7 March 1958
23 August 2012 (aged 54)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 19y 40d
Last game: 32y 81d
Height and weight
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Jay Neagle (Son)
AFL: 8,887th player to appear, 614th most games played, 1,524th most goals kickedEssendon: 842nd player to appear, 79th most games played, 172nd most goals kickedSydney: 1,152nd player to appear, 305th most games played, 331st most goals kicked
A speedy and accomplished footballer with a sometimes feisty temperament, Merv Neagle was at the forefront of the game for over a decade. He arrived at Essendon from Dimboola and within a couple of years of making his senior VFL debut in 1977 had established himself as one of the best and most creative wingmen in the competition. If he had a weakness, it was that he occasionally had a tendency to give away a lot of free kicks. His contribution to the emergence of the Bombers as a league force during the early 1980s was considerable.
Neagle was a member of Essendon's losing Grand Final team against Hawthorn in 1983, and of the victorious combination a year later against the same opposition. He would have made it three Grand Final appearances in a row in 1985 had a leg injury not forced his 11th hour withdrawal from the side which went on to score a hefty win against the Hawks. He was in the centre for the Bombers in 1981 when they won the night flag, and on a wing three years later when they did so again.
In 1986 Neagle's career entered a new phase when he was one of several high profile signings by the Sydney Swans. In five seasons in the harbour city he continued to produce fine football, although he missed a fair number of games with injury towards the end. Although best known as a wingman Neagle could be equally effective either on the ball or in the centre. His Swans stint saw him add 56 games and 19 goals to the 147 games and 52 goals he had accrued during his time with the Dons.
While at Essendon, Neagle's reputation was enhanced by regular appearances in a Big V. Somewhat surprisingly, he was never the recipient of a club best and fairest award, with second place in the Bombers' 1980 and 1981 counts his best finishes. He also came second in the 1980 Brownlow Medal count.
Author - John Devaney