Over the years, many places have gained significant reputations for breeding some of the best AFL Players over the decades. Be they schools, small towns or districts, these places have given us some of the best the game has to offer. Here is the best of the best.
St Joseph’s College – Geelong
It’s no secret that Geelong is considered a ‘footy factory’, especially when looking at the plethora of talent that’s emerged from the Victorian city, whether they played for the Geelong Cats or not in the AFL. The high school is known for its sporting program, that has seen the likes of many AFL stars make it in the big league and cement their stars in the AFL. These players include Cameron Ling, Jimmy Bartel and Matthew Scarlett, all legends of the game and the Geelong Football Club, as well as Shaun Higgins, Nick Maxwell and Luke Dalhaus, among others. It’s no wonder Geelong is one of the premier locations for footy in Australia.
St Bernard’s College – Melbourne
This Essendon high school prides itself on sports, especially footy. When a lot of attention is placed on football performance, you’re naturally going to get a lot of draftees emerging from your graduates. A lot of AFL stars have called Bernard’s home including Matthew Lloyd, Jude Bolton, Dane Swan, Joe Daniher, Simon Madden and current young gun Noah Balta. Though that is a lot of talent – with AAs, Brownlows and Colemans in the mix, you can expect more to come out of the elite footy program that St Bernard’s has to offer.
St Kevin’s College – Melbourne
One of the most prestigious Catholic schools in the region, like St Bernard’s, has also seen many an AFL star emerge from its ranks. It’s no secret that these schools place an emphasis on excellence, which is why so many great players have come through the ranks. St Kevin’s is no exception, seeing players such as Jordan De Goey, Tim Taranto, Lachie Hunter, the Scott twins and Tom Liberatore have called St Kevin’s home. Especially with De Goey and Taranto, recent history is showing that like the above schools, St Kevin’s is a school that is priding itself on giving the AFL some of its brightest stars and best talents.
Echuca – Victoria
This popular little town in Victoria’s north is a great destination for a summer getaway, especially if you love lakes, rivers and the outdoors. Echuca is also a great destination for young footballers, with the AFL being gifted some of its best over the years thanks to Echuca’s contributions to football. Echuca’s most notable players include Andrew Walker, Ollie Wines, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney – the latter three giving off the impression that the tough country location produces tough, inside ball-winners. Echuca’s presence in the Murray Football Leagye will only allow it to continue developing more and more stars as the years go by.
Northampton – Western Australia
For a relatively small and under the radar town, Northampton has had no shortage of talent come through its ranks. When looking at the best footballers from this tiny, Western Australian town, you’d have to be impressed. Daniel Chick, Patrick Cripps, Josh J. Kennedy, Jamie Cripps and Harry Taylor have all made their way over from here. In fact, owing to its small population, Northampton has the highest amount of AFL players per capita than anywhere else in Australia, meaning that growing up here would greatly increase your chances of getting drafted into the AFL. For such a small town, this is a wonderful achievement.
Bendigo – Victoria
Victoria coming through again, Bendigo may be small and largely inferior to Melbourne and Geelong, but that cannot be said for footy. Bendigo is and always will be known for its footy, with plenty of great players getting drafted out of Bendigo. These include the Selwood brothers, Nathan Brown, Wayne Campbell, Nick Dal Santo and Greg Williams. When a city plays host to a league as strong as the Bendigo Football League, it’s almost a given that it’s going to blood some of the best players the game has seen.
Box Hill – Melbourne
The home of Hawthorn’s VFL team, this eastern suburb has not disappointed when bringing us the best of the best in the AFL. The Box Hill Hawks themselves have seen stars make it to the AFL, be it with Hawthorn or plenty of other clubs. Sam Mitchell, Ed Curnow, Sam Gibson and Michael Firrito have all done their time at Box Hill, and their stellar careers in the AFL have been a testament to the developmental abilities of Box Hill, allowing its players the chance to show their skills and get drafted into the AFL.
Sandringham – Melbourne
This suburb down in Melbourne has seen not only its own residents make it to the AFL, but also its TAC Cup (now NAB League) team, the Sandringham Dragons, be a platform for legends to make it to the AFL. Chris Judd himself called Sandringham home before getting drafted, but the Dragons became the team that allowed a large number of talented players to show off their abilities such as Tom Hawkins, Josh P. Kennedy, Luke Ball, Josh Kelly, Andrew McGrath and the Brayshaw brothers, among a host of others. It’s evident that this is one of the best teams in the NAB League, with one of the best records of draftees emerging from its list.
What we think is the best of the bunch:
Looking through it, were quite amazed at just how prolific these spots are for breeding not only AFL players, but genuine stars and talents. To pick one is incredibly hard, but if we had to, our pick would have to be St Joseph’s College in Geelong.
While they’re not the only place that has created AFL stars – as we can clearly see – the stars that it has helped develop are some of the best ever to play the game. If we look at the listed players above, Matthew Scarlett is a 6x All-Australian, 3x Premiership player and is considered of the best defenders of all time. Cameron Ling shared his flags with Scarlett, nabbed an AA selection in 2007 and captained the 2011 side. Jimmy Bartel needs no introduction, 2x All-Australian, a Brownlow and a Norm Smith to name his excellent career. Nick Maxwell was Collingwood’s Premiership Captain in 2010, while Shaun Higgins and Luke Dalhaus are still adding to their already excellent playing careers.
For the sheer number of awards, prestige, Premierships, and the fact that the Geelong Football Club owes a lot to this school for its success in the modern era, we had to name St Joseph’s College in Geelong as the best spot for developing AFL stars.