Robert Osborne Shearman
14 September 1939
Place of birth
Melbourne, VIC (3000)
27 June 1999
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 16y 331d
Last game: 20y 354d
Height and weight
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 82 kg
State of origin
Hall of fame
South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2002)
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Aged just sixteen, Aberfeldie product Robert Shearman made his VFL debut with Essendon in 1956, and immediately impressed with his ability to take a strong mark, his calmness under pressure, and most of all perhaps his prodigious drop kicking. All told, he played a total of 64 games for the Bombers in five seasons, including the losing grand finals of 1957 and 1959, in both of which he was listed high among his team’s best players.
In 1961, Shearman followed his former Essendon coach Dick Reynolds to West Torrens where he continued to improve as a player. He represented South Australia at the 1961 Brisbane carnival, winning All Australian selection, and captaining the Eagles in 1963 and 1964. In 1962 he won the prestigious 5AD Footballer of the Year Award. After just 70 matches for Torrens, however, he sought a move to Sturt, but was forced to stand out of football for the entire 1965 season before being granted a clearance.
His arrival at Sturt was arguably just the catalyst the club needed to precipitate its rise to greatness. After finishing runner-up to Port Adelaide in 1965, the Blues, with Shearman a conspicuous contributor in the pivot, crushed the Magpies by 56 points in the 1966 grand final to secure their first flag for twenty-six years. Sturt went on to win further premierships in 1967-8-9-70 to make it a near record five in a row.
Captain of the Double Blues from 1969 until his final year of 1972, Shearman added 121 league games for a career tally of 268, which included 13 interstate appearances for South Australia. His unrivalled kicking ability - he won the Craven Filter champion kick of Australia competition twice in the five years it ran - made him a genuine crowd puller, of whom Jeff Pash memorably wrote:
The beauty of Shearman’s game is that, for all the thrill of anticipation that visibly runs through the ..... crowd when he gets the ball (‘How far this time?’) he, too, visibly sums up the situation before taking action. If he is hotly pressed he can pick the handball gap as surely as the best. He is quite at home in the short game with either foot, and he can choose cleverly from his immense drop kicking range. He is not one of those footballer’s with the predictable response.¹
Author - John Devaney
1. The Pash Papers: Australian Rules Football in South Australia 1950-1964 by Jeff Pash,