Gavin Wanganeen
The famous #4


 

Gavin Wanganeen
Facts in Brief

 

Gavin Adrian Wanganeen was born in Mount Gambier on 18th June 1973.

 

The Wanganeen family moved to Port Lincoln and stayed there for about three years before moving to Salisbury, a northern outer suburb of Adelaide.  Gavin was 5 at the time.

 
Gavin attended Salisbury East High School in Adelaide's northern suburbs.
 
He played his junior football for Salisbury North Football Club.
 
At the age of 14, Gavin joins the Port Adelaide Under 17s in the SANFL.
 


A young Gavin

 
Gavin represented South Australia at under 17 level in 1989 and 1990. He gained All-Australian honours in 1990.
 
Wanganeen was drafted as the #12 selection by Essendon in the 1989 AFL Draft.
 
He was recruited from the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL.
 
At the age of 16, Gavin made his senior debut with Port Adelaide in 1990. During that season, Gavin played in 24 league games with Port Adelaide.

 

In 1990 Gavin played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL Grand Final. Port defeated Glenelg by 15 points. Final scores were Port Adelaide 16-12 (108) d Glenelg 13-15 (93).
 


Wanganeen under pressure from the bulldogs

 
Wanganeen moved to Windy Hill for the 1991 AFL season.
 
Wanganeen made his AFL debut for Essendon in a Round 2 match against Richmond at the MCG on April 1, 1991. 
 
35 579 fans were there to see the young 18 year old Wanganeen make his impressive debut. Essendon won the match narrowly by 4 points.
 
In 1991 Wanganeen was awarded the AFLPA Rookie of the Year.
 
Gavin was named Essendon's best first year player in 1991.
 


Heart-throb and calendar boy

 
Gavin was selected for State honours for South Australia in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. His most memorable game was probably South Australia's 1993 State of Origin win over Victoria at the MCG.
 
In 1992, Essendon named Wanganeen as their most improved player.
 
In 1992, Wanganeen was runner-up in Essendon's Best and Fairest Award.
 
Wanganeen was a member of the Essendon 1993 & 1994 Foster's Cup Premiership sides.
 
Gavin received the Michael Tuck medal in 1993 for best on the ground in the Foster's Cup final.
 


Another milestone

 
Wanganeen played in SA's 1993 State of Origin win over Victoria at the MCG.

 

He was a vital player in Essendon's 1993 Premiership team. In the Grand Final, Wanganeen was one of Essendon's best players and helped the Bombers defeat Carlton by 44 points. Final scores were Essendon 20-13 (133) d Carlton 13-11 (89).
 
In 1993, Gavin won the AFL's highest individual award, the Brownlow medal. Gavin polled 18 votes, one ahead of Greg Williams who finished on 17 votes. Gavin was not expected to win the award. Wayne Carey, Greg Williams and Jason Dunstall were pre-count favourites.
 
Wanganeen was the first part-Aboriginal Australian to win the Brownlow Medal.
 
He was the third youngest player to win the Brownlow. Only Essendon's Dick Reynolds and Fitzroy's Dinny Ryan were younger.
 


Wanganeen feels the pain of defeat

 
Wanganeen was named young Aboriginal Sports Star of the Year in 1993.
 
In 1993, Wanganeen was also awarded the AFL Players Association's Robert Rose Award for the Most Courageous Player.
 
Wanganeen finished third in Essendon's Best and Fairest  in 1993 and 1994,
 

Wanganeen was named Port Adelaide's inaugural captain in 1997 when Port joined the AFL.

 
He captained Port Adelaide for their first four seasons in the AFL, 1997-2000. Matthew Primus took over the captaincy in 2001.
 


Wedding bells in 2000

 
In 2000, Gavin married Stephanie Richards. The couple now have two children, Tex and Mia.
 
In 2001, Gavin played in the first of back to back pre-season premierships with Port Adelaide. In 2001, the Power wins the Ansett Cup and in 2001 the Wizard Cup.
 
In 2002, he was voted the 19th best Essendon player of all time in the "Champions of Essendon" list.
 
In 2003 Gavin had possibly his most consistent season to date with Port Adelaide. At the commencement of the season, he was quoted at 150 to 1 to win the Brownlow Medal. He missed out by a single vote and finished tied with Shane Crawford and Ben Cousins for runner up.
 
Wanganeen won Inside Football's Player of the Year in 2003.
 


Gavin in 2000
Sydney torch relay

 
In 2003, Wanganeen won Port Adelaide's John Cahill Medal as the club's Best and Fairest.
 
On Sunday 30th May 2004, in a Round 10 match against Geelong at AAMI Stadium, Wanganeen became the first part aboriginal player to qualify for AFL life membership, when he made his 300th AFL appearance. The total included 265 AFL games plus 8 State of Origin and 27 pre-season matches.
 
The year 2004 saw Gavin play in another premiership. This time with Port Adelaide. In the Grand Final against the Brisbane Lions, Gavin booted four crucial goals to help Port Adelaide to a 40 point demolition of the Lions. Final scores were Port Adelaide 17-11 (113) d Brisbane Lions 10-13 (73).
 

In 2005, Wanganeen is named on a half back flank in the Indigenous Team of the Century.

 
Wanganeen played his last football match for Port Adelaide Magpies against Glenelg at Alberton Oval on Saturday 20th May 2006. He sustained a knee injury that ultimately ended his career.
 


Poetry in motion

 
On June 8, 2006 Gavin Wanganeen announced his retirement from football. There was virtually no cartilage left in Wanganeen's knee to carry his game-worn body through  another season.
 
On Tuesday July 25 2006, 1100 people attended a testimonial dinner for Gavin Wanganeen at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
 
On Friday 18th August, Gavin Wanganeen took his final bow. Before the Port Adelaide clash with Collingwood at AAMI Stadium, Wanganeen made a farewell lap of honour. Thousands of football fans saluted one of Australian football's finest players.

 

Although best known as a backman, Gavin could play mid-field and up forward when needed.
 
During his career, Wanganeen's spectacular marking ability and cunning, even cheeky play off the back-line thrilled football fans all over the country.
 


Wanganeen celebrates another goal

 
During his career, Wanganeen was chosen in five All-Australian teams. (1992, 1993, 1995, 2001 and 2003).
 
Gavin played in 300 AFL games (127 with Essendon and 173 with Port Adelaide)
 
Wanganeen played his 300th AFL game in Round 1 of the 2006 season against the Kangaroos. He became the first indigenous player to reach the 300-game milestone in AFL football - 127 matches with Essendon from 1991-96 and 173 with the Power from 1997-2006.  
 
Wanganeen became the 46th player to reach 300 premiership games.
 
Wanganeen named Essendon captain James Hird and Brisbane Lions' skipper Michael Voss as the best players he had seen, and named West Coast's Phil Matera as his toughest opponent because of his blistering pace.
 


Back where it all began

 
In his honour, the University of South Australia offers the Gavin Wanganeen Indigenous Scholarship to indigenous students of the University of South Australia who are enrolled in any undergraduate program. The scholarship is valued at $5,000 per annum.
 
During his career, Wanganeen booted 202 goals. None more important than the four he kicked in the 2004 Grand Final that helped Port Power defeat Brisbane.
 
In all Gavin played 362 senior games.
AFL Essendon  127
AFL Port Adelaide 173
AFL Pre-season 27
State of Origin  8
SANFL  27
 
There is little doubt that Wanganeen will be remembered as one of the all time great players of the AFL.
 
Did you know that Gavin played his first and last AFL game on April Fools Day? The first in 1991 and the last in 2006.
 


Focus and intensity

 

 


Essendon
Another famous #4

 

 

 


In full flight

 

 

 

 




Throughout his long and distinguished career, Gavin Wanganeen displayed a unique and uncanny flair for the game of Australian Rules football. There is little doubt that he was blessed with bundles of natural talent. Time and time again, Wanganeen was able to perform exciting and often freakish feats during a game. Other great players have displayed similar attributes, but few have performed  those feats  with the same grace and nonchalant ease as Wanganeen. His ability to read the play was exceptional. Opposition coaches were constantly challenged to find new and innovative ways to minimize his impact on the game.

It is always sad when players of the calibre of Wanganeen announce their retirement from the game. His exceptional qualities will be sadly missed by footy fans all over Australia. Sports Card World acknowledges the contribution made by Gavin Wanganeen to this great game, and proudly presents this simple tribute to a great South Australian, and one of the true superstars of the AFL .......... Gavin Adrian Wanganeen.

Gavin Wanganeen playing for Port Adelaide in 1990.

A young Gavin Wanganeen at Essendon.

On Wednesday 7th June 2006, Gavin Wanganeen announced his retirement from football at a media conference held at Alberton Oval. After almost sixteen seasons in the AFL, Wanganeen finally drew the curtain on his illustrious and spectacular career.

In front of a large and at times emotional audience that included the media, his family and Port Adelaide team-mates, Wanganeen said "Footy has been my life - or half of it. It means so much to me, and you don't realize until you have to hang the boots up how much it does mean. I haven't thought too much about what I'm going to do after football. I'll just sit back and have a bit of a break - spend time with the family and go from there. It would have been nice to have played my last farewell game with the boys and just shared that emotion with them, but it wasn't to be."

Earlier in the day, Wanganeen had made his intentions known to his team-mates prior to a training run. "I couldn't even look them in the eye, it was that sad," he said. "Being a part of football for the last 16 years in AFL footy ....... you train with these guys, you eat and sleep basically with these guys, you see them every day, and it's just so sad to not be a part of it any more. But life must go on. I was rapt to actually talk to the guys this morning and share my emotions with them. That was just as special. I tell you this much, I should have brought a bucket in for all the tears I was shedding. I just let them know how much I'm going to miss them ........ It was hard to say goodbye."

For Gavin, 2006 had started on a high. The first game of the season against the Kangaroos at Football Park, was his 300th AFL game. That total included 173 matches with Port Adelaide (1997-2006) and 127 with Essendon (1991-1996). In playing his 300th game, Wanganeen became the first indigenous player to achieve that mile-stone in the history of the AFL. But his 300th game would prove to be his final AFL appearance. Wanganeen suffered a rib injury during game 300. That was followed by a back problem and then a serious knee injury suffered whilst playing for Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL.

"Having three different injuries in the past eight weeks has probably taken its toll I guess," Wanganeen said. "The last one, having cartilage out of my knee, was a bit more serious and that was probably the last straw. At this age, I felt that it was time (to retire)."

Gavin Adrian Wanganeen was born in Mount Gambier on 18th June 1973. His early life was spent in Port Lincoln, before his family moved to Salisbury, on Adelaide's northern outskirts, when Gavin was five years of age. Although Gavin struggled at school, he displayed exceptional coordination and athleticism. Ball skills came naturally to the talented youngster who began to display elite football ability from a very early age.

Wanganeen attended Salisbury East High School and he began his junior football career with the  Salisbury North Football Club. At the age of fourteen, Wanganeen joined the Port Adelaide League Under 17 team in the SANFL. He was selected in the State Under 17 team in 1989 and 1990, and won All-Australian honours in 1990. Wanganeen began senior football in Port Adelaide's league team in 1990 at the age of sixteen. During that season, Wanganeen played in 24 matches and was an important member of the 1990 Grand Final team that defeated Glenelg to win the SANFL premiership.

Wanganeen was selected at pick number 12 by Essendon in the 1989 AFL Draft. Following his premiership win with Port Adelaide in 1990, Gavin moved to Melbourne and began training with Essendon. He made his AFL debut against Richmond in Round 2 of the 1991 season. What an experience it must have been for the shy young rookie to run onto the MCG on April 1st 1991 in front of a crowd of 35 579. And what a bigger thrill it must have been when Essendon ran out winners by just 4 points. Final scores were Essendon 16-17 (113 pts) d Richmond 17-7 (109 pts).


Gavin with family members shortly after joining Essendon

There were so many honours bestowed on Gavin Wanganeen during his playing career. Sports Card World rates the following as his most important.

1990 SANFL Rookie of the Year
1990 SANFL Premiership
1991 AFLPA Rookie of the Year
1993 Michael Tuck Medal
1993 Brownlow Medal
1993 AFL Premiership
1993 Young Aboriginal Sports Star of the Year
1997-2000 Port Adelaide Club Captain
2003 John Cahill Medal
2003 Brownlow Medal Runner-up
2004 AFL Premiership
Member of Champions of Essendon
Member of Indigenous team of the Century
All Australian Team: 1992, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2003
AFL Life Membership

Two Great Moments in Wanganeen's Career

1993 Brownlow Medal 2004 AFL Premiership

"It's a sad day for footy. He's such a brilliant player and, of course, we look at the positive of it and say we're glad that we saw him play in our lifetime"

Essendon coach, Kevin Sheedy

"He's been a wonderful player, he's a wonderful person and he'll certainly be missed ...... a wonderful ambassador for the club. He'll continue to be that wherever he walks around Australia. He'll be a Port Adelaide person and we're very lucky to have him."

Port Adelaide Power Coach, Mark Williams

"Gavin's all-round ability has been outstanding, and a delight to coach. He has lasted the test of time, and he has a great sense of humour. He is a humble player and a humble person. He treats people properly and with respect. He shows great care and understanding for people."

Port Adelaide Power Coach, Mark Williams

"Gavin has never feared anything in football. The first time I saw him at training, he was 16 years old. I knew he would be special. He was so balanced and gifted even then. One grab, and he would accelerate like nothing we had seen before."

Port Adelaide legend, John Cahill

"Gavin is just one of those freaks that rarely come around. You might see two of them if you play long enough. He is such a naturally talented guy, he plays on instinct. He's a ball player with freakish talents and personally, he's a top guy."

Port Power team-mate, Darryl Wakelin

"I am in awe of him," Tredrea said. "He is a freak, he is a champion who doesn't get the respect he deserves. He has been around so long and other people in the competition haven't done half the things he's done but they have got the accolades. Gavin Wanganeen will go down as one of the biggest champions of all time."

Current Port Power skipper, Warren Tredrea

"He had a remarkable talent to not only read the flow of play but what's on the mind of the player with the ball."

Former Essendon champion, Tim Watson

"I suppose Gav has been a stalwart and a role model for a lot of the Aboriginal boys.  He has achieved so much in his career. He's a great role model and a great player."

Adelaide Crows' superstar, Andrew McLeod

"He's very humble, but what he's done in his career is create a pathway for indigenous people around Australia, he's one of the leaders and we're very thankful for him."

Port Power team-mate, Shaun Burgoyne

"Some players play with their brain and they're quite good players. Some with their heart and they're good too. But when you get one who plays with his brain and his heart, that's a champion, and that's Gavin Wanganeen."

Football legend, Neil "Knuckles" Kerley

"He's a Brownlow medallist, he's the first Indigenous Australian to play 300 games. Who could forget his contribution in Port Adelaide's grand final win, when at his age he played the game that he played. I wish him all the best, because I think we've all derived great pleasure after seeing Gavin Wanganeen on the football field."

AFL Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Demetriou



 

Please note: The following tables only include statistical information on the 1993-2006 AFL seasons. The 39 matches Wanganeen played for Essendon in 1991 and 1992 are not included.

Gavin Wanganeen
AFL Total Career Games: 300               AFL Goals scored: 202

Gavin Wanganeen Statistics
1993-2006
Year No. G Kicks Marks HB Disp G Pts Tack FrF FrA
1991 4 . Statistics unavailable
1992 4 . Statistics unavailable
1993 4 22 267 69 146 413 4 3 30 N/A N/A
1994 4 22 286 82 101 387 12 9 42 N/A N/A
1995 4 23 267 60 124 391 10 10 27 N/A N/A
1996 4 21 242 64 111 353 14 8 43 N/A N/A
1997 1 20 219 49 129 348 14 6 28 N/A N/A
1998 1 15 176 52 60 236 8 9 28 26 13
1999 1 16 193 59 92 285 5 4 15 19 16
2000 1 10 120 36 55 175 6 5 9 8 9
2001 4 24 256 75 109 365 41 22 26 29 10
2002 4 20 201 64 83 284 12 7 21 20 5
2003 4 25 433 161 91 524 15 18 33 31 8
2004 4 19 193 86 103 296 24 10 17 14 9
2005 4 23 227 75 135 362 13 8 29 16 12
2006 4 1 0 1 9 9 0 0 1 0 1

Totals

261 3080 933 1348 4428 178 119 349 163  83

Game High

28 10 15 33 6 4 5 5 4

 

Gavin Wanganeen vs Other Teams
1993-2006
MT Versus K H D Avg M HO T FF FA G B
12 Essendon 171 52 223 18.6 61 0 19 13 10 7 5
13 Fremantle 173 68 241 18.5 53 0 20 11 5 11 7
16 St Kilda 206 73 279 17.4 64 0 34 10 5 14 8
24 Adelaide 312 121 433 18.0 92 0 32 19 5 23 10
15 Hawthorn 172 92 264 17.6 59 0 17 9 3 9 8
17 Richmond 212 88 300 17.6 59 0 16 11 7 14 4
17 W. Bulldogs 205 89 294 17.3 64 1 19 8 5 11 7
18 Carlton 216 103 319 17.7 59 0 21 9 1 9 12
18 Bris. Lions 204 97 301 16.7 76 0 18 10 13 12 11
15 Geelong 177 71 248 16.5 50 0 21 14 8 8 5
14 Kangaroos 159 71 230 16.4 44 0 22 7 7 9 6
19 Collingwood 209 90 299 15.7 70 0 19 5 6 16 12
20 West Coast 223 109 332 16.6 64 0 26 12 1 8 5
5 Bris. Bears 48 30 78 15.6 13 0 7 0 0 5 5
17 Melbourne 173 90 263 15.5 53 0 31 12 5 6 8
15 Sydney 160 72 232 15.5 36 0 22 13 2 11 6
6 Fitzroy 60 32 92 15.3 16 0 5 0 0 5 0
261

Totals

3080 1348 4428 17.0 933 1 349 163 83 178 119

 

Winning % of All AFL Games in Which Wanganeen Played
1993-2006

Player

Team

P W D L

W%

Gavin Wanganeen

Essendon/Pt Adelaide

261 159 6 96 62.07

Winning % of all AFL Finals in Which Wanganeen Played
1993-2006

Player

Team

P W D L

W%

Gavin Wanganeen

Essendon/Pt Adelaide

23 11 0 12 47.83

 

There have been many highlights and memorable moments in the career of Gavin Wanganeen.  Sports Card World has come up with what we think are his Top Twenty career moments. They are arranged below in chronological order.

 Great Moment   #1
Gavin is chosen in the South Australia Under 17 team in 1989 and 1990. He gained All-Australian honors in 1990.

 Great Moment   #2
Gavin is drafted by Essendon as the number 12 pick in the 1989 national draft.

 Great Moment   #3
Wanganeen, at the age of 16, commences his senior league career with Port Adelaide in 1990. He wins the SANFL Rookie of the Year award.

 Great Moment   #4
In 1990, Wanganeen plays with Mark Williams, now Power coach, in Port Adelaide's 1990 SANFL grand final win over Glenelg at Football Park.

 Great Moment   #5
Gavin plays his first AFL match for Essendon in Round 2 against Richmond at the MCG on April 1st 1991. Essendon won the game by 4 points, in front of a crowd of 35 579 fans.

 Great Moment   #6
At the end of his first AFL season, Gavin is named Essendon's best first year player.  He also won the 1991 AFLPA Rookie of the Year award.

 Great Moment   #7
In 1992, Gavin gains the first of his five All-Australian jumpers. He is also chosen  in 1993, 1995, 2001 and 2003.

 Great Moment   #8
Wanganeen was a member of Essendon's 1993 & 1994 Foster's Cup Premiership teams.

 Great Moment   #9
In 1993, he is named winner of the Michael Tuck medal for best on the ground in the Foster's Cup Grand Final.

 Great Moment #10
Wanganeen is an important member of South Australia's 1993 State of Origin victory over Victoria at the MCG.

Great Moments

Wanganeen (centre) celebrates Essendon's premiership in 1993.

Wanganeen (centre) celebrates Power's Ansett Cup win in 2001.

 Great Moment #11
In 1993, Wanganeen wins AFL's highest individual award, the Brownlow Medal. Gavin's win was quite unexpected with most experts  expecting Wayne Carey, Greg Williams or Jason Dunstall to win the award. Gavin finished with 18 votes, one ahead of Greg Williams on 17 votes. It was Essendon's first Brownlow since Graham Moss won the award in 1976.

 Great Moment #12
Wanganeen's main AFL dream was fulfilled in 1993. He stars in Essendon's 1993 premiership win over Carlton at the MCG. Before a crowd of 96 862, Essendon won by 44 points. Final scores were Essendon 20-13 (133) d Carlton 13-11 (89).

 Great Moment #13
 Gavin was named young Aboriginal Sports Star of the Year in 1993.

 Great Moment #14
In 1997, Wanganeen is lured home to Adelaide. He is named Port Adelaide's inaugural captain as it enters the AFL for the first time. He remains club captain until the end of the 2000 season.

 Great Moment #15
Wanganeen  is part of two more pre-season premiership teams. In 2001, Port Adelaide wins the Ansett Cup and  follows it up with a Wizard Cup Premiership in 2002.

 Great Moment #16
In 2002, Wanganeen is voted the 19th best Essendon player of all time in the "Champions of Essendon" list.

 Great Moment #17
After starting the season at odds of 150-1 to win the Brownlow Medal, Wanganeen misses out by just won vote from winning his second medal. Wanganeen did win the John Cahill Medal as Port Adelaide's Best and Fairest.

 Great Moment #18
In 2004, Wanganeen plays a vital role in Port Adelaide's first premiership. In the Grand Final, his four goals prove crucial and help lift the Power to victory over Brisbane by 40 points.

 Great Moment #19
In 2005, Gavin is named in the Indigenous Team of the Century.

 Great Moment #20
In Round 1 of the 2006 season, Wanganeen becomes the first indigenous player to reach the 300-game milestone in AFL football. The game against the Kangaroos at Football Park was to be Gavin's last AFL match.

Gavin Wanganeen Fact Box

Full Name: Gavin Adrian Wanganeen
Nicknames: Frizza, LG, Wangas
Date of Birth: 18th June 1973
Place of Birth: Mount Gambier
Height: 181 cm         Weight: 82 kg
Position: Half back, back pocket, utility
Number Worn: 4   ( also #1 1997-2000)
AFL Games: 300
Recruited: Selected #12 in 1989 AFL Draft by Essendon from Port Adelaide in the SANFL.
Other Games: 8 Origin clashes and 27 pre-season cup matches.
AFL Debut: 1st April 1991 (Essendon vs Richmond at M.C.G.)
AFL Clubs: Essendon (1991-1996); Port Adelaide (1997-2006)
AFL Goals scored: 202 goals
SANFL Games: 27 with Port Adelaide in 1990 (24) and 2006 (3)

Premierships: 1990 Port Adelaide Magpies (SANFL), 1993 (Essendon), 2004 (Port Power)

Pre-Season Premierships: 1993 Fosters Cup, 1994 Fosters Cup, 2001 Ansett Cup, 2002 Wizard Cup.
All Australian Selection: 1992, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2003
Brownlow Medal: 1993    Runner up: 2003
1991 AFLPA Rookie of the Year
Club Best & Fairest: 2003 Port Adelaide
Club Captain: Port Adelaide 1997-2000
Michael Tuck Medal: 1993 (Best player in Pre-season Grand Final)
Champions of Essendon: In 2002, he was voted the 19th best Essendon player of all time in the "Champions of Essendon" list.
Indigenous team of the century: Named in 2005
In round 1 of the 2006 AFL season, Wanganeen became the first indigenous player to reach the 300 game milestone.
His final game of senior football came on 20 May 2006 for Port Adelaide Magpies against Glenelg in the SANFL.

 

There is little doubt about Gavin Wanganeen's standing in the AFL. During his distinguished career he achieved it all. Two AFL premierships, four pre-season premierships, a Brownlow Medal, club Best and Fairest, five All-Australian selections, AFL Life Membership, member of Essendon's Team of the Century, member of the Indigenous Team of the Century......the list goes on and on.

But there's something more to Wanganeen than simply an impressive career honours list. To the average footy fan who sits in the outer on a wet and freezing July day, there is something far more important. Wanganeen was blessed with a unique gift. An ability to perform the unexpected.  Sure, other great players have performed similar feats, but few have performed them with the same nonchalant ease that became the Wanganeen trademark. He had that special ability to lift his team-mates and turn a match on its ear. He was a player of rare and exceptional talents.

The two faces of Gavin Wanganeen

The devoted family man pictured with wife Stephanie and children Mia and Tex.

The gladiator leads out in a match against the Brisbane Lions.

It is not difficult to identify these special qualities. Wanganeen certainly displayed an exceptional level of speed, balance and elusiveness. He also possessed an uncanny ability to read the play and intercept the ball. In addition, he was blessed with a rare ability to capture the ball and to deliver it accurately with either hand or foot. When you add in his unquestioned courage and determination you have all that is required in today's AFL player.

But there is another reason Wanganeen should be remembered. When he made his debut in 1991, there was only a small handful of indigenous players on AFL lists around the country. Players like Wanganeen and Michael Long, not only helped open the door for other indigenous players, but they also provided hope and inspiration to a whole generation of young aboriginal kids to follow in their footsteps.

The number of aboriginal players in the AFL has grown significantly in the past two decades. Their influence on the game is profound. They have made a significant contribution to changing people's perceptions of what can be achieved in the modern game of Aussie Rules.

Sports Card World congratulates Gavin Wanganeen on an outstanding career in the AFL. He has been an inspirational role model for thousands of young people to dream about a career at the elite level. We acknowledge his significant contribution to football not only here in South Australia, but also across the entire nation. Although his presence on the field will be sadly missed, he has left behind countless memories of one of the true greats of this wonderful game.

Thanks Wangas.

Farewell at Football Park: Friday 18th August

Gavin with son Tex

Gavin with Mark Williams

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