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Every side needs an absolute Krakouer

The AFL should consider an Indigenous All-Stars battling an AFL All-Stars line-up.
The AFL should consider an Indigenous All-Stars battling an AFL All-Stars line-up. Getty Images

JIMMY and Phil Krakouer electrified crowds in the '80s, and not just fans of the team they represented, North Melbourne.

They had an uncanny knack of knowing exactly where each other was. One would often dance around an opponent and dish off a pass to the other who would then drill a goal.

They weren't twins - with Jimmy two years older than Phil - but opposition defenders would've thought they were seeing double such was their similarity. Neither would've been more than 70kg wringing wet.

Their careers panned out almost identically as well. After sharing best-on-ground honours in Claremont's win in the 1981 WAFL Grand Final, they were signed to the same contract at North, where they both topped the goalkicking in 1983 (44), before taking it in turns to claim the honour from '85 to '88.

Jimmy finished with 147 games and 236 goals, Phil with 148 games and 231 goals - not bad considering they grew up in the dust-bowls of south-west WA honing their skills with plastic footballs and then having to battle racism when they began to play competitively.

They did a lot more than just kick a few goals though. They were among just a handful of indigenous footballers running around in the VFL at the time, but through their exploits, and those of Richmond's Maurice Rioli, they banged down the door for others to follow.

'Polly' Farmer, Syd Jackson and Barry Cable were stars in the '60s and '70s, but the Krakouers led the way for Nicky Winmar, Derek Kickett, Michael McLean, Michael Long, Chris Lewis, Peter Matera, Byron Pickett, Andrew McLeod, Daryl White, Gavin Wanganeen and Michael O'Loughlin in the late '80s and '90s.

More so, the Krakouers were the prototype of the modern small forward - the little crumber capable of kicking those freakish team-lifting goals now a must for every line-up.

Farmer (249 games and 483 goals), Phil Matera (179/389) and Ronnie Burns (154/262) mastered the role, and now Eddie Betts (16 goals this season) and Jeff Garlett (10) at Carlton, Cyril Rioli (16) at Hawthorn, Josh Hill (16) at West Coast, Lewis Jetta (14) at Sydney, Alwyn Davey (13) and Leroy Jetta (12) at Essendon, Harley Bennell (12) at Gold Coast, and Lindsay Thomas (12) at North, not only all feature high on the current goalkicking table, but also provide the forward pressure vital to modern footy.

 

Hawks stock up

HAWTHORN was one of the last to catch on to what indigenous players can provide.

Before Chance Bateman in 2000, just two Aboriginals had donned the brown and gold, back in the '50s - Cyril Collard and Percy Cummings, who was the grandson of the VFL's first indigenous footballer, Joe Johnson, but raised a "white bloke" and never made the Hawks aware of his heritage.

Hawthorn now has the highest number of Aboriginals on its playing list with seven plus two NSW scholarship-holders. From the days of being criticised for being 'too white', the Hawks travel far and wide for indigenous talent, and picked up Amos Frank in the 2011 rookie draft.

Frank speaks little English and had only played one reserve match in the SANFL, but in Fregon, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of central Australia, he is bigger than 'Buddy ' Franklin and Cyril Rioli.

 

All-Stars could shine

SYDNEY Swans great Michael O'Loughlin has raised the idea of an Indigenous All-Stars team being part of a resurrected State of Origin series.

The AFL stages an Indigenous All-Stars clash every second year at the start of the season against different clubs, though last year's clash against Richmond was washed out.

What would be better is the Indigenous All-Stars battling an AFL All-Stars line-up, like they do in the NRL.

The side would be a little short on height, but full of dash and creativity on every line, and especially dangerous around the big sticks.

It probably won't happen, but it's nice to dream, especially during this Indigenous Round coming up in the AFL.

Topics:  afl indigenous all stars