117. Stephen Macpherson

Player Inductee

Clarence/Footscray, Utility, 1980-95

188 games, 153 goals for Footscray, 1982-95
Footscray VFL reserves premierships, 1988, 1994
Five representative matches for Tasmania
Coburg Coach (VFL), 1999-2000
Greenvale FC coach (Essendon District FL), 2004-2010
Greenvale EDFL premiership coach, 2004, 2007

A tough, uncompromising hard man who could play almost any role and was rarely beaten, Stephen ‘Supa’ Macpherson was a fan favourite at Footscray for more than 10 years during the 1980s and 1990s.

Born in 1964, Macpherson played junior football for Howrah before joining Clarence in 1980 as a 15-year-old. Soon after representing Tasmania at an Under 15’s National Carnival in Darwin (in which he won the award for best player and All-Australian selection), Macpherson and his brother Rod both signed ‘Form Fours’ with Footscray, and in 1981 the 16-year-old Stephen was on his way to Victoria. He spent 1981 playing U19’s and reserves football for the Bulldogs, as well as playing for Chisholm College, one of his teammates being future Australian test cricketer Tony Dodemaide. Macpherson finally broke through for his senior debut for Footscray – still aged just 17 years, 3 months – in Round 1, 1983; unfortunately it would be a day to forget for Macpherson and his teammates, as Essendon annihilated the Bulldogs by 109 points.

Over the next few seasons Macpherson became an integral part of the Footscray midfield, sharing the ground with terrific players such as Doug Hawkins, Andrew Purser and Steven Wallis. After little success in his first two seasons under Royce Hart and Ian ‘Bluey’ Hampshire, the appointment of Michael Malthouse as coach in 1984 was the catalyst for a change in fortune at the Western Oval. In Malthouse’s second season of 1985 Footscray charged into a preliminary final, and that year was also arguably Macpherson’s finest, as he gathered 400 disposals and booted 39 goals to finish third on the Bulldogs goalkicking table behind Simon Beasley and Les Bamblett. Unfortunately it was after this point that the injuries that would plague Macpherson’s career began to strike with regularity. Between 1986 and 1991, Macpherson would play only 78 of a possible 132 senior games, although on a positive note he did taste premiership success during this period, as Footscray’s reserves defeated North Melbourne by 20 points in 1988. During this period, Macpherson also took his place (involuntarily) in football folklore: on a typically wet and muddy day at the Western Oval, Michael Malthouse controversially brought Macpherson into the side as a late ‘horses-for-courses’ change at the expense of glamour full-forward Simon Beasley.

Macpherson finally managed to shake the injuries in 1992 and had a superb year, playing every game in a Bulldogs side that was at one stage premiership favourite. Sadly it was to be an ‘Indian Summer’ for Macpherson, and after only another 26 senior games in the next three years – and also a second reserves premiership in 1994 – Macpherson retired at the end of the 1995 season after 188 senior games for the red, white and blue.

Post-playing career, Macpherson turned his hand to coaching and development. After a period with the Western Jets TAC Cup team, he took on the role as senior coach of Coburg in the VFL in 1999 and 2000. From there, there was a stint as a scout for Richmond before taking on the role as senior coach with Greenvale in the Essendon District Football League (EDFL) in 2004. He led the club to senior premierships in 2004 and 2007 before stepping down at the end of 2010.