Three Finley greats

By James Bennett

Finley can boast it’s one of the state’s best breeding towns for top footballers with three locally born stars named in the greatest NSW football team of all time.

Finley alumni Shane Crawford and Tom Hawkins were listed alongside greats such as Lenny Hayes, Wayne Carey, Paul Kelly and Haydn Bunton, while taking the reigns as coach is fellow Finley-born legend the late Allan Jeans.

Although named in the initial squad, David Murphy, who spent a short time living in Finley and played 156 games with the Sydney Swans during his career, just missed out on selection in the final team.

The full team was announced at a special gala in Sydney on Thursday night, with Crawford named on the wing and Hawkins starting on the bench.

Both qualify as selection criteria states ‘‘if a player went to school interstate but their parents remained in NSW, they remain eligible’’.

Neither Crawford or Hawkins could be contacted by the Southern Riverina News in time for this edition. But Finley Football and Netball Club president Ash Haynes said it was great to see the local talent recognised for their achievements.

‘‘The club is always proud of its footballers and netballers and a great honour to have a strong contingent of players representing NSW,’’ he said.

Crawford played 305 games for Hawthorn and retired with a Brownlow medal along with a premiership in his last season.

Crawford also finished a four time best and fairest at the Hawks, four time All Australian and is a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Hawkins is one of the few players listed still playing AFL and is closing in of 250 games with Geelong, having played 240 games for Geelong.

He’s a seven time leading goal kicker for the Cats, booting 517 career goals, a two-time premiership player (2009, 2011) and won the club best and fairest in 2012.

Allan Jeans played just 77 games for St Kilda between 1955 and 1959 but is best remembered for his coaching.

In 1966 he led the Saints to their only premiership. He followed it up with premierships during Hawthorn’s golden era in the 1980s, winning in 1983, 1986 and 1989.

Jeans was also an inaugural inductee in the Australian Football Hall of Fame and was named coach of the St Kilda FC Team of the Century.

Also selected from towns close to the Southern Riverina Corowa-Rutherglen’s John Longmire and Deniliquin’s Leo Barry.