Dukes of depth - Saturday 26 February 2000

Over their careers some players go from rockets to tom thumbs, riches to rags, Gucci boutiques to op shops, Paris to peanuts, London to a brick.

Mostly it's not the fault of the player. Clubs get a bloke too many the same size and ability. And injuries prevent continuity of form.

You've got to feel sorry for former Melbourne player Andrew Lamprill. He was a sensation when he crossed Bass Strait from Hobart in 1992. His practice match form was brilliant. Like the fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Years Eve. The Demons match committee thought so highly of their import they gave him 37, the number worn by Jim Stynes and 1964 premiership full back Bernie Massey whose pencil moustache raised the ire of coach Norm Smith.

Andrew Lamprill had all the skills. He had excellent anticipation. He knew when to hold 'em, knew when to fold 'em. He read the ball as if it was a neon sign above the Afro Cuban beat nightclub that used to be on the Lower Esplanade at St Kilda. Plus Lamprill was cool in a crisis. He had maturity beyond his years. No wonder he was national number 10 draft pick in 1991.

In the first round of 1992, Geelong fronted up to Melbourne at the MCG. Allen Jakovich wasn't keen to have other traffic on the Demon forward highway en route to his 6 for the afternoon. Yet Lamprill joined an elite group that day. His first kick in senior football was a goal. And it was no ordinary major. A set shot from the boundary line curved around to perfection down the Punt Road end. Melbourne won the game in a goal guzzle. Andrew Lamprill could play at both ends of the ground. He could tag, be a run with player and act as a sweeper across half back. Plus he could float forward and kick sausage rolls.

Later in his debut season he copped an ankle injury that resulted in time out of the game. But the Lamp man showed the beacon still beamed brightly at Ansett Cup time. His game against the Eagles in 1995 was a masterpiece on the green canvas of Waverley. During the Demons competent job against the rampant Eagles, number 37 was a deep dish pizza supreme among the finger food. He snapped two superb goals, one in the second quarter, one in the third. A set shot from just outside 50 sailed through post high. The goal umpire didn't move even though he probably wanted to.

Andrew Lamprill continued to battle a series of thigh and ankle injuries. A couple of young fellas were promoted. Woewodin and Yze are now household names around Edithvale and Aspendale. Lamprill bounced back through some good form in the reserves. In an August 1997 game against St Kilda, with his customary ticker, he ran back with the flight of the ball intent on a chesty. The heavy vehicles drove in at full speed from the opposite direction. Lamprill had his collarbone busted and was out the rest of the season. When he returned other players had cemented their places in the seniors. He was returned to the seconds where he encouraged the young blokes and the top up players.

Andrew Lamprill left Melbourne at the end of 1997. All up 37 senior games. Same as his number. He may have been at the wrong club at the wrong time.


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