Ben Cousins, son of Perth and Geelong legend Bryan, makes our list of the best father-son picks
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Forget GWS, who have the first two picks in this year's draft, or the Demons, who have Jack Viney and picks three, four and 13 to play with. The big winners come 22 November will be the club that trains at Windy Hill.
While Essendon's draft day doesn't begin until pick 10, the Bombers will be using that selection to recruit a 201cm, 90kg power forward who may well be the most talented prospect in years.
"Potentially he could be one of the best players to ever go through the TAC Cup in the 21 years … it's been going," says long-time talent spotter, Ian Kyte, "and that's putting him up against people like [Chris] Judd, [Tom] Scully [and Trent] Cotchin."
So why won't Joe Daniher be going to GWS, who have pick number one? The answer, of course, is Anthony Daniher, Joe's ex-Bomber dad. The father-son rule may date all the way back to the 1940s, but it still manages to unearth fresh treasures every year.
Here, in reverse order, is a list that young Joe may be joining one day: the best father-son picks of all time.
6. Dustin Fletcher
Ken Fletcher was raised in the suburb of Essendon, next door to two Essendon footballers. He went to Essendon High School and now coaches Essendon Grammar. During that time, he also managed to play 264 games for the Bombers as a wingman – and then give the club one of its all-time greats. Dustin was the youngest of the Baby Bombers, actually winning the 1993 premiership while he was still at school, and today, some 365 games later, the gangly full-back is still going strong. His long, 'telescopic' arms are still capable of spoiling the most seemingly safe mark; and his legs can still kick a torpie loooooooooong.
5. Ben Cousins
If Bryan Cousins is at all famous these days, it's for being a lovely dad. Time and time again, we've seen him publicly stand by his wayward son, as Ben battles the horrors of drug addiction. But back in the 1970s, Bryan was best known as a pacy rover who clocked up 238 games at Perth Football Club, plus a handful of games at Geelong. Snatched from under the noses of Fremantle and Geelong - thanks to a form of the rule that's long since changed - Ben clocked up all sorts of awards during his time at West Coast, along with, of course, a premiership. The six-time All-Australian, four-time best and fairest, Norwich Rising Star and 2005 Brownlow Medallist was at arguably the peak of his powers when drugs derailed his career in 2006.
4. Jonathan Brown
It's hard to imagine that burly Jonathan Brown was once a small child, but, according to scientists, he must have been. In 1980s Warrnambool, the big Brown in town was Brian, a back pocket who struggled with injuries but still managed to string together 51 games for Fitzroy. Passing his half-century proved crucial a few decades later, as it allowed the new Fitzroy to recruit his son. And what a recruit he was. With three premierships, three best and fairests, two All-Australians and a Coleman, Brisbane's captain and centre half-forward has been reminding people of Wayne Carey for well over 12 years.
3. Matthew Scarlett
It's a good thing that Matthew Scarlett's career didn't start until 1998 and didn't really get going until the year 2000. Otherwise, we'd still be arguing about who should have been named the Fullback of the Century, the Geelong champ or Steve Silvagni. Freshly retired after three premierships, six All-Australians and 284 games with Geelong, Scarlo will be best-remembered for changing the way full-backs play with his dashing, creative runs out of defence. But look in the history books, and you'll find that John Scarlett's 212 games at full-back with Geelong and South Melbourne were "frequently eye-catching in the extreme … His careering runs out of the backline carrying the ball … were as spectacularly effective as any."
2. Gary Ablett Jr
It was hard to not feel a little sorry for Gary Ablett Jr in 2002, when he came to Kardinia Park as a father-son pick. How could any son – scratch that, how could anyone – not suffer by comparison with that high-flying superstar of the '80s, who some say was the best footballer to ever pull on a boot? Well, a few people now think that Garry Ablett Sr isn't even the best footballer in his own family. After a so-so start in the forward pocket, Gary Jr moved to the midfield in 2007 and has been absolutely scintillating ever since. With six consecutive All Australians, a record four AFLPA MVP awards, four best and fairests, two premierships and a Brownlow, the little master is growing in stature with every single year.
1. Ron Barassi
This list would be incomplete without Ronald Dale Barassi. In fact, it wouldn't even exist. The son of Ronald Snr, a Melbourne premiership rover who was killed during World War II, the legendary midfielder managed to make history before he'd even played a game. While the zoning laws of the day meant that he could only be recruited by Collingwood or Carlton, the teenage Barassi was so determined to be a Demon that he successfully lobbied for a father-son rule. Good news on the whole for Melbourne, who proceeded to snap up six premierships over the next 10 years. Equally successful as a coach, Barassi was the AFL Hall of Fame's first official Legend and the only son worthy of being No.1.
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