Wayne Carey: All Time AFL Champion
Wayne Carey is a former Aussie Rules footballer who played for the North Melbourne and Adelaide Football Clubs in the Australian Football League (AFL).
Nicknamed ‘The King’/Duck./Roo Boy’, Carey is among the greatest players in the history of Aussie Rules and was included in the top 50 players of all time in the book released by the AFL to celebrate 150 years of Australian Rules football. He was also named as captain and centre forward of North Melbourne’s Team of the Century in 2001. He capped off his numerous achievements in football by leading North Melbourne to the 1996 and 1999 Premiership.
Wayne Carey was introduced to Australian Football at the age of 8 and at the age of 13 played junior football for North Adelaide. He was recruited for the North Melbourne team in 1987 and began playing for the under 19s. He was a key player in their 1988 premiership side and was promoted to the senior team in 1989 and made his first appearance against Fitzroy in round 11 after being on a the sideline for a while due to shoulder injury in a practice match.
However, Wayne Carey stormed his way into the 1990 season as a goal kicking centre half forward and also represented New South Wales in State of Origin football. John Longmire just managed to clinch the best and fairest award from Wayne Carey that year. By the end of the 1990 season, The King averaged 1.8 goals, 14 disposals and 5 marks from 21 games.
Setting The Bar
Still a teenager in the 1991 season, Wayne Carey upped the tempo from the start and averaged 2.4 goals in the first nine rounds. In the tenth round against Footscray he kicked two goals in the first quarter but was forced to sit out for a major part of the game and the next eight games due to an injury.
Early in the 1992 season, Wayne Carey contemplated returning to Adelaide after unfortunate issues within the leadership of the North Melbourne club. However, he was convinced to stay back and began to shine in the latter half of the season.
He played a dominating role as centre half forward and ended the year with 7 goals against Fitzroy in a single match. His stats at the end of the season were an average of 7 marks, 18 disposals and 2.2 goals per game. He also won his best and fairest award and was named captain for the 1993 season.
Wayne Carey flourished as a captain and led his team to eight consecutive finals between 1993 and 2000. This included 7 consecutive preliminary finals, three Grand Finals and two Premierships in 1996 and 1999. He became the second youngest captain in the game’s history and brought North Melbourne to the top of the ladder by the end of round 15.
Despite injury keeping him out of the next five rounds he averaged 8 marks, 19 disposals and 3.4 goals per game at the end of the 1993 season. Wayne Carey was off to a great start in the 1994 season that included high goal scoring performances against Hawthorn, Footscray and West Coast Eagles.
He was back in full force after a mid season suspension and was instrumental in North Melbourne’s win against Hawthorn with a late goal in the final quarter of the qualifying final. He scored four goals in the third quarter of the preliminary final against Geelong. Despite injuries and suspension he averaged 3.3 goals per game at the end of the 1994 season.
No Carey, No North
Such was Carey’s influence on the North Melbourne side, that ‘No Carey, no North’ was the buzzword during his absence on the field in the mid-1994 season. In his first two years as captain, North Melbourne won 25 of their 35 home and away games in which he played. Incidentally, they lost six of seven games they played without him in the side.
By the start of the 1995 season, Wayne Carey was undoubtedly the number one player with 18 goals coming in his first four pre-season matches. In round 7 of the premiership he registered a career high of 33 disposals and dominated the field in North Melbourne’s win against Richmond in round 19 and the qualifying final.
He ended the season with an average of 7 marks, 18 disposals and 2.6 goals per game. This was a year in which he was honoured by the media and Players’ Association as the best player of the season.
At The Peak
Wayne Carey was at his peak in the 1996 season and led the led the league in marks and scored 82 goals in the season. His highest goal scoring matches included 11 goals against Melbourne in Round 17 and 7 goals against Hawthorn. He broke his record of 12 contested marks in round 17 and led his team premiership victory for the first time. Along with the title came his third best and fairest award while he came a close second to teammate Corey McKernan for the Players’ Association MVP award.
Injury in the first game of the 1997 AFL season kept Wayne Carey away from the field for most of the season. He made his way back to the team in round 13 although his form was questionable due to the shoulder injury. However, all fears were short lived as he was his dominating self in the qualifying final against Geelong, kicking 7 goals and was instrumental in creating two others.
Michael Tuck Medal
His 1998 campaign began with six second half goals in the Ansett Cup Grand Final against St. Kilda prior to the AFL season. This earned him a Michael Tuck Medal and was a clear indicator that his injury woes were left behind. North Melbourne’s AFL season included a 11 game winning streak in which Carey scored 5 or more goals on six occasions and registered 20 or more disposals.
The entire team’s offence was designed around Wayne Carey. In a round 15 match against St. Kilda The King scored 6 goals, 14 marks and 26 disposals. His decimating form continued through the season at the end of which he averaged 3.2 goals per game, which earned him almost every individual award on offer.
Injury once again set Wayne Carey back at the start of the 1999 season although he recovered remarkably to average 3.8 goals per game for the season. In round 8, his first since being left out of the side due to injury, he kicked 7 goals against Hawthorn and in the nine games leading up to the Grand Final he averaged 5.1 goals per game in crucial matches against Geelong, Essendon and Port Adelaide.
His took a spectacular one handed mark and kicked the final goal in the Grand Final against Carlton, to bring North Melbourne its second premiership title as captain.
One Of The Greatest Players
Carey was without doubt one of the greatest players of the modern era at the start of the 2000 season. He played as centre half forward and midfield for much of the season where he notched consecutive 30-plus possession games. Between round 4 and 10 he averaged 12 marks, 27 disposals and 3.5 goals per game despite playing in various positions.
In a match against Brisbane in round 14 he recorded 5 plus goals and 20 disposals for the 30th time in his career and repeated the feat against Melbourne in round 17. A debilitating groin condition took its toll on Wayne Carey towards the end of the season as his team went into the finals. However, he finished the season with 8 marks, 18 disposals and 3.0 goals.
In 2001, Wayne Carey continued to battle injuries and wasn’t able to play more than 5 consecutive games during the season. However, the second half of the season saw Wayne Carey make a comeback and play seven out of the next eight games to average 14 disposals and 3.0 goals per game. Six goals came against Melbourne in round 14 and another 5 against West Coast. In round 21 he played what was to be his last game for North Melbourne and finished the season with 35 goals from 14 games.
Wayne Carey returned to AFL Football in 2003 as a member of the Adelaide Crows, for which he played the next two seasons. However, injuries prevented him from being the formidable force although he did score the second most goals for the Crows that year. Fans witnessed a few fiery encounters with his ex-North Melbourne teammates in round 6, a match in which he kicked four goals, out of which one was voted the goals of the year.
Wayne Carey put in his best performance in the elimination final against West coast with the most kicks and marks and became the 14th player to reach 700 career goals. Wayne Carey’s 2004 season got off to a great start where he took the most contested marks within the first 11 games. His best performance came in round 8 where he took 9 marks, 17 disposals and kicked 6 goals against Essendon.
His goal against Hawthorn four weeks later was voted one of the goals of the year. A disc-related neck injury brought an end to Wayne Carey’s glorious career in round 12. He career spanned 16 seasons in which he played 272 games and kicked 727 goals.
Wayne Carey will always be remembered for his on-field rivalry with Glen Jakovich and their encounters in every Eagles and Kangaroos match. They played against each other 18 times where Jakovich was able to hold Carey to an average of 6 marks, 14 disposals and 2.1 goals per game. Many media commentators categorically consider Carey to be the greatest footballer to play the game. Legend Leigh Matthews was quick to honor Wayne Carey as the best players he had ever seen.
In 2005, Wayne Carey signed up as assistant coach to mentor Denis Pagan at the Carlton Football Club. He went on to become assistant coach at Collingwood Football Club in 2006 and also worked as a commentator and host of numerous shows on the Fox Footy Channel for the 2006 season. In 2012, Wayne Carey joined the AFL commentary team at Triple M Melbourne and is a regular panellist on The Marngrook Footy Show on National Indigenous Television.