E. J. Whitten Legends Game
EJ Whitten Legends Game - Victoria.svg
Victoria
EJ Whitten Legends Game - All Stars.svg
All Stars
SportAustralian rules football
TypeCharity event
First meeting1996
Latest meeting2019
BroadcastersFooty on Nine (2021–present)
StadiumsDocklands Stadium (2003–2017)
Adelaide Oval (2018)
AAMI Park (2019)
Statistics
Most winsVictoria (12)
Largest victoryAll Stars – 24 points (2015)
Largest goal scoringVictoria, All Stars – 275 points (2019)
Longest win streakVictoria – 3 games (2012–2014)
Current win streakVictoria – 1 game (2019)

The E. J. Whitten Legends Game is an annual charity Australian rules football all-star game where retired star players are reunited, along with selected non-footballing celebrities, in a State of Origin interstate game between Victoria and the All Stars. The game has been contested almost annually since 1996.

History

E. J. "Ted" Whitten, a former Footscray Football Club player who died of prostate cancer in 1995, was regarded as one of the greatest-ever players of the game. He was also passionate about State of Origin football. With his enthusiasm and ability to keep in the media spotlight, Ted had kept State of Origin going for many years, and his emotional farewell at the Victoria vs South Australia game at the MCG in 1995 has persisted as an enduring symbol of not only State of Origin passion but Australian rules football in general. Shortly after his death, the concept was brought into question, and the last such game was played in 1999.

When he died, his son, Ted Whitten Jr., launched a foundation for research into prostate cancer, and the Legends Game raises money for the foundation. So far, almost a million dollars have been raised for the E. J. Whitten Foundation.[1]

The first-ever Legends Match was played at the Western Oval, home of the Footscray/Western Bulldogs, EJ Whitten's club. Most of the games have been televised free-to-air in Victoria and South Australia. Due to popularity of the event, later games were moved to bigger venues. Since 2003, the game has been held at Docklands Stadium.

In February 2016, it was announced that the Seven Network had secured the rights to televise this match for the next five years; in addition, the match was moved to the football-free weekend between the final round of the premiership season and the first week of the finals series.[2][3]

In 2018, the match was played at Adelaide Oval. This was the first game played in Adelaide since 1999.[4]

In 2019, the match was contested under the AFLX format – a high scoring format played on a rugby-sized field – and was played at AAMI Park in Melbourne.[5]

The match was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights

The game itself is a tongue-in-cheek affair, with games often involving non-football-related celebrities such as the comedy duo Hamish & Andy, the comedian Russell Gilbert, and the fictional character Bryan "Strauchanie" Strauchan, played by Peter Helliar. The game is frequently manipulated by the players, timekeepers, and field umpires in order to make for an exciting conclusion. Because of this, the average winning margin is only 7 points, including 5 draws.

The series has featured many memorable highlights over the years, including Stauchanie's various antics, usually involving staging for a free kick;[6] a 75-metre barrel from Jimmy Bartel that resulted in a 10-point super goal;[7] Jonathan Brown kicking a difficult pocket goal after the siren due to the umpire "not hearing the siren";[8] Anthony Rocca turning back the clock with a massive torpedo goal from inside the centre square;[9] Russell Gilbert changing his guernsey to the opposite team's late in the game to score a goal for the other team (which became a running gag);[10] Derek Kickett kicking the ball over his head from the right forward pocket for an unlikely goal;[11] and Craig Hutchison's so-called "greatest goal in AFL history" in 2011 that involved selling candy to a mooning Ryan Fitzgerald before kicking a banana goal from nearly 40 metres out, which has since garnered more than 1.8 million views on YouTube alone.[12]

Match results

Year Venue Scores Attendance
Victoria All-Stars Winner Margin (points)
1996 Whitten Oval, Footscray 10.13 (73) 13.9 (87) All Stars 14
1997 Whitten Oval, Footscray 10.11 (71) 7.10 (51) Victoria 19
1998 Whitten Oval, Footscray 8.6 (54) 7.10 (52) Victoria 2
1999 Adelaide Oval, Adelaide 7.12 (54) 8.8 (56) All Stars 2
2000 Shell Stadium, Geelong 6.2 (38) 5.8 (38) Draw 0
2001 Optus Oval, Melbourne 6.11 (47) 7.5 (47) Draw — All Stars 0, won by goal kickoff
2002 Optus Oval, Melbourne 10.3 (63) 10.8 (68) All Stars 5
2003 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 1.10.7 (76) 3.6.12 (75) Victoria 1 18,611
2004 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 3.7.7 (76) 1.12.4 (85) All Stars 9 18,301
2005 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 3.9.6 (87) 0.10.9 (69) Victoria 18 13,000 (approx.)
2006 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 1.12.7 (88) 5.5.13 (88) Draw — Victoria 0, won by goal kickoff (0.3.1 to 0.2.2) 13,000 (approx.)
2007 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 1.9.7 (70) 0.13.7 (85) All Stars 15 12,897[13]
2008 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 1.10.9 (78) 0.12.8 (80) All Stars 2 24,452[14]
2009 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 0.13.9 (87) 0.11.6 (72) Victoria 15 20,883
2010 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 0.12.12 (84) 2.11.7 (91) All Stars 7 25,347
2011 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 4.12.3 (111) 2.13.7 (109) Victoria 2 25,086
2012[15] Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 1.15.3 (102) 2.12.6 (96) Victoria 6 26,221
2013 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 1.11.10 (85) 0.12.7 (79) Victoria 6 24,087
2014 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 0.15.6 (96) 2.10.10 (88) Victoria 8 27,800
2015 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 0.11.5 (71) 2.11.11 (95) All Stars 24 26,309
2016 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 0.21.9 (135) 2.17.15 (135) Draw — Victoria 0, won by goal kickoff (3.0 to 1.1) 18,074
2017 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 4.19.6 (156) 0.24.11 (155) Victoria 1 13,106
2018 Adelaide Oval, Adelaide 2.12.7 (97) 1.15.10 (109) All Stars 12 8,000
2019 AAMI Park, Melbourne 33.23 (275) 31.17 (275) Draw — Victoria 0, won by goal kickoff (3.0 to 2.0) 6,000

Wins: All Stars: 11, Victoria: 12, Draws: 1 (4 drawn at the final siren, of which 3 were decided by kick-offs)

Biggest Win: All Stars by 24 points in 2015.

Highest Score: All stars and Victoria (275), both in 2019.

Lowest Score: All Stars and Victoria (38), both in the drawn 2000 match.

Most Man of the Matches: John Platten 2 (All Stars), Matthew Lloyd 2 (Victoria)

References

  1. ^ "EJ Whitten Legends Game forced to be canned again as Hall of Fame details emerge". Fox Sports. 4 August 2021. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  2. ^ Guthrie, Ben (16 February 2016). "Channel Seven, AFL unite to broadcast EJ Whitten Legends Game". Australian Football League. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  3. ^ X, Mr (31 August 2016). "EJ Whitten Legends Game teams announced" (PDF). Australian Football League. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  4. ^ Gaskin, Lee (31 August 2018). "All Stars get revenge in legendary style". AFL Media. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Get ready for 'EJX': Legends game gets new format and new home". Australian Football League. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  6. ^ AFL - EJ Whitten Legends Game No.1: Strauchanie goals | Facebook, retrieved 17 September 2021
  7. ^ BEST AND FUNNIEST MOMENTS - AFL EJ Whitten Matches, retrieved 17 September 2021
  8. ^ BEST AND FUNNIEST MOMENTS - AFL EJ Whitten Matches, retrieved 17 September 2021
  9. ^ EJ Whitten Foundation - E.J. Legends Game Memorable Moments No. 3 - A. Rocca Torp | Facebook, retrieved 17 September 2021
  10. ^ Russell Gilbert EJ Legends game 2015, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 17 September 2021
  11. ^ BEST AND FUNNIEST MOMENTS - AFL EJ Whitten Matches, retrieved 17 September 2021
  12. ^ GREATEST GOAL IN AFL HISTORY, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 17 September 2021
  13. ^ EJ Whitten Legends Game : EJ Whittens Legend Game Archived 15 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Record Breaking Crowd at the Ray White EJ Whitten Legends Game". Archived from the original on 6 July 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  15. ^ Fevola lights up Legends game | AFL | Fox Sports