128. Daryn Cresswell

Player Inductee

Glenorchy/North Hobart/Sydney, Ruck-Rover/Half Forward, 1987-2003

244 games, 208 goals for Sydney, 1992-2003
Around 15 games for Glenorchy, 1987
Around 40 games for North Hobart, 1990-92
Sydney AFL grand final team, 1996
North Hobart TFL Statewide League premiership, 1991
Sydney Best and Fairest, 1994
Sydney Best and Fairest runner-up, 1997, 1998, 1999
All Australian Team, 1997 (interchange)
Two State of Origin matches for ‘The Allies’, 1997-98
Tasmanian ‘Team of the Century’, 2004 (half forward flank)
South Melbourne/Sydney ‘Team of the Century’, 2003 (interchange)
Tasmanian Devils coach (VFL), 2007-08

A hard-as-nails midfielder whose work rate and tenacity made him a formidable opponent, Daryn Cresswell forged a reputation as one of the premier midfielders in the AFL during the 1990s.

Born in Queenstown in 1971, Cresswell first played senior football for Glenorchy in 1988 at the age of 17. After only one season Cresswell had shown enough promise to be drafted by Geelong with Pick 34 in the 1988 National Draft, however he spent barely three months with the Cats before returning home and joining North Hobart ahead of the 1990 season. Cresswell enjoyed a successful two and a half years with the Demons, playing in the club’s 1991 premiership win over North Launceston before he was off to the mainland again, drafted this time by Sydney with Pick 39 in the 1992 Mid-Season Draft.

Cresswell made his AFL debut for the Swans in Round 17 of 1992, making an immediate impact at AFL level and retaining his place for the rest of the season. After a delayed start to 1993 he played 18 of the last 19 games that year and by season’s end he had entrenched himself as one of the Swans’ first-picked midfielders. The mid-to-late 1990s was to be the highpoint of Cresswell’s career; as part of the Sydney sides that blossomed under Rodney Eade, Creswell finished in the top three of the Swans’ Best and Fairest award in six of the next seven seasons, winning the award in 1994 and finishing runner-up in 1997, 1998 and 1999. During these years he found the ball with monotonous regularity, topping 500 disposals every year from 1995-2000, polling consistently well on Brownlow night and being honoured with All-Australian and State of Origin selections. When it came to finding the football it was his tenacity and toughness that stood out, but his real worth lay in the sublime skill he possessed when it came to disposing of the ball, able to hit teammates with almost effortless precision by either hand or foot.

Despite his success, injuries were a thorn in Cresswell’s side, the most famous of which was a horrifically dislocated kneecap in 1997, with vision of him whacking the kneecap back into place in the aftermath. Injuries were the cause of Cresswell’s less prolific 2001 season, but by 2002 he returned to something near his best, although at 31 he wasn’t the speedy youngster he had once been. 2003 was to be Cresswell’s final season at AFL level and he retired after Sydney’s preliminary final exit against Brisbane after 244 magnificent games. During that year he had received the great honour of being named on the interchange in the South Melbourne/Sydney ‘Team of the Century’, and the following year he was named on a half forward flank in the Tasmanian ‘Team of the Century’.

After his playing career Cresswell turned his hand to coaching, with assistant roles at Geelong and Brisbane. His first senior role was back in his home state, where he took over as coach of the Tasmanian Devils in the VFL from 2007. He held the role until mid-2008 when player discontent led to his removal, and the following year he pulled on the boots again at the age of 38 as captain-coach of Manly in the Sydney AFL competition, and spent the next season with Western Suburbs before retiring permanently at the end of 2010.