The Coodabeen Champions     Pharaohs of Fate with Julian Ross

9 June 2001

You know less is more. Brevity is the essence of genius. English playwright Noel Coward once remarked that wit is like caviar. It should be savoured in small quantities not lashed around like jam.

A footballer who had all these qualities was Sam Phillipou. The Western Bulldogs were really keen to secure the big key position player. They traded Darren Baxter to Hawthorn to draft Sam the man with 1992 national draft pick 29. But the Bullies had to wait for the Woodville-West Torrens star to cross the border. Phillipou was a young champion at SANFL level. He was as big and agile as an athlete whose surname has a few more esses. Philippoussis. Super Sam was 189 centimetres tall and tilted the scales at 90 kilograms. Opponents found it difficult to out position him in marking contests. Furthermore his ground game was competent.

The big fellow finally arrived at the kennel at the end of the 1994 season. The Bullies gave their recruit the number 21 guernsey. It wasn't given to just anyone. The jumper had been worn with distinction by such players as Tony Buhagiar and Steven Kolyniuk. His pre-season form created optimism. Though only 20 years old SP had a mature attitude. The new powerhouse was a disciplined and organised bloke who followed instructions to the letter. Also he liked to join Libba for extra gym work.

When the 1995 season started Phillipou got his sea legs in the reserves. He took pack marks like he was leaping at a tennis ball. Also he had a kick like Haile Gebrselassie in the 10000 metres final at the Sydney Olympics. The solid South Australian received a senior call up in round 8 against the Roos at the Whitten Oval. He came off the bench and got involved. Across half back took a pair of power marks in the third quarter. On one occasion he delivered the ball with elegance to Brad Johnson who kept running and goaled. Unfortunately the Sammy debut was not crowned with success. The Kangas won 15.15 to 13.6.

Phillipou was in the starting group the following week against Essendon at the MCG. Lined up at centre half forward. The selection caused an immediate impact. 20 minutes into the first term the P guy marked in the middle of a pack. He goaled from right on 50. Early in the second he made a yard for a diving mark and in the one movement handpassed to Steve MacPherson who ran in a straight line and booted truly from 35. And close to three quarter time the number 21 worked his way to the front of a pack and took a monster grab. Don backmen punching his forearms and attempting to spoil from the back were like throwing cream puffs at the town hall. Phillipou went back and goaled from 40 on a 60 degree angle. In spite of the Phil heroics the Dogs lost 15.11 to 9.13. The bitter pill was the EJ Whitten Cup being presented to Essendon.

Sam Phillipou played in the round 10 game against the Tigers at the G. Appeared at centre half back. Did alright. Doggies down 13.18 to 9.10. Thereafter Sammo had a few injury problems. His intention was to return via the twos. Sadly he was delisted at the end of his one and only season.

Three games. A career that was short and sweet.

The Coodabeen Champions     Pharaohs of Fate