Happy 50th birthday to David Rhys-Jones today!
From the Blueseum:
Career : 1985-1992
Debut : Round 1, 1985 vs Footscray, aged 22 years, 287 days
Carlton Player No. 923
Games : 106
Goals : 73
Last Game : Round 24, 1992 vs West Coast, aged 30 years, 75 days
Guernsey No. 26
Height : 188cm
Weight : 73kg
DOB: 16 June, 1962
Premiership Player: 1987
Norm Smith Medal: 1987
Superbly skilled, fiery, volatile - these are all apt descriptions of the enigmatic David Rhys-Jones. Originally from Oakleigh Districts, Rhys-Jones was signed by South Melbourne as an 18 year-old and made his debut for them in 1980. At 188 cm and 73 kg, he quickly established himself as one of the game's tallest and best wingmen. He had pace, balance and wonderful aerial skills - but his short fuse soon had him regularly before the tribunal, and he was not popular with opposition supporters.
Rhys-Jones served the Swans with distinction from 1980 to 1981 (South Melbourne), and 1982 to 1984 (Sydney Swans). He was a crowd favourite with his fierce desire to win any contest he was in. During this time, he played 76 games and booted 39 goals for the Swans.
When South Melbourne were transplanted to Sydney in the early eighties, Rhys-Jones was one of a handful of Swans who asked for a clearance. Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that "Reese" was on his way to Princes Park for the 1985 season. The news was not greeted warmly by many Blues' supporters, and Rhys-Jones struggled for wide acceptance in his first two seasons - especially when some brilliant games were indispersed with continued suspensions.
All that changed however, on Grand Final day in 1987. Carlton coach Robert Walls created huge surprise early by assigning Rhys-Jones to Hawthorn's trump card - their champion centre half-forward Dermott Brereton. The Hawks' star was 2 cm shorter than Jones, 19 kg heavier, and a proven big match performer - but Rhys-Jones played superb, disciplined football all day and Brereton was hardly sighted. Carlton won its 15th Premiership by 33 points. Rhys-Jones won the Norm Smith Medal and the plaudits (at last) of every Carlton fan.
"Reese" went on to play 106 games and score 73 goals for the Blues in a much-interrupted career from 1985 to 1992. It's a pity that his outstanding natural ability was overshadowed by the fact that he was reported more times in his career than any other VFL/AFL player.
Once retired from the AFL scene, Rhys-Jones headed to Tasmania to coach TFL Club North Launceston from 1993 to 1995, in his last season he took Nth Launceston to a premiership. Rhys-Jones took on the role as playing coach for 'The Robins'. Rhys-Jones also later coached VFL team Frankston from 1996 to 1998. Rhys-Jones would also later coach DVFL team Heidelberg in 2001. Rhys-Jones entered the world of reality TV when he coached WRFL Second Division team the Hammerheads during the 2002 season.
In later years Rhys-Jones would become a respected commentator for the ABC covering VFL games.