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Andrew McLeod

Personal information
Full name Andrew Luke McLeod
Nickname(s) Bunji, Macca
Date of birth 4 August 1976 (1976-08-04) (age 33)
Place of birth Darwin, Australia
Recruited from Port Adelaide Magpies (SANFL)
Draft 42nd overall, 1994 Pre-Draft Selections Draft
Fremantle
Height/Weight 181 cm / 81 kg
Position(s) Defender / Midfielder
Club information
Current club Adelaide
Number 23
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1995 – Adelaide 328 (266)   
State team honours
2008 Dream Team 1 (0)
International team honours
2005 Australia 2 (0)

1 Playing statistics to end of end of 2009 season .

Andrew Luke McLeod (born 4 August 1976) is a professional Australian rules footballer of Indigenous and Scottish descent. McLeod plays in the Australian Football League and is number 23 of the Adelaide Football Club. He is universally recognised as one of the greatest players of the modern era. His blistering pace, smooth skills and knack for performing in significant games have made him one of the most damaging players in the history of the game.

Contents

Career

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Early years

Moving from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Adelaide in South Australia, McLeod started his career at the Darwin Football Club, before playing in the SANFL in 1994, playing for the Port Adelaide Football Club where he became known as an exciting young forward with electrifying pace. McLeod capped off a solid debut year for the Magpies with a Premiership medallion, bagging two goals in Port's 37-point win over Woodville-West Torrens in the 1994 SANFL Grand Final.

In the 1994 offseason period McLeod was recruited by the newly established Fremantle Football Club as part of their inaugural squad. However, Fremantle would later agree to exchange McLeod to the Adelaide Crows for promising forward Chris Groom in what many now consider to be one of the most lopsided trades in Australian rules football history.

In an interview with Australian men's magazine Alpha[1] in September 2005, McLeod would later reveal that he refused to play for Fremantle after feeling insulted and belittled by Fremantle coach Gerard Neesham who had not actually seen him play before.

1995

In his first year with the Adelaide Crows, McLeod began his AFL career quietly, appearing tentative and nervous during pre-season games. However, in a round 9 match against Hawthorn at Football Park, a confident McLeod began to emerge.

In the dying seconds of the game with Adelaide trailing by 4 points, McLeod raced into an open forward line while being hotly pursued by Hawk Ray Jencke. Swooping onto the loose ball, he calmly laid it on his foot under pressure, dribbling it through for a miraculous goal from a tight angle at the Northern End of the ground to give his side a remarkable 2-point victory after they had trailed by 34 points at half-time. The Crows were able to avenge their worst ever home loss in history the year before (Round 9 1994 by 97 points to Hawthorn).

McLeod would later be named as an AFL rising star nominee late in the 1995 season after a string of consistent performances in a struggling Adelaide side which only managed a 9-13 record.

1996

In his second season with the Adelaide Crows, McLeod played in 19 matches and kicked 20 goals.

1997

After two tumultuous years under Robert Shaw, legendary footballer Malcolm Blight took over as coach of Adelaide. The Crows would begin the season slowly as they adjusted to Blight's long-kicking and direct style of football before claiming a finals berth for the first time since 1993.

In the preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs, McLeod, who had been playing primarily as a forward or half-back flanker was placed into the midfield in the second half by Blight in an effort to spark the Crows side who trailed by 31 points at half-time. It would be the first time in McLeod's career that he would play in the middle and in a thrilling contest, McLeod and the Crows would win the match by 2 points to reach the Grand Final for the first time in the club's history.

In the Grand Final against St. Kilda, McLeod would take his first significant step in his journey towards joining the game's elite. Accumulating 31 disposals, he was judged best on ground against the Saints, winning the prestigious Norm Smith Medal while helping his team win the AFL premiership. This was followed shortly thereafter with a gold jacket when he was named as the Crows best and fairest for the 1997 season.

1998

Having caught the eye of football followers with his magical feats in the 1997 finals, McLeod would continue to dazzle crowds with his pace and agility in 1998 before being named All-Australian for the season.

In a preliminary final rematch against the Bulldogs, McLeod would kick a career-high 7 goals while being opposed to Tony Liberatore who was reputed to be the most ferocious tagger in the game at the time. In the following game, against Grand Final favourites, the Kangaroos, the Crows would win by 35 points with McLeod emulating his feats a year earlier. Gathering 30 disposals and winning back-to-back Norm Smith Medals, McLeod became the first player to win two Norm Smith Medals since Gary Ayres in 1986 and 1988.

2001

McLeod had perhaps the finest season of his career in 2001, controversially being named runner-up in the Brownlow Medal Count. Having been made a permanent fixture in the Crows midfield by coach Gary Ayres, McLeod averaged a career-best 24.7 disposals[2]. He would win the Leigh Matthews Trophy to be recognised as the Most Valuable Player in the league as voted by his peers in the AFL Players Association as well as his second best and fairest award from the club.

McLeod, however, would be denied the AFL's greatest individual honour in the 2001 Brownlow Medal. Trailing by two votes in the last round to Jason Akermanis of the Brisbane Lions, many believed he would receive votes after amassing a best-afield 37 disposals against Fremantle in the final round. Instead, the umpires decided not to award McLeod with any votes for the game leaving him stunned as he looked on while the medal was presented to the flamboyant Akermanis.

Adding further fuel to the fire, the short highlight package that summarized the best players in each round of football specifically stated that McLeod was named best-on-ground for that particular match. To this day it is considered by the majority of the South Australian football public to be one of the worst Brownlow voting decisions ever made; many remain adamant that the medal went home with the wrong player that night.

2002 to 2004

2005

In 2005, under coach Neil Craig, McLeod made a return to the half-back line to provide his side with run and drive from defense using his sublime skills. In round 2 against Collingwood and the scores tied late in the game and the Crows desperately needing a win, McLeod kicked an unbelievable left-foot goal from the boundary line from about 35m out to seal the deal. This win would be the Crows' first in 6 years vs the Pies and spur Adelaide to a minor premiership by the end (top spot after 22 rounds) of the season. McLeod polled 11 votes in the 2005 Brownlow Medal.

In October, McLeod was named co-captain of the Australian International rules football team against Ireland. In what became a somewhat spiteful match, Australia would win comfortably while McLeod was named best player and awarded the Jim Stynes Medal.

2006

McLeod challenging a mark in a game against Port Adelaide

After a year under Neil Craig's system, McLeod would return to some of his best form. Teaming with the younger Graham Johncock at half-back, the duo would be part of a stingy Adelaide defense, regularly streaming from the back lines, evading opponents and delivering the ball with precision to teammates up the ground. He won the showdown medal for best afield against local city rivals Port Adelaide, gathering 32 touches and kicking 2 goals from the half back. His form would eventually lead to his 4th All-Australian selection.

Against the Essendon Football Club in round 10, McLeod played his 250th game at AAMI Stadium where he tallied 18 disposals while soaring for a spectacular mark in a 138-point demolition of the Bombers.

For much of the season, however, McLeod played with a painful bursa in his left foot. After round 16, the decision was made for him to undergo surgery to remove the bursa, an operation expected to keep him out for a few weeks.

McLeod made a relatively earlier than expected return to the side in round 19. However, by round 21, after a disappointing loss to Port Adelaide, his foot was heavily infected and the club announced that he would require further surgery along with the disappointing news that he would more than likely miss the rest of the season and Finals.[3]

Despite rating himself just a "two out of ten" chance to return for the finals[4], McLeod made a surprise return to the side in the preliminary final against the West Coast Eagles. After a promising first half, however, McLeod and the Crows were swamped by the West Coast midfield in the second half to eventually lose by ten points. McLeod kicked a superb boundary line goal from the southwest pocket which bought the crowd to its feet but it couldn't give Adelaide the momentum back. McLeod polled 7 votes in the 2006 Brownlow Medal.

2007

Prior to the start of the AFL 2007 season, McLeod won the Polly Farmer Medal after being the best for the Indigenous All-Stars in a 50-point loss to Essendon. McLeod, the side's captain, kicked two goals to be his team's leading goal-kicker.

McLeod played most of 2007 again as a half-back flanker, sweeping up loose balls and creating his trademark run out of defense with his smooth skills. McLeod, however, was well held in his final game of the season, finishing with just 12 disposals after being heavily tagged by Hawthorn's Richard Vandenberg in Adelaide's elimination final loss to the Hawks.

Nevertheless, McLeod had a fine season. His average of 23.9 disposals was his highest since finishing runner-up for the Brownlow Medal in 2001. This was duly acknowledged when he was announced as a 2007 All-Australian on the half-back flank as well as captain of the 2007 All-Australian team.[5] McLeod polled 15 votes in the 2007 Brownlow Medal and won the club's Best and Fairest award.

2008

Four weeks after returning from a stint on the sidelines due to knee surgery, McLeod celebrated his 300-game milestone with a 63-point victory over Richmond in round 19. Andrew McLeod is just the second Aboriginal player to reach 300 games. After the season's conclusion, however, McLeod's knee flared up again, forcing him to have surgery over the off-season.

2009

On his return from injury, McLeod captained the Indigenous All-Stars in the 2009 pre-season.[6] McLeod continued to perform consistently for the Crows, and in round 9 (fittingly, it was Indigenous Round), he played his 313th game, eclipsing the club games record held by former teammate and good friend Mark Ricciuto. This inspired the Crows to a 44-point win over Carlton.

Achievements & Honours

Personal life and controversies

Despite separating for a short while in 2004, Andrew is still currently married to Rachael. Rachael was rumored to be responsible for an alleged feud between the McLeods and Tyson Edwards and Tyson's wife, Mandy.

McLeod was also apparently involved in a feud with long-time best friend and No. 1 Crows ticketholder Lleyton Hewitt, who is understood to be good friends with the Edwards. McLeod was reported (in Australian newspapers) to refuse footage of a sacred Aboriginal site to be used on a DVD of Hewitt's.[7] Things have settled down since.

External links

References

Awards
Preceded by
Glenn Archer
Norm Smith Medallist
1997-1998
Succeeded by
Shannon Grant
Preceded by
Matthew Liptak
Adelaide Best and Fairest winner
1997
Succeeded by
Mark Ricciuto
Preceded by
Anthony Koutoufides
Leigh Matthews Trophy
2001
Succeeded by
Luke Darcy, Michael Voss
Preceded by
Simon Goodwin
Adelaide Best and Fairest winner
2001
Succeeded by
Ben Hart
Preceded by
Brad Johnson
All-Australian Team Captain
2007
Succeeded by
Chris Judd
Preceded by
Simon Goodwin
Adelaide Best and Fairest winner
2007
Succeeded by
Nathan Bock

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