Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
Christopher Lee Grant

Known as
Chris Grant

Nickname
Turtle

Born
13 December 1972 (age 49)

Place of birth
Daylesford, VIC (3460)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 109d
Last game: 34y 263d

Height and weight
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 99 kg

Senior clubs
Western Bulldogs; Werribee

Jumper numbers
Western Bulldogs: 29, 3

State of origin
VIC

Family links
Jamie Grant (Brother)Isabella Grant (Daughter)

Chris Grant

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Western BulldogsAFL1990-20073415541.6251%10.194.515.87112
WerribeeVFL2007200.00
Total1990-20073435541.62

AFL: 10,091st player to appear, 24th most games played, 47th most goals kickedWestern Bulldogs: 809th player to appear, 2nd most games played, 3rd most goals kicked

So rigorous is the research, analysis and testing of young footballers in the current era, it's difficult to imagine a player being selected beyond pick 60 in the national draft becoming a superstar of the game within a short time, let alone later in his career. But in 1988, the draft was perhaps less science and more luck. In any case, Footscray's number 105 pick, Chris Grant - not yet 16 years old at the time of his drafting, proved to be a masterstroke selection who went on to be come one of the finest players of his era and indisputably one of the Bulldogs' greatest of all time.

Against a backdrop of a club on its knees and within a whisker of being swallowed up by Fitzroy in a merger attempt, Grant arrived at Footscray in 1989, making his senior debut in round one of the following season against St Kilda. Undaunted by the prospect of playing against childhood hero Danny Frawley, Grant acquitted himself well in his first outing, kicking two goals three and providing glimpses of the star he was to come. He kicked three or four goals in each of the next six matches before having a 'downer' in round eight against Essendon where he was held goalless. Grant bounced back in the best way possible, kicking six goals in round nine against Brisbane, and a solid year saw him finish the season topping the 50-goal mark, at 17 the youngest ever player to do so.

Grant

Right

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A long season saw Grant's form tail off late in that season and he spent the last couple of rounds in the reserves, but from 1991, he was an ever-present member of the senior side. Coach Terry Wheeler moved him up the field to centre half forward, and it was there that Chris Grant truly made a name for himself. After a solid season in 1991, Grant raised the bar in 1992 to become one of the AFL's elite. His strong hands and silky skills saw him kick 50 goals from centre half forward an he was one of the Dogs' best in their First Semi Final win over St Kilda.

Illness and injury saw Grant miss the start of the 1993 season, but he went on to have a solid if unspectacular season before again displaying his sublime talent in 1994, kicking 71 goals and earning a best and fairest award and 15 Brownlow Medal votes as Footscray again made the finals. It was at around about that time that teammate Doug Hawkins, no slouch himself when it came to ball skills, described Grant as a 'Rolls Royce' among footballers.

Grant had a slight lull by his own lofty standards in 1995 but 1996 and 1997 saw him at the peak of his powers. Footscray had a wretched season for most of 1996 but Grant stood out like a beacon among his teammates, his brilliant season culminating in another best and fairest award, and a total of 20 Brownlow Medal votes, one shy of winners James Hird and Michael Voss. The final round of that season saw the Bulldogs lose a thriller against Essendon with a last-minute goal giving the Bombers victory. Hird polled three votes in that match, with Grant polling two, and one can't help but wonder if it would have been Grant, rather than Hird, on stage with Voss on Brownlow Medal night had it not been for that late goal.

Grant knocked back a huge offer to join new club Port Adelaide at the end of the 1996 season, and was to remain loyal to the Dogs for the rest of his football days.

Despite his continuing magnificent form, Grant was to endure more heartbreak in 1997. The Bulldogs came within a whisker of making their first Grand Final since 1961, only to be pipped by two points by Adelaide after having led by four goals at the last break. Two days later, Grant, who had received a controversial one-match suspension earlier in the season for a minor strike, became the only player in history to lead the Brownlow vote count outright without winning the Medal. His suspension had been handed out for a strike on Hawthorn's Nick Holland, which Grant maintained had been accidental. Even the umpires accepted his version of events, electing not to make a report after the match. But the AFL's Director of Football Operations Ian Collins saw it differently and referred the matter to the tribunal, which subsequently suspended Grant for one match, rendering him ineligible to win the Brownlow. Given some of the onfield acts of other Brownlow Medal winners across the years, Grant's ineligibility to win the medal in 1997 still ranks as one of football's greatest travesties in the eyes of many. Grant's one consolation that season was his selection in the All Australian team.

Grant put the heartbreak behind him to continue a fine career for the best part of another decade, gaining All Australian honours again in 1998 and 1999. Like many of his Bulldog teammates, Grant was to miss out on tasting football's ultimate success, a premiership, but he had many fine moments, perhaps the most celebrated being a last-minute goal against Essendon in the second last match of the 2000 home-and-away season, which sealed the Bombers' only loss of that year.

A knee injury sustained in round one of the 2003 season saw Grant miss the remainder of that year, but he came back and was a more than solid performer in 2004, 2005 and 2006 as the Bulldogs again gathered momentum under coach Rodney Eade. Injuries finally caught up with Grant in 2007 and he retired at the end of that season having managed just five games.

Grant was at times criticised for 'cracking' under pressure, his kicking at goal supposedly suspect at critical moments. The criticism was perhaps warranted when comparing Grant to someone of the stature of perhaps his contemporary Wayne Carey, but Grant's record stands for itself - 341 games and 554 goals across 18 seasons, with two best and fairest awards and All Australian selection three times.

In 2012, Chris Grant was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame, a choice that was met with no argument from anyone who had had the pleasure of seeing him play. Grant continues to have a close relationship with the Western Bulldogs and he is the currently the director of the Dogs' football department.

Author - Andrew Gigacz


Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.