Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Gavin Adrian Wanganeen

Known as
Gavin Wanganeen

18 June 1973 (age 50)

Place of birth
Mount Gambier, SA (5290)

Indigenous Australian

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 287d
Last game: 32y 287d

Height and weight
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Senior clubs
Port Adelaide; Essendon; Port Adelaide

Jumper numbers
Essendon: 4
Port Adelaide: 1, 4

Recruited from
Port Adelaide (1991); Essendon (1997)

State of origin

Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (2010); South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2012)

Family links
Tex Wanganeen (Son)Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Nephew)Troy Bond (Cousin)Aaron Davey (Cousin)Alwyn Davey Snr (Cousin)Alwyn Davey Jnr (Cousin)Jayden Davey (Cousin)

Gavin Wanganeen

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Port AdelaideSANFL1990, 200627481.78
Port AdelaideAFL1997-20061731380.8061%11.665.003.8056
SANFL1990, 200627481.78

AFL: 10,209th player to appear, 99th most games played, 408th most goals kickedEssendon: 960th player to appear, 117th most games played, 141st most goals kickedPort Adelaide: 25th player to appear, 17th most games played, 15th most goals kicked

Gavin Wanganeen, who retired from top level football midway through the 2006 season after well in excess of 300 senior games, was undoubtedly one of the finest and most instantly recognizable footballers of his time. Originally from Port Lincoln, he played briefly with Salisbury North after moving to Adelaide, before commencing his league career with Port Adelaide in 1990, when his 24 games for the year included the winning Grand Final against Glenelg. 

Crossing to Essendon in the AFL in 1991, he appeared to adapt to the big stage with consummate ease, and two years later was a crucial cog in the 'Baby Bombers' machine that won the flag in highly impressive fashion with a 20.13 (133) to 13.11 (89) Grand Final demolition of Carlton. Earlier that year he had been a member of the South Australian state of origin team which secured the national championship in memorable fashion thanks to a two-goal win over Victoria on the MCG. The 1993 season was also memorable on a personal note as he became Essendon's first Brownlow Medallist for 17 years.

With his distinctive low-to-the-ground running style Wanganeen combined exquisite talent with explosive, if occasionally wayward, aggression. Most commonly used as a rebound defender, he was also, on occasion, a damaging on-baller, and had a keen eye for goal when used in the forward lines. The sort of player who leads naturally by example, he returned to South Australia in 1997 when he was appointed Port Adelaide's inaugural AFL captain, a role he retained for four seasons.

If his form with the Power tended to be somewhat inconsistent at first, Wanganeen came good in no uncertain terms in 2003 when he not only landed his club's best -and-fairest award but came within a single vote of a second Brownlow Medal. His proudest moment in a Power jumper, however, came the following season, when his four goals made a significant contribution to his club's first ever AFL flag courtesy of a 17.11 (113) to 10.13 (73) Grand Final victory over Brisbane.

In 2005, along with many of his team mates, Wanganeen appeared to suffer something of a premiership hangover, and in 2006 he managed just one game to bring up the magical 300 figure before eventually deciding that his body had had enough. His final game of senior football came on 20 May 2006 for Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL.

Five times an AFL All Australian, Wanganeen was the first indigenous footballer to amass 300 games (127 with the Bombers, 173 for Port) at AFL level. Even more significantly, however, he was revered, and will be remembered with affection and esteem, at two top level clubs, with the high regard in which he was held at Essendon in particular being emphasized by his inclusion, in a back pocket, in the club's official 'Team of the Century'.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion


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