe Living the Dream

By Dr Rodney Gillet

This article originally appeared on the NSW Australian Football History Society’s website. Check out the page to learn more about NSW’s extensive footy history and keep up to date on the Carey Bunton Medal.


Dane Rampe is the story the AFL dreamt of when they transplanted South Melbourne to Sydney 40-odd years ago.

Born and bred in Sydney, attracted to footy as a kid, converted from soccer as a teenager, played for a local club and now co-captain of his city’s AFL jewel.

And the defender takes the title as the first leader of the 2023 Carey-Bunton medal for the best NSW player in the AFL after picking up eight coaches’ votes in the Swans’ 49-point round one win over Gold Coast last weekend.

But he’s not the only Swan to tread that path through local Sydney footy to the AFL. On any weekend the Swans could have up to six Sydney products in their side, with a couple more from elsewhere in NSW.

“There were three or four when I started, now there are at least 10 or 11 on the list,” Rampe said.

“Sydney footy has come that far, I’ve seen it grow so much in the past 10 years.”

Rampe loved footy from an early age, was an avid Swans supporter and, living in Clovelly, headed to the storied Trumper Park to play for East Sydney when he was 13, but only managed the occasional game over his junior years as school soccer for Newington College was the priority. He only took footy seriously at the age of 17, immediately playing seniors for UNSW-ES in AFL Sydney.

“That’s when I decided that the AFL was what I wanted to do,” he said.

“I was hopeful of being drafted, but realistically knew I didn’t have much chance. I was never selected in any state sides or anything.”

So, straight from school after two seasons at UNSW-ES, he took the step to head to Melbourne to play for Williamstown in the VFL where he knew he’d attract more attention from AFL recruiters.

Rampe playing for the Williamstown Seagulls a few years before he became a Swan.


And it worked. He was invited to train with the Western Bulldogs but was overlooked in the draft. After a couple of years with the Seagulls, he was back in Sydney playing for UNSW, winning the 2012 Phelan Medal as the league’s best and fairest, getting picked up by the Swans in the 2013 draft and making his AFL debut in round 11 that season.

But now, thanks to players like Rampe, the young kids don’t have to move south to get noticed.

“It’s great after growing up loving and supporting the club I get to play for it and training and playing with locals like Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh was a real motivation,” he said. “No doubt they inspired younger local players like Callum Mills and Kieren’s brother Brandon.

“With those guys then and a few more now, there’s a belief now that there’s a pathway for the young local kids which I lacked. You can see someone you can relate to, someone from your area, or even your club making it.”

Rampe looks at Marc Sheather from Pennant Hills and Lachlan McAndrew from Manly as the latest youngsters who have come through Sydney suburban junior footy into the Swans and as the next generation of Carey Bunton medallists.

“The Carey Bunton has definitely gained legs in the last couple of years, seeing blokes like Callum Mills winning it, it does have significance now. It’s a great initiative,” he said.


Votes for Carey Bunton Medal after Round 1

8 – Dane Rampe (Sydney Swans / UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)

4 – Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans / UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)

3 – Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast Suns/ Sydney University)

1 – Callum Mills (Sydney Swans / Mosman), Will Setterfield (Essendon / Albury), Isaac Smith (Geelong / Cootamundra)

Bill Mohr Medal Leading Goalkickers after Round 1

4 – Todd Marshall (Port Adelaide/ Deniliquin)

2 – Harry Cunningham (Sydney Swans / Turvey Park), Tom Hawkins (Geelong/Finley), Lachlan Schultz (Fremantle/ Moama), Charlie Spargo (Melbourne/ Albury)

1 – Matthew Flynn (GWS Giants/ Narrandera), Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans/ UNSW-Eastern Suburbs), Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans/ Cardiff), Elliot Himmelberg (Adelaide/ Mangoplah- Cookardina Eastlakes), Harry Himmelberg (GWS Giants/ M-CE), Callum Mills (Sydney Swans / Mosman), Will Setterfield (Essendon/ Albury), Isaac Smith (Hawthorn / Cootamundra), Taylor Walker (Adelaide/ North Broken Hill).


In other news from Round 1 Harry Himmelberg (GWS Giants/ Mangoplah CUE) is leading contender for Mark of the Year after his “speccy” at Giants Stadium.