“I’VE LIVED A LIFE THAT’S FULL…..I DID IT MY WAY…..”

With thanks to Guest Blogger: Greg Rosser

The photo’s 70 years old………

‘South Wanderers Football Club – Wangaratta Junior Football League Premiers – 1950.’…….

The vast majority of this line-up have now shuffled off to their mortal coil. But if you’re a generation down the line, like us, you may be able to spot a few familiar faces……And can probably identify the contribution they made to life in Wangaratta…..and beyond.

We can even remember some of them in action on the footy field in succeeding years:

That’s Peter Hughes in the front row. Two years later, aged 18, he played on a wing in the last of Mac Holten’s famous Magpie ‘four-in-a-row’ sides. In 1953 he shared Hawthorn’s Best First-Year Player Award.

Of course, we hardly need to introduce the kid on the far right. Lance Oswald was just 13 at the time, but already had ‘Champ’ written all over him. He won the WJFL Medal that year, and went on to win a Morris Medal, two St.Kilda B & F’s and recognition as the best centreman in Australia in the early sixties.

There’s Graeme Kneebone , Pat Quinton and Col Bromilow – long-term O & K players and local identities. Up in the back row is a Wang Rovers Hall-of-Famer and Vice-Captain to Bob Rose in the Hawks’ 1958 and ‘60 premiership teams…Yes, it’s Les Clarke.

And that’s Arthur, his brother, the confident-looking kid nestling up to Alf Brisbane, the umpie…….

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They nominated Arthur as the Club’s Most Unselfish Player that year. He joked that it was probably because he shared the ball so often with the opposition.

Wareena Park was the Wanderers’ home ground. “We played on Saturdays and spent all Sunday arvo kicking the footy around there,” he once told us.

He followed Les to the Rovers and chalked up seven senior games. Not quite possessive of the talent – or dedication – of his brother, he was also obliged to sacrifice footy training for Night School. It was inevitable that he’d head ‘bush’ – to Eldorado – where he lined up at centre half back, under the coaching of Doug Ferguson.

When the Red and Whites folded he threw in his lot with Milawa in 1955 – and stayed there for 63 years. Many of his team-mates were to become lifelong friends.

But, as the old story-teller would say: “Hang on….you’re getting ahead of things here….You’d better go back to the start……And remember: No-one will mind if you stretch things a bit for the sake of a good story………….”

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So we return to the height of the Depression – to Gapsted, located 5 miles from Myrtleford and 25 from Wangaratta.

Ernie and Jean Clarke welcomed Arthur into the world in 1932.

“Mum and Dad were humble people…..Dad was a hard-worker; a quiet man with a gentle nature…. Mum was a marvellous woman; boss of the house and protector of her family. She gave us advice and a dressing-down at the same time…..Always straight from the heart…No bullshit….”

He started school just after the Depression, attending Gapsted State School (number 2240) with his siblings Eddie, Les and Patricia.

“I used to take my lunch to school in a brown paper bag, “ he said. “The crumpled bag smelt of many past lunches….If I wanted a drink there were a dozen enamel mugs on the stand of the rain-water tank….These mugs were used by all 40-odd pupils for the whole school year.”

“I liked school, probably because it was the only place I went to beside church. Living on the farm, though, was a great learning experience, even despite the inconvenience of freezing winters, long, hot summers and the threat of bushfires. More often than not it was as dry as a dead dingo’s donger ”

“In summer we’d swim in the lagoon. It was about three feet deep, with about a foot of mud at the bottom….and plenty of leeches. I always swam in the nude…..so it gave the leeches plenty of loose pieces to latch onto.”

“One day, Les, Eddie, me and a few mates went for a swim at the Rocky Point Bridge. We had no togs, so we pulled down our singlets and tied them under our crotch with a piece of wire………Unfortunately, Les was bitten by a snake.”

“I jumped on our horse and rode bare-back, approximately half a mile to the nearest farm-house. Les was taken to the Myrtleford Hospital and ended up okay. But I was worse off because the wire I’d tied onto my singlet bloody-near castrated me……So my kids were lucky they had a father……”

“Farm life was great. We’d harvest walnuts, go on fox drives, kill snakes and go ferreting. Rabbits ( underground mutton ) sold for a shilling a pair, and on a good day we could net a couple of hundred. At shearing-time we would attend the shed and work as a ‘hey you’, sweeping the floor and dabbing tar on sheep………”

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The Clarke’s moved to 29 Morrell Street, Wangaratta in 1947. Arthur had two years at the Tech School, but cut his losses on an academic career and scored a job at Bruck Mills. He was 17.

“After six months of placing drop wires on weaving looms, I left and got a job with Stone Brothers, the Plumbers. My next move was to Harrison’s Plumbing, not as an apprentice, but as an ‘improver’, which lasted for the next 15 years.”

“Mr.Harrison also had a garage and Funeral parlour in Ovens Street. At Week-ends I’d throw on the grey striped pants, white shirt, long black coat and bowler hat, put on my solemn face and drive the hearse.”

He also found time to do a milk-run for Cook’s Dairy whilst he was at Harrison’s. It was a tough job on the Horse and Cart, ladling milk into a billy in the pitch black, and fending off barking dogs. Cook’s found it hard to keep their ‘Milkies’ .

“Graeme Cook was also an O & K umpire, and was in charge the day I belted a Tarrawingee player. ‘Cookie’ raced in and said ‘you’re gone number 2’. I told him that he could shove his Milk-Round and he replied: ‘Ah…Let’s make it a warning’.

Arthur spent most of his time in defence for Milawa, where his long, booming kicks from the last line were a feature. The Demons had finished bottom – winless – the year prior to his arrival, but under the coaching of Bill Kelly, improved dramatically. They jumped to Third, then in 1956, after topping the ladder, were unable to contain the taller Beechworth in the Grand Final.

The absence of Kelly was sorely felt, and Clarke led the side into the big clash. He remained one of their stalwarts for years, until a rainy day, on a slushy Whitfield Oval in 1960 brought about his downfall.

“I never forgot it,” he said. “I marked the ball at centre half forward, but landed awkwardly and broke my left knee-cap in half. The boys were saying: ‘Come on Clarkie, you can kick it.’ But the knee was wobbling around like a broken piston in a lawn-mower.”

“Old Art was going nowhere. My career was over.”

But in a scenario that’s replicated in countless community Clubs around the state, he hung around.

For the next five decades he served as Treasurer, Vice-President, Selector, Trainer, Time-Keeper, Committee-Member and, for a period, Number 1 Ticket-Holder. On Sunday mornings he would head out to spruce up the Rooms after a home-game.

Milawa had won just two premierships in 54 years when his son Jeff, who had been a Demon mascot whilst Arthur was playing, guided them to the 1984 flag. The margin over Chiltern ( 78 points ) was almost as decisive the following year, when they blitzed Bright to the tune of 68 points.

After four years as coach, 257 games and three B & F’s Jeff hung up the boots in 1988. He was later elevated to the O & K Hall of Fame. His brother Rob (‘Roo’) played alongside him for a fair portion of his career and their sisters Pam and Sandra were part of the Demons’ Netball line-up.

Arthur’s grand-son Ben is recognised as one of the best mid-fielders going around in the O & K at present. He played a big part in Milawa’s 2013 flag and was co-captain of their all-conquering 2019 side. Grand-daughters Sarah, Emily and Izabelle have all made their mark in netball……

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Three years after Arthur’s footy career finished he and Val started their own business – ‘Arthur Clarke Plumbers’.

“It was 1963. We had 204 pounds, an FJ Holden, a trailer, four kids and a Workshop in Bullivant Street . My best mate, Mick O’Keeffe came to work for me and at one time we had five plumbers, two apprentices and several others working. We left our mark all around Wangaratta and adjoining towns, and did countless ‘love-jobs’.

One of those was for Father Byrne, the popular Parish Priest of Our Lady’s Church.

“We had to climb the 85-foot bell-tower and bolt the aluminium frame to the tower. I reckon I’d be the only Freemason who’s featured in an congratulatory article on the front-page of a Catholic newsletter,” he once said.

In 1982 he and Val passed the business on to the two boys, Jeff and Rob, and decided on a ‘sea-change’ as Florists. Arthur then moved on to manage Boral Bricks for ten years.

But in the meantime he kept himself busy, involving himself in the Wangaratta Urban Fire Brigade (for 20 years), Appin Park Rotary ( where he was awarded Rotary’s highest honour, the Paul Harris Fellowship ), Kiwani’s, Milawa Bowls, Tarrawingee Golf, care-taker of Wangaratta Ladies Bowls, and tending to Rotary Park in Edwards Street.

This most unpretentious of helpers received recognition for his sterling efforts when he was declared Wangaratta’s Citizen of the Year in 2002.

But some health battles lay ahead. He spent just on ten years enduring the endless cycle of kidney dialysis treatment. Eventually Arthur Clarke, the old battler who often joked that he was ‘Too Tough To Die’, passed away, aged 87, in early May last year……………

BEECHWORTH’S UNOFFICIAL AMBASSADOR

I’ve just caught up with an old Ovens and King League ironman.

My memories of him from 40 years ago are of a football desperado, whose on-field deeds are running through my mind whilst we sip coffee outside the Beechworth Bakery.

A mischevious grin is never far from the surface of  his rugged countenance and I must admit he he seems very refined these days, as he politely greets several passers-by  .

Someone told me recently that Kevin Rhodes was one of the best-known people in Beechworth, and I don’t doubt it.

How Rhodesy came to settle in the old gold-mining ( and now tourist ) town is a story worth telling….

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He was reared in Port Melbourne and always loved his footy. He had a few games with local club, Port Colts, but there were plenty of other things competing for his attention at the time.

By his own admission he was a bit rebellious as a young bloke and the inevitable happened – he got into strife with the law.

His mates suggested he should make himself scarce for a while, because a spell inside the ‘slammer’ was a certainty. “This sounded like a good idea to me, so I got my future step-father to pick me up from Geelong, where I was bailed up at my nanna’s. He drove me out to the Ballarat Road and I hitch-hiked across the Nullarbor “, said Kevin, recalling it as if it was yesterday.

“I had a crook ankle and was on crutches, which further complicated things. But I made it to Perth. It’s marvellous how many nice people you meet along the way “.

He discovered that the ankle he thought was sprained was, in fact, badly broken. Eager to have a game of footy, he was disappointed to be laid up for 18 months.

He’d got involved with the Midland club, in the Sunday Amateurs. “It was a pretty good standard and once I got fit I cracked it for a few senior games. I played in a Grand Final at the WACA in one of my two seasons with them.”

But it was time, he thought, to return home and face the music after four years in the west. “I was getting sick of looking over my shoulder, so when I arrived back, I walked into South Melbourne Police station and gave myself up.”

The bad news was that, while he was away he’d been given a 13-month prison sentence.

The Beechworth gaol was his destination.
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The good news was that, upon his first meeting with the Governor, he was asked if he could play football. His eyes lit up when it was mentioned that he might like to line up with the local team. Kevin suggested that perhaps he should train and see what they thought of him.

Mick Brenia, who was coaching Beechworth at the time, said he fitted into the side perfectly : “He wasn’t brilliant, but had plenty of determination and team-mates walked taller around him.”

“We had four prisoners playing with us. One fellah did the wrong thing and only lasted a couple,of weeks. Johnny Grainger was a running back-flanker and a good player, Frankie Marinucci was a bit hard to control and missed the end of the season through suspension. Rhodesy was the pick of them. I think he just enjoyed getting out. He got on well with everybody, ” Brenia said.

Kevin mainly played in defence and, as the season wore on became a key player. There was one hiccup though, when he was reported for striking North Wang’s Frank Tucci.

He explained to Tribunal chief Les O’Keeffe that he had jumped in the air, accidentally thrown out his elbow and Tucci had run into it. “He commended me on my honesty and exonerated me”, Kevin said.

Bombers’ team-mate Graeme ‘Chewy’ Hill had accompanied him to the Tribunal and they decided to grab a few beers and celebrate the verdict. “It got a bit late and when ‘ Chewy’ dropped me ‘home’ it was about 2.30am. He used to laugh about me banging on the gates of the gaol and yelling out, ‘Open up, I live here ! ”

His other visit to the Tribunal occurred after someone had landed on his proppy leg. “I saw red for a few seconds and went ‘smack’. I told them how sorry I was and got a severe reprimand.”FullSizeRender

Beechworth had a well-balanced side in 1974, topped off by their crack full forward, Graeme Hill, who booted 115 goals. They met reigning premiers North Wangaratta in the Grand Final at Chiltern and ran away to win a tough encounter by 44 points.

It completed a dream season for Kevin Rhodes, who also finished runner-up in the Best and Fairest. But there were to be no prolonged flag celebrations for him. He had to report back to gaol and was greeted at the gates by a warder, who did the mandatory bag-check.

Underneath his footy gear, and discreetly covered by a towel were four VB long-necks that someone had planted. “I got on well with this warder, who congratulated me on playing well and suggested that I drink ’em’ fairly quickly. I did that. When they had muster next morning, I was still asleep”………

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Rhodesy had made some great friends in the football club, particularly his premiership team-mate Gary Cooper and his future wife Leisa ; Bob McWaters,  Mick and Lynette Deuis, and the Carey family.

So when he was nearing the end of his ‘term’ he had pretty well decided that he’d stay in the town.

“I’d be walking around the prison yards with blokes who were already planning their next ‘job’ when they got out. I said : ‘Leave me out of it’. I just knew that if I headed back to Melbourne, I’d be a chance to drift into trouble again. By the same token, you’ve got to be prepared to change your life around.”

” Jean and Frank Carey, who had 4 sons and 2 daughters at home, said to me : ‘Look, you can stay with us for a while.’ 10 years later, Jean said : ‘Kev, do you think it’s time you spread your wings ! They’re like family to me and I still have Christmas dinner with them.”

Kevin settled in to become one of Beechworth’s most dependable players in what was a successful era for the club. They won another flag in 1979 (defeating Whorouly) and contested Grand Finals in 1975, ’76, ’78 and ’83.

He represented the O &K twice and proudly recalls that he was part of a half-back line which played against the Riverina League : ” Neville Pollard, Des Sheridan and Kevin Rhodes it was, with Ross Gardner at full back. I was in good company there !”

He was described at various times as ‘an enforcer’, ‘courageous’, ‘close-checking’ and ‘a player who had opponents ‘looking sideways’.

But the bottom-line was that he was an extremely valuable team-man and a popular character around the club in his 183 senFullSizeRenderior games.

His first job post-gaol was at the Stanley Sawmill . He was with the Shire for 6 years, then Rod Canny offered him a job for 12 months.

Finally, he moved to driving trucks with Francis Transports, where he stayed for 26 years,  before his recent retirement.

He loves Beechworth and its people and newcomers often ask how he came to settle in the town.

“I usually reply that I was brought here 41 years ago in a government-sponsored position ! “, says Beechworth’s unofficial ambassador.

“THE PROTECTOR”

In the late 1960’s, a man mountain began to make his way in the world of football.

No, it wasn’t ‘Big Mick’ Nolan,,who was already becoming a household name. It was ‘Big Micka’, a lad of similar-sized girth and heart.

He was to strut the stage of local sport for nigh on 20 years.

John Michelini’s ample frame could have done with a couple more inches in height. It would have compensated for a lack of pace, which proved to be an obstacle when he strove to make his mark in Ovens and Murray ranks……

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Michelini was a mere youngster when he pulled on the Red and Blue Milawa guernsey in 1969.

He timed his debut season perfectly, as the Demons were on their way to their first premiership in 29 years.

He displayed agility and spirit and was a fine player that season. He certainly fulfilled his role and showed plenty of maturity in the Grand Final, which saw Milawa overcome Beechworth by 16 points.

His development continued the following season, as he polled a dozen votes in the Baker Medal and figured in another Grand Final, this time against King Valley, which took out its first flag.

Encouraging reports of the progress of the promising ruckman-forward, had prompted the Wangaratta Rovers recruiters to include him in their ‘little black book’.

It prompted a visit to his Glenrowan home by Hawk coach Neville Hogan. ‘Micka’s’ mum said…”sorry, but you’ve missed him. He shouldn’t be far away. He went out ‘for a shot’ early this morning”.

“Head down that lane, take the first turn right and drive as far as you can ’til you reach a dead end. I’m pretty sure you’ll catch him there”, said Mrs.Michelini.

On cue, as Hogan reached his destination, he spied a bearded bloke lumbering out of the scrub, with gun in hand, looking every bit like a threatening nineteenth-century bushranger.

‘Micka’ agreed to have a run and had a couple of years at the Rovers (1971 and ’72). He was restricted to five senior games and spent the rest of the time in the Reserves.

The Hawks had a crackerjack side and won successive flags, as the deft ruck work of Mick Nolan proved a major factor in their dominance. It certainly limited the opportunities for a raw, cumbersome ruckman.

Many felt there could have been a niche for him in the O & M had he persisted, particularly in view of Nolan’s departure for North Melbourne, but ‘Micka’ was content, instead, to ply his craft in the minor leagues.

A Rovers team-mate, Paul Scanlan, enticed him to head out to Moyhu as his assistant-coach in 1973. They helped the downbeat ‘Hoppers’ climb up the ladder and the big fellow was a major factor in their improvement, with his solid work in the ruck.

An accident, when he fell off a haystack, curtailed him for several weeks, but he enjoyed a couple of good years and was an automatic selection in the O & K rep side.

Milawa dangled the ‘carrot’ of the coaching job in front of him in 1975, but it proved a disastrous season for the club, and his own form suffered accordingly. So he stood down in favour of Neville Pollard and stayed on in a playing capacity.

After another move, this time to Glenrowan, for two years as captain-coach, he returned to the Demons, where he was to prove a larger-than-life personality for more than a decade.

There was an aura about ‘Micka’. Teammates walked taller when he was around. He was 6’2″, his weight fluctuated between 18-19 stone and he possessed brute strength, which he used in a scrupulous manner.

His idea of bliss was to sit down, with a beer in one hand, and a fag in the other, to yarn about all things sport. He worked as a  Grader-driver for the Shire  and was a knockabout  bloke who had time for everyone.

Cricket and basketball were his ardent summer-time pursuits. But the Michelini legend was forged on the football field. It gained further lustre, as the Demons returned to power during their golden era of the eighties.

He morphed into a permanent full forward. With hands like dinner-plates, he was a difficult player to contend with in the air. And despite his bulk, he was pretty quick on the lead for 10 metres or so. In short, he was a defender’s nightmare. Added to this was his accurate kicking. He once booted 14 goals straight against Bright.

Milawa came from the clouds to win a spot in the Grand Final, against King Valley, in 1981. The two protagonists had filled the two bottom rungs of the ladder the previous season. But the Demon dream was extinguished by Richie Allen’s Kangaroos, who proved too good.

‘Micka’s’ magnificent performance in the 1982 Prelim Final snatched the game  from the clutches of Bright and he was Milawa’s best in an infamous game the next week. Playing with broken ribs, he did his best to ‘fly the flag’, as the first half of the clash with Chiltern erupted in a series of incidents and rolling brawls.

When the dust settled, the Swans ran away, to win by 74 points.

The Demons exacted revenge in emphatic fashion two years later, when they crushed their bitter rivals. ‘Micka’ had been an indestructable force in the goal-mouth and brought up his 114th goal for the season, in his side’s 13-goal triumph.

He chalked up his third flag the following year, when Milawa belted Bright in another one-sided encounter.

Lionel Schutt was the baby of that side and recalls the veteran sidling up to the occasional opponent who had given thought to roughing him up.

“He was great to play alongside. He always reckoned that he was responsible for my name. ‘Micka’ and dad were having a few beers together about the time I was born and were watching one of Lionel Rose’s title fights. They agreed I should be named after the champ.”

‘Micka’ was still kicking goals and acting as a ‘protector’ in a developing side, early in the 1989 season. After 212 games with the Demons, and despite advancing years, he’d maintained his hunger for the game and was much-loved by his young team-mates.

He had headed back to Wangaratta, after footy training one night, when his vehicle failed to negotiate a bend on the Moyhu/Oxley Road and veered into a tree, costing him his life.

In the 26 years that have since transpired his daughters Kim and Kerry-Lee have enjoyed lengthy netball careers. Kim recently celebrated her 550th game with Milawa.

They are certainly doing their bit to perpetuate the name of one of the Ovens and King’s most beloved characters.
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KENNEDY’S COMMANDO

The lanky volunteer swapping banter with patients at the Wangaratta Hospital, remains anonymous to all but the most perceptive football person.

As a retired male nurse  of 36 years standing,  he’s seen first-hand the fillip that a caring visitor can bring to someone who’s been consigned to bed for a week or more. Even a ‘hello’ can bring a broad smile to their face and brighten their day.

Nowadays he comes across as a soft-hearted, kindly soul – a far cry from the flint-hard key defender, who played an important role in one of the toughest of all VFL/AFL Grand Finals.

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Norm Bussell didn’t play a game of football until he was 14. Not because he didn’t want to, mind you. It’s just that his arm was broken so badly at the age of nine that he couldn’t straighten it fully for many years.

Instead, his dad, who was the resident Lands Department dingo-trapper in Whitfield, would take him out at week-ends to help trap and shoot the pests, which would prey on local livestock.

The Bussell home backed onto the King Valley Oval and Norm spent many hours honing his football skills, soon winning himself a spot in the ‘Roos’ senior side and an invitation from the Wang.Rovers to play three games on permit towards the end of 1961. He was just 16.

The next season he became a regular with the Hawks and relished playing under Bob Rose, soaking up the wisdom of the great man. Rose, for his part, rated the lightly-framed, athletic 193cm Bussell highly.

When he took on the coaching job at Collingwood two years later, he immediately lured Norm down to Victoria Park for the practice matches and Magpie officials coaxed him into signing a Form Four, binding him to the club for an indefinite period.

But he never did take that next step.

He had just started an Auto-Electrical apprenticeship in Wangaratta and was happy at the Rovers. Besides, he was loving his footy, playing at centre half back and thriving in a close-knit group that gelled superbly, as the charismatic Ken Boyd extracted the best out of them.

The Rovers won back-to-back premierships in 1964 and ’65 and played in another Grand Final, which they lost to Wodonga, in 1967. Norm had won the club’s Best & Fairest and represented the League during the season and when Hawthorn secretary Ron Cook came knocking one Saturday morning, he was interested in what he had to say.

What perfect timing ! Collingwood’s Form Four had expired the previous night and the VFL’s Zoning scheme was due to kick-in on the following Monday. This meant that Norm would have become automatically tied to North Melbourne.

“I liked the way Ron Cook went about things. I signed with Hawthorn and decided to go straight away. I never regretted that decision”, he said.

Without playing a Reserves game, he went straight into the senior side for the first game of 1968. And he became a fervent disciple of the coaching methods of John Kennedy.

“The conditioning at Hawthorn made the players so much more physically strong than our opponents and John built an entire game plan around this ascendency. It was a real family club. They were champion blokes and it was a privilege to be involved “, he recalled.

He thrived on what his team-mate Don Scott described “the spirit of Hawthorn”.

“It came from the players staying together away from the ground. there was no need for the administration, the coach, or anyone else, to re-in force any kind of discipline. We had our own code of ethics and it worked, ” Scott once said.

Norm forged friendships with the ‘Hawthorn family’ that have lasted to this day.

Whilst never a glamour player, his ability to do the job in defence enabled him to make a name for himself and he was to play 114 senior games with Hawthorn over six years. The highlight was undoubtedly the 1971 premiership.

Hawthorn were dealt a hefty blow in the second semi-final when champion centre half back Peter Knights tore ligaments and was ruled out for the Grand Final. It meant that they were forced to move Bussell across from the flank to the key defence post. He played a significant role in the triumph over St.Kilda, in a rough-and-tumble decider, ever-remembered for its brutality.

It’s interesting, in this current era of exorbitant player contracts, which can sometiimes be upwards of half a million dollars a year, that the players in Bussell’s era were earning around $20 per game, with an extra $10 salted away in their Provident Fund.

A back injury shortened Norm’s League career and he returned to the Rovers in 1974, accepting the appointment as assistant-coach to Neville Hogan, with whom he had shared a flag ten years earlier.

The family settled on a small farm at Whorouly and he enjoyed his footy. “I was very happy to be home. There was never any question about coming back to the club which had given me my original opportunity. But out on the ground it wasn’t easy. I was a bit of a marked man and some of the young blokes wanted to knock my block off”, he said.

Injury problems confined him to just 10 games in 1974, but he played a starring role in the premiership win. He had a stellar year in ’75, winning his second Best & Fairest and helping in another flag win. His toughness added a touch of steel to a talented line-up.

The last of his 143 games with the Rovers came early in 1976, as he succumbed to his ‘dicky’ knee and aching back.

He retired to his farm and commenced a mature-aged nursing degree. The inevitable visit came from his local club, Whorouly, who asked him to take over the coaching position. Successive premierships in 1977 and ’78 were sparked by his aggressive on-field leadership. There was little doubt that his players would ‘go through a brick wall’ for him.

At one stage they had chalked up 29 wins in a row. The winning margin in the 1978 decider against Beechworth was a whopping 119 points.

Myrtleford approached him in 1985 and he spent one, largely unsuccessful year as non-playing coach of a side that had suffered from mass departures during the off-season.

That was the final curtain-call for his active footy career, although he was a proud onlooker as his son Aidan helped the Rovers to the 1993 flag in a 44-game playing stint during the 90’s.

The once-laconic youngster, who had become a proud member  of ‘Kennedy’s Commandoes’, left a strong imprint on the football scene and is a member of both the Ovens & King and Wangaratta Rovers’ Halls of Fame.
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