Career : 1981 - 1985
Debut : Round 11, 1981 vs North Melbourne, aged 23 years, 44 days
Carlton Player No. 895
Games : 32
Goals : 0
Last Game : Round 18, 1985 vs Sydney, aged 27 years, 102 days
Guernsey No. 24
Height : 179 cm (5 ft. 10 in.)
Weight : 81 kg (12 stone, 11 lbs.)
DOB : 23 April, 1958
One of the all-time greats of the Bendigo Football League, Brendan Hartney came to Carlton in 1981 to play 32 senior matches over five seasons. At that time, the Navy Blues were on the way to three Premierships in four years, thanks to a playing list as talent-laden as at any period the club’s history. Had he been 5 centimetres taller and 5 kilos heavier, Hartney would surely have appeared at top level for the Blues far more often. He battled champions each week to find a place in Carlton’s team, and rarely disappointed when given a chance.
The son of Sandhurst Football Club stalwart Leo Hartney, Brendan played his first senior game for the Dragons as a 17 year-old, and by his late teens was one of the outstanding centre half-backs in the BFL. Although just 179 cm tall, his pace and spring, endurance, courage and intelligent reading of the play made him more than a handful for the competition’s best forwards.
Carlton had chased Hartney’s signature for some time before Sandhurst won successive BFL flags in 1977-78, but his lion-hearted efforts in both of those Grand Final victories over Golden Square convinced the Blues to ramp up their efforts, and in 1981 Brendan was welcomed to Princes Park by first-year coach David Parkin. Fresh from the 1979 Premiership, followed by the crushing disappointment of 1980, the Blues were intent on regrouping and hungry for more success.
Wearing guernsey 24, Hartney played the first half of the year with the Reserves before being chosen for his first senior game in round 11, 1981 when Carlton hosted North Melbourne at Princes Park and knocked over the Roos by 31 points. Hartney spent that match in a back pocket, doing enough to be earn two more games in succession, and six in total throughout the year. He wasn’t selected for either of Carlton’s finals campaigns that brought Premiership glory again in 1981-82, but that was perfectly understandable, because he was up against the likes of Wayne Harmes, Rod Austin, Peter McConville, Des English and Robbert Klomp – not to mention Geoff Southby and Bruce Doull.
In his debut year, Hartney finished runner-up in the Reserves Best and Fairest to Trevor Keogh. That set a precedent that would see him win the award in 1983 and ‘84, and finish among the top three in every one of his five seasons with the Blues. His optimism and determination was widely admired, and he was voted Carlton’s Best Clubman in 1983.
After playing his last senior match for Carlton against Sydney in round 18, 1985, Hartney returned to Sandhurst with many more weapons in his armoury, and began the third stage of a career that would make him a BFL legend. Already a two-time winner of Sandhurst’s Best and Fairest; the Leo McPherson Trophy, Brendan was appointed captain of the Dragons in 1986, and promptly collected another four McPherson Medals in succession from 1986 to ’89. In 1993, aged 35, he won it for a seventh time. In between, he was adjudged Fairest and Best in the BFL in 1987 and 1989 to join an elite band of just six players to have won the Michelsen Medal twice.
Another proud achievement came in 1989, when Hartney captained the BFL representative side that defeated the Geelong Football League in the Grand Final of the VCFL Division 1 Country Championship. Brendan was carried shoulder-high off the Queen Elizabeth Oval that afternoon, as the BFL collected its first Division 1 Country title since 1972. Always a star in inter-league matches, Hartney represented the BFL on more than 20 occasions, and was inducted into the League’s Hall Of Fame in August, 1996.
Hartney also wore No.35 whilst playing reserve grade football for Carlton during the 1979.
Hartney's nephew Fergus Greene was drafted by the Western Bulldogs with their 4th pick in the 2016 AFL National Draft. Greene would be delisted at the end of the 2020 season. Greene would play two years at the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL, Hawthorn would draft him as a delisted free agent for the 2023 season.
Jones Files: Hartney’s two league medals place him among Bendigo elite.
BRENDAN Hartney was always destined to play for Sandhurst and follow in the footsteps of his late father, Leo. Leo Hartney not only donned the maroon and blue colors of Sandhurst, but when his playing days were over was a faithful servant of the club, serving for a period as chairman of selectors. Brendan’s playing days with the Dragons started when he was 17; 225 games later he pulled the pin on a distinguished career. He was a shining light as far as club loyalty and on-field courage were concerned. Not only did Brendan lead Sandhurst in the late 1980s and into the ’90s he was the skipper of Bendigo’s successful VCFL Division 1 country championship-winning team in 1989. He remains a revered Dragon. Finishing on top in the Leo McPherson Medal count as club fairest and best in 1979-80, before five seasons with Carlton, was just the start of a medal-winning spree. He played 32 senior VFL games with the Princes Park Blues between 1981 and 1985. Hartney then took out the Dragons’ club McPherson Medal from 1986-89 and added an astounding seventh trophy in 1993. In between he was adjudged fairest and best in the BFL in both 1987 (29 votes) and again in 1989 (31 votes) to join an elite band of players to have won the time-honoured Michelsen Medal twice. There are just six players who have won two Michelsen Medals. One of my most enduring BFL memories is of Hartney opposed to outstanding Eaglehawk key position player Robert O’Connell. The Bendigo Advertiser photographers of the day would regularly focus on the absorbing battle between the two BFL stars whenever they were pitted against each other. Their marking duels were just riveting, and an object lesson for the younger players of both clubs. Brendan started as a ruck-rover — a term never used these days when “midfielders” and “on-ballers” are the buzz words — before cementing his place in BFL history as an unrelenting defender. Regularly conceding height to opposing key forwards, centre half-back seemed Hartney’s natural position. His courage in gathering the loose ball and his uncanny ability to read the play set him aside from his peers. And he loved inter-league footy. Hartney played more than 20 games for the Blue and Golds. He, as captain, and the late Neville Strauch as coach were the cornerstone of Bendigo’s country championships campaigns. The BFL representative made the Division 1 grand final in three consecutive seasons two decades back: in 1988, 1989 and again in 1990. The bitter disappointment of losing the Division 1 grand final to Geelong in the 1988 play-off at East Geelong was wiped away 12 months later. Hartney was carried shoulder-high off the QEO in mid-1989 as the Blue and Golds earned their revenge on the GFL, winning 15.10 (100) to Geelong’s 9.5 (59). It was Bendigo’s first Division 1 country title since 1972 and was so momentous that the BFL board of management hosted a special commemorative dinner to celebrate the achievement. The path to that 1989 VCFL grand final was memorable enough in itself. Bendigo made the dreaded road trip to Ovens and Murray territory for the semi-final and prevailed: 10.10 (70) to 7.12 (54). It was Bendigo’s first ever win over the O and M on one of their northern Victorian grounds. An even sweeter victory for Hartney and his teammates was to come a few weeks later that ’89 season with the grand final success over the GFL. Apart from his senior coaching stint in 1988, Hartney has also served as club runner and a selector. These days it’s a family affair at Sandhurst home games, with Brendan on deck as a Dragon senior selector. Twenty-year-old son Tom has been a key member of the Dragons’ senior backline while in 2009 younger son Pat (19), who has graduated from the under-18s, lined up in the Sandhurst reserves. Chopper White’s reserves, with Pat Hartney in the side, bowed out to Kangaroo Flat in this month’s reserves first semi-final. Tom Hartney can glean some valuable advice from his father whenever Sandhurst takes on Eaglehawk. With Derrick Filo still running around in the Eaglehawk forward line — Brendan used to match up with Filo when the evergreen stalwart was at Castlemaine –– the dual Michelsen Medallist is able to pass on tips to his son. “Run him around a lot,” was his succinct advice when the youngster first lined up on the wily Borough veteran. Brendan Hartney was inducted into the Bendigo Football League Hall Of Fame in August 1996. I rate him in the 10 best BFL players I’ve been privileged to watch in a 30-year career broadcasting and writing about local footy. - September 16, 2009 by Richard Jones.
Career Highlights1981 - 2nd Reserves Best & Fairest
1981 - Reserves Most Improved
1982 - 3rd Reserves Best & Fairest
1982 - Reserves Best Clubman
1983 - Best Clubman
1983 - Reserves Best & Fairest
1983 - Senior Night Premiership
1984 - Reserves Best & Fairest
1985 - 2nd Reserves Best & Fairest