Leading up to the AFL National Draft, we will look at the top 10 picks from then – going back 30 years, 25 years, 20 years, 15 years, 10 years and five years.
READ PART 1: AFL Draft Rewind 1989
READ PART 3: AFL Draft Rewind 1999
In this edition – we go back 25 years to the National Draft of 1994.
By now, the zoning system had gone for the Victorian Clubs and the TAC Cup U18s competition had become the main avenue of recruiting players.
This was also the draft that had Fremantle joining the competition so the Dockers were given a set of pre-draft picks, the first pick in the national draft and any club that lost uncontracted players to Fremantle were able to recruit a concession 16-year-old pick to compensate them.
This allowed Essendon to pick up a young man by the name of Matthew Lloyd whilst Todd Ridley went to Freo.
Another notable movement in the 1994 national draft was Fitzroy desperate to pick up anyone to play for them, taking Doug Hawkins at pick 84.
The 1994 draft also consisted of a pre-season draft, trade period, rookie elevation and of course the national draft.
The pre-season draft of the year included Paul Roos going from Fitzroy to Sydney and Dermott Brereton ending up as a Magpie after a disastrous year at the Swans.
The Saints also traded Tony Lockett to Sydney, despite the reports that Plugger was heading to Tigerland.
PICK 1 (Fremantle) – Jeff White
FROM: Frankston/Dandenong U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 32
In the clubs very first season, White was the prized number one pick for the Dockers.
White made his debut for Fremantle in their historic first-ever win against Fitzroy in round 3, 1995 (Ironically, Fitzroy’s last ever win would be the following season)
Jeff White epitomised everything the Dockers were all about in their early years, so-so and full of potential but didn’t deliver much.
White ironically played his last game for Freo in Round 22, 1997 against Melbourne – the club he would go on to play 236 games for and be remembered as one of the clubs all-time great ruckman of recent years
PICK 2 (Sydney Swans – Priority) – Anthony Rocca
FROM: Reservoir Lakeside/ Northern U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 22
Rocca was highly rated and taken by the Swans at pick two, but it was clear Sav’s younger brother didn’t want to be at the SCG not arriving at the club until April of 1995 and being based in Melbourne commuting to Sydney in his first season.
Anthony played two seasons at the Swans and has spoken about the homesickness and how he wanted to play for Collingwood.
He was traded to the Magpies in 1997 where he would play with his brother Sav for four seasons and a total of 220 games.
PICK 3 (Sydney Swans – Priority) – Shannon Grant
FROM: St Josephs College/Western U18s
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 58
Grant played three seasons at the Swans before being traded to North Melbourne in 1998, where he would play in their 1999 premiership and win the Norm Smith Medal.
His 301st and final game would ironically be against the Sydney Swans in the 2008 elimination final.
PICK 4 (Essendon) – Scott Lucas
FROM: Camperdown/Geelong U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 270
Essendon did pretty well out of this one.
Lucas didn’t play one game for the Dons in 1995 but made his debut in the ANZAC Day game of 1996.
Bombers fans remember Lucas as one of the clubs best players of recent, the iconic twin tower up forward combination of Lloyd and Lucas at their peak in 2000 and that performance in Round 22, 2007 – Kevin Sheedy’s last match as coach and James Hird’s last hurrah was iconic.
The Bombers were close to 50 points down but Lucas tried to win the game in the last quarter kicking seven goals, reducing the margin to 2 points in what would have been one of the all-time great comebacks but the Eagles won by eight.
PICK 5 (St.Kilda) – Joel Smith
FROM: Yarrawonga/Murray U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 58
With Plugger leaving Moorabbin for the bright lights of Sydney and many Saints fans regarded their first draft pick in Joel Smith as the future for the red, white and black.
The Saints had so much faith in Smith, they gave him Pluggers number 4.
In the 1995 Ansett Cup, Joel Smith won the qualifying final against Carlton with a goal in the last 30 seconds of the match and the Saints and their fans were up and about, as they would be the following year when they beat Carlton in the Ansett Cup Grand Final.
Smith had a solid three seasons at St.Kilda.
In 1997, Smith was a vital part of the Saints mission which lead them to the minor premiership a but his ACL injury late in the 97 seasons resulted in him missing the finals series and the Grand Final loss to the Crows.
At the end of the ’97 season, Smith was in a contractual dispute with the Saints and was traded to Hawthorn.
He missed the 1998 season due to injury but ended up playing 163 games for the Hawks, became an x2 All-Australian and won the clubs best and fairest – the Peter Crimmins Trophy in 2001.
PICK 6 (Fitzroy) – Robert McMahon
FROM: Moe/Gippsland U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 2
Being picked up by Fitzroy in its bleak later years was something players didn’t aspire to, and Robert McMahon while grateful he’d be playing AFL probably wished another club called out his name.
McMahon played only two games for the Roys in 1996, their final season before merging with the Brisbane Bears.
He didn’t make the cut of Fitzroy players that would be heading to the Gabba and was picked up by Hawthorn at pick 51 in the 1996 draft.
While he played well in the Hawks reserves team in 1997 (who made the Grand Final and lost to Richmond), he didn’t play a senior game for them.
PICK 7 (St Kilda) – Tony Brown
FROM: Leopold/Geelong U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 108
Brown was a solid player for the Saints, playing 108 games from 1995-2005.
He played in their 1996 Ansett Cup Premiership, the 1997 Grand Final and was one of the great club man.
He left the Saints at the end of the 2000 season and went on to play for the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL and was the joint Magarey Medalist in 2001.
PICK 8 (Hawthorn) – Daniel Harford
FROM: Parade College/Northern U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 153
Daniel Harford made an impression for the Hawks in his first season in 1995, where he dominated on the field and was a ball magnet.
Known for his toughness on the field, Harford became one of the most reliant players for the Hawks at his time at Glenferrie.
Harford struggled for regular game time in 2002 – playing only 11 games for the Hawks and was then picked up by Carlton where he played 9 games.
He retired at the end of the 2004 season.
Harford is now known for his work on Radio RSN in Melbourne and as Carlton’s AFLW coach.
PICK 9 (Collingwood) – Ben Wilson
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 6
Wilson was one of the rare players in the AFL draft top 10 that wasn’t picked up from the TAC Cup.
He didn’t play a game in the 1995 season and played only two for the Pies in 1996.
Wilson would be part of a trade with the Sydney Swans that saw Mark Orchard and two draft picks head to the Swans in exchange for Anthony Rocca.
PICK 10 (Essendon) – Blake Caracella
FROM: Northern U18
GAMES PLAYED FOR CLUB: 126
You could argue that Essendon came out the best in the 1994 National Draft.
The Bombers were able to pick up the likes of Lloyd, Lucas and Caracella – all players that played a vital role in winning them a premiership five years later in 2000.
Caracella didn’t play a senior game for Essendon until 1997 but lived up to his promise as a small forward and even gained the Norwich Rising Star nomination on his debut game.
Caracella was a major part of Essendon’s epic 2000 season (Which many regard as the best season any team could have) kicking 35 goals for the season.
He was controversially traded to Brisbane at the end of the 2002 season and would play in their 2003 premiership.
Blake Caracella would finish off his career at the Magpies and had to retire due to a career-ending neck injury.
He is now a highly-sought after assistant coach and hs found himself back at Essendon for 2020 season. Many suspect a coach in waiting.