Remember when? Round 8

This week we are going to look back at the year of 1983 – the year one of the greatest ever players to play Australian Football made his way to the OMFL.

Gary Ablett arrived at the McNamarra Reserve for Thursday night training ahead of the Saints round seven home game against Benalla on May 14.

A party of Myrtleford officials and players including Ian “Bimbo” Wales successfully had Ablett’s clearance form signed at Glenferrie Oval and drove him back to Myrtleford for Thursday training.

Ablett had played 6 matches for Hawthorn in 1982 but had lost his way with football and life – not training or playing for Hawthorn in the preseason and early season.

The connection to Myrtleford was via local Saints legend Len Ablett who was a brother of Gary’s dad Alf – the pair had kept in touch regards the potential move by Gary to the Saints.

Myrtleford had appointed Riverina FL and ACT star forward Greg Nichols as playing coach in 1983. In 1982 he won the ACTFL league B & F medal, kicked 93 gls and was captain coach of the Ainslie premiership.

Nichols connections from a stint at Geelong paved the way for Peter Ruscuklic, a goal kicking machine in the Sydney FL to come to the Saints after finding employment in Bright. Ruscuklic in a three-year period amassed the following haul of goals for East Sydney – 136 in 1979, 156 in 1980 and then 213 in 1981 – a staggering three year total of 505 goals.

The Saints also had a plethora of local talent in Terry Burgess, Ian Wales, Peter Light, David Mattasoni, Geoff Mitchell to name a few.

Ablett made a slow start not kicking a goal in his first five matches – he arrived without any pre-season and took him well into the season to hit his straps.

He became a fitness fanatic and with that his form soared playing one of the great finals series by any player in the leagues history, kicking goals that are still talked about today, as the Saints were unlucky losers to Albury in a fiery preliminary final.

Amongst all the superstars it was a born and bred local Terry Burgess who became the fifth Myrtleford player to win the Morris Medal – ten votes clear of second place.

Ablett polled ten votes and was also runner up to Burgess in the Saints best and fairest. Lavington would go onto win its inaugural OMFL premiership beating Albury.

You want the full story of The Ablett year at Myrtleford? Sorted you can listen to my podcast on that year by following Glory Days podcast and look for “Myrtleford 1983 – The Ablett Year”