September 2, 2021 – 1:51PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
Three premiership players and multiple former club captains headline a host of footy stars to have hailed from Whitefriars College.
The Donvale-based all-boys school does not offer sport scholarships like some of its peers around Melbourne, but it has still managed to produce some serious players over recent decades.
The school’s best team of the past 50 years features father-son duo John and Marc Murphy.
John Murphy played 246 VFL/AFL games with Fitzroy, South Melbourne and North Melbourne, kicking 374 goals.
Marc Murphy with his father John Murphy at the MCG in 2008. Picture: Ellen Smith
His football CV also included five best-and-fairest awards with Fitzroy and one with South Melbourne.
He also served five years as Fitzroy captain from 1973 to 1977.
Marc Murphy was eligible to head to Brisbane as a father-son given his father’s Fitzroy links, but instead chose to join Carlton with pick one in the 2005 national draft.
Murphy, who retired in 2021, played 300 games for the Blues, kicking 297
He was an All-Australian in 2011, was a two-time Carlton best-and-fairest and served as club captain for six seasons.
Two-time Essendon premiership player Paul Vander Haar is another Whitefriars product. Nicknamed ‘The Flying Dutchman’, Vander Haar played in the Bombers’ 1982 and 1985 flags during a career that spanned 201 games and saw him kick 278 goals.
Former Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney defender Stephen Gilham is another from the school.
John Blakey played in two premierships with North Melbourne in the nineties.
Gilham played in the Hawks’ 2008 premiership as part of a 114-game AFL career.
Two-time North Melbourne premiership player John Blakey also won a spot in the school’s best side on a halfback flank.
Blakey played 359 VFL/AFL games with Fitzroy and North Melbourne, including in the Kangaroos 1996 and 1999 flags.
Melbourne’s Christian Petracca is a former school captain of Whitefriars College. Picture: Michael Klein
Among current AFL players, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca is the standout.
Petracca was an All-Australian and Melbourne best-and-fairest in 2020 and also finished third in the Brownlow Medal that year.
He had served as captain of Whitefriars in his final year of school in 2013.
He remains still in this year’s premiership race.
Other current AFL players from Whitefriars include St Kilda’s Nick Coffield, Gold Coast’s Sam Collins, Western Bulldogs’ Patrick Lipinski and Melbourne’s Sam Weideman.
WHITEFRIARS BEST TEAM OF THE PAST 50 YEARS
B: Nick Coffield (StK), Andy Otten (Ade), Stephen Gilham (PA/HAW/GWS)
HB: Mark Bunn (Fitz/Haw), Sam Collins (Fre/GC), John Blakey (Fitz/NM)
C: Patrick Lipinski (WB), John Murphy (Fitz/Sth Mel/NM), Xavier O’Neill (WC)
HF: Mark McKenzie (PA/Car), Paul Vander Haar (Ess), Bradley Gotch (Fitz/StK)
F: Dylan Williams (PA), Sam Weideman (Melb), Thomas Schneider (Haw)
R: Ben Griffiths (Rich), Marc Murphy (Carl), Christian Petracca (Melb)
INT: Tim Finocchiaro (Geel), Matt McLelland (Fitz/Coll), Max Otten (Syd), Paul Di Giovine (WB)
Selection criteria: Any player who debuted at VFL/AFL level from 1971 onwards was considered eligible for selection. Selection was based on achievements only at VFL/AFL level and not achievements at school level or in other competitions.