Australian Football Hall of Fame
The Australian Football Hall of Fame was established in 1996, the Centenary year of the Australian Football League, to help recognise the contributions made to the sport of Australian rules football by players, umpires, media personalities, coaches and administrators. It was initially established with 136 inductees. As of 2014, this figure has grown to 257, including 25 "Legends".
While those involved in the game from its inception in 1859 are theoretically eligible, very few outside the major leagues – the Australian Football League (VFL/AFL), the Victorian Football League (VFA/VFL), the West Australian Football League (WAFL) and the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) – have been recognised to date.
A committee considers candidates on the basis of their ability, integrity, sportsmanship and character. While the number of games played, coached or umpired, or years of service in the case of administrators and media representatives, is a consideration, it alone does not determine eligibility. Players must be retired from the game for at least three years before they become eligible for induction, while coaches, umpires, administrators and media representatives are eligible immediately upon retirement. The committee considers candidates from all the states and territories of Australia and from all Australian Football competitions within Australia.
The following excerpt from the official Hall of Fame website highlights the main criteria used by the committee in selecting inductees to the Hall of Fame:
- The Committee shall consider a candidate's outstanding service and overall contribution to the game of Australian Football in determining a candidate's eligibility for induction into the Hall of Fame.
- Without limiting clause 5.1, the Committee may consider a candidate's individual record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship and character.
- The number of football games played, coached or umpired or the years of service provided shall only be a consideration and shall not be determinative in assessing a candidate's eligibility.
- A player, coach, umpire, administrator or media representative involved at any level of Australian Football may be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame.
- Candidates shall be adjudged on the basis of their overall contribution to Australian Football, as opposed to one specific aspect.
In 2010, several amendments were made to the selection criteria: The key criteria changes include:
• The maximum number of inductees in any single year reduced from eight to six, to increase the emphasis and honour for those inducted.
• The requirement to induct a minimum of three recently retired players (retired within 10 years of each induction ceremony) reduced to a minimum of two, to ensure older players deserving of induction are represented in proportion.
• The requirement to have one inductee from the grouping of categories umpire/administrator/media every year changed to a minimum of one from this category every two years.
• The Hall of Fame selection committee to be independent from the AFL Commission. The wording in the charter has been changed so that the selection committee recommends to the commission for “endorsement” rather than for “approval”.
• Selectors would be appointed for an initial term of three years, with two further opportunities to be appointed for subsequent three year terms (total of nine years).
• At least 25 per cent of the selection committee to reside outside of Victoria.
As of 2014, the selection committee for the Hall of Fame is currently made up of Mike Fitzpatrick (Chair), Dennis Cometti, Matt Finnis, Jim Main, Bruce McAvaney, David Parkin, Stephen Phillips, Michelangelo Rucci, Col Hutchinson (Statistics & History Consultant) and Patrick Clifton (Secretary).
For a full list of inductees into the Hall of Fame, see List of Australian Football Hall of Fame inductees.
The Legends category is reserved for those who are deemed to have had a significant impact on the game of Australian rules football. All "Legends" enshrined to date represent former players of the VFL/AFL, with the exception of Barrie Robran who played the whole of his career in the SANFL. Being named as a "Legend" of the Australian Football Hall of Fame is the highest honour which can be bestowed onto an Australian footballer.
The Hall of Fame was established in 1996 with 12 initial "Legends". These were: Ron Barassi, Haydn Bunton Senior, Roy Cazaly, John Coleman, Jack Dyer, Polly Farmer, Leigh Matthews, John Nicholls, Bob Pratt, Dick Reynolds, Bob Skilton and Ted Whitten (see above list for further details).
The following have been promoted to the status of "Legend" since 1996: Ian Stewart (1997), Gordon Coventry (1998), Peter Hudson (1999), Kevin Bartlett (2000), Barrie Robran (2001), Bill Hutchison (2003), Jock McHale (2005), Darrel Baldock (2006), Norm Smith (2007), Alex Jesaulenko (2008), Kevin Murray (2010), Barry Cable (2012), Royce Hart (2013) and Tony Lockett (2015).
In 2010, several amendments to the Legends category were made to ensure the exclusivity and prestige of the Hall of Fame. Among them were:
- The Legends category remains exclusively for recognition of the most significant playing and coaching records
- The number of Legends that can be part of the Hall of Fame remains at a maximum of 10 per cent of the total inductees
- Criteria for elevating an inductee to Legend status requires that only ‘playing and coaching’ records be taken into account and not a candidate’s overall contribution to the game outside of playing and coaching
Every year there is a special Hall of Fame dinner to announce and welcome the new inductees to the Hall of Fame.
Gary Ablett's induction was deferred until 2005 due to a controversy associated with the death of a young female acquaintance due to an illegal drug overdose shortly after his retirement, which was felt to be likely to bring the Hall of Fame into disrepute. When he was inducted in 2005, Gary Ablett did not attend the dinner and Geelong CEO Brian Cook accepted his induction on his behalf.
The Hall of Fame has been criticised by football writers and historians for being heavily biased towards figures from Victoria. The initial selection committee was made up of 11 Victorians, one South Australian and one Western Australian, with the current selection committee being made up of six Victorians, two Western Australians and one South Australian. Of the 136 inaugural inductees into the Hall of Fame, 116 played substantial parts of their careers in Victoria, with eleven of the thirteen "Legends" from Victoria. Criticism has also been slated at the under-representation of early colonial figures. Adam Cardosi writes:
If we take the HOF at face value, footy legends only started to appear in number from the 1930s, and reached a high point in the 1960s and 1970s. ... Thus, according to the HOF’s reckoning, the first sixty five years of the game is worth one legend, while the next sixty five years is worth 24 legends.
- About the Hall of Fame
- AFL Hall of Fame criteria changes
- About the Hall of Fame
- AFL legend status even more exclusive
- Vics play favourites as Peake on bench – The West Australian. Published 11 June 2011. Written by Mark Duffield. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- AFL Hall of Fame – See Victoria – FullPointsFooty. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Cardosi, Adam (12 March 2014). "Neglected heroes: The sad case of the Australian Football Hall of Fame", Australian Football. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- Ross, John (1999). The Australian Football Hall of Fame. Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 0-7322-6426-X.