Simon Black – Retired Australian Rules Football Player
Indestructible, Resilient and long serving, Simon Black will go down in history as one of the best midfielders to have played the game.
Simon Black was born on April 3rd 1979, in Mount Isa in Queensland- the city is also famous for being the birthplace of Aussie sports heroes Greg Norman and Pat Rafter- before his family shifted base to Perth.
Black attended school at Corpus Christi College in Bateman where he was an outstanding runner. As a junior he was most competitive over 800m and 1500m, however he suffered a back injury at the age of 15 which put him out of action from all sports for the next eighteen months.
His next move was to join the East Freemantle Club and would go on to represent Western Australia at the under-18 championships. His excelled in this early opportunity and earned All Australian honours for his efforts.
Simon Black was widely tipped to be first rounds pick in the 1997 national draft however he was drafted as the No.31 pick by the Brisbane Lions.
Black impressed onlookers in his first pre-season and was called up to make his senior debut in Round 1 against the Bulldogs at the Gabba. He would go on to play a total of nine senior matches that season and averaged over 12 disposals across them. The award for the Club’s Best first Year Player was given to him at the end of the season.
Black became an automatic selection in the senior team by the time his second season started and continued to build his reputation for winning the ball in contested situations. He would play an impressive 22 matches over the season and averaged 19 disposals per game across them.
His impressive season was capped by an unfortunate injury when he suffered an eye socket fracture in the Preliminary final against North Melbourne; however he was nominated for the AFL rising star nomination, the Attitude Barometer award and the Lions Rookie of the year Award.
He ended up winning them all except the AFL rising star award in which he placed third. Simon Black would also end up getting Nine Votes in the Brownlow Medal, a tally higher than some of his more celebrated team mates.
He continued his rise as a player and was being regarded as one of the top midfielders in the league. He missed four matches with a broken hand which curtailed his season somewhat and also affected his training.
He managed to average 23.9 disposals per game and led the field in centre clearances.
This was the year when Simon Black formed a part of the remarkable midfield along with Captain Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis and Nigel Lappin. These four referred collectively as the ‘Fab Four’. This combination in the midfield is regarded as one of the best to have played the game.
These players were considered to be essential for the Brisbane Lions run of three straight premiership titles.
Black played every match this season and would go on to average 24.6 possessions per game and led the AFL in tackles over the season. He won the Herald Sun Player of the year award, came in fifth on the AFL’s most valuable player voting and polled 12 Brownlow votes.
Simon Black also made it to the All-Australian team as the starting Ruck Rover.
Black made strides to being regarded as one of the legends of the game as he was instrumental in leading the Lions to their second consecutive Premiership title. His total of 583 possessions from 25 games is truly mind boggling and would earn him another call up to the All-Australian team.
It was no surprise really when he won the most coveted award in the sport, the Brownlow medal and in doing so would become a part of an all Brownlow winning midfield. Simon Black, Michael Voss and Jason Akermanis made history as the first trio of Brownlow medals to play in a premiership match together.
Black continued in strong vein as the Lions roared to a third straight Premiership win. He averaged over 24 disposals per game and would garner 39 possessions in the Grand Final against Collingwood. This was the most by any player in a Gran Final.
Even though Simon Black did not make it to the All Australian team that year, which many considered harsh, he would add the Norm Smith Medal to his ever growing collection.
The Lions finally lost in the Gran Finals even though Black put in another superlative performance over the year. He played every match that season and averaged 23.6 possessions per game.
This was enough for him to win his third All-Australian call up in four years. Black was booked for striking during the Grand Finals and would get a suspension of three matches breaking a run of 107 Premiership match appearances.
This was stop start season for Black as he first missed out to due to his suspension and then later picked up a calf injury that restricted him in the latter half of the season.
He continued to be effective when fully fit and on the field as he helped turn around a mid season slump for his team.
Black came back I 2066 stronger and with a renewed hunger after a disappointing 2005. He would play every game and averaged 24 disposals per game.
He also took up on more of a leadership role in the absence of some of the senior members of the team. He added another 30 clearances, 100 loose ball gets as well as the most tackles at the club over the season.
His tenth season at the club saw black being named one the four co captains at the club after the retirement of Michael Voss. He would equal his career best 39 possessions in the opening game and was considered to be a strong runner for his second Brownlow medal.
He played 21 out of a possible 22 matches over the season and averaged 22 dismissals per game.
Black was inducted as a life member of the club in honour of his completing 10 fantastic years at the club.
If there were any doubts whether Black’s appetite for the game would wane after 10 strong years then he put all this to rest with a strong performance in the 11th season.
He averaged a career best 25.7 dismissals per game and would collect fewer than 20 touches only once in the 21 games he played that season. A groin injury in the middle of the season put a bit of damper on his season however he once again led the club in clearances, hard ball gets, handballs as well as contested possessions.
Black finished runner up on the Brownlow voting for the second time running, this time only one vote behind Adam Cooney.
He was selected as club Vice President at the end of the year as well.
The pre season began badly for Black as he underwent an ankle surgery and suffered a broken hand causing him to miss the opening round of the premiership. What is remarkable however that Black managed to return from injury by the second round and would go on to play all the remaining matches that season.
He averaged close to a career best 25.4 disposals per game and also became on the 11th player in the clubs history to play 250 games for them. He put in an inspiring performance in the semi finals against Carlton and led the team into the final despite not being fully fit.
It was no surprise that he led the club all key stats indicators like hard ball gets, clearances and contested possessions.
Black’s struggle with injury continued as he was sidelined for four weeks due to a calf injury. He was however as consistent as ever during his time on the field and he averaged a team high 25.6 disposal per game that season.
His season highlight was in the loss against Fremantle where he came up with 36 disposals and 2 goals.
Black was the runner up at the Club Champion award losing to Michael Rischitelli by only three votes.
Black played 22 matches in his 14th season for the club and averaged career high 26.8 disposals per game. This was truly remarkable for a man who had struggled with injuries through his long career. He was also one of only five players to feature in each and every match that season.
He was awarded the Marcus Ashcroft Medal as the best player in the QClash 2.
Black started the season strongly with a time defying 30 disposals in the first game of the season. He suffered a broken hand in the second round however he would return to action after only two weeks off.
He only played 16 full matches that season however still managed to rank inside the Club Champion top 10 for the thirteenth time in fifteen years. Black played his 300th AFL match that season.
He became the first player ever to play 300 games, win a Brownlow medal, and win a Premiership and a Norm Smith medal.
Simon Black announced his retirement on 18th October 2013. He joined the Lions as the assistant coach for two years shortly thereafter.