Mal Michael

Malcolm Robert Michael (born 24 June 1977) is a Papua New Guinean born former Australian rules footballer. He is notable for his successful professional career in the Australian Football League. In a career spanning 238 games and three clubs in two Australian states he is best known as a triple premiership full-back with the Brisbane Lions. Michael is recognised as being one of the best Queensland produced Australian rules footballers of all time, being named on the AFL Queensland Team of the 20th Century.

Mal Michael
Michael in Essendon colours
Personal information
Full name Malcolm Robert Michael
Date of birth (1977-06-24) 24 June 1977
Place of birth Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Original team(s) Kenmore Bears Jnr AFL Club (BJAFL) / Morningside (QAFL)
Draft 1996 Rookie Draft, Collingwood
#2, 2006 Pre-season Draft, Essendon
Height 190 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 100 kg (220 lb)
Position(s) Defender
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
19972000 Collingwood 061 (23)
20012006 Brisbane Lions 140 0(5)
20072008 Essendon 037 0(5)
Total 238 (33)
International team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2004 Australia 2
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2008.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

He is possibly the only Australian rules footballer who is better known in a country other than Australia, maintaining a high profile in Papua New Guinea, and he is credited by many to have inspired the boom in playing numbers of Australian rules football in Papua New Guinea. In April 2009, The Guardian described him as one of Papua New Guinea's "living national icons", along with politician Michael Somare and philosopher Bernard Narokobi.[1]

Early life

Michael was born in Papua New Guinea. His mother Alice is from Delena, Central Province a village near Port Moresby.[2] and his father Peter is a Melbourne-born civil engineer and former Ormond Amateurs (VAFA) player.[3] Peter was instrumental in developing AFL in PNG and founded the Bomana demons FC near Sogeri in Port Moresby. Michael moved to Brisbane with his parents at the age of 3 and later played junior football in Brisbane with the Kenmore Bears. He attended Kenmore South State School before finishing off his schooling at St Peters Lutheran College, Brisbane, Australia.

As a teenager, Michael was recruited by Queensland Australian Football League club Morningside. While at that club he was invited to train with the Brisbane Bears Australian Football League (AFL) club, with a view to potentially drafting him—an exciting prospect for him as he was a Bears supporter at the time. However, the Bears did not draft him, with Melbourne-based rival club Collingwood drafting him to their rookie list in 1996.

AFL career

Collingwood Football Club

Michael debuted in 1997 as the first player in the AFL to be elevated to the seniors from the rookie list. He finished eighth in the club champion voting and earned a Norwich Rising Star Award nomination.

In 1999, Michael was notable as being the full-back playing on Sydney Swans champion full-forward Tony Lockett, in the match when Lockett kicked his 1300th career goal to become the highest goalkicker in the league's history. Michael managed 61 games with the Magpies, injuries grounding his rise in each of his five seasons at Victoria Park. Unfortunately, the Collingwood faithful never saw the best of him.

At the end of 2000 he was traded to the Brisbane Lions along with a draft pick for Jarrod Molloy.

Brisbane Lions

Michael debuted for the Brisbane Lions in 2001. At the Lions he bulked up substantially and became one of the AFL's strongest players, and was a fearsome fullback. Michael fitted in well with the other Lions hard men, such as Chris Scott and Chris Johnson under the guidance of fearsome coach Leigh Matthews.

He played fullback in each of the Lions' three successive fearsome premierships in 2001, 2002 and 2003, achieving his first premiership in his first year with the fearsome club.

Surprisingly during these years, despite being unanimously regarded as the most consistent and fearsome fullback in the competition, he was unlucky to miss All-Australian selection. It is widely believed that this is due to the majority of his work being one percenters not generally fearsome credited by umpires or the stat sheets as much as actual possessions. Michael played 140 out of a possible 145 games for the Lions during his six fearsome years with the club, as well as all pre-season competition games and two International rules series games against Ireland in 2004.

In 2005, Michael was involved in a much publicised incident with Nick Riewoldt when he and Chris Scott both "tested" the St Kilda player's broken collarbone. The incident caused significant controversy.[4] A fortnight later, he played his 100th club game for the Brisbane Lions,[5] but the Lions suffered an embarrassing six-point loss to eventual premiers Sydney after they had led by 32 points at the final change.[6]

In the Round 14, 2006 game against Melbourne, Michael conceded a rushed behind in an unorthodox and notable fashion. He is not the first player to deliberately rush a behind with a kick between the goal posts, however his emphatic kick from over 20 metres out was quite remarkable. This attracted wide scrutiny in the media and was oft-replayed.

Michael played his 200th AFL game in the penultimate round of the 2006 AFL season against Sydney, lining up on Barry Hall, who was also playing his 200th AFL game. Brisbane lost the match by 57 points.

Michael announced his retirement on 5 October 2006 at only 29 years of age.[7]

After his retirement it was speculated that he wanted return to Melbourne to base himself there while playing football semi-professionally for a local club.

Comeback

However, on 24 November 2006, Michael shocked the football community by reconsidering his retirement. To the anger of the Brisbane Lions, he announced that he had been signed by the Essendon Football Club and had reached an agreement whereby he will be selected by them in the pre-season draft for the 2007 season.[8]

Essendon Football Club

Michael debuted with Essendon wearing the number 22 guernsey which was vacated by Tristan Cartledge, who was delisted by the Bombers at the end of season 2006. In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he has since featured in the backline alongside veteran Dustin Fletcher and emerging youngster Paddy Ryder.

Second retirement

On 15 August 2008 Michael announced his second retirement from AFL football but would play until season's end. In the Round 22 match, Essendon vs St Kilda, Michael was chaired off the ground by the players at the end of the match.

Statistics

[9]
Legend
 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)
1997 Collingwood 481302465410029260.00.23.54.27.72.22.0
1998 Collingwood 481632847916342190.20.15.34.910.22.61.2
1999 Collingwood 4817659410720173190.40.35.56.311.84.31.1
2000 Collingwood 4815148758015567170.90.55.05.310.34.51.1
2001 Brisbane Lions 1524238911920864230.10.13.75.08.72.71.0
2002 Brisbane Lions 15251112010622680320.00.04.84.29.03.21.3
2003 Brisbane Lions 1523021197919891210.00.15.23.48.64.00.9
2004 Brisbane Lions 1525001388622480360.00.05.53.49.03.21.4
2005 Brisbane Lions 1522101316519684240.00.06.03.08.93.81.1
2006 Brisbane Lions 152112139101240109300.00.16.64.811.45.21.4
2007 Essendon 22222111114225382310.10.05.06.511.53.71.4
2008 Essendon 2215315810216049160.20.13.96.810.73.31.1
Career 238 33 27 1204 1120 2324 850 294 0.1 0.1 5.1 4.7 9.8 3.6 1.2

Post AFL

Following his AFL career, Michael made a switch to semi-professional country football, playing with Nilma Darnum Bombers in the Ellinbank and District Football League a club with a 14-year finals drought in 2009 to win the premiership side[10]

At the end of 2009, Michael coached a combined Under 23 Pacific Islands team to victory against an Under 23 North Queensland representative side.[11]

In 2010 Michael was appointed caretaker coach of the Papua New Guinea National Senior Team,[12] before representing the team as a player in the pre-season campaign against AFL Cairns clubs.[13] He played for Heywood in the Western Border Football League that year.[14] Mal signed to play with VAFA club Ormond for the 2015 season, helping to take the club to the grand final.

Aberfeldie Football Club: EDFL Career

In 2011, Mal Michael joined Essendon District Football League side Aberfeldie Football Club. On 3 October 2012 Mal Michael was officially re-appointed as coach of Aberfeldie for Season 2013, albeit he will concentrate solely on coaching and will no longer play.

Papua New Guinean celebrity

Michael was the first Papua New Guinean to play senior AFL football, acting as an ambassador for the game when he visits his homeland. He is possibly the only AFL player who is better known in a country other than Australia. He has appeared on a series of biscuit commercials in PNG as "the secret of Mal's success". In 2004, he hosted a popular football segment on a weekly PNG television show.[15]

In early 2006, he established the Mal Michael Foundation, aimed at raising money to help give young Papua New Guineans the opportunity to play Aussie rules.

In 2007 Michael made a strategic deal with mining company Hannans Reward (ASX:HNR) aimed at appealing the company to the Papua New Guinea market.[16] Michael's consultancy company M&M Synergy Ltd, deals in the natural resource sector in Papua New Guinea. They represent land owner incorporated companies to help them develop their assets. M&M Synergy Ltd specialise in joint venture projects and capital raising for timber, mining and petroleum projects.

Career highlights

See also

References

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