22 January 1887
14 August 1967 (aged 80)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 195d
Last game: 36y 236d
Height and weight
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 92 kg
St. Kilda: 2, 23, 22, 20, 19, 34, 1
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|St. Kilda||V/AFL||1905-1909, 1914-1915, 1918-1919, 1921-1923||122||187||1.53||46%||—||—||—||0|
|Total||1905-1912, 1914-1915, 1918-1919, 1921-1923||122||187||1.53||—||—||—||—||—|
At a time when the VFA was desperately trying to provide a viable counter-attraction to a VFL that was becoming stronger and more popular by the year, Essendon Association's acquisition of a number of top quality league stars represented something of a major coup. Jack 'Dookie' McKenzie, Percy Trotter and Mick Madden crossed over in 1907, but arguably the most noteworthy signing was that of former St Kilda champion Dave McNamara two years later.
Renowned as the longest kick in football at the time - indeed, possibly, of all time¹ - the powerfully built, 193 cm tall McNamara was regarded in his day as a veritable giant. Playing chiefly at centre half forward with an occasional run in the ruck, he was well nigh unstoppable, and the biggest single reason for Essendon Association's emergence from almost a decade in the doldrums to perennial flirtation with the flag.
After finishing third in 1909 and 1910, the side won back to back premierships in 1911-12 with McNamara contributing 81 goals in the former year, and an almost unbelievable, for the time, 107 in the latter. In one game against Melbourne City in 1912 he booted a then VFA record 18 goals.
In 1913, McNamara indicated that he wished to return to St Kilda, but a protracted clearance wrangle forced him to sit out of football for a year, and he had to watch in turmoil from the sidelines as the Saints enjoyed their best VFL season to date, only to lose a premiership deciding clash with Fitzroy by two goals. In 914, however, Dave McNamara resumed in the VFL where he demonstrated that, if anything, he had improved still further as a player, representing the VFL with distinction at the Sydney carnival. Whilst in Sydney for the carnival he participated in, and won, a long kicking contest against legendary rugby league player 'Daily' Messenger.
Although McNamara did not finally retire as a player until 1923, the loss of two seasons owing to the war (St Kilda did not compete in 1916-17), coupled with a succession of injuries, limited his total number of VFL appearances to just 122 in 13 seasons. He maintained his interest and involvement in football once his League and Association days were over, including serving as playing coach of amateur club Ormond (having applied for, and been granted, reinstatement as an amateur) during its early days in the VAFA.
Author - John Devaney
1. Reports vary as to the maximum distance managed by McNamara and, in any case, records of this kind are virtually impossible to verify. Nevertheless, the fact that he was able to boot the ball a prodigious distance - chiefly with his favoured place kick - is indisputable.