20 August 1924
11 April 2006 (aged 81)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 16y 291d
Last game: 31y 0d
Height and weight
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 85 kg
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
AFL: 4,933rd player to appear, 1,002nd most games played, 972nd most goals kickedNorth Melbourne: 284th player to appear, 77th most games played, 67th most goals kickedSt. Kilda: 978th player to appear, 422nd most games played, 652nd most goals kicked
Born on 20th August 1924, just as VFA club North Melbourne was preparing to embark on a new adventure in the rarefied atmosphere of the VFL, Leslie Roy Foote would go on to become one of the northerners' greatest ever sons. In 1971, when North Melbourne's Social Club conducted a poll among its members to select the ten greatest players in the team's history, Les Foote tied with Allen Aylett for first place. Needless to say, there have been many other great North players since, but few if any with a more comprehensive mastery of the essential skills of the game.
Renowned for his ability to balk, dodge and weave his way out of trouble, Foote's mastery of the blind turn has rarely been equalled. He also possessed sure, one grab ball handling skills which, when combined with his trademark evasion propensities, repeatedly enabled him to get the jump on opponents. "Just when you thought you had him cornered, he'd slip the net with incredible ease. And he looked to have enough time to roll a cigarette in doing it"¹. He was far from being just a 'receiver', however, and a combination of deceptively formidable upper body strength and great courage served him more than adequately in the clinches.
Captain of North between 1948 and 1951, Foote was also a regular interstate player. Arguably his finest performance in a North Melbourne jumper came in the 1950 Preliminary Final against Geelong when he was far and away the main factor in his team's recovering from a seven-goal first quarter deficit to qualify for its first ever VFL Grand Final. Unfortunately, however, not even Les Foote - who was again North's best - could prevent the Shinboners from crashing to an all powerful Essendon side the following week, and it would be almost another quarter of a century before the club again had the opportunity to play off for a flag.
Money in football was not only in short supply in the 1950s, it was also often found in surprising places. In 1952, still aged only twenty-seven, Les Foote accepted what, for the time, was a highly lucrative offer from Berrigan Football Club in New South Wales: in return for £25 a week, a business, and a home, Foote would serve as the club's captain-coach, a position he occupied for two years. In 1954, however, he was back in the VFL, this time as captain and coach of St Kilda. In what was scarcely an Indian summer to his VFL career, however, Foote proved unable to lift the Saints off the bottom of the ladder, although he did play well enough in 1954 to add a best and fairest award to the three he had won earlier with North. The following season proved to be his last in league football, however, although he did manage a brief spell with Preston in the VFA before a spinal complaint forced his retirement in 1959.
Les Foote's VFL career comprised 134 games and 105 goals for North and 33 games and 4 goals for the Saints.
Author - John Devaney
1. Football's 50 Greatest by Greg Hobbs and Scot Palmer, page 61.