By ZAC MILBANK
One of South Australia’s greatest footballers, Russell Ebert, has revealed he could have been a Redleg or a Rooster before joining Port Adelaide.
In an exclusive interview release by the SANFL History Centre, the late Magpies champion detailed how he originally sported the guernsey of Norwood great Wally Miller while playing in his backyard in Loxton.
Ebert’s beloved Port Adelaide and West Adelaide will play in a Russell Ebert Tribute Match at Ebert’s first home ground – Loxton Oval – on Sunday from 2.05pm.
Sitting down with legendary ABC commentator Roger Wills for an extensive Q and A in 2018, Ebert – who passed away last November – also told of how North Adelaide was interested in recruiting him before he settled on his future being at Alberton.
Initially traveling down with fellow Riverland-based Magpie Bruce Light to Queen Street in 1968, Ebert would go on to feature in 392 games for Port Adelaide, until his retirement in 1985.
Interestingly, the four-time Magarey Medallist recalled Port Adelaide’s plans to play in the best competition in Australia as far back as the late 1960s before eventually gaining entry to the AFL in 1997.
Ebert’s insight into his eventful 1979 season with North Melbourne was fascinating, detailing the tough love he and fellow ”interstaters” received from coach Ron Barassi and his hectic schedule which involved flying between Adelaide and Melbourne at least twice a week.
Proud to represent South Australia on 29 occasions, Ebert fondly recalled a fierce battle he had with Victoria’s Ian Stewart in 1971 – the same year he won the Magarey Medal and Richmond midfielder Stewart was awarded the Brownlow Medal.
Declaring modern footballers get paid ”far too much”, the Australian Football Hall of Famer said he preferred watching his son Brett play country football at the time, as well as professing his excitement as the evolution of women’s football unfolded.
Ebert’s love of the country shone through in the interview, emphasising the importance of championing each region of the state for its contribution to SA football, just as he did so passionately for his native Riverland.
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