Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : VFL            Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

PORT'S CENTENARY TEAM

 

The full forward talks us through a great career as Bob Bonnett who kicked 993 goals in 220 games with Port, including 111 goals in 1961, looks on.

It's a shame Andrew Demetriou wasn't there. Ron Barassi was. So too was Labor Minister John Thwaites, former Port Colts boy Garry Sweet, 1979 captain-coach Peter McKenna and just about anyone who's alive and has ever pulled on the red and blue jumper of the mighty Burras.

The centenary team night at Crown was a long way from the sawdust floors of the smoke filled Port rooms in the 1970s, the smell of the soap factory and the menacing atmosphere that hung over a game in Burra territory. For the 900 people who assembled in the Palladium Room it was a glorious reminder of the contribution VFA clubs such as Port have made to football and to social life of this city.

 

It's grand old flag.

 

For anyone silly enough to think you can wipe a club's history off the map in the interest of some AFL ordained version of progress the night should have been a wake-up call. Can you believe that two supporters paid $18,000 for each of the paintings of the Port Team of a Century? And how do we account for a working class club such as Port enticing the faithful to spend another $40,000 on framed and signed jumpers? Like Williamstown's centenary night in May, Port's night confirmed the role of history in the life of a football club. When Collingwoood proclaims its history footy lovers applaud president Eddie McGuire. So they should. What is a football club without its history?

Watching the night unfold brought back memories of Coburg's centenary night back in 2001. Although we announced a team every bit as good as Port's, less than 150 people were in attendance. Having fiddled with an alliance with the remnants of the Fitzroy FC, and struggling to assert itself in the partnership with Richmond, the club lost a great opportunity to celebrate its history and affirm its future. It's a lesson none of us at Coburg should forget.

If ever there was an argument for the VFA/VFL to reclaim the title VFA and assert its own history Saturday night was it. We can't continue with the falsehood that we are the VFL. We're not. We're the VFA and we should sing it to from the heavens.

A great centre line?

ROLL OUT THE BARREL

Gary Brice has made no secret of his view that we should reclaim the VFA name. On Saturday night he had other things to contemplate. For the man who played 102 games and led Port to three consecutive flags - 1980, 81, 82 - coach of the century seemed only fitting. And weren't they three remarkable flags? In 1980 we led Port from the first bounce until the twenty-minute mark of the last quarter. I still remember the roar of the crowd when they hit the front and when the siren sounded ten minutes later. It was shattering. And although they were the stand out club in 1981, no one believed they could defeat Ray Shaw's star-studded team in 1982. But they did.

As always with centenary teams, there was plenty of dissent. Should the 'barrel' have been selected on the interchange? And should he have got the nod over three-time premiership coach Norm Brown, whose table, I'm told, expressed its displeasure? Brown did great things at Port, but Brice deserved to the vote. However it would probably have been more politic to leave a spot on the six- man interchange to another deserving player. Although Brice played in a VFA grand final before he left Port for South, there are a number of home grown players who could lay claim to having played better football than he did after his return to the Borough in 1980.

 

 

 

BIFF KING HIT

One of those players unlucky to miss out was Greg 'Biff' Dermott. Dermott's career spanned fifteen years and included 211 games and premierships in 1976/80/81/82. Unfortunately, Dermott's place on the backline fell to David King. King is a champion but was he a champion at Port? In 1983 King had a stunning year that included a best and fairest and a grand final. The problem was that in the grand final, exuberance got the better of him and he played an undisciplined game that only compounded Port's decline and the loss of premiership to Werribee that should have been a certainty. Greg Dermott never let his team down in a big game. Tough, disciplined and capable of playing on talls and smalls he was stiff to miss out.

The debates aside it was a great team. The stand-outs included Fred Cook and Bob Bonnett in the goalsquare and Bill Swan and Peter Bedford across the centre-line. And of course there was the captain, Frank Johnson, in the ruck.

I never thought I'd ever say I nearly shed a tear for the Boroughs. I was all set to cry when an old woman started brandishing her menu and began telling premiership player Peter Wilkinson he shouldn't speak to that thug who slammed you into the fence.'
'That's not exactly what happened. And anyway, Frank Vergona got me four weeks,' I said as I took my leave. It was some night.

 

Phil,

just a quick note to say it was nice to read your article about the "Port Melbourne Team Of The Century" on your website. My father, Bob Bonnett was named in the side and I was disappointed that it hardly rated a mention in the newspapers. Even our local newspaper, Emerald Hill & Sandridge Times didn't do a write up....how disgraceful is that?

I have lived in Port Melbourne all of my life and it never ceases to amaze me when I meet new people and they say how lucky I am to be living in Port Melbourne now....(with house prices and how much the area has changed). Yes, Port Melbourne has changed and my house is worth a lot more money than when I bought it, but it doesn't mean it is a better place....fortunately there are still a lot of the "old Port" people around and they are what makes Port Melbourne a great place, the people that were in the Palladium room that night.


Regarding my father, we are extremely proud of him. Of course we thought he should have been given the full forward position...we are biased...but he was just thrilled to be in the team....there was never any doubt in our family's mind that he wouldn't be!

Thanks again & regards,

Darlene Booth

 

 

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