Andrew McLeod: Champion AFL Player
A former AFL Australian Rules football player, Andrew Luke McLeod was a star player for the Adelaide Football Club.
He holds the record for the most games played for the club and is considered one of the best players of all time. He won the hearts of many Adelaide supporters by driving the team to two Premiership wins.
For his outstanding performance on the field, Andrew McLeod was honoured with many awards including the Norm Smith Medal and the Leigh Matthews Trophy.
Early Life and SANFL Career
Andrew was born in Darwin, Northern Territory on August 4, 1976.
He developed an early love for the game watching his father play the game. His father, Jock McLeod, was also a key player for the Darwin Football Club.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Andrew McLeod began playing senior football with the Buffaloes. He showed immense skill while playing for Darwin and was offered an opportunity to play in Adelaide in SANFL. He gladly accepted and moved on to play for Port Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League in 1994.
He immediately made his presence felt by giving an astounding performance against Woodville- West.
In the 1994 SANFL Grand Final, McLeod scored two goals and helped win by a 37-point margin.
After an amazing performance in his debut year with Port Adelaide, he was invited to play for Fremantle.
The Dockers at the time were a newly established football club and McLeod quickly established himself as an important part of the squad. However, the newly formed Fremantle decided to make a trade and brought in Chris Groom in exchange for Andrew McLeod.
The trade was made with the Adelaide Crows and this brought McLeod to the club which he played for the remainder of his career.
During his first season with the Adelaide Crows, Andrew quietly made a strong base for himself. He studied the AFL atmosphere which, he was new to, during the pre-season games. McLeod appeared rather nervous during his initial games in the AFL. However, he started displaying his abilities in the game against the Hawks.
The confident performance that he displayed during the final seconds of the game secured a miraculous 2-point victory for the Crows.
This 1995 game was the start of a streak of consistent performances. It was no surprise that he was awarded the Adelaide’s Emerging Talent Award the same season.
The trade that the Crows made with Fremantle proved favourable for the struggling club.
The 1996 Season
Andrew McLeod was only able to play 19 games in the 1996 AFL season.
Despite this, he averaged more than a goal for game and scored 20 goals, proving his worth once again.
The 1997 Season
The club decided to bring in a new coach for the 1997 AFL season.
The previous two years had not been favourable for the Crows and they decided to replace Robert Shaw. AFL legend Malcolm Blight was made the new coach. The team had a hard time adjusting to the new coach’s style, but Blight definitely made a difference.
Blight’s coaching methods were unique for the Crows as he propagated a more direct playing style. Andrew quickly caught on with the new coach’s methods and was moved to the midfield. The Crows had a great season that year. The preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs is one of the most unforgettable games in AFL history. McLeod drove the Crows to a staggering two-point victory which landed them into the Grand Final for the very first time.
Adelaide, under Malcolm Blight, was to face St. Kilda in the Grand Final.
The team was relatively new to the Grand Final platform and it seemed like a sure shot victory for The Saints.
However, Blight’s unique coaching style combined with the skills of Andrew McLeod led the team to their first Premiership win.
For his performance, Andrew was named the league’s best and fairest player. He also managed to win the Norm Smith Medal after the Grand Final of the 1997 season.
The 1998 Season
The AFL season of 1998 marked another year Andrew delivered his signature performances.
He drove Adelaide to another Grand Final victory against the Bulldogs. He even managed to score an amazing seven goals while facing Tony Liberatore. Adelaide beat the Bulldogs by a thirty-five point margin and secured the victory.
Gary Ayres had been the last player to win the Norm Smith Medal in two consecutive seasons. McLeod repeated the unique feet in the 1998 season when he won the Norm Smith Medal for the second time in a row. He was also named in the All-Australian team for the season.
The 2006 Season
The 2006 season was another great year for McLeod in his celebrated career.
He played his 250th game against Essendon and drove his side to a 138-point victory. However, he missed out on several games because of a bursa in his left foot. He had to undergo two surgeries to remove the bursa which sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
He reached the 300-games mark during the 2008 season. By this time, a knee injury he suffered was not getting any better and he had to undergo surgery again. In 2010, Andrew made yet another comeback but again reinjured his knee.
On August 23 2010, he announced his retirement after realizing his knee would continue giving him trouble.
Honours and Achievements
Andrew McLeod won the Norm Smith Medal twice, once in 1997 and then in 1998.
He also won the Malcolm Blight Medal thrice between 1997 and 2007. In 2001 McLeod was honoured with the Leigh Matthews Trophy.
The biggest honour for Andrew McLeod was being named as an All-Australian. He was an All-Australian five times and in 2007 was named the captain as well.
He also won the Michael Tuck Medal in 2003 and the Jim Stynes Medal in 2005. A Showdown Medal was awarded to Andrew in 2007 and he also got a Polly Farmer Medal the same year.
Andrew McLeod was also named as the captain of the Dream Team in 2008 and was named in the Indigenous Team of the Century.
The honours bestowed on Andrew McLeod are a tribute to his wonderful achievements in the game. Without a doubt, he is one of the all-time greats.