Craig Edwin Bradley (born 23 October 1963) is a former professional Australian rules footballer and first-class cricketer. He is the games record holder at Carlton in the AFL/VFL, and in elite Australian rules football (the AFL/VFL, SANFL and WAFL).
|Full name||Craig Edwin Bradley|
|Date of birth||23 October 1963|
|Place of birth||Ashford, South Australia|
|Height||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||81 kg (179 lb)|
|1981–1985||Port Adelaide (SANFL)||98 (105)|
|1986–2002||Carlton (VFL/AFL)||375 (247)|
|Representative team honours|
|1983–1999||South Australia||19 (?)|
|International team honours|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2002.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Port Adelaide (1981–1985)
Bradley made his senior football debut in 1981 as a seventeen-year-old for Port Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL), Port's third premiership in a row. At the end of 1981 Victorian Football League club Essendon approached Bradley to join them but he turned down the offer, wishing to remain in South Australia with Port Adelaide and to build on his promising cricket career.
In 1982, his second season, Bradley won Port Adelaide's Best and Fairest.
In 1984 Bradley would be selected in the Australian team to take on Ireland in the revival of the International Rules series.
In 1985 Bradley had won his third consecutive Port Adelaide best and fairest and was runner-up for the Magarey Medal.
Bradley won three Robert Reynolds Trophies as Carlton's Best & Fairest, in 1986, 1988 and 1993, as well as being a member of the 1987 and 1995 premiership sides. Bradley played with Carlton for seventeen seasons, acting as Kernahan's vice captain from 1990 until 1997, then captaining Carlton from 1998 to 2001.
In this time, Bradley also represented Australia three times in the International Rules series, including as vice-captain in 2000 and captain in 2001. He broke Bruce Doull's Carlton games record in Round 1, 2002.
In a senior career spanning 22 seasons, Bradley was renowned as one of the games tireless champions, and in particular his amazing fitness that meant he could play the physically demanding game of Australian rules football until the age of 38. For much of his career, Bradley played as an outside midfielder, rotating into the forward line during games, where his nous allowed him both to score and assist many goals through his career. In his final few seasons, Bradley spent more time acting as a loose, sweeping half-back flanker, and much of Carlton's drive forward came from his play through the wings.
Bradley's final AFL game, against Port Adelaide, was in Round 19, 2002, polling 3 Brownlow Votes at the age of 38 years and 289 days, making him the sixth-oldest player in the history of the league. His final appearance overall was in the 2002 International Rules series.
In November 2002, following Carlton's salary cap breach which lost the club valuable draft picks, Bradley had contemplated reversing his decision to retire and attempt to rebuild a club in crisis, but he eventually stood by his initial decision to retire from the game, which was made three weeks before the salary cap drama occurred.
Bradley played first-class cricket for South Australia and various Australian junior sides. After moving to Victoria to play for Carlton, he initially continued to play cricket for Victoria, although the increasing demands of football led him to retire from cricket after four first-class games.
He played grade cricket for Port Adelaide until 1987/88 (originally returning to South Australia each summer after the football season to do so), and from 1988/89 until his retirement from cricket after the 1991/92 season, he played district cricket in Victoria for the Melbourne Cricket Club. Bradley holds the distinction as the last active VFL/AFL player to win a Victorian district cricket premiership, achieving the feat in 1988/89, and had an agreement with the Carlton Football Club that district cricket finals took precedence over early season home-and-away football games if there was a clash.
In 2007, Bradley returned to Carlton as a part-time assistant coach.
Bradley's services to the game have been officially recognised several times at the highest levels. He was immediately inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2006, after the minimum three years of retirement. At Carlton, Bradley is an Official Legend of the club's Hall of Fame, and was selected on the wing in the club's Team of the Century. He was also selected on the wing in Port Adelaide's Team of the Century.
Craig Bradley is the all-time games record holder in elite Australian rules football. In total, he played 473 VFL/AFL games: 98 for Port Adelaide in the SANFL from 1981–1985 (despite missing the last eight matches of the 1983 season touring England with the Young Australia cricket team), and 375 at Carlton from 1986–2002, including 31 finals (7 for Port Adelaide and 24 for Carlton).
He holds the Carlton club games record, which was also, at the time of his retirement, the fourth-highest number of games played in the VFL/AFL behind Simon Madden (378), Kevin Bartlett (403) and Michael Tuck (426). As of 2017, he is now seventh.
He also represented South Australia nineteen times from 1983 up until 1999, the final season of State of Origin football, and played in nine international rules games for Australia, which are also considered to be senior games by the AFL.
He played nine Night Series matches for Port Adelaide, which are considered senior games by the SANFL. As such, he played 501 senior Australian football games, which is an all-time record.
Bradley also played 27 matches in Night Series competition with Carlton, but these are not counted as senior games by the AFL, as opposed to in the WAFL and SANFL.
Taking the AFL's view, Bradley's 500th game was the first International Rules test against Ireland at Croke Park in 2002. If the Carlton night matches are considered, then Bradley played 528 overall games in his career, with his 500th game being against St Kilda in Round 20, 2001, at the Docklands Stadium.
|Totals||Averages (per game)|
- These totals refer to premiership matches (home-and-away and finals matches) only.
- Rohan Connolly (4 July 1993). "Craig Bradley: shaking the tag". The Sunday Age (Sport Liftout). Melbourne. pp. 12–13.
- "Silvagni decides not to play - realfooty.com.au". www.theage.com.au.
- "VCA 1st XI Career records 1889-90 to 2014-15, A-C" (PDF). Cricket Victoria. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
- Ben Huf. "Home Ground". Victorian Premier Cricket. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- Damian Barrett (1 April 1991). "Braddles' day of pain and joy". Herald-Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne. p. 77.
- "YOUNG AUSTRALIA IN ENGLAND : JUL/SEP 1983". static.espncricinfo.com.
- "Most career games". AFL Tables. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Craig Bradley's player profile at AFL Tables
- Craig Bradley at the Carlton Football Club website
- Craig Bradley at ESPNcricinfo
- Craig Bradley's profile in Blueseum