The Sydney Swans Team of the Century was named on 8 August 2003.
Three-time Brownlow Medallist Bob Skilton was named captain and rover. Skilton captained the Swans from 1961-71 and was captain-coach from 1965-66. He won the Swans best and fairest a record nine times, topped the goal kicking in three seasons and won the Brownlow Medal in 1959, 1963 and 1968.
Skilton’s deputy is fellow rover nominee, Paul Kelly, who was picked in the forward pocket. Kelly – known as ‘Captain Courageous’ – won a Brownlow Medal in 1995 and captained the Swans from 1993 until his retirement at the end of the 2002 season. He won the club best and fairest in 1992-93 and in 1996-97.
Powerful defender-ruckman and dual premiership player Vic Belcher was selected in the back pocket.
He is joined in defence by John Rantall, who played 260 games for the Swans between 1963 and 1979. Rantall captained the Swans when Skilton was sidelined through injury in 1969, then in his own right in 1972.
The AFL’s most prolific goal kicker, Tony Lockett, won the full-forward position. Lockett famously kicked Sydney to the Grand Final with his post-siren behind against Essendon in the 1996 prelim. The powerful forward topped Sydney’s goal kicking each season from 1995-2000, with a best of 121 goals in 1996.
The most recent player on the team is midfielder Daryn Cresswell, who was still playing when he made the interchange.
Meanwhile Jack Bissett was named as coach. The former ruckman was appointed South captain-coach in 1933 and guided the team to the 1933 premiership, along with three more grand finals, from 1934-36, during his four-season tenure.
The full team is:
B: John Rantall, John Heriot, Vic Belcher
H/B: Bill Faul, Ron Clegg, Dennis Carroll
C: David Murphy, Greg Williams, Herb Matthews
H/F: Tony Morwood, Laurie Nash, Gerard Healy
F: Bob Pratt, Tony Lockett, Paul Kelly (VC)
Foll: Barry Round, Peter Bedford, Bob Skilton (Capt)
Inter: Bill Williams, Stevie Wright, Daryn Cresswell, Fred Goldsmith, Mark Bayes, Harry Clarke, Mark Tandy
Coach: Jack Bissett
The team was selected from a list of 66 nominees. To qualify for the list, players must have taken to the field for at least 75 games for the South Melbourne / Sydney Swans Football Club and either held a leadership role, won a club award, Brownlow medal, All-Australian or state selection.
When the team was named, then Sydney chairman Richard Colless said:
“When we embarked on the Team of the Century project, we knew the function would be a huge event but the response has been even greater than we could have anticipated,” Colless said.
“Apart from the size of the night, what is extremely pleasing is the fact that almost half of those in attendance came up from Melbourne.
“It is an acknowledgement of this club’s heritage in both Melbourne and Sydney.”
The selection panel for the Swans team of the century was:
- Rick Quade (chairman), a former captain and coach of the Swans;
- Jim Main, long-time journalist, co-author of The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers and life-time Swans supporter;
- Bill Jacobs, retired journalist and one of the selectors of the AFL Team of the Century;
- John Heriot, former player and president of the Swans’ past players association in Melbourne; and
- Dennis Carroll, a former captain of the club.