Author(s): Russell Holmesby; Jim Main
EVERY AFL/VFL PLAYER SINCE 1897
This will be the 11th edition of the publication known as the Bible of footy. First published in 1992, it has sold over 120,000 copies in total.
When Ben McKay ran onto the ground for North Melbourne in the Round 23, 2017 game against Brisbane he would have felt the same sense of enthusiasm and uncertainty as the long list of footballers who have gone before him.
Young Ben became the 12,580th man to appear in League football since the competition began way back in May 1897. As the last debutante for 2017 he faced a vastly different scenario in so many ways to those pioneers of 1897. The warriors who slogged it out on four suburban Melbourne ovals would never have dreamed that this would grow into Australia's biggest national sporting competition with 18 teams spanning Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
Nor would they have thought that one day the competition would play a game in New Zealand or China, or would play games in a purpose built stadium under a roof. For Ben McKay and all those before him, those thoughts were non-existent. The age-old dilemma of how to get his hands on the ball and get a kick was first and foremost. Ben McKay is one of 1101 footballers who have just the one game next to their names. Surprisingly 20 per cent of all players will have careers that don't extend beyond three games.
The turnover is such that since the last edition of this book a total of 349 players have debuted in the AFL. Footy is an ever-evolving game, and so too is this Encyclopedia as new facts
constantly emerge and are added to the tales of players from long ago as well as those from today.
"This thorough and accurate reference work contains the bottom line of all football lore: who played how many games, in what position, for whom: and to how great an effect. Excellent for testing one's memory. Did Alex Jesaulenko really play a few games for St Kilda or was I just stoned?" Imre Salusinszky - The Australian Weekend Review - The best in new Books - November 11, 1993
As testament to the esteem in which it is held this was the statement made by legendary football reporter Mike Sheahan in the 2017 Grand Final Record feature which asked leading
AFL identities to nominate their favorite footy book of all time: "I use it every week when I'm preparing for Open Mike. It is my first reference point for the greats of the past and I am amazed at how much information there is and the level of detail. I remember something I saw about Mark Williams when he finished up playing years after he was dumped by Collingwood.
He wrote a letter to Collingwood about an assistant coaching role there and got no reply. It showed me two things. The first was that he was prepared to move on and the second was that Collingwood had made this bloke captain and yet couldn't be bothered to give him a reply.
I can't help but think how tedious it must have been to compile and the labour that went into it. I have a vested interest in this book because of the information it contains. There are all these
tidbits that you need, such as height, weight and relatives and this book provides it. If my house ever caught fire once I made sure the kids and the valuables were safe, the next thing I would take with me is this book."