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Craig Edwin Bradley
23 October 1963 (age 59)
Place of birth
Ashford, SA (5035)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 22y 159d
Last game: 38y 291d
Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Port Adelaide; Carlton; Australia
Port Adelaide (1986)
State of origin
Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (2006); South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2006)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
AFL: 9,670th player to appear, 9th most games played, 276th most goals kickedCarlton: 931st player to appear, 1st most games played, 20th most goals kicked
Bradley, bought during the summer for a reported $100,000, dominated the centre of the ground and was the instigator of many Carlton forward moves. He picked up 18 kicks, 12 marks and 17 handballs as his side went on to a mammoth 81 point win.¹
Almost universally acclaimed as one of the bona fide greats of the modern game, Craig Bradley might well have been lost to football had he enjoyed greater success at his first sporting love, cricket. Indeed, Bradley will probably be looked back on as one of the last Australian sportsmen to enjoy simultaneous preeminence, or near preeminence, in the country's favoured summer and winter pastimes.
Once it was clear that he would not quite achieve his ambition of playing cricket internationally, Bradley chose to devote more and more of his time, commitment and energy to football. In 98 SANFL games for Port Adelaide he proved that he was a player of the top echelon, but it was in his seventeen seasons at Carlton, where he accumulated a club record 375 games, that Bradley really stamped himself as one of the all time greats. Quick, both in mind and body, sublimely skilled, and always impeccably fair, there have been few better role models for youngsters aspiring to succeed in sport than Craig Bradley.
A star in Port Adelaide's grand final defeat of Glenelg in his debut season of 1981, Bradley would go on to play in another six premiership deciders, one with Port, and five with the Blues. When Carlton went top in 1987 and 1995, Bradley's contribution was considerable. Equally significantly, when the Blues underwent a re-building exercise early in the twenty-first century, Bradley, as club skipper, played a crucial role in helping maintain equilibrium, as well as providing a constantly reassuring sight to supporters of longer standing.
Six times a club best and fairest award recipient, Bradley's failure to land a competition best and fairest remains more than a trifle surprising. However, he emphasised his brilliance in numerous other ways, most notably with his habit of producing his very best football when it mattered most (he won no fewer than four Fos Williams Medals, for example).
Bradley's aggregate of 501 senior games at the top level is likely to remain unchallenged for some time, while it is hard to imagine the powers-that-be allowing his record of 15 South Australian state of origin appearances (held jointly with John Platten) ever to be overhauled. (Bradley also played four interstate matches for South Australia which were not classified as state of origin affairs.)
Craig Bradley was included in both Carlton's official 'Team of the 20th Century', and Port Adelaide's official 'Greatest Team 1870 to 2000'.
Author - John Devaney
1. “The Canberra Times”, 20/4/86, page 27. Fitzroy was the team put to the sword by the Blues with scores of 22.24 to 10.15.