Main content

The complete history of Australia's greatest sporting club

Mick Gayfer

Mick Gayfer

1986-1993
3
Other Guernsey Nos.
51

142 CFC Games Played

1 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
17 August 1965
Recruited From
Caulfield
Collingwood Debut
Round 1, 1986
Height:
186cm
Weight:
90kg

Biography

Few Collingwood footballers have extracted as much out of their natural abilities as Mick Gayfer, the club’s ever-reliable, close-checking defender of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That shouldn’t been taken as a slight. Quite the contrary, it is a compliment of the highest order.

By his own admission, Gayfer wasn’t blessed with the sharpest of skills, or the pure aesthetic talent others may have possessed. But he was a competitor, first and foremost, and he was a fitness fanatic who prepared himself – and his body – like few others in a time before full-time professionalism.

Combining his competitive edge and his fitness edge, he transformed himself into one of the most effective defensive stoppers of his time.

“I understand I was never the most naturally talented player, in terms of skills or speed or that sort of thing,” he acknowledged. “I had to work pretty hard to get the most out of my career, so I’m pretty happy with everything I achieved.”

Gayfer may not have won a trophy cabinet of awards, but he did win something more valuable – a premiership medal. And he won the absolute admiration of his teammates like few others.

Those who played with him loved him, even if his opponents didn’t. And across eight seasons, his 142 games, and his solitary goal, Gayfer won the hearts of the Collingwood fans who backed him to the hilt, even if at times he gave them heartburn, and the close-checking cult hero was loved even more so because opposition fans had little time for him or his niggling tactics.

The Magpie players had a saying during the Leigh Matthews era, and it was perhaps a greater compliment than any of the individual award or honours on offer. Tony Shaw used it in his book, A Shaw Thing, published after the club’s drought-breaking premiership in 1990. It was: “No one is safer than Micky Gayfer.”

Shaw played on him just once, in a practice match at Victoria Park, but it was one time too many. He would recall: “He didn’t have to, but he just tagged me. He was pulling my jumper, and I said: ‘Get fair dinkum this isn’t right’.” All Gayfer did was to shoot back a big grin to his captain. The man who came to be known as ‘the human blanket’ had claimed another victim.

Gayfer had to do things the hard way to make it at VFL-AFL level. The eldest of eight children – seven sons and a daughter – he came from Rutherglen, not far from the Victoria-New South Wales border. For a time, he played with Corowa-Rutherglen in the now-defunct Coreen and District League, playing as a 15-year-old with the club’s under 18’s side.

Interestingly enough, that link with the other side of the Murray would come in handy in the years down the track, when he represented New South Wales in state of origin against what his home state of Victoria.

Gayfer attracted the attention of North Melbourne recruiting scouts after impressing with Caulfield, a VFA second division side, playing mainly as a centre half-back. Just a month after his 19th birthday, Gayfer was a member of the Kangaroos’ under 19s premiership side and played eight games in the reserves the following season, before being delisted.

He returned to Caulfield, but fate, and a good Collingwood supporter, intervened to change his pathway.

He would recall: “North gave me the flick. In their opinion I couldn’t make it, so I went back to Caulfield. My coach at Caulfield, Mick Robinson, is a mad keen Collingwood supporter and he rang them about me.”

Gayfer had actually represented Collingwood in cricket before football. In his days with the Kangaroos, he spent two seasons with the Magpies seconds’ side – fittingly as the backstop, the wicketkeeper.

He made his debut in a Collingwood jumper – wearing the No.51 jumper – against reigning premiers Essendon at Victoria Park in Round 1, 1986. He wouldn’t miss a game that season, finding his niche in defence.

Lou Richards interviewed him in The Sun in 1986, saying: “Just look at the roll-call of big-name opponents who have been smothered by this quiet, unassuming country lad who looks more like a choirboy than a backline bogeyman. Tony Morwood, Mark Harvey, Richard Osborne and Michael Pickering have been covered effectively … even Bulldog champion Doug Hawkins was stitched up after half time when Gayfer was swung to the wing.”

In his second season, the club thought so much of him – as a player but just as critically as a person – he moved to the No.3 jumper. But stress fractures restricted him to only 13 games.

He kicked his only goal in his 44th game, against Fitzroy, at Princes Park, in round 15, 1988. He wouldn’t kick another in almost 100 subsequent games, but more importantly, he saved plenty.

Gayfer played on some of the game’s biggest players, including Jason Dunstall and Tony Lockett, but could just as easily adapt on smaller forwards, always happy to play his role for the team.

His niggling tactics, pulling of opponents’ jumpers and capacity to annoy the hell out of the opposition attracted more attention and criticism followed. In 1989, his fourth season, his role on Dunstall prompted Hawthorn’s Dermott Brereton to pen a newspaper article, saying: “I couldn’t believe how crude some of Gayfer’s tactics were. At one stage you could see Jason’s jumper being stretched and I was 100 metres away in the stand.”

Collingwood reacted immediately in defending him, saying he had been singled out and unfairly victimised. Gayfer didn’t worry about the criticism, saying: “I didn’t think there was a real lot in it.”

“It happens all over the field. I’m quite sure there’s Hawthorn backs who do it … to Peter Daicos. Forwards hang on, too, when you run out.

“If you’re touching them, you know where they are and you know where the ball is, too. But that upsets a lot of people.”

As he became more entrenched in the side, and more confident in his own ability, Gayfer understood that he could back his judgment against certain players, and developed a slightly more attacking style.

Still, he handballed more than he kicked the ball; and that was fine with the coach.

“My ability is to play close and concentrate,” he said. “Over the last (few) years I’ve learned to run off them as well and get more kicks myself.

“You tend to just work players out. Some players you’ve got to man up really tight and play really close, and then some you’ve got to give a yard, be on the forward side and just keep between them and the ball.”

His biggest reward came in 1990 when he played a critical role in Collingwood’s premiership season. After missing the first round, he played every other game for the season, including the Grand Final.

A funny incident occurred at the Grand Final parade the day before the biggest game of his career. He was ready to head off on the motorcade when someone yelled out from the crowd: “Gayfer, you *%?&”.

Annoyed, he turned around and he was confronted … by one of his brothers with a massive grin on his face.

In the 1990 Grand Final, Gayfer played on Tim Watson then kept Essendon’s resting rovers quiet. Afterwards, he said proudly: “It’s just a sensational feeling to work so hard as a group and have it come off is just great.”

Hard work was the secret to his success; he would work tirelessly on his fitness. Teammates marvelled about how much he put into being the best he could be. He swam every day before training as part of it all.

He maintained his durability in 1991-92, but faced some issues with his body in 1993. He suffered a strained adductor in the second game of the year, had other injury problems and spent some time in the reserves.

And Mike Sheahan admitted at the time he was being targeted by the men in white, explaining that the “whistle-blowers are engaged in Operation Gayfer, with a crackdown on what have been classic Gayfer tactics.”

But Sheahan also had undoubted admiration for the Magpie backman. He wrote: “The thing about Mickey Gayfer is that you know if your man gets a kick against him, it’s a kick he’s bloody well earned, and that’s healthy for the game. We have champions because an elite group rises above all the obstacles put in their path by Gayfer.”

The end for Gayfer came quickly, and unexpectedly, in the 1994 preseason, and in keeping with his career, his exit was overshadowed by the club’s decision to sack club great Peter Daicos on the same day.

He was only 28. When he was called into a meeting at the club with Matthews one March afternoon, the decision to delist him had come as a complete shock. But as the media outlets focused on the Daicos dumping, Gayfer’s departure didn’t make the same sort of headlines.

His teammates responded in the only manner they knew how, most of them left training that night and called into Gayfer’s home on the way home. He tried to put his name forward for the preseason draft, but he was overlooked. His time in the AFL was over, but not his time in football.

He played for a number of years in country and local levels – winning a flag with Tatura in 1995. And he even returned to Victoria Park as the team’s runner and fitness assistant from 1998-2001.

Matthews, the man who had backed him throughout his career, but who had ultimately sack him, saw him go from a “very raw player” in the 1986 preseason into a Collingwood premiership player.

“He’s a player who has played in a premiership side when most people thought that he would not make it,” he said. “That’s more a reward for his hard work and persistence rather than anything he was actually born with.

“You have to admire him. He’s one of the most admired players … for his determination and his ability to work hard.”

That’s why Collingwood supporters loved him.

Read more

Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1986-1993 142 1 7 60%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1986 22 1 101 131 232 51

1986 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon L 6 6 12 51 View match >
Round 2 Sydney L 5 9 14 51 View match >
Round 3 North Melbourne L 7 3 10 51 View match >
Round 4 Geelong W 3 7 10 51 View match >
Round 5 Western Bulldogs L 5 7 12 51 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 5 8 13 51 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 8 2 10 51 View match >
Round 8 Hawthorn L 6 3 9 51 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 6 6 12 51 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 3 6 9 51 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 5 8 13 51 View match >
Round 12 Essendon W 3 6 9 51 View match >
Round 13 Sydney L 2 6 8 51 View match >
Round 14 North Melbourne W 3 13 16 51 View match >
Round 15 Geelong W 7 8 15 51 View match >
Round 16 Fitzroy W 4 9 13 51 View match >
Round 17 Western Bulldogs W 1 2 3 51 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne L 2 4 6 51 View match >
Round 19 Carlton L 1 8 5 13 51 View match >
Round 20 Hawthorn L 3 4 7 51 View match >
Round 21 Richmond W 4 3 7 51 View match >
Round 22 St Kilda W 5 6 11 51 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1987 13 0 1 77 59 11 136 3

1987 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Sydney L 0 0 3 4 2 7 3 View match >
Round 2 Carlton L 0 0 10 7 17 3 View match >
Round 3 Hawthorn L 0 0 8 6 2 14 3 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 0 1 8 5 1 13 3 View match >
Round 5 Western Bulldogs W 0 0 4 9 13 3 View match >
Round 6 Brisbane W 0 0 11 4 1 15 3 View match >
Round 7 Melbourne L 0 0 7 3 2 10 3 View match >
Round 8 Essendon L 8 3 1 11 3 View match >
Round 15 Carlton L 5 1 1 6 3 View match >
Round 16 Hawthorn L 5 9 14 3 View match >
Round 18 Western Bulldogs L 2 1 2 3 View match >
Round 21 St Kilda L 2 2 3 View match >
Round 22 Essendon W 6 6 12 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1988 14 1 0 82 70 11 152 3

1988 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Fitzroy W 6 3 9 3 View match >
Round 3 Richmond W 7 6 13 3 View match >
Round 4 West Coast W 11 3 1 14 3 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 7 5 4 12 3 View match >
Round 6 Hawthorn L 5 3 1 8 3 View match >
Round 7 Essendon L 0 0 2 5 7 3 View match >
Round 8 Western Bulldogs W 0 0 0 3 View match >
Round 9 North Melbourne W 6 9 1 15 3 View match >
Round 15 Fitzroy L 1 11 9 1 20 3 View match >
Round 19 Brisbane W 8 5 1 13 3 View match >
Round 20 Essendon W 5 10 1 15 3 View match >
Round 21 West Coast L 5 5 1 10 3 View match >
Round 22 Geelong W 7 3 10 3 View match >
Qualifying Final Carlton L 0 0 2 4 6 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1989 17 0 2 143 119 23 262 3

1989 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Hawthorn W 7 1 1 8 3 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy L 6 4 3 10 3 View match >
Round 3 Brisbane W 11 8 2 19 3 View match >
Round 4 St Kilda W 13 15 1 28 3 View match >
Round 5 Sydney L 11 5 16 3 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 8 7 1 15 3 View match >
Round 7 Western Bulldogs W 10 7 1 17 3 View match >
Round 8 Carlton W 6 12 1 18 3 View match >
Round 9 Essendon L 8 5 3 13 3 View match >
Round 10 Geelong L 6 3 1 9 3 View match >
Round 16 Hawthorn L 9 9 18 3 View match >
Round 17 Geelong W 1 4 5 3 View match >
Round 19 North Melbourne L 9 4 1 13 3 View match >
Round 20 Fitzroy W 1 8 9 4 17 3 View match >
Round 21 Richmond W 13 8 21 3 View match >
Round 22 West Coast W 1 10 11 1 21 3 View match >
Elimination Final Melbourne L 0 0 7 7 3 14 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1990 25 0 2 164 169 30 333 3

1990 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Carlton W 6 7 13 3 View match >
Round 3 Sydney W 7 7 14 3 View match >
Round 4 Western Bulldogs W 13 10 3 23 3 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda W 9 11 20 3 View match >
Round 6 Essendon L 1 11 5 16 3 View match >
Round 7 Hawthorn L 3 6 1 9 3 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 6 8 14 3 View match >
Round 9 North Melbourne W 4 2 2 6 3 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne W 5 4 9 3 View match >
Round 11 Brisbane W 1 4 5 3 View match >
Round 12 Geelong W 6 4 1 10 3 View match >
Round 13 Richmond W 7 5 3 12 3 View match >
Round 14 West Coast W 1 7 9 1 16 3 View match >
Round 15 Carlton W 10 7 5 17 3 View match >
Round 16 Sydney W 3 5 2 8 3 View match >
Round 17 Western Bulldogs L 3 7 1 10 3 View match >
Round 18 St Kilda W 10 5 2 15 3 View match >
Round 19 Essendon L 9 10 1 19 3 View match >
Round 20 Hawthorn L 9 8 1 17 3 View match >
Round 21 Fitzroy W 7 8 1 15 3 View match >
Round 22 North Melbourne W 4 6 1 10 3 View match >
Qualifying Final West Coast D 0 0 7 9 1 16 3 View match >
Qualifying Final West Coast W 0 0 6 10 2 16 3 View match >
Semi Final Essendon W 0 0 5 9 1 14 3 View match >
Grand Final Essendon W 0 0 6 3 1 9 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1991 20 0 0 101 133 24 234 3

1991 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Western Bulldogs W 0 0 8 5 13 3 View match >
Round 2 West Coast L 0 0 6 3 9 3 View match >
Round 3 Fitzroy W 5 5 10 3 View match >
Round 5 Brisbane W 7 5 1 12 3 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne L 1 6 2 7 3 View match >
Round 8 Richmond L 1 3 4 3 View match >
Round 9 Geelong L 10 10 3 20 3 View match >
Round 10 Hawthorn L 2 6 1 8 3 View match >
Round 12 Carlton L 12 8 2 20 3 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 1 5 2 6 3 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 5 6 11 3 View match >
Round 15 Adelaide W 3 7 1 10 3 View match >
Round 16 Western Bulldogs W 7 13 1 20 3 View match >
Round 17 West Coast L 3 9 12 3 View match >
Round 18 Fitzroy W 3 8 1 11 3 View match >
Round 19 St Kilda W 3 6 3 9 3 View match >
Round 20 Brisbane W 4 6 2 10 3 View match >
Round 21 Melbourne W 8 9 4 17 3 View match >
Round 23 Richmond W 10 9 1 19 3 View match >
Round 24 Geelong L 2 4 6 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1992 23 0 0 136 154 34 290 3

1992 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Brisbane W 0 0 5 10 15 3 View match >
Round 3 Sydney W 0 0 8 4 1 12 3 View match >
Round 4 Essendon W 0 0 5 9 14 3 View match >
Round 5 Melbourne W 0 0 5 12 3 17 3 View match >
Round 6 Hawthorn L 0 0 8 8 1 16 3 View match >
Round 7 North Melbourne W 0 0 5 11 16 3 View match >
Round 8 Carlton L 0 0 3 3 6 3 View match >
Round 9 Adelaide W 0 0 9 5 1 14 3 View match >
Round 10 Geelong W 0 0 2 3 1 5 3 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy L 0 0 4 10 3 14 3 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda L 0 0 4 4 1 8 3 View match >
Round 13 West Coast W 0 0 11 2 11 3 View match >
Round 14 Western Bulldogs W 0 0 5 9 3 14 3 View match >
Round 16 Richmond W 0 0 4 8 2 12 3 View match >
Round 17 Brisbane W 5 5 1 10 3 View match >
Round 18 Sydney W 6 4 1 10 3 View match >
Round 19 Essendon W 12 15 3 27 3 View match >
Round 20 Melbourne L 4 7 11 3 View match >
Round 21 Hawthorn L 3 2 3 3 View match >
Round 22 North Melbourne W 10 7 1 17 3 View match >
Round 23 Carlton W 6 10 4 16 3 View match >
Round 24 Adelaide W 11 5 1 16 3 View match >
Elimination Final St Kilda L 0 0 1 5 3 6 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1993 8 0 0 23 38 6 61 3

1993 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Western Bulldogs W 0 0 7 10 1 17 3 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 0 0 2 2 3 View match >
Round 7 Adelaide W 0 0 1 6 1 7 3 View match >
Round 8 Hawthorn W 1 3 1 4 3 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy L 4 5 2 9 3 View match >
Round 10 North Melbourne L 1 4 5 3 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne L 7 5 1 12 3 View match >
Round 18 Essendon L 2 3 5 3 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 142 1 6 827 873 139 1700
Avg/Game   0.01 0.04 5.82 6.15 0.98 11.97
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

874

Total AFL Games
142
Total AFL Goals
1
CFC Debut
Round 1, 1986
CFC Last Game
Round 18, 1993
Recruited From
Caulfield
Full Name
Mick Gayfer

Awards

  • Life Members
    2003
  • Premiership
    1990
Provide feedback Ask the Experts