Ken Piesse looks at his favourute players from the Bass Valley and Alberton regions.
Confession time. I don.t support Collingwood. Never have. Never will.
Growing up even in the southern suburbs it seemed every second kid had a black and white Magpie jumper. If it wasn.t Collingwood, it was Essendon.
So at each and every match I.d attend, especially Grand Finals, I.d always be supporting someone else.
Carlton was a favorite as they had a habit of knocking Collingwood off in the big games.
I.ll never ever forget Jezz.s left foot snap in the final moments of the 1970 epic from bounced and bounced and bounced straight through for the matchwinning goal. My Dad and I were part of the 121,000-plus crowd and were roaring with the rest of the mob.
Sitting on the bench until those final seconds that day was a kid from Welshpool by the name of Neil Chandler.
Nineteen man Teddy Hopkins famously came on after half-time to be a matchwinner from a forward pocket. Chandler, the 20th man, wasn.t required until the final few minutes.
It was still sweet, however, his second premiership in three years and he.d only just turned 21.
Premierships became a habit for Chandler, who had been signed by Carlton just three days before form fours were abolished and the Bass and La Trobe Valley area became Footscray.s exclusive territory.
Had he delayed, or accepted a second offer to play at Melbourne FC, Chandler says he would have been robbed of his best days of his sporting life. He added a third Carlton premiership in 1972 and this time played the whole game, at half-forward.
Back at Welshpool in 1979 he played in another premiership team, under another who had been to town and returned, Chris Aitken.
.That was a real thriller, too,. he said. .We got over Foster but only just. There was only a kick in it at the end..
Now 61 and still esconced on the family farm at Hedley, a couple of Jezza left footers up the road from Welshpool, Chandler says football may not hold the same attraction for him now, but he still reels off the names of some of the great local players of his generation like the Lynch brothers (Peter and Wayne) from Yarram, Greg Foat (an exceptionally gifted rover from Woodside), Geoffrey Eddy (Fish Creek), Gary Claverino (Foster) and Welshpool.s own Ron Tibbles.
He enjoyed his one-on-one battles with many of them and like most of the high-profiled coming back to bush ranks played anywhere he was needed. He also coached both at club and inter-league level, but said the disparity between the clubs and the leagues which had money was immense, even then.
.Welshpool didn.t have the team or the resources to build a (good) team,. he said.
.We were supposed to be a major league but getting people to play was the hardest thing. No-one wanted to get injured and we simply didn.t have the players to be competitive against the teams from the Ovens and Murray, for example, many of which had pokies and could afford to pay up to $15,000 just for a player. It made impossible for us to compete..
I still remember Chandler.s boyish athleticism and habit of outmarking even the ruckmen. I also recall his first number, 47, which was very high for a player of his ability (later he changed to No.22).
Chandler says he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and while he was a reserve more often than he cares to remember, at least he was in Carlton.s best 20. Neil is a good sport and as one of those responsible for knocking off Collingwood so often (sorry Magpie supporters!), he also happens to be my favorite player from the Bass Valley-Alberton region!
In alphabetical order my personal favorite top 10 are:
Chris Aitken: anyone who played League football deserved respect in my eyes and while Chris played only a handful of games at Melbourne, he had three different stints, the lure of the bush always dragging him back home. His flag at Welshpool in .79 remained one of his great highlights.
Terry Benton: was imbued with that old Shinboner spirit, tough and rugged who played more than 100 games in the .60s with North Melbourne seniors and reserves level. Later he went bush and in-between his farming duties, coaching Leongatha, Foster and Meeniyan. Was noted for his excellent .man-manager. skills. Still has links with Leongatha via a plumbing business he now owns.
Robert Best: a member of an elite club: 500 games, five flags and all with Foster. He played into his 50s; a remarkable achievement.
Neil Chandler: Played just 75 or so senior games at Carlton, yet four were Grand Finals: 1968, 1970, 1972 (for premierships) and 1973 (Carlton lost to Richmond). Originally from Welshpool via Emerald. Long forgotten are his handful of games at St Kilda.
Wayne & Peter Lynch: They were both sensational country footballers and a major reason why Yarram was always so competitive in their time. They played taller than their height (5ft 10in in the old lingo). Peter also captained Leongatha to a flag.
Bob Profitt: Was as wild as they come and a star at Port Melbourne in the VFA in the early .70s. He also played for Port at cricket and when the going got tough would deliberately chuck one or two, .just to see if the umpires were awake.. Bullwinkle (as he was known) was also afflicted with the biggest slice I have ever seen on any golf course… anywhere. He.d have to start it 50 metres left to have any chance of hitting even the most expansive fairway!
Harry Skreja: Was a fine, elusive full forward, especially at VFA level with Williamstown in the .70s. He also had a handful of games with Footscray.
Barry Standfield: Fish Creek.s .Mr Football., Barry played in the club.s back-to-back flags in 2001-02 after finishing his League career and made a comeback in recent times as playing coach, mentoring and encouraging. Before going to the Big Smoke, Standfield had first played for the club as a 15-year-old. Few have given more service or are as proud of their beginnings.
Paul .Noddy. Ware: One of the standouts in a great bush footy family, Noddy was another 500-gamer. He won 11 B & F.s at Dalyston and was also a powerhouse at Glen Alvie. Still is there every Saturday at Dalyston as club runner. That.s commitment!
Robert Wilkinson: Had a couple of stints at my beloved Glenferrie Oval in the .70s (any old Hawk is a good Hawk). What appealed to me was the name of the club he was recruited from: Inverloch.Kongwak. It.s right up there for me with Won Wron Woodside and Grong Grong Matong up in the Riverina way.
. Next week: KEN PIESSE selects his favorite 10 players from the Geelong and District FL