Des Headland

Desmond Edmond Headland, Jr (born 21 January 1981) is an Australian rules footballer currently playing for Subiaco in the West Australian Football League and a conservative political candidate. He plays as a half-forward flanker or midfielder. Headland was selected with the first overall draft pick in the 1998 AFL Draft by the Brisbane Lions. He had a 166-game Australian Football League career, playing for Brisbane and Fremantle.

Des Headland
Personal information
Full name Desmond Edmond Headland Junior
Date of birth (1981-01-21) 21 January 1981
Original team(s) Subiaco (WAFL)
Draft 1st overall, 1998 National Draft
Brisbane Lions
Height 188 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 91 kg (201 lb)
Position(s) Forward, Midfield
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
19992002 Brisbane Lions 052 0(52)
20032010 Fremantle 114 (125)
Total 166 (177)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2010.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

Playing career

Pre-AFL Career

Headland played junior football for Karrinyup Junior Football Club. His school football was for Lockridge Senior High School where he played alongside future AFL players Garth Taylor, Brett Johnson and Dwayne Simpson. In 1997 Headland represented Western Australia (WA) at the under 16 national championships and won the best and fairest medal and was selected in the All-Australian team. In 1998 he represented WA in the AFL Under 18 Championships, made his league debut for Subiaco Football Club and won both the WAFL rising star and the Subiaco best and fairest award. He also toured Ireland with the AFL/AIS Academy side.

At the end of this outstanding season, Headland was selected by Brisbane Lions with the first selection in the 1998 AFL Draft. He was featured along with Adam Ramanauskas and Brendan Fevola in an ABC television documentary called The Draft, which followed the three players in the months before they were all drafted to the AFL.[1]

Brisbane career

Headland only played 3 games for Brisbane in 1999, making his debut in round 13 against Sydney, in which he scored 2 goals. However, he only had 3 kicks in the following game and was dropped for the next five games until being recalled in round 20. He starred in this game against his future team, kicking 3 goals in a huge win over Fremantle. 2000 saw Headland only play 2 games in the first half of the season, but he ended up playing 9 games including both of Brisbane's final round games. He wore guernsey number 19 in these first two seasons.

In 2001, Headland was given the number 1 guernsey when Richard Champion retired. After playing the first game of the season, Headland was dropped for the next two games, before being recalled and playing the remaining 19 regular season games. Poor form in the last few rounds saw him dropped for the finals series and he missed the Brisbane Lions first premiership. This enhanced speculation about his return to Perth, but following an outstanding display in the Lion's reserve premiership in the QAFL, he was retained for the 2002 season by Brisbane.

2002 started slowly for Headland, with his first game not until round 6, but the four goals he scored was an indication of what was to come. He would play all remaining games that year, and in a 15-game purple patch from round 11 to the end of the year he would kick 30 goals, average 21 possessions and poll 16 Brownlow Medal votes, including three best-on-grounds and votes in six consecutive games. This culminated in Brisbane's second premiership and unlike 2001, Headland claimed a premiership medal.

Fremantle career

At the end of 2002, Fremantle entered the trade week with only one objective, to obtain Des Headland. A complex trade including Blake Caracella, Adam McPhee and the exchanging of numerous draft picks saw Headland return to WA and join the team whose T-shirt he had worn during interviews at the 1998 draft camp (as shown in the documentary The Draft.) The expectations of the Fremantle fans were high, especially when McPhee, who was traded by Fremantle to obtain Headland, won All-Australian selection and the Bomber's best and fairest award, the Crichton Medal in 2004.

In the lead up to the 2003 AFL season Headland was chosen in an ATSIC Chairman's All-Star team that played Carlton at Marrara Oval, Darwin. The All-Star team defeated Carlton by 73 points with Headland adjudged by The Age as best on ground.[2]

2003 saw Headland poll Brownlow Medal votes in four games, including two best on ground performances. However, he failed to register a top-ten finish in the club best and fairest award, indicating that he wasn't a consistent performer. Leg injuries including an ankle injury during the Wizard Cup in 2004 and a calf strain in 2005 have limited his effectiveness and he has not been able to recapture the exceptional form that he showed at Brisbane in 2002 for any sustained period of time.

In Round 4, 2003, Headland was one of 7 indigenous players to represent Fremantle, the most ever to play in a single AFL team. The other indigenous players for Fremantle that day were Troy Cook, Jeff Farmer, Antoni Grover, Roger Hayden, Steven Koops and Dion Woods. This game also saw Fremantle score its highest ever score of 25.17 167 in a comprehensive defeat of the Kangaroos.

In Round 8, 2003 in a match between St Kilda and Fremantle, Headland was one of four players who had been number one AFL Draft selections and one of twenty first round selections.[3]


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1999 Brisbane Lions 19351191029911.
2000 Brisbane Lions 1992648247222160.
2001 Brisbane Lions 12011151475119852380.
2002 Brisbane Lions 120342429395388139541.
2003 Fremantle 112218192598934894580.80.911.
2004 Fremantle 112017923210533777730.90.511.65.316.93.93.7
2005 Fremantle 111520171666122774401.
2006 Fremantle 1120211225974333104411.10.613.03.716.75.22.1
2007 Fremantle 111725152138830173341.50.912.
2008 Fremantle 1164455308519160.
2009 Fremantle 119138993813757261.40.911.
2010 Fremantle 115723512471681.
Career 166 177 132 1825 677 2502 736 405 1.1 0.8 11.0 4.1 15.1 4.4 2.4

Return to Subiaco

After retiring from Fremantle in 2010. Headland rejoined his former WAFL team Subiaco for the 2011 WAFL season.[5][6]


On 14 April 2007, Headland was involved in an altercation with West Coast Eagles player Adam Selwood. Both appeared before the AFL Tribunal on 18 April. Headland was charged with two counts of striking Selwood, and one count of wrestling with him, while Selwood was charged with using insulting language towards Headland. On 18 April, the tribunal found Selwood not guilty of using insulting language.[7] It found Headland guilty of two of the three charges but elected not to impose a penalty.[8][9]

Headland returned to the field the following week to be one of the best players for Fremantle against Melbourne, kicking 3 goals and collecting 29 disposals.[10]

In late June 2007, Headland was involved in a fight in Northbridge with a relative, only weeks after teammates Chris Tarrant and Jeff Farmer were suspended by Fremantle for being involved in other nightclub brawls. Headland was not sanctioned by the club.[11]

Political career

Headland was selected in July 2013 as a candidate for the Palmer United Party for the Federal seat of Durack.[12] This is a conservative party formed by Australian mining businessman Clive Palmer in April 2013.

Headland announced his candidacy only one day after he had told a West Australian paper that "I've had one conversation which has sparked a bit of interest... I haven't had a big think about it or spoken to my family. There's nothing set in stone or anything yet, but who knows. I'm only a 32-year-old and still learning my way and it was just a quick phone call to say G'day."[13]


  1. Quayle, Emma (3 June 2007) Fast-forward
  2. "All-Stars hammer the Blues". The Age. Melbourne. 9 February 2003. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  3. "Pick of the picks clash in a pointer to the future". The Age. Melbourne. 16 March 2003. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  4. Des Headland's player profile at AFL Tables
  5. Hope, Shayne (1 March 2011). "Minor setback for Headland". The West Australian. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  6. "League Players". Subiaco Football Club. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  7. Witham, Jennifer (18 April 2007). "Selwood cleared of language charge". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  8. "Headland, Selwood free to play". Australian Football League. 18 April 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  9. Matthews, Bruce; Clark, Jay (24 May 2006). "Des Headland walks Free". Herald Sun. Australia. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  10. Le Grand, Chip (23 April 2007). "Headland drama sealed with kiss". The Australian. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012.
  11. "Headland latest Docker involved in off-field bother". The West Australian. 27 June 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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