Mal Michael: Wikis

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Mal Michael

Michael in Essendon colours
Personal information
Full name Malcolm Robert Michael
Date of birth 24 June 1977 (1977-06-24) (age 32)
Place of birth Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Recruited from Morningside
Draft 1996 Rookie Draft
Collingwood
2nd overall, 2006 Pre-season draft
Essendon
Height/Weight 190 cm / 100kg
Position(s) Full-back
Club information
Current club Nilma Darnum Bombers
Number 15
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1997 – 2000
2001 – 2006
2007 – 2008
Totals
Collingwood
Brisbane Lions
Essendon
061 (23)
140 0(5)
037 0(5)

AFL total 238 (33)   

1 Playing statistics to end of EDFL round 14, 2009 season .

Malcolm Roberto "Mal" Michael (born 24 June 1977 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea) is an Australian rules footballer. He is notable for his successful professional Australian Football League (AFL) career. Following a career spanned 238 games and three clubs in two Australian states he is best known as a triple premiership full-back with the Brisbane Lions. Michael is recognised as being one of the best Queensland produced Australian rules footballers of all time, being named on the AFL Queensland Team of the 20th Century.

He is possibly the only AFL player who is more famous in a country other than Australia, maintaining a high profile in Papua New Guinea, and he is credited by many to have inspired the boom in playing numbers of Australian rules football in Papua New Guinea. In April 2009, The Guardian described him as one of Papua New Guinea's "living national icons", along with politician Michael Somare and philosopher Bernard Narokobi.[1]

Contents

Early life

Michael was born in Papua New Guinea. His mother Alice is from Delena, Central Province a village near Port Moresby.[2] and his father Peter is a Melbourne-born civil engineer and former Ormond Amateurs (VAFA) player.[3] Peter was instrumental in developing AFL in PNG and founded the Bomana demons FC near Sogeri in Port Moresby. Michael moved to Brisbane with his parents at the age of 3 and later played junior football in Brisbane with the Kenmore Bears. He attended Kenmore South State School before finishing off his schooling at St Peters Lutheran College, Brisbane, Australia

As a teenager, Michael was recruited by Queensland Australian Football League club Morningside. While at that club he was invited to train with the Brisbane Bears Australian Football League (AFL) club, with a view to potentially drafting him—an exciting prospect for him as he was a Bears supporter at the time. However, the Bears did not draft him, with Melbourne-based rival club Collingwood drafting him to their rookie list in 1996.

AFL career

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Collingwood Football Club

Michael debuted in 1997 as the first player in the AFL to be elevated to the seniors from the rookie list. He finished eighth in the club champion voting and earned a Norwich Rising Star Award nomination, but over ensuing seasons he was tried at both fullback and full-forward and struggled for consistency.

In 1999, he had the unfortunate honour of being the full-back playing on Sydney Swans champion full-forward Tony Lockett in the match that Lockett broke the record to become the greatest goalkicker in the game's history. Michael managed 61 games with the magpies, injuries grounding his rise in each of his five season at Victoria Park. Unfortunately, the Collingwood faithful never saw the best of him.

At the end of 2000 he was traded to the Brisbane Lions along with a draft pick for Jarrod Molloy.

Brisbane Lions Football Club

Michael debuted for the Brisbane Lions in 2001. At the Lions he bulked up substantially and became one of the AFL's strongest players, and was a fearsome fullback. Michael fitted in well with the other Lions hard men, such as Chris Scott and Chris Johnson under the guidance of fearsome coach Leigh Matthews.

He played fullback in each of the Lions' three successive premierships in 2001, 2002 and 2003, achieving his first premiership in his first year with the club.

Surprisingly during these years, despite being unanimously regarded as the most consistent fullback in the competition, he was unlucky to miss All-Australian selection. It is widely believed that this is due to the majority of his work being one percenters not generally credited by umpires or the stat sheets as much as actual possessions. Michael played 140 out of a posiible 145 games for the Lions during his six years with the club, as well as all pre-season competition games and two International rules series games against Ireland in 2004.

In 2005, Michael was involved in a much publicized incident with Nick Riewoldt when he and Chris Scott both "tested" the St Kilda player's broken collarbone. The incident caused significant controversy.[4]

2006 season - Disillusionment and retirement

In the Round 14, 2006 game against Melbourne, Michael conceded a rushed behind in an unorthodox and notable fashion. He is not the first player to deliberately rush a behind with a kick between the goal posts, however his emphatic kick from over 20 metres out was quite remarkable. This attracted wide scrutiny in the media and was oft-replayed.

The next week, a leak in the media speculated that Michael was "burnt out" and disillusioned at the club, and was considering retirement. However, coach Leigh Matthews later spoke out saying he had convinced Michael to stay on until the end of the season.

Michael claimed that the club was not giving him enough time for his community and charity initiatives in Papua New Guinea before. He claimed he had failing to negotiate a reduced training schedule so he could pursue his personal interests[5], something however which his coach Leigh Matthews later denied.

Michael announced his retirement on October 5, 2006 at only 29 years of age.[6]

After his retirement it was speculated that he wanted return to Melbourne to base himself there while playing football semi-professionally for a local club.

Comeback

However, on 24 November 2006, Michael shocked the football community by reconsidering his retirement. To the anger of the Brisbane Lions, he announced that he had been signed by the Essendon Football Club and had reached an agreement whereby he will be selected by them in the pre-season draft for the 2007 season.[7] The decision infuriated the Lions, who believed that Michael had exploited a loophole in the draft to change clubs and they questioned the sincerity of his retirement.

Essendon Football Club

Michael debuted with Essendon wearing the number 22 guernsey which was vacated by Tristan Cartledge, who was delisted by the Bombers at the end of season 2006. Following his debut, the Brisbane Lions, who weren't given any sort of compensation for the loss of Michael, continued to express feelings of betrayal to the media and frustration with the AFL's loose drafting rules.

In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he has since featured in the backline alongside veteran Dustin Fletcher and emerging youngster Paddy Ryder, however after the appointment of new coach Matthew Knights who made his youth policy clear, Michael spend lengthy periods playing with the Bendigo Bombers reserves side alongside fellow veterans Damien Peverill and Jason Johnson. He did not return to the seniors until much later in the season.

Second retirement

On August 15, 2008 Michael announced his Second Retirement from AFL football but would play until seasons end. In the Round 22 match Essendon vs St.Kilda Micheal was chaired off the ground by the players at the end of the match.

Post AFL

Following his AFL career, Michael made a switch to semi-professional country football, playing with Nilma Darnum Bombers in the Ellinbank and District Football League a club with a 14-year finals drought in 2009 to win the premiership side[8]

At the end of 2009, Michael coached a combined Under 23 Pacific Islands team to victory against an Under 23 North Queensland representative side.[9]

He signed with the Heywood Football Club to play in the Western Border Football League 2010 season.[10]

In 2010 Michael was appointed caretaker coach of the Papua New Guinea National Senior Team[11], before representing the team as a player in the pre-season campaign against AFL Cairns clubs.[12]

Papua New Guinean celebrity

Michael was the first Papua New Guinean to play senior AFL football, acting as an ambassador for the game when he visits his homeland. He is possibly the only AFL player who is more famous in a country other than Australia. He has appeared on a series of biscuit commercials in PNG as "the secret of Mal's success". In 2004, he hosted a popular football segment on a weekly PNG television show.[13]

In early 2006, he established the Mal Michael Foundation, aimed at raising money to help give young Papua New Guineans the opportunity to play Aussie rules.

In 2007 Michael made a strategic deal with mining company Hannans Reward (ASX:HNR) aimed at appealing the company to the Papua New Guinea market.[14] Michael's consultancy company M&M Synergy Ltd, deals in the natural resource sector in Papua New Guinea. They represent land owner incorporated companies to help them develop their assets. M&M Synergy Ltd specialise in joint venture projects and capital raising for timber, mining and petroleum projects.

See also

References

External links


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