Robert Groenewegen
Footscray: 79 VFL games, 29 goals

Robert ‘Wagon’ Groenewegen played 79 matches for the Footscray Football Club between 1978 and 1986, kicking a total of 29 goals in his VFL career.

Appointed captain-coach of Glenorchy in 1988, Groenewegen took the Magpies to the grand final, where they were defeated by Devonport. A one-season return to Victoria to play for Williamstown was followed by a permanent move to Tasmania in 1990 – this time to North Launceston – and it was here that Groenewegen would end his career, playing 62 games in 6 seasons with the Bombers, including as a member of the 1995 Statewide League premiership side.

Groenewegen played mostly as a ruckman or key forward, and though he was able to use his 193cm height to great effect around the ground his athleticism was marred by a series of major injuries over his career, most notably a knee reconstruction in 1981 that robbed him of much of his youthful spring.

Always a jovial character, Groenewegen had a well-known penchant for larrikinism in his playing days, the most infamous example occurring on a flight between Fiji and Hawaii in 1985, when, allegedly, ‘Captain Groenewegen’ informed economy class that “we’re about to go down” after commandeering the plane’s intercom system. As his Footscray teammate and close friend Doug Hawkins puts it, “if you did it now, you’d be shot by an Air Marshall and do 25 years in the slammer!”

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