Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Erwin Dornau

Known as
Erwin Dornau


22 March 1926

Place of birth
Brisbane, QLD (4000)

23 September 2008 (aged 82)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 22y 26d
Last game: 26y 133d

Height and weight
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 86 kg

Senior clubs
South Melbourne

Jumper numbers
South Melbourne: 17

Recruited from
Kedron (1948)

State of origin

Erwin Dornau

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
KedronQANFL1942, 1945-1947
South MelbourneV/AFL1948-19525480.1548%8
Total1942, 1945-19525480.15

AFL: 5,758th player to appear, 4,055th most games played, 5,332nd most goals kickedSouth Melbourne: 676th player to appear, 312th most games played, 519th most goals kicked

Erwin Dornau was the first native-born Queenslander to play V/AFL football. A Queensland Schoolboy representative and Kedron junior he debuted for the Redlegs as a 16-year-old. Following service in the RAAF in World War II he returned to Kedron and was the dominant centre half back of the Queensland competition. He represented the Maroons in 1946 and 1947 and it was during the 1947 interstate carnival in Hobart (where he was runner-up in the Tassie Medal), that he caught the eye of South Melbourne scouts who signed him up shortly thereafter.  

His was a baptism by fire - in only his second VFL game he lined up against Collingwood at Victoria Park in front of what was, and still is, a record [and presumably hostile] crowd at the venue. Dornau polled an impressive 8 votes in the Brownlow Medal in his inaugural season, and over the course of a five-year 54 game stint with the Swans was runner up in the best and fairest and won two ‘Best Clubman’ awards. 

Dornau went on to coach successfully in several Victorian country leagues, his travels taking him to Leeton in the Riverina and Catani in Gippsland, before he returned to Melbourne to lead McKinnon in the strong Federal League where he coached three successive premierships. He remained involved with South Melbourne through the Past Players Group, serving as its President in the tumultuous year of 1981. He was a nominee for the Queensland Team of the Century in 2003.

Author - Murray Bird and Peter Blucher with Adam Cardosi


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