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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 (representing the rest of Australia).

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
BroadcastersSeven Network, Fox Footy (2016–)
StadiumsDocklands Stadium (2003–17)
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 (2012–14)
Current win streakVictoria – 1 game (2019)

HistoryEdit

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 will long be remembered as a symbol of State of Origin passion. 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 Jnr, launched a foundation for research into prostate cancer, and the Legends Game raises money for the foundation. So far, more than $750,000 has been raised for the E. J. Whitten Foundation.

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. And since 2003 the game has been held at Etihad Stadium (formerly known as Telstra Dome).

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.[1][2]

In 2018, the match was played at Adelaide Oval. This was the first game played in Adelaide since 1999.[3]

In 2019, the match will be contested under the AFLX format and played at AAMI Park in Melbourne.[4]

MatchesEdit

Match resultsEdit

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[5]
2008 Telstra Dome, Melbourne 1.10.9 (78) 0.12.8 (80) All Stars 2 24,452[6]
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) All Stars 2 25,086
2012[7] 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
Timeline of results
AS
V
AS
Draw
AS
V
AS
V
AS
V
AS
V
AS
V
AS
V
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020

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)

2005Edit

2005's game was notable for a sensational goal scored by former Essendon and Sydney star Derek Kickett.

Adding comedy to the event were comedians Peter Rowsthorn and Russell Gilbert, who made regular appearances in games despite their obvious lack of skill.

2006Edit

The 2006 event was held on 14 June at the Telstra Dome. Among the celebrity guests was Tasmanian Todd Russell, one of the miners rescued in the Beaconsfield mine collapse. He did not play in the match though, because he still had injuries from the accident.

The Victorian side was coached by Danny Frawley, whilst the All-Stars were coached by Wayne Carey and guest Todd Russell.

Speckies were taken by Victoria's Dermott Brereton and All-Star Adrian Fletcher.

Dermott Brereton dished out rough play on former Hawthorn teammate John Platten, including an illegal elbow to Platten's head whilst the rover attempted to tackle and an illegal bump behind play.

A male streaker was arrested by security guards in the third quarter.

Guest appearances included comedians Peter Rowsthorn and Russell Gilbert and legendary Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League full-forward Simon Goosey.

The shootout at the end only featured 4 kickers per side, unlike the 5 stated by commentators.

2008Edit

 
Hamish Blake (centre) and Andy Lee (right) were celebrity players in the 2008 match.

2008's game was held on 1 July 2008 at the Telstra Dome. Celebrity players included radio comedy duo Hamish & Andy, with Hamish playing for the All Stars and Andy playing for Victoria.[8] Andy managed to score 2 goals, while Hamish scored a spectacular goal, shaving the ball off the outside of his boot to trickle in for a goal. Bryan Strauchan made his second appearance for Victoria and kicked 3 goals. Underbelly star Rodger Corser made his debut for Victoria. Chris Connolly coached the Victorian team and Neale Daniher coached of the All Stars.

Darryl White, the former Brisbane defender, won the best on ground award.

2009Edit

2009 EJ Whitten Legends Game
Tuesday, 30 June (7:45 pm) Victoria def. All-Stars Etihad Stadium (crowd: 20,888)
0.2.3 (15)
0.4.6 (30)
0.7.7 (49)
 0.13.9 (87)
Q1
Q2
Q3
 Final
0.3.2 (20)
0.6.4 (40)
0.10.5 (65)
 0.11.6 (72)
Umpires: Ray White
Television broadcast: Nine Network
Strauchan 3, Martyn 2, Murphy 2, Johns 2, Lee Goals Blake 2, Modra 2, Hudson, Raftery
Strauchan, Lee, Loewe Best Blake, Phil Matera, Raftery
Strauchan (ankle) Injuries nil
Victorian team[9]
B: Paul Dimattina Mick Martyn Joel Smith
HB: Ang Christou Glenn Archer (c) Michael Braun
C: Damien Peverill Chris Johnson Paul Licuria
HF: Andrew Thompson Stewart Loewe Adam Ramanauskas
F: Austinn Jones Andy Lee Ben Dixon
Foll: John Barnes Anthony Koutoufides Tony Liberatore
Int: Damian Monkhorst Wayne Schwass Mark Mercuri
Anthony Rock Justin Murphy Joe Misiti
Mark Graham Bryan Strauchan Vince Colosimo
Les Hill
Coach: Chris Connolly (Assistant coach: Andrew Bews)
Runners: Joshua Gibson, Dr. Peter Larkins
Team
manager:
Noel Moore
The All Stars team[9]
B: Martin Pike Mal Michael Paul Barnard
HB: Craig McRae Shane Wakelin Michael McLean
C: Peter Matera Sam Gibson (c) Mark Ricciuto
HF: Richie Vandenberg Nick Holland Ronnie Burns
F: Phil Matera Tony Modra Troy Luff
Foll: Ben Holland Darryl White Brodie Holland
Int: Richard Champion Damien Oliver Hamish Blake
Paul Hudson Marcus Seecamp Dale Kickett
Shaun Smith Scott Cummings Blair McDonough
Adrian Raftery
Coach: Neil Balme (Assistant coaches: Terry Daniher, Mark Kleiman)
Runners: Nathan Brown, Russell Gilbert
Team
manager:
Russell Masterton

2010Edit

Man of the match was Sam Newman, who kicked four goals despite playing only for a quarter of the playing time. Bryan Strauchan, Damian Monkhorst, Tony Modra and jockey Craig Newitt also scored well. During the last quarter it was picked up on television Nathan Brown (a runner for the Victorian team) exchanging words to Nathan Thompson and stated that it was a "A legends game, mate. You shouldn't be playing;" however, nothing became of the exchange.

2011Edit

The game ended in controversy after Ryan "Fitzy" Fitzgerald kicked a goal on the siren. However, Garry Lyon, the judge of the final score, deemed that the goal had been kicked after the siren had blown, and therefore was discounted. This decision was made in direct contradiction to the laws of the AFL, which state that the match is over when any of the field umpires hear the siren. There was also much controversy about an All Stars mark directly in the goal-square that was not awarded by the umpire. After original thoughts that the All Stars had won, there was then a claim that there would be a shoot-out before finally it was announced that Victoria had won the match. The All-stars' Brodie Holland, formerly of Fremantle and Collingwood, had won Man of the Match. In the final minutes of the match, Victorian runner Shane Crawford was "substituted" on to the ground, and coach Sam Newman put 24 players on the ground, instead of the legal 18. It is speculated that the All Stars had as many as 22 players on the ground, although there was no coverage of their interchange bench, so this was not confirmed.

2015Edit

2017Edit

The 2017 E.J. Whitten Legends game would be a record-breaking game with a controversial finish; due to new quarter-time formats, scores were higher than past games, with the 156–155 result being the highest score by a single team, as well as the biggest match aggregate. With Victoria trailing by 5 points with seconds left, Adam Yze attempted a running banana kick, with his kick going across the face of the goal and being marked by Jonathan Brown as the siren sounded; however, Brown's mark clearly came after the siren but was nonetheless was paid by the umpire. Brown would kick a drop punt from the pocket to win the game for Victoria 156–155. Brown was also awarded Man of the Match for his 7-goal performance, one of which being a super goal.[11]

The game was also noted as not featuring any celebrities, just former players.

2018Edit

2018 EJ Whitten Legends Game
Friday, 31 August (7:30 pm) All Stars def. Victoria Adelaide Oval (crowd: 8,000) Report
1.4.4 (37)
1.6.5 (50)
1.11.7 (82)
 1.15.10 (109)
Q1
Q2
Q3
 Final
1.4.2 (35)
1.8.5 (62)
1.11.6 (81)
 2.12.7 (97)
EJ Whitten Medal: Andrew Jarman (All Stars)
Television broadcast: Seven Network, Fox Footy
Motlop Super Goals C. Johnson, Smith
Modra 4, Jarman 2, Motlop 2, Ebert, Lake, White, Staker, Mooney, McLeod, McGrath Goals Smith 3, Lappin 3, B. Johnson 2, Brown, Bolton, Liberatore, Giansiracusa
  • This was only the second match to be held in Adelaide, and the first since 1999. The match was thus only the second designated home game for the All Stars.[3]

2019Edit

In 2019 the series returned to Melbourne, and saw a significant change to the game's format. Departing from the traditional Australian rules football format, the game was played at AAMI Park — a stadium with a rectangular surface — in a variation of the AFLX format used for the AFL pre-season competition of the same name. Dubbed 'EJX', the format saw a reduction in the length of quarters to 15 minutes, with super goals increased from 9 to 10-points.[4] Power players were substituted on for the final 5 minutes of each quarter, where each of their score efforts were worth double.[12]

As with the previous two matches, both teams largely featured former AFL footballers. However, both teams substituted two celebrities as their 'power players' — Steve Price and Jason Richardson for Victoria, and Byron Cooke and Anthony Lehmann for the All Stars.[12] Cooke, a radio personality from 101.9 The Fox's Fifi, Fev & Byron breakfast show, was notable for a number of errors, including missing a goal from a distance of only one metre.[13]

The match was the highest scoring in the history of the competition, eclipsing the record set in 2017. With scores locked at 275-all at the end of regular time, the match was decided with a goal kick shootout.[14] Victoria defeated the All Stars 3 goals to 2 in the shoot out, with Matthew Richardson missing the final crucial kick that would have equalised the contest.

The game was met with mixed reviews. The Roar declared it a "total circus", "bordering on embarrassment", and accusing the AFL of "no longer [taking] the game seriously",[15] while the Herald Sun cited social media reaction from viewers, asking "do we all need to lighten up a bit?".[16] Attendance was down significantly on 2017's figures, with a reported crowd figure of only 6,000.[17] Television ratings, however, increased marginally on 2018 figures for the Seven Network, with an average of 403,000 viewers watching in the 5 capital cities.[18] Additionally, an average of 82,000 viewers nationally watched the game on Fox Footy,[18] down from 98,000 in 2018.[19]

2019 EJ Whitten Legends Game
Friday, 30 August (8:00 pm) Victoria def. All Stars AAMI Park (crowd: 6,000) Report
60
138
183
275
293
Q1
Q2
Q3
Q4
Final
48
131
186
275
287
EJ Whitten Medal: Stephen Milne (Victoria)
Television broadcast: Seven Network, Fox Footy
Richardson 3, Cloke 3, Price Power Goals Richardson 4, Krakouer 3, Lehmann 2
Bartel 2, Brown Super Goals Akermanis, Krakouer, Ricciuto
Milne 7, Fevola 3, Richardson 3, Brown 2, Johnson 2, Ling 2, Crowley, Dixon, Cloke, Koutoufides Goals Richardson 6, Wanganeen 4, Cummings 4, Akermanis 2, Koschitzke 2, Krakouer, Lehmann
Milne, Crowley, Harvey, Koutoufides, Harford Best Richardson, Wanganeen, Krakouer, Cummings, McLeod

TeamsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Guthrie, Ben (16 February 2016). "Channel Seven, AFL unite to broadcast EJ Whitten Legends Game". Australian Football League. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  2. ^ X, Mr (31 August 2016). "EJ Whitten Legends Game teams announced" (PDF). Australian Football League. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b Gaskin, Lee (31 August 2018). "All Stars get revenge in legendary style". AFL Media. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Get ready for 'EJX': Legends game gets new format and new home". Australian Football League. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  5. ^ EJ Whitten Legends Game : EJ Whittens Legend Game Archived 15 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Record Breaking Crowd at the Ray White EJ Whitten Legends Game". Archived from the original on 6 July 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  7. ^ Fevola lights up Legends game | AFL | Fox Sports
  8. ^ Hamish and Andy seek survival for E.J. Whitten Game
  9. ^ a b de Kretser, Chris; Timms, Daryl (30 June 2009), "The legend lives on", Herald Sun, p. 65
  10. ^ a b "Player List 2015" Archived 14 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine | Retrieved on 13 July 2015
  11. ^ "All the big moments from the EJ Whitten Legends Match, with Jonathan Brown kicking the matchwinner". Fox Sports. 1 September 2017.
  12. ^ a b "E.J. Whitten Legends Game 2019 guide: Start time, how to watch, players, what is EJX?". Fox Sports. 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  13. ^ "E.J. Whitten Legends Game 2019: Radio personality Byron Cooke has the worst five minutes of footy you'll ever see". Fox Sports. 30 August 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  14. ^ AFL [@AFL] (30 August 2019). "It's all square! Instead of a boundary count, there will be a shoot out to decide the winner. #EJWhittenLegendsGame" (Tweet). Retrieved 30 August 2019 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ Cohen, Marnie (2 September 2019). "The EJ Whitten game makes a mockery of a legend". The Roar. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  16. ^ Broad, Ben (30 August 2019). "Fans savage EJ Whitten Legends match on social media". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5 September 2019 – via The West Australian.
  17. ^ "EJ Whitten Legends Game". Austadiums. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  18. ^ a b Knox, David (31 August 2019). "Friday 30 August 2019". TV Tonight. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  19. ^ Knox, David (1 September 2018). "Friday 31 August 2018". TV Tonight. Retrieved 5 September 2019.

External linksEdit