Wayne Carey with Kevin Sheedy on Thursday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
North Melbourne champion Wayne Carey admitted the Kangaroos' attitude towards Canberra had hurt the development of the game in the region, but he thought the introduction of Greater Western Sydney would turn that around.
Carey was named vice-captain in the ACT-southern NSW team of the century, announced at the Giants' inaugural grand final lunch at the Arboretum on Thursday, as part of Canberra's centenary.
Carey, from Wagga, played in two premierships, was All-Australian seven times, a member of the AFL hall of fame and captain of North Melbourne's team of the century.
AFL ACT and Southern NSW Team of the Century
Back-pocket: Barooga's Bernard Toohey played for the Cats, Bulldogs and Sydney Swans.
He was an easy choice at centre half-forward in the team announced on Thursday in a line-up dripping with talent.
There were five Canberrans in the 24-man line-up with former Sydney defender Craig Bolton, from Eastlake, named at full-back.
Current NEAFL northern conference general manager Michael Conlan (Manuka) was picked on the wing, while James Hird (Ainslie) and Alex Jesaulenko (Eastlake) formed part of the forward line containing Carey.
Allan Jeans coached Hawthorn to the 1989 Premiership. He was named coach of the ACT and Southern NSW AFL Team of the Century. Photo: Wayne Ludbey
Two-time North Melbourne premiership player Brett Allison (Belconnen) was on the bench.
None of the team are current players, with Bolton the most recent retiree.
The amount of talent being drafted out of the region has dried up in recent years.
Carey thought the 10-year deal for the Giants to play three games at Manuka Oval every season was part of the solution.
And their Canberra community camps were just as important.
He said it was something North didn't do when they played games in the nation's capital from 1998 to 2006.
''If you look at the template of what Hawthorn is doing in Launceston, they've really invested their time and they get down there and they're in the communities and I don't think we did that as well as we should've,'' Carey said.
Bolton agreed that having an AFL team with a permanent presence in Canberra was an important cog in returning the ACT and southern NSW area back to being a production line for some of the best players in the country.
He said the partnership between the ACT government and the Giants was the best thing to happen to footy in Canberra in his lifetime. Bolton said the Giants' academy also provided a clear pathway for Canberra's young talent.
''It means the kids down here have got two things, they've got the academy they can go into, a genuine pathway, and they've got the Giants players they can see on a regular basis,'' he said.
Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton said the introduction of the Canberra Raiders in 1982 had hurt the game, but he felt the strength of the local clubs would also play a role in returning the ACT to a breeding ground.
''The Raiders have done really, really well,'' he said.
''They came here in the early '80s and they really put a footprint down and they took away from Australian rules.
Allan Jeans was named coach of the team of the century, with Haydn Bunton snr captain.
TEAM OF THE CENTURY
ACT AND SOUTHERN NSW
B - Bernard Toohey (Barooga, Geelong, Sydney), Craig Bolton (Eastlake, Brisbane, Sydney), Leo Barry (Deniliquin, Sydney)
HB - Neale Daniher (Ungarie, Essendon), Gordon Strang (East Albury, Richmond), Dennis Carroll (Albury, South Melbourne/Sydney)
C - Michael Conlon (Manuka, Fitzroy), Paul Kelly (Wagga Tigers, Sydney) Shane Crawford (Finley, Hawthorn)
HF - Terry Daniher (Ungarie, South Melbourne, Essendon), Wayne Carey (North Wagga, North Melbourne, Adelaide), James Hird (Ainslie, Essendon)
F - Alex Jesaulenko (Eastlake, Carlton, St Kilda), Bill Mohr (Wagga, St Kilda), John Longmire (Corowa, North Melbourne)
R - Brian Gleeson (Berrigan, St Kilda), Brett Kirk (North Albury, Sydney), Hayden Bunton Snr (West Albury, Fitzroy)
Interchange - David Murphy (Turvey Park, Sydney), Percy Bushby (Narrandera, Essendon), Billy Brownless (Jerilderie, Geelong), Ricky Quade (Ariah Park, South Melbourne), Dean Solomon (North Broken Hill, Essendon, Fremantle), Brett Allison (Belconnen, North Melbourne, Sydney).
Coach - Allan Jeans (Finley, St Kilda, Hawthorn, Richmond)