Probably best remembered as Australia’s most successful NFL export, and then as a Melbourne Demon, it is often forgotten that Darren Bennett got his start in the VFL with West Coast.
West Coast careerEdit
A full-forward from East Fremantle with a powerful kick, Bennett was part of the club’s inaugural win over Richmond in the opening round of 1987. The following week he kicked 3 goals in a loss to Essendon at Windy Hill to show a glimmer of what he would be capable of.
Unfortunately a serious knee injury wrecked his season after just 4 games and he was delisted at the end of that first season.
Melbourne picked up Bennett in the 1988 national draft and the move paid immediate dividends, with Bennett leading their goalscoring in his first season despite missing almost half the season, and nearly winning the Coleman in his second.
After five seasons, 74 games and 208 goals in the red and blue he quit AFL to become a punter in the NFL.
He was, of course, a rousing success in the USA and blazed a trail that would later be followed by other AFL products like Ben Graham and the Rocca brothers. Bennett played most of his NFL career with the San Diego Padres, earning two Pro-Bowl selections and being named as the punter on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. He also revolutionised the position of punter, introducing the drop punt (or the “Aussie Rules punt” as the Yanks call it) and becoming known for his un-punter-like willingness to lay hits on the opposition.
| Inaugural West Coast Eagles Team|
Round 1 1987 - West Coast 20.13.133 def Richmond 16.23.119
B: Dwayne Lamb, Michael Brennan, Paul Peos