By ZAC MILBANK
Seven-time Port Adelaide premiership player John Abley has had his outstanding career recognised with induction into the Australian Football Hall of Fame on Thursday night.
The second South Australian selected – alongside fellow Magpie Greg Phillips – in the 2020 intake, Abley proved himself on the national stage where he earned All-Australian honours as a full back on three occasions.
An inaugural inductee into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Abley prided himself on performing when it mattered most – in Grand Finals and wearing the cherished red guernsey for 23 matches.
A member of Port’s remarkable run of six premierships in succession from 1954 to 1959, the iron-willed defender, who passed away age 80 in 2011, is revered for his refusal to give his opponents an inch.
“John would be offended if his opponent got a kick let alone a goal against him,” Port team-mate and former coach Geof Motley told the Port Adelaide FC website. “He was tough – and mean.”
Proving himself as the most outstanding full back in the land at national carnivals in 1956, 1958 and 1961, Abley was much like his fellow Port Adelaide Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee Phillips.
He was seemingly impenetrable on the last line of defence across his 212 SANFL games for the Magpies from 1950 to 1961.
“John was very humble off the field, but on the ground he had that aura – you could see he was a class act,” another of Abley’s former team-mates, John Cahill, told the Port Adelaide FC website.
“He had very safe hands – he would never miss a mark. His kicking hit targets. He could read the play; he would see the ball early, as all good players do.
“He was ruthless – you would not have wanted to be playing against John Abley.”
A member of Port Adelaide’s Greatest Team and Hall of Fame, Abley is the 14th player from Alberton to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Born: October 1, 1930
Died: August 19, 2011
Games: 212 for Port Adelaide (1950-1961)
Honours – Premierships (7): 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959; represented SA 23 times; All-Australian full back, 1956, 1958 and 1961; Port Adelaide, SA and Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee.
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