Michael Long (footballer)
|Full name||Michael Long|
|Date of birth||1 October 1969|
|Place of birth||Tiwi Islands|
|Original team(s)||St Mary's/West Torrens|
|Draft||No. 23., 1988 national draft|
|Height||178 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||82 kg (181 lb)|
|Representative team honours|
|1988||Northern Territory||3 (9)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2001.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Despite being drafted to the VFL, the West Torrens Football Club of the Adelaide based SANFL argued that Long was "contracted with the club and could not play anywhere else." "I was guaranteed this wasn't the case, so I took the contract to Darwin and met with Michael's father Jack and he was irate. He grabbed it and wrote the word 'bullshit' right across the front of it. When it became clear he wanted to play at Essendon, West Torrens agreed it wasn't a binding contract", Judkins said.
However, despite this Long did play for West Torrens during the 1988 SANFL season, winning the clubs best and fairest award, the third last player to do so as the Eagles merged with the Woodville Football Club following the 1990 season to become the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles.
Australian Football League career
Long played perhaps the best game of his career in the 1993 AFL Grand Final. Playing on Mark Athorn, Long ran amok, helping Essendon gain a healthy quarter-time lead, and to maintain it. By the end of the game, he had amassed 20 kicks and 13 handballs, totaling 33 possessions.
In the pre-season of 1994 in a practice match against the West Coast Eagles, Long injured his knee which required 12 months of solid rehabilitation, and he was not seen for the entire 1994 AFL Home and Away season.
In 1995 Long made a triumphant return to AFL football and played almost a full season. In the Anzac Day match between Essendon and Collingwood at the MCG, Long claimed to have been racially taunted by Collingwood's ruckman, Damian Monkhorst.
The AFL arranged a mediation session between Long and Monkhorst and although Long was clearly unsatisfied by the short-term outcome of this meeting, long-term it set a precedent and since this incident, there have only been three widely publicised accusations of racial taunts on the AFL field.
For the next two seasons he needed knee surgery and only took the field seven times. He missed the first half of 1998 recovering from the surgery, but finished the year strongly playing in nine games.
According to the round 3 AFL Record of 1999, between the beginning of the 1994 and end of the 1998 seasons, Long played only 38 of a possible 119 games.
Long had the honour of kicking the first ever goal at the new Docklands Stadium when it opened in 2000. He was also a member of Essendon's record-breaking premiership team in 2000 which saw only one loss for the entire season. Long faced heavy scrutiny for his bump on Troy Simmonds, which rendered Simmonds unconscious and raised the possibility of him losing mobility – which fortunately never eventuated. However, this incident inspired the AFL to introduce new rules protecting players with their heads over the ball. Long was suspended for this incident.
2001 was Long's final season and although Essendon made the Grand Final that year, Long aggravated a hamstring during grand final training and was forced to name himself unavailable on the eve of the game, which Essendon lost to the Brisbane Lions.
|Totals||Averages (per game)|
Following his retirement, Long became a spokesman for Indigenous Australians. He was also a critic of then Prime Minister John Howard's policies towards Indigenous Australians – most notably Howard's refusal to make an apology to the Stolen Generation. In a letter published in Melbourne's The Age, Long likened Howard to 'those cold-hearted pricks' who stole his parents. His political activities culminated in a protest march from Melbourne to Canberra, Australia's national capital. The aim of the walk was to obtain a meeting with the Prime Minister. After ten days of intense media scrutiny of the walk, the Prime Minister eventually granted Long a meeting who called an end to the walk, having completed about 325 km of the planned 650 km walk.
In 2006 he was charged with assaulting a man at a football club function. He pleaded guilty but no conviction was recorded.
In July 2011, Long signed up as the latest ambassador for weight loss agency Jenny Craig. Weighing 112 kg, 30 kg more than his playing weight, his aim was to drop at least 10 kg in around 10 weeks. In September 2011 on The Footy Show, he announced he had smashed his goal, losing 17 kg in 10 weeks.
Champions of Essendon
In 2002 an Essendon panel ranked him at 23 in their Champions of Essendon list of the 25 greatest players ever to have played for Essendon.
- "Racism in AFL much less: Long". The Age. 8 May 2003.
- NT great to present Norm Smith
- Michael Long's player profile at AFL Tables
- Landers, Kim (3 December 2004). "Long walk secures meeting with Howard Reporter:". Lateline.
- AFL great escapes assault conviction
- Langmaid, Aaron (5 July 2011). "Michael Long makes a stand for indigenous health". Herald Sun.
- Main, Jim. The Big Aussie Rules Book, Bombers have too Long to wait, Rugby Press Limited 1994 page 67
- Hobbs, Greg. AFL Record, A mighty Long performance to offset a captain's pain, Australian Football League, Progress Printers & Distributors, Round 3 1999, page 61
- Football Record, AFL Grand Final Football Record, 1993
- Main, Jim. & Christison, Darren, 1989 Football The Year in Review, Century Magazines 1989
- The 90's: The Decade that Delivered (video/DVD)
- The Long Walk – History[permanent dead link]
- Give us some hope Source: The Age 4 December 2004
- Michael Long's playing statistics from AFL Tables