Markov’s long journey to AFL premiership glory…and the SA connections to the Magpies AFL flag

Oleg Markov playing for SA Under-18s against Victoria Country in 2015. Picture - Peter Argent

By Peter Argent

An outstanding junior athlete who came through the North Adelaide and SANFL talent pathway, Collingwood 2023 premiership player Oleg Markov is a special story of perseverance and self-belief.

It was third-time lucky for the Belarus-born son of Dmitri Markov, a world champion pole vaulter in 2001 and Athens Olympian, and his wife Valentina, who moved to Adelaide when Oleg was 10 months of age.

Markov’s football started as a junior at the Gepps Cross Rams before moving into North Adelaide’s development program from under-13s.

He played two League games with the Roosters in 2015, the same year he was a member of the SA State program under the guidance of Brenton Phillips in 2015, playing as an over-ager.

“Oleg played Under 18s for North Adelaide in 2014 but did have a couple of significant injuries (two significant collar-bone injuries),” said Phillips, Head of Talent at the SANFL.

“We always knew he had plenty of athletic traits and played all our games in the 2015 program.

“He was a versatile type who kicked five goals in one game against Victorian Metro.”


Oleg Markov, left, and Jack Crisp during the 2023 AFL Grand Final. Picture – Peter Argent

Originally drafted to Richmond, while he was at the club during their ultra-successful three-flag era, he personally only enjoyed the fruits of a VFL premiership.

There were a couple of seasons on the Gold Coast Sun’s AFL list, before he started considering options post football.

A chat with Craig McCrae saw him train with Collingwood looking for a rookie spot at the start of 2023, before nearly being poached by Carlton.

After just a single day at Blues training, he was contacted again by the Magpies and was offered a rookie contract.

Debuting in round four against Brisbane at the Gabba, Markov played every game for the remainder of the season.


Markov represented SA in the Under 18 AFL national championships as an over-ager in 2015. Picture – Peter Argent.

The emotion was palpable when the final siren sounded on AFL Grand Final day on Saturday, October 1, as Markov had finally lived his dream.  He was an AFL premiership player after a long and arduous journey, already full of peaks and troughs.

“You dream of this, and it’s become a reality,” Markov said in a post-match interview.

“The moment the siren went today, feeling relief, joy, happiness

“I just started tearing up and bawling my eyes out for about two minutes.

“I didn’t know what to do.

“So I’m so lucky to feel this.

“I’m waiting for the emotional roller coaster to stop and for someone to ground me but right now, let me be up in the clouds.”

Collingwood defeated Brisbane by four points – 12.18 (90) to 13.8 (86) – in one of the all-time classic AFL Grand Finals.

Markov was among the five SA connections in the Collingwood Magpies 2023 premiership team, along with South Adelaide export Beau McCreery and Brayden Maynard, the son of Peter, a dual Glenelg premiership player from the 1980s.

McCreery spent a decade with the Cove Cobras in the Southern Football League, before going to South Adelaide.

He made his senior debut for the Panthers in round one of season 2020 (June 27) at Adelaide Oval, before being selected by Collingwood with their final pick (No. 44) of the 2020 AFL Draft.

Maynard was born in Adelaide, but grew up in Melbourne, originally playing with Hampton Rovers and then TAC Cup under-18s for the Sandringham Dragons.

Brayden Maynard’s grandfather, Graham Campbell, has a local connection too. He played and coached Fitzroy, as well as coaching West Perth and locally at Glenelg in 1983 and 1984. Post coaching, Campbell also had a strong involvement in the SA football media.

Another great story of the 2023 Collingwood premiership side is Adelaide-born coach Craig McCrae who played 41 senior games with the Glenelg Tigers, kicking 59 goals in 1993 and 1994, before being drafted to Brisbane.

McCrae would play in three flags with the Lions across a 195-game career, before moving into coaching ranks with the Richmond Tigers, only starting the senior job at the Pies in 2022.

Adding to the Grand Final fairytale for McCrae, he became a father again hours before the game, with wife Gabrielle giving birth on Saturday morning to a daughter, Maggie.

Collingwood’s fifth member of the SA contingent was line coach and former Jack Oatey Medallist and Woodville West Torrens premiership player from 2006, Hayden Skipworth.


Footnote – Also on Collingwood’s AFL list for 2023 were Jakob Ryan (Glenelg), Nathan Kreuger (South), Cooper Murley (Norwood), Arlo Draper (South Adelaide), Ash Johnson (Sturt), John Noble (West Adelaide), Harvey Harrison (North Adelaide), Oscar Steene (West Adelaide) and Josh Carmichael (West Adelaide).  


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