Career : 2004 - 2009
Debut : Round 1, 2004 vs Fremantle, aged 21 years, 147 days
Carlton Player No. 1067
Games : 67 (53 at Carlton)
Goals : 17 (All at Carlton)
Guernsey No. 31
Last Game : Round 13, 2009 vs Essendon, aged 26 years, 238 days
Height : 190 cm (6 ft. 3 in.)
Weight : 89 kg (14 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : 31 October, 1982
The second son of former champion welterweight boxer Wayne Bannister, Jordan Bannister crossed from Essendon to Carlton in 2004, and played 53 matches for the Blues over six loyal seasons. He was a hard-running all-rounder whose endurance was tailor-made for the modern game, but he struggled to maintain consistency, and regularly broke down with injuries at inopportune times.
After playing his early football with amateur club Therry-Penola Old Boys, Bannister rose to prominence with the Calder Cannons in the elite TAC Cup under 18 competition. From there, he was drafted by the Bombers in 2001. Essendon were the reigning Premiers at the time, and their list was a strong one. So it was a credit to Jordan that he forced his way into their senior side for 14 games before a dislocated collarbone wrecked his 2003 season, and he was let go at the end of that year.
Carlton then picked up “Banno” with selection 69 in the 2003 National Draft. He settled in quickly at Princes Park, wearing the Blues’ number 31 guernsey at senior level for the first time when he was one of nine (yes, nine) new faces in the side that travelled to Subiaco Oval to take on Fremantle in round 1, 2004. Although Carlton was well beaten by the Dockers, Bannister earned high praise for keeping Fremantle’s gun forward Matthew Pavlich to a single goal and just a handful of possessions. Banno made Pavlich accountable in defence as well as attack, running off him at every opportunity, and never let him settle into his customary lead-up forward’s role.
Over his first two seasons with Carlton, Bannister played 22 games, including 17 in 2004, when he finished tenth in voting for the John Nicholls medal. At his best either at half-back, or in a tagging role anywhere on the ground, he put in some eye-catching efforts – in particular against superstars Nathan Buckley of Collingwood, and West Coast’s Chris Judd. The problem was that Jordon found it impossible to maintain his best form for more than a couple of weeks in succession. So from 2005 on, he was in and out of the side, as the Blues experienced the leanest period in our history.
One highlight for Bannister was Carlton’s victory over West Coast in the 2005 pre-season Wizard Cup Grand Final. Playing at half-back in a tight defensive unit that night, he seemed set for a breakout season. In the end, however, he managed only five senior matches for the year, and his future seemed at Carlton suddenly seemed anything but secure - until he made everyone sit up and take notice with his stunning finals campaign for Carlton’s VFL affiliate, the Northern Bullants. Despite a gruelling schedule of three matches in 12 days - including a trip to Tasmania for the Preliminary Final - Bannister stood tall in all three games. His tireless running was a highlight, as the plucky Ants went all the way to the Grand Final, only to fall to a fitter, well-rested Sandringham.
Jordan began 2006 still in the Bullants red guernsey, but given his pace and flexibility, found himself back in navy blue by mid-season. Another 13 appearances, during which he averaged 13 possessions a game, saw him play out the season in good form – apart from an indiscretion against Collingwood in round 21. In that incident he was reported and suspended for a week, for striking Collingwood’s pin-up boy, Brodie Holland.
It took Banno until round 10 of 2007 to be selected for his next senior match, when his persistence was eventually rewarded. His first two games back were both good wins for Carlton (although unfortunately, our last for the season) and he was an important part of each of them. The first came at the MCG against the Western Bulldogs, when he was shifted on to the Doggies always-dangerous captain Brad Johnson, who had proved too accomplished for young Andrew Walker. Jordon not only quelled Johnson, he provided substantial drive off half-back, and finished the match with 23 possessions in one of his best-ever games.
A week later, on a Saturday night at Docklands Stadium, Bannister ran out for his 50th game of AFL football in a ripper of a contest against Port Adelaide. Once again, Banno played a key role in a Carlton victory by controlling the Power’s playmaker, Chad Cornes, and restricting him to 16 possessions – or ten below his usual average. He matched up on Cornes again in the return clash in round 19, and limited his influence a second time - keeping Cornes to his quietest game since their previous encounter. Despite Carlton’s 15th place finish, Jordan was rewarded for his attitude and example throughout the year when he was named 2007 Best Clubman.
Banno began 2008 well, and seemed to have at last found the consistency both he and the club craved. In round 4, he played his 50th match for Carlton in a memorable win against arch-rival Collingwood on a Sunday afternoon at the MCG – then cruelly, tore a hamstring on the same ground in round 5, while Carlton was busy destroying Melbourne by 33 points. It was a bad tear, and Bannister didn’t play again that season.
That serious injury impacted on Jordon’s 2009 pre-season preparation, so he wasn’t selected in the seniors again until round 12, when the Blues took on St Kilda at Docklands in one of the games of the year. Bannister resumed as a midfield tagger on that memorable Friday night, and rammed through two goals as the committed, yet luckless Blues were beaten by 9 points.
On the very next Friday night at the MCG, a huge crowd of 83,000 saw Carlton suffer one of our worst-ever defeats (by 69 points) at the hands of Bannister’s former club, Essendon. In the aftermath, Jordon was one of five players omitted from the side for the next game, and he wasn’t able to fight his way back in before the Blues’ season concluded with a gut-wrenching Elimination Final defeat by Brisbane.
A few days afterward, the Carlton Football Club announced that Bannister was one of several players who would not be retained for the 2010 season. His 53 games for the Blues had taken his career total to 67, and he had kicked 17 goals – but even so, his football journey wasn’t quite over.
In early 2010, Jordan volunteered to be part of a bold scheme by the AFL to recruit former players, and fast-track them through the ranks to become senior field umpires. He spent almost a full year learning the ropes in amateur and suburban leagues, before being promoted to the second-tier VFL for the last two rounds of the season.
Less than two years later, Bannister achieved a remarkable double when he was appointed to the North Melbourne – Essendon match at Docklands Stadium in round 1, 2012. It was a ground-breaking moment for Jordan and for the game, as he became only the second Blue (after Billy Leeds) to have played and umpired at senior level in the VFL/AFL.
By April, 2013, Bannister was well-established amid the panel of senior AFL umpires (having taken part in the previous year’s finals series) when his family was struck by tragedy. Jordan’s older brother Rick had been thrown from a horse, and as a result of his serious injuries would face the rest of his life as a quadriplegic.
The Bannister family and the wider football community immediately rallied around Rick, organising 24-hour care and fund-raisers to provide for his special needs. Jordan continued to umpire, but by late in the season the pressures had become too much and he announced his retirement after 39 games behind the whistle.
In making the announcement, AFL umpiring director Jeff Gieschen lauded Bannister as "a trailblazer" for achievement of playing and umpiring at the highest level. “Jordan had a unique skill set for an umpire, as a former player, and that made him successful and well-respected across the competition," Gieschen said. “The tragic accident to his brother Ricky has been well-known within the football community, and Jordan’s commitment to his brother’s welfare as one of his primary carers can only be admired by everyone in the game. We fully respect and understand his decision to step back from umpiring, and to move on to the next stage of his life."
Milestones50 AFL Games:Round 11, 2007 vs Port Adelaide
50 Carlton Games: Round 4, 2008 vs Collingwood
Career Highlights2004 - 10th Best & Fairest
2004 - The Past Players' Association Encouragement Award
2005 - Pre-Season Premiership Player
2007 - Best Clubman