People often ask me, who was the King of the Duds when it comes to AFL. Could it be Port Adelaide's Matthew Westoff? Romano Negri? Could it be someone like David Gallagher, who was a dud at two clubs? Or someone else? Well, to that I say no, because those duds played the game at AFL level - even duds like Adam Saliba and Jim West played at least one game. I hear you utter names like Trevor Clisby, who never played a game despite being on an AFL list, but he was only ever drafted by one club.
The King of all Duds has to surely be this guy - Darren Bartsch. You may rightly ask who. Bartsch was drafted by West Coast Eagles, but he stayed in Adelaide, conversely David Hynes, one of the best ruckmen that Port Adelaide produced in the 1980s, went over to the Eagles at the same time that Bartsch was drafted to be rewarded with a premiership medallion. If, as is claimed, that grand finals are won and lost in the ruck, then Hynes was a better than decent pick-up for the Eagles (as an aside, if anyone suggests that Hynes was a dud, I'll happily wander over and basch some sense into your head). However Bartsch was delisted without playing a game for the Eagles. Geelong then picked him up, but he again stayed in Adelaide and never played a game for Geelong - you can see the pattern developing by now. The Adelaide Crows then placed him on their inaugural playing list, which seemed to be a perfect fit - Bartsch could remain in Adelaide and not have to worry about travelling to play and train. Oddly enough he didn't get a game there either and was duly delisted at the end of 1991. Brisbane then drafted him in 1992, but again he stayed in Adelaide, never played a game and was delisted. Essendon then drafted him in 1993, this time he travelled to Melbourne on Thursdays to train and play, returning to Adelaide on Sundays, much to Kevin Sheedy's amusement, but never played a senior game and was delisted. He did star in the reserves though, for what it's worth.
By that stage he joined Port Adelaide with the view of getting onto the Power's list, but that never happened because he did his back. Disillusioned with a system that had treated him so cruelly, he gave up the game and retired to become an off-field success. If you lost count I'll bring you back up to speed - five clubs drafted Darren and he failed to play a single AFL game. It's a shame that Port didn't pick him up as that'd have made it an even six.
He now holds the dubious all time record of being drafted and never playing at AFL level, a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten, as these days a player gets two chances at the most. Ladies, gentlemen and ships at sea, I'd like you to meet Darren Bartsch - KING DUD.
The above text comes from an introduction that I gave at a function to auction off Bartsch's many never worn pristine condition AFL jumpers. I am available to introduce anyone at a function, for a reasonable price - just email and ask.