DOB: 22 January 1975
Captain - 2000 - 2008
Best and Fairest - 2002
Grand Final team - 2000
Leading Goalkicker - 1996, 1997 (joint), 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006
Coleman Medal - 2002
All Australian 1995, 2002
Australian International Rules representative - 1998
Best First Year Player - 1993
Rising Star nominee - Round 6, 1993 vs Richmond
Victorian State representative - 1994, 1995 (2 games)
Goal of the Year nominee - Round 1, 2002
Life Member - 2002
Hall of Fame - 2017
Statistical categories led:
Most Games - 306
Most Goals - 631
Most Behinds - 368
Most Contested Marks - 357
Most Marks Inside 50 - 589
Equal most contested marks in a game - 8, Round 21, 2000
Most marks inside 50 in a game - 11, Round 20, 2002
Most games in jumper 9
Most goals in jumper 9
Most MFC games as captain
Born in Tasmania, Neitz moved to Victoria at an early age and was a member of the Victorian Teal Cup squad as a 16-year-old. He already had a footballing pedigree, with his father Alec playing for the St Kilda reserves in the 1960's, and the Demons snapped him up after seeing him dominate for Parkmore as a 15-year-old.
After graduating through the Under 19's and Reserves, "Neita" debuted in 1993, and after initially playing as a forward - including six goals in his sixth game - he spent much of 1994 as a centre-half back playing on some of the premier forwards in the competition. Wayne Carey once said that Neitz, along with Eagles backman Glen Jakovich, was one of the two best backmen he had played on.
His abilities as a defender were so highly touted that he was named in the 1995 All-Australian and Victorian state of origin teams at the age of 20, but with David Schwarz and Garry Lyon on the sidelines in 1996 he was thrown forward and resumed his career as a power-forward.
Muscling up considerably over the next two years he would lead the goalkicking in that year, and despite breaking his jaw in two places against Fremantle at the WACA still finished equal top of the table in 1997.
After signing a contract extension which took him through until the end of 2000, Neitz was appointed vice-captain in 1998. He once again suffered an interrupted season when he snapped his ankle in the round 4 match against Carlton at Princes Park and missed eleven weeks. Returning in round 16 he formed one of the most electric combinations in league with Jeff Farmer in the last few weeks of the season - including five goals in the big round 22 win over Richmond, and six more in the Qualifying Final victory over eventual premiers Adelaide.
In early 1999, Neitz was involved in a fight in a Prahran hotel. After mediation with the other party the matter was settled. Off-field incidents aside, he was one of the few players to improve in a disappointing campaign where Melbourne missed the finals.
Despite kicking 46 goals in 1999 - including two bags of six - he was tried in the backline again in the early weeks of 2000, but after newly recruited full-forward James Cook went down with injury he returned to the forward line for a third time where he'd stay for the remainder of his career.
In his first year as captain after the retirement of Todd Viney Neitz was crowded for space in a forward line with Jeff Farmer, David Schwarz, Brad Green and Russell Robertson also prominent and only managed 24 goals for the season but was still an important part of the side that made a run to the Grand Final.
In his 2001 pre-season Top 50 list, Mike Sheahan ranked Neitz as the 46th best player in the league. He had been ranked 41st in 2000. Once again the Demons suffered an severe reverse from the previous season as they crashed out of the eight. Neitz played all 22 games and managed 38 goals, despite a period late in the year when he got just one in seven weeks.
Considering the topsy-turvy nature of the Demons under Neale Daniher it was no surprise that in 2002 they were once again finals contenders. Neitz was one of the main contributors with a league leading 82 goals. He was the first Demon to win a Coleman Medal, and the first to lead the league goalkicking since the 1940's. Held goalless just twice he had two bags of seven and a dominant nine against the hapless Blues in round 15.
Having just won his first Best and Fairest Neitz signed a contract extension to tie him to the club until the end of 2005. The team crashed from the top eight to 14th the next season, Neitz couldn't recapture his Coleman Medal form and in June he was involved in an embarassing incident at Crown Casino after which he was fined $5000 by the club. He struggled with security staff after arguing with a taxi driver before being returned home by police. Again, despite off-field issues, he was one of the few Demons to shine in 2003, kicking 65 goals in a side that only won five games for the year.
Neitz was untroubled by injury throughout most of the 2004 season. He equalled his career best with a nine goal haul against Richmond in round 2 and played every game for the year until tearing a calf muscle in theround 21 loss to Carlton at Princes Park. Missing the last game of the home and away season he was named for the Elimination Final against Essendon but failed a late fitness test. The Demons lost a thriller and his season was over.
In 2005 Melbourne made the finals for the second time in a row for the first time under Daniher's coaching. Neitz played 18 games but was troubled by injury towards the end of the year. With the Demons arresting a slide and winning three thrilling matches in the last three weeks to qualify for the finals, Neitz contributed just one goal and had a total of seven kicks. He was unable to play in the Elimination Final.
That year he passed the mark set by Robert Flower for most appearances as captain and signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until the end of 2007. The next season he broke two Melbourne records; first surpassing club legend Norm Smith's record of 536-goals and then becoming Melbourne's most capped player overall, passing the long-standing 272 game record of Robert Flower.
Neitz returned to his best that year with 68 goals including two hauls of eight, but as the side collapsed in 2007 so did his body and despite remaining a towering presence in the forward line he only managed 26 goals from 15 games. In round 20 he became the first (and so far, only) Demon to reach 300-games.
In 2008 Neitz suffered a serious neck injury which kept him to just five games, and a month after his last appearance he announced his retirement - indirectly in order to help rookie Austin Wonaeamirri, who could only play if Neitz stayed on the long-term injury list.
Across his career, Neitz had 999 scoring shots, for a return of 631 goals, an accuracy of 63.1%.
|Round 11, 1993||Striking||Not Guilty|
|Round 17, 1994||Striking||1 match|
|Round 2, 1996||Melee||Not Guilty|
|Round 6, 1997||Wrestling||1 match payment|
|Round 21, 2000||Wrestling||$3500 fine|
|Round 13, 2001||Wrestling||$3000 fine|
|Round 22, 2001||Wrestling||Not Guilty|
|Round 22, 2001||Wrestling||$5000 fine|
|Round 22, 2001||Striking||Not Guilty|
|2002 Wizard Cup Match 1||Charging||2 matches|
|Round 22, 2002||Charging||Withdrawn|
|Round 19, 2004||Wrestling||$5000 fine|
|Round 19, 2006||Charging||Withdrawn|