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Matthew Pavlich

In mid-June, the AFL held their annual Hall of Fame function with eight new inductees and one previous inductee elevated to Legend status. The Legend elevation was the late Port Adelaide Magpie (SANFL) centerman Russell Ebert, who was also recently named as Port Adelaide's greatest ever player. Ebert is the 32nd player to be named a Legend. He passed away in 2021, and the award was accepted by his widow Dian.

The eight new inductees represented not only the AFL, but the state leagues and Tasmania. They are Terry Cashion, Bill Dempsey, Mike Fitzpatrick, Brent Harvey, Matthew Pavlich, Michael Taylor, Ted Tyson and Nicky Winmar.

The Inductees:

RUSSELL EBERT - elevated to Legend status


392 1968-78, 1980-85, 295 goals
25 games for North Melbourne 1979, 15 goals
29 games for SA, eight goals
Premiership player 1977, 1980, 1981
Magarey Medals 1971, 1974, 1976, 1980
Best and Fairest 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981
Leading goalkicker 1968
Jack Oatey Medal 1981
Captain 1974-78 and 1983-85
Port Adelaide Magpie Greatest Team (Center)
Coached Port Adelaide 116 games 1983-87, 64 wins, 52 losses
Coached Woodville 64 games 1988-90, 24 wins, 40 losses

Port Adelaide chairman David Koch reflected on Ebert’s extraordinary contribution to Australian football, “No person has done more to promote the virtues of Australian football both on and off the field ... His elevation ... is a richly deserved recognition ... Scrupulously fair, he always played the game in the right spirit ... with equal doses of courage and brilliance which set him aside from any other player ... with a great sense of humor and insatiable willingness to put others first, Russell became one of the giants of South Australia. No person has done more for the Port Adelaide and South Australian football community ... He represented everything about Port Adelaide, yet had the power to transcend rivalries and connect with the entire football community and beyond through his charity work. This is a man who made his family, his club and his community incredibly proud ... ". Legendary Port Adelaide coach Fos Williams, also an Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee, once described Ebert as “the most skillful" of all the Port Adelaide players, "There’s nothing he couldn’t do. He was a pleasure to coach.”

TERRY CASHION (deceased)
193 games in New Town, Clarence, Longford, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 1939-40, 1946-54
Five games for South Melbourne 1942, five goals
14 games for Tasmania
1947, 1950, 1953 Carnivals
Clarence Best and Fairest 946, 1947
Longford Best and Fairest 1948, 1949, 1951
Sandy Bay Best and Fairest 1952, 1953
Premiership 1952 Sandy Bay
Tassie Medal 1950 (national carnival)
Leitch Medal (TFL) 1953
Tasmania Team of the Century (rover)

BILL DEMPSEY
343 games for West Perth, 1960-76, 89 goals (second-most WAFL games ever)
NTFL Player Darwin Buffaloes 1959-69, estimated 140 games
14 games for WA
WA Premiership player 1969, 1971, 1975
NT Premiership player 1959, 1960, 1968
Simpson Medal 1969 (best on ground for WA)
West Perth Best and Fairest 1966
West Perth Captain 1973-76
Darwin Captain 1964-65
West Perth Team of the Century, Indigenous Team of the Century

One of the Stolen Generation, Dempsey grew up in a mission home in Darwin and said football was a way of coping. Another resident was recruited by West Perth but soon returned home but went back to WA when Dempsey went along. Dempsey played alongside the great Graham "Polly" Farmer as well as the grandfather of current North Melbourne player Jed Anderson. Dempsey said, " It’s overwhelming actually to think I’m sitting here tonight. Who would have thought it? Not me. I’m just an ordinary guy who just wanted to be a good person, play and just be me, but here I am ... Thanks to ... all the people that were instrumental in getting me up here. It’s very embarrassing ... because I hate being in the public eye ... ".

MIIKE FITZPATRICK
97 games with Subiaco 1970-74, 77 goals
150 games with Carlton 1975-83, 150 goals
11 games for Western Australia, two state games for Victoria (captain 1983)
Premierships 1973 (WAFL), 1979 (VFL), 1981 (VFL, captain) and 1982 (VFL, captain)
1973, 1974, 1979 Best and Fairest
1980-83 Captain
Director of Carlton Football Club, 1989-95
AFL Commissioner 2003-17
AFL Chair 2008-17

One recollection Fitzpatrick has is being late for a pre-match meeting in August of 1978. Then coach Alex Jesaulenko, to impress the importance of commitment, dropped Fitzpatrick to the reserves for the rest of the year, "Jezza had one clear rule. If you're not committed, you won't go anywhere in anything," Fitzpatrick ramped up his training to become the fittest he could possibly become. Of the ensuing years he said, " ... After preseason in 1979, I felt I was really ready ... As a team, we just started well that season. It just went from there and the next five years or so were an absolute peak for the team and myself ... We had that nice mix of talented older guys with experience and younger players ... That made us hungry and very good ... The training was huge, the footy ... fantastic and the social life ... outstanding, We partied a lot but we had to earn it with success and if we lost, we got completely flogged on the track ... ". He joked that he was the last of the "short ruckmen" (6'1"). He said it was great to be a part of the old suburban rivalries and success at Carlton was expected. He mixed his football with a business career. He also said, "I had got an awful lot out football and it was an opportunity for me to give time back to the game ... if there is something in the game that needs to be dealt with, we can address with it through the game's leadership ... ".

BRENT HARVEY
432 games for North Melbourne, 518 goals (all-time AFL games record-holder)
1999 Premiership
2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 Best and Fairest
2000, 2005, 2007, 2008 All Australian
1999 E.J. Whitten Medal (best on ground for Victoria in State of Origin game)
2003 Jim Stynes Medal (best in International Rules game)
2009-2011 Captain

When Harvey was drafted by the Kangaroos, then coach Denis Pagan remarked, 'I want footballers and you've got me a jockey'. It wasn't the first time Harvey had heard the gibe about his small stature, saying, "Everybody wanted to judge me on my size ... so I always felt I had a lot to prove ... and show ... I could be a good player ... To be really good at footy ... you just have to love it and be prepared to do the work ... I wanted to train all the time ... and I still love training and I still love playing ... From afar, I would watch Robert Harvey and Shane Crawford and ... I knew I would have to get to their levels ... (North Melbourne coach) Denis Pagan was absolutely pivotal for me to become the best footballer I could be. He taught me so much about work rate and beating taggers and what I had to do. I had great coaches all the way through ... but Denis and I have that premiership bond and he was a hard figure that I needed ... He was totally ruthless but I loved it." He joked that Pagan was responsible for his sometimes fiery attitude, "He did tell me, 'you don't want to be pushed around ... then he denied he said it ...". He is proud to have been a one-club player and equally so to be playing with his brother, "Once I finished at North, it was really important to me to be able to play some footy with my brother and it was such a great thing to have a premiership with him and then to play a senior game as well with Cooper." (his son).

MATTHEW PAVLICH
353 games for Fremantle, 700 goals
2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 Best and Fairest
2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 All Australian
2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 Club Leading Goalkicker
2007-2015 Captain

It didn't take too much prompting to get Pavlich to talk about his abilities, "Ability to read the play, explosive and repeat efforts ... If I was playing on a tall or cumbersome opponent, I was able to take them up to a stoppage and get them lost there, and on a smaller player, I could isolate them deep. That kind of variety was really important ... I was able to run players into the ground and get them later in games ... to kick the ball from a long way out and be pretty crafty close to goals. That's where my strengths lay." He reflected on the 2013 Grand Final loss to Hawthorn, " ... you do think about it. (We kicked) 8.14 and five on the full and we lost by 15 points." Off the field, he has forged a fine media career with Channel Nine and Fox Footy and has strong business interests in WA. He also served as president of the AFL Players Association, no easy feat while playing and living in Perth. He also acknowledged those around him, "It does allow me to think of the great people who have supported me, family and friends, but also the great people you meet along the way, the players and the coaches, the people from my junior days. It's a reflection on them as much as it is me. But it is humbling and I'm still pinching myself."

MICHAEL TAYLOR
289 games for Norwood 1972-80 and 1985-87, 126 goals
94 games for Collingwood 1981-84, 28 goals
13 games for SA
Premiership player 1975, 1978 (captain)
National Champion player 1977
Best and Fairest 1973, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1985
SA team of the year 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1986, 1987
Captain 1978-80
Norwood Hall of Fame Legend
SA Coach 1993-94, West Adelaide Coach 1996-2000

Taylor says he was blessed by the game for the friends he made along the way and for the coaches who helped him develop. A farm boy whose parents refused to let him go to Port because they thought he was too young at the time (15), he eventually joined Norwood. He said, "Every one of my coaches was a great of the game, which was so lucky for me ... I was a sponge for what they told me. " Only average in height, not overly quick or with a big leap, Taylor made up for it by, in his own words, being a 'wild over-trainer" which allowed him to beat opponents, "The longer a game went, the more I knew I could punish my opponent and be getting the ball and doing something with it ... I studied the game relentlessly, always asking my coaches and other players and anyone I could get for information to be learning about what opponents did, and what I would have to do against them ... “

TED TYSON (deceased)
228 games West Perth 1930-45, 1203 goals
Four games for WA
Premiership player 1932, 1934, 1935, 1941
WAFL leading goalkicker 1932, 1936
Club leading goalkicker 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941
Reached 100 goals in a season six times: 1934 (143), 1935 (119), 1937 (124), 1938 (126), 1939 (100), 1941 (111)
West Perth Team of the Century

Tyson's son Craig spoke of his father, saying he was not very tall (5'7") but was very good at ground level and a very good kick on both sides of his body. He also said, "He ... told me ... that some of the players he played with were very good at delivering the ball, so he didn’t have to rely on high marking (catching the ball). My father was very serious about his football because he had to travel a lot to train and play ... He must have been keen because there wasn’t much money involved. You played for the love of the game." Craig concluded by saying that his father, a modest man, would have been delighted with the Hall of Fame honor.

NICKY WINMAR
58 games and 98 goals for South Fremantle 1983-86
230 games and 283 goals for St Kilda 1987-1998
21 games and 34 goals for the Western Bulldogs 1999
Eight games for WA, 10 goals
Best and Fairest winner 1989, 1995
All Australian 1989, 1991, 1995
Leading goalkicker 1988
St Kilda Team of the Century, Indigenous Team of the Century

Tony Lockett had the honor of announcing Nicky Winmar as an inductee. The reclusive Lockett was more than happy to talk about his friend and former teammate at St Kilda, “I had the confidence in wherever I went he could put the ball right out in front of me,” Lockett said in a pre-recorded video. “If Nicky had it anywhere in the middle of the ground you knew you were going to be a chance. “He could take screamers (aerial catch of the ball), he could get around blokes, run them down, bounce back up and kick it 60 meters (appx 65 yards) He adapted to what he had to, he could do everything, the complete footballer. Great bloke, absolutely top of the range and we got along like a house on fire and that probably showed out on the ground. A lot of opposition, they might not have admitted it at the time, but I think they loved watching him play too.”

Winmar is an indigenous icon who famously raised his jumper and pointed to his dark skin after enduring racial taunts from Collingwood supporters at Victoria Park in 1993. He said, “We will always have racism in society, unfortunately, but we’re going to still stand here and always say we are proud of who we are and what we’ve done."

Legendary coach Kevin Sheedy, OAM was also honored by Essendon with the Bombers listing him as an Immortal of the club. It is the highest honor Essendon can bestow. The award was presented to Sheedy during a gala function celebrating the club's 150th anniversary. Already a recognized Legend of Essendon, president Paul Brasher declared Sheedy an Immortal for his extensive contributions to the club's success, “Kevin’s passion, dedication, determination and pride in expanding Essendon from a suburban club to truly national sporting organization has helped ensure ... Essendon ... will remain a pre-eminent club ... We particularly acknowledge Kevin’s contribution in winning four ... premierships ... as well as his significant role in establishing annual marquee matches including Anzac Day, Dreamtime at the 'G and the Country Festival games ... we recognize the influential role Kevin has had ... in developing and nurturing players of all backgrounds and cultures." Alongside Brasher in making the presentation were former players Terry Daniher, Adam Ramanauskas and Gavin Wanganeen.

Source: essendonfc.com.au, Georgia Ahern, AFL Media Release, Daniel Norton, Port Adelaide Media Release, afl.com.au, foxsports.com.au

Article last changed on Monday, June 20, 2022 - 4:21 PM EDT


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