Gather Round: Blackfriars’ AFL old scholars

As the eyes of the AFL world turn to Adelaide for the second annual Gather Round, we take a look at the Blackfriars old scholars who’ve played Australian Rules at the highest level.

With almost 1500 games across 12 clubs, four best and fairest wins, seven All-Australian appearances and four premierships, the list includes a great mix of household names and lesser-known talent, spanning more than 30 years.

Matthew Campbell (BPS’80)

Matthew Campell in his playing days.
  • Club: Brisbane
  • Games: 70
  • Goals: 28
  • Accolades: International Rules representative (1987, 1990)

Matthew Campbell made his senior VFL debut for the Brisbane Bears in their inaugural match in 1987. The wingman played 79 games for the club from 1987 and 1993.

He has been a member of the Fox Sports AFL commentary team and the spokesman for an online betting agency.

Alan Didak (BPS’00)

  • Club: Collingwood
  • Games: 218
  • Goals: 274
  • Accolades: Rising Star nominee (2002); Collingwood best and fairest (2006); All-Australian (2006, 2010); Collingwood Premiership player (2010); Collingwood Hall of Fame inductee (2017)

Alan Didak joined AFL powerhouse Collingwood after being selected with pick 3 at the 2000 draft.

He made his debut in Round 7, 2001, kicking a goal with his first disposal.

He enjoyed his best year in 2010, kicking 41 goals, earning All-Australian selection and winning a premiership with Collingwood.

He is now a consultant with Melbourne-based Multigroup Logistics.

Ben Hart (BPS’91)

  • Club: Adelaide
  • Games: 311
  • Goals: 45
  • Accolades: Adelaide Premiership player (1997, 1998); All-Australian (1992, 1993, 1999, 2002); Adelaide best and fairest (1999, 2002); AFL Mark of the Year (1996); AFL Hall of Fame inductee (2016)

Defender Ben Hart became household name after debuting for the Crows in 1992. At the time, he was the Crows’ youngest debutant. He was only 18 when he won his first All-Australian selection.

Hart was part of Adelaide’s two premierships, in 1997 and 1998, and became the first Crow to play 300 games. Injury ended his career in 2006.

Today, he is an assistant midfield coach with the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Ben Hart in Blackfriars’ inaugural Hounds guernsey.

Ben Holland (BPS’94)

  • Clubs: Richmond/Melbourne
  • Games: 125 (Richmond); 66 (Melbourne)
  • Goals: 124 (Richmond); 55 (Melbourne)
  • Accolades: AFL 200 Club member

Ben Holland was drafted by Fitzroy (now Brisbane) at pick 19 in the 1994 AFL draft, however, he opted to remain with North Adelaide in the SANFL.

At the end of the 1995 season, the Lions traded Holland to Richmond in exchange for two draft picks (16 and 32).

The key-position player made his AFL debut with Richmond in 1996. He played for the Tigers for eight seasons, before moving to Melbourne in 2004. In 1999, he placed equal fourth in Richmond’s best and fairest.

He currently works as a podiatrist in Melbourne.

Ben Holland during his Richmond days.

Nick Holland (BPS’91)

  • Club: Hawthorn
  • Games: 179
  • Goals: 239
  • Accolades: AFL Rising Star (1995); Hawthorn best and fairest (2000)

Nick Holland was recruited from North Adelaide in 1992 and made his senior debut in Round 3, 1994. Originally playing at full-back, he was switched to centre-half forward in the 1995, winning the AFL’s Rising Star award.

He was vice-captain of Hawthorn from 1999-2003 and represented Australia in the International Rules competition against Ireland. In 2000, he took home the Peter Crimmins Memorial Trophy as Hawthorn’s best and fairest.

He is currently the General Manager Legal. Risk & Integrity at Hawthorn Football Club.

Mark Jamar (BPS’01)

  • Clubs: Melbourne, Essendon
  • Games: 155 (Melbourne); 5 (Essendon)
  • Goals: 56 (Melbourne); 3 (Essendon)
  • Accolades: All-Australian (2010)

Ruckman Mark Jamar came to Blackfriars from Port Pirie. He was selected by Melbourne in the 2001 Rookie draft and went on to make his debut in Round 1, 2003. He kicked his first AFL goal against Port Adelaide in Round 2, 2003.

His best season was in 2010, when he averaged 29 hit-outs (second in the AFL), 12 disposals and three contested marks per game.

In 2016, he signed to played in the Victorian amateur league, before getting five games for Essendon as a top-up player due to the supplements scandal.

In recent years, he has worked as a ruck coach with Essendon and Collingwood and has run the Melbourne-based Jamar Group Commercial and Residential Property Services.

Oleg Markov (BPS’14)

  • Clubs: Richmond, Gold Coast, Collingwood
  • Games: 23 (Richmond); 28 (Gold Coast); 23 (Collingwood)
  • Goals: 3 (Richmond); 2 (Gold Coast); 1 (Collingwood)
  • Accolades: Collingwood Premiership player (2023)

Half-back Oleg Markov, the only Blackfriars old scholar still playing in the AFL today, enjoyed premiership success with Collingwood in 2023.

He was drafted by Richmond at number 50 (the club’s second selection) in 2015 and made his debut the following year, in Round 16.

Between 2017 and 2020, injury and form saw Markov struggle to make the senior side and, in 2021, he was traded to Gold Coast. He was delisted in 2022.

In 2023, Markov was signed by Collingwood. From his debut for the club in Round 4, he played every game of the season, including the winning Grand Final. He is contracted to play with Collingwood until the end of the 2024 season.

Oleg Markov (BPS’14) celebrates Collingwood’s Grand Final win over Brisbane. Picture: AFL Photos

Martin McKinnon (BPS’92)

  • Clubs: Adelaide, Geelong, Brisbane
  • Games 25 (Adelaide); 54 (Geelong); 7 (Brisbane)
  • Goals: 7 (Adelaide); 38 (Geelong); 5 (Brisbane)
  • Accolades: Rising Star nominee (1995)

Wingman Martin “Marty” McKinnon was Adelaide’s first ever draft pick in 1992. He made his debut for the Crows in 1994.

In 1995, he was part of the SA State of Origin side that played against a Victorian team led by Gary Ablett. (Ablett and Tony Lockett famously combined to kick 11 goals in Victoria’s dominating win.)

At the end of the 1995 season, McKinnon was traded to Geelong, where he made his name as a small forward. He would go on to finish his AFL career in Brisbane, playing 7 games for the Lions.

He is currently Director of Teaching and Learning at Prince Alfred College.

Stephen Powell (‘93)

  • Clubs: Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, St Kilda
  • Games: 30 (Western Bulldogs); 44 (Melbourne); 68 (St Kilda)
  • Goals: 21 (Western Bulldogs); 44 (Melbourne); 30 (St Kilda)
  • Accolades: Pre-season cup winner (2004)

Another old scholar from the strong 1990s era, Stephen Powell made his AFL debut with the Western Bulldogs in 1997 and played in Preliminary finals in 1997 and 1998.

He was traded to Melbourne at the end of 1999 and played in the 2000 Grand Final, kicking three goals as a half-forward. The Demons ultimately went down to St Kilda by 60 points.

In 2003, Powell moved to St Kilda, finishing third in their best and fairest that year. He retired at the end of the 2006 season, after 68 games for St Kilda.

He now works in banking.

Sean Tasker (BPS’85)

  • Club: Adelaide
  • Games: 48
  • Goals: 17

A member of the Crows inaugural 1991 side, Sean Tasker was recruited from North Adelaide and debuted for Adelaide aged 23.

Capable of playing forward and back, Tasker kicked five goals against Sydney in 1992. He finished his football career with Glenelg and Sturt in the SANFL.

Formerly a teacher, including for one term at Blackfriars in 1992, Tasker is now National Head of Education for NeuroFlex, a brain-health company that measures and monitors the impacts of head knocks using virtual reality.

Last week, he presented the trophy to the winning Houses at the Secondary Athletics Carnival.

Sean Tasker, left, at this year’s Secondary Athletics Carnival.

Boyd Woodcock (BPS’17)

  • Club: Port Adelaide
  • Games: 12
  • Goals: 8

The most-recent Blackfriars old scholar to make it to an AFL list, Boyd Woodcock debuted for Port Adelaide in Round 10, 2020. He memorably kicked what appeared to be a goal with his first kick, only to see it overturned after a video review.

Woodcock was delisted at the end of the 2019 season, but redrafted as a rookie before being delisted again at the end of 2021.

In 2022 and 2023, he played for the Gold Coast-based Southport Sharks, in the VFL.

He was named in the 2022 and 2023 VFL Team of the Year. In 2023, he finished second in Southport’s best and fairest.

At Blackfriars, Woodcock was the joint winner of the 2017 Sportsman of the Year, alongside now A-League player Carlo Armiento.

Boyd Woodcock, centre, celebrates the 2017 Intercol football win. Picture: Instagram

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