Four quarters week three

Liam Durkin and Zac Standish

FOOTBALL followers in the West Gippsland competition were treated to football royalty last week, when former AFL captains Bob Murphy and Jarryd Roughead pulled on the boots for Inverloch-Kongwak.

The pair form part of a long lineage of Gippsland players to make it to the big league, with Roughhead from Leongatha and Murphy hailing from Warragul.

With this in mind, Four Quarters thought it would take a look at some prominent AFL names who call Gippsland home.

Knowing that deciding on the top four players of all time would be an excruciating exercise, we have narrowed it down to the four best current AFL players to hail from Gippsland.

1. Scott Pendlebury, Sale

THERE can surely be no disputing the Collingwood superstar is the best of the current Gippsland players running around in AFL circles.

With more than 300 games to his name, six All-Australian blazers, five Copeland trophies and a Norm Smith Medal, the Collingwood captain has been a remarkable model of consistency and excellence, something older brother Kris believed came from leaving no stone unturned.

“For him it’s a lifestyle – diet, sleep, hydration, walking in the water at morning and night, vision, watching the footy, who they’re playing next week, it’s literally a lifestyle for him,” he said.

“He’s got a saying that ‘hard work is undefeated’, and it’s so true because he works harder than anyone you’ll ever meet in your life.

“He doesn’t call it a sacrifice he calls it an investment.

“He’s very appreciative of the lessons growing up in a country town like Sale taught him. You have to work hard for everything down there, the ability to play sport all day long down there was amazing so I think that was a gooD grounding.”

Pendlebury has broken multiple records in recent years, including most games by a Collingwood player, most games as Collingwood captain and most games on the MCG.

A little known fact is he only actually ever played one senior game for the Sale Football-Netball Club.

Scott Pendlebury, Collingwood, 321games.

2. Dyson Heppell, Leongatha

THE Essendon captain spent most of his youth in Leongatha, playing for the local club as well as captaining Gippsland Power in 2010.

In a huge coup for the dairy farming town, Leonagtha at one stage could lay claim to having two AFL captains, with Heppell and

Roughead leading Essendon and Hawthorn respectively during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Since being drafted to Essendon, Heppell has gained All Australian selection and won a Crichton Medal, and is set to play his 200th match in coming years.

In keeping with the Leongatha connection, Heppell’s younger brother Aaron returned to Parrot Park this year as a playing assistant.

Dyson Heppell, Essendon, 175 games.

3. Sam Docherty, Philip Island

A CROWD favourite among the footballing public, Docherty has won plenty of admirers for his tenacity in a 100 plus game AFL career.

The Carlton co-captain has an All Australian blazer and John Nicholls Medal to his name, and has become one of the leagues most respected players for the way in which he has come back from adversity.

That adversity has seen him miss the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons due to a ruptured ACL, as well as a testicular cancer scare late last year.

Docherty played senior football for Phillip Island, playing a full season in 2010 before being taken by Brisbane in the following years draft.

Sam Docherty, Carlton and Brisbane, 113 games.

4. Robbie Gray, Bairnsdale

CLUTCHING at straws with this one but happy to include it as Robbie Gray did technically come from Bairnsdale.

Where people might draw the line is by the fact Gray only lived in Bairnsdale until age 10, but that being said, the Port Adelaide jet has gone on to win three John Cahill medals, four All Australian gongs and five Showdown Medals.

One could argue Gray is Port Adelaide’s great est ever player in their time as an AFL club.

Gray made the journey back to east Gippsland recently, holding a free clinic to help the community following the 2019-20 bushfires.

Gray requested leave from training with the Power to travel for the event.

Who will ever forget Anthony Hudson’s commentary after Gray kicked a goal after the siren from deep in the pocket last season: “the game is on his boot … he’s the man in the arena and all eyes are on Robbie Gray … Robbie great!”

Robbie Gray, Port Adelaide, 242 games.

Honourable mentions

Tim Membrey, Traralgon

MEMBREY grew up in Traralgon and a photo of him still hangs in the St Gabriel’s Primary School trophy cabinet.

Since getting drafted, Membrey has led St Kilda’s goal kicking on three occasions.

Membrey still keeps tab back home, and was Glengarry Football-Netball Club’s number one ticket holder for the 2020 season.

Tim Membrey, St Kilda and Sydney, 115 games.

Tom Papley, Bunyip

GROWING up in Bunyip, Papley has more than made the most of his opportunities since being rookie listed, becoming one of the best small forwards in the AFL competition.

Papley joins another Bunyip lad in AFL circles, Sydney premiership player Shane Mumford, who’s sausage eating feats during his days in the small country town have become legendary.

Tom Papley, Sydney, 104 games.

Josh Dunkley, Yarram/Sale

IF this list was to be compiled in a few years, Dunkley’s name would surely be in the top four.

The Western Bulldogs premiership midfielder grew up in Yarram and remarkably, played in a senior premiership for Sale as a bottom age fourths player in 2012.

Josh Dunkley, Western Bulldogs, 83 games.

Nathan Vardy, Devon-Welshpool-Won Wron-Woodside

THE West Coast premiership player gets a mention for holding the unique distinction of coming from a club that is four clubs combined.

A portrait of Vardy is on display in the Allies clubrooms, but unfortunately not many people have seen it in recent years, as the team colloquially known as the ‘Four Wheel Drives’ have been in recess since 2018.

Nathan Vardy, West Coast and Geelong, 71 games.