An icon of Queensland football, he is the games record holder at a club known at various times as Windsor-Zillmere, North Brisbane, the Northern Eagles and the Zillmere Eagles, and widely regarded as the No.1 Eagles player of all-time. And that despite playing four years and 66 AFL games with the Brisbane Bears/Lions at the peak of his career.Epitomizing all that is good about football at the domestic level, proving it’s not all about the AFL, he was a 1987 Queensland U17 representative and a 1988-89 Brisbane Bears Supplementary List player, playing 14 reserves games.
But thereafter he steadfastly refused to contemplate AFL approaches – even when he was drafted by Fitzroy in the 1993 Mid-Season Draft. He’d played at State of Origin level for Queensland in their historic win over Victoria at the Gabba in 1991 and for Queensland/NT against Tasmania in Hobart in ’93 among eight State games, demonstrating beyond any doubt that he could play at the elite level. He was widely regarded as the best player in the country outside the AFL, but he was happy just playing with his mates at Zillmere. And he made a wonderful job of it.
Having made his senior AFLQ debut as a 16-year-old in ’87, he even played “a few times” in ’89 alongside older brothers Michael and Robert, who were State representatives and Zillmere premiership players. By 1995 Dickfos Mk3 had played 110 games and capped a brilliant career when captain and winner of the Joe Grant Medal as best afield in the Eagles’ grand final win. But that breakthrough flag, which was followed by the Eagles omission from the State League for financial reasons, changed things. He accepted a Queensland zone priority listing with the Bears. Making his AFL debut at 25, he played 22 of a possible 25 games in his first season, including three finals, and was one game away from an AFL grand final.
He shared with Clark Keating the club’s “Best First-Year Player” award. Quickly establishing himself as one of the League’s most reliable no-frills defenders, he was fifth in the inaugural Merrett/Murray Medal for the Brisbane Lionsclub championship behind Matthew Clarke, Nigel Lappin, Marcus Ashcroft and Justin Leppitsch, and collected the “1%er of the Year” award. In ’98 he was eighth in the B&F and played a pre-season game in South Africa.
Adored by his teammates as much for his fearless and uncompromising approach as his honesty and team-first approach, he enjoys an irrefutable place in football history as a member of the last Bears side, the first Lions side, and the first Lions finals side. But after two senior games in an injury-disrupted ’99 he decided he’d had enough. He returned to the Eagles and quickly picked up where he left off.
In 2000 he won the Grogan Medal, and although club records are incomplete he definitely played in five grand finals in 1989-95-99-2000-06, won at least five club B&F awards, and in 2006 aged 35, playing against Labrador at O’Callaghan Park, he posted his 250th game to better Terry Weller’s previous club record of 249. By the time he finally called it quits after the ’06 grand final he’d stretched his tally to 262 games despite having retired at the end of the 2003 season, spending the ’04 campaign as the Lions match day runner.
What might it have been but for his AFL interlude. In ’05 he was lured back by the return of coach and long-time mentor Wayne Brittain to the Eagles’ nest, and in ’06 went out a still dominant force as a marking forward. Even going on 38 he finished third in the 2008 Duncanson/Todd Medal playing with Sandgate in the Pineapple Hotel Cup State League second division, having made a comeback just to help the club out.