Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Brian Stuart Roberts

Known as
Brian Roberts

The Whale

28 April 1946

6 August 2016 (aged 70)

Place of death
Melbourne, VIC (3000)


Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 24y 340d
Last game: 29y 124d

Height and weight
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 113 kg

Senior clubs
South Adelaide; East Fremantle; Richmond; South Melbourne

Jumper numbers
Richmond: 15, 25
South Melbourne: 25

Recruited from
Richmond (1975)

Brian Roberts

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
South AdelaideSANFL1965-196757
East FremantleWANFL1968-197057450.79
South MelbourneV/AFL19751520.1313%

AFL: 8,325th player to appear, 2,560th most games played, 2,585th most goals kickedRichmond: 727th player to appear, 214th most games played, 208th most goals kickedSouth Melbourne: 1,031st player to appear, 692nd most games played, 836th most goals kicked




Known during the Victorian phase of his career as 'The Whale' Brian Roberts had physical attributes to match, and is thought to have been, at roughly 120 kg (at least for part of his career), among the heaviest men ever to play league football. He did so in three states, beginning in his home state of South Australia with South Adelaide, where he played 57 SANFL games between 1965 and 1967, as well as representing the croweaters at the 1966 Hobart carnival. 

His next port of call was East Fremantle where, over the course of the next three seasons, he played precisely the same number of league games as he had with the Panthers. He also played for his adopted state at the 1969 Adelaide carnival.

The final phase of Roberts' league career was in the VFL with Richmond (78 games from 1971 to 1975) and South Melbourne (15 games in 1975). He was a member of Richmond's 1973 and 1974 premiership teams, but enjoyed possibly his finest concerted spell in football with South Melbourne where, despite having a disrupted season (he was cleared to South mid-year after playing the first five games with the Tigers), he finished only three votes shy of winner Gary Dempsey in the Brownlow Medal.

Extremely tall at 199 cm as well as being of extraordinarily hefty build, Brian Roberts combined enormous ability as a tap ruckman with great marking skills around the ground. Sadly, an argument with South Melbourne coach Ian Stewart during the 1976 pre-season period led to his premature retirement from the game.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion


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