By ZAC MILBANK
Neil Balme, Mark Williams and Phil Carman were among a host of star recipients of SANFL Player Coach Life Membership at Tuesday night’s AGM.
Dual Norwood premiership mentor Balme, Port Adelaide premiership player Williams and Double Blues Grand Final mentor Carman were joined by Haydn Bunton Junior, Mark Mickan, Jarrod Cotton and Seamus Maloney in being recognised under the new category introduced last year.
Created in addition to the existing Player and Umpire Life Memberships, the Player/Coach Life Membership can be awarded to any person who has participated in 200 SANFL games as a coach or combination of coach and player.
Guiding the Redlegs to premierships in 1982 and 1984, Balme coached at The Parade from 1980 to 1990 which also included lining up in 13 matches for 22 goals in 1981 and 1982. He was also the inaugural coach of Woodville-West Torrens in 1991 and 1992.
Williams, who coached Port Adelaide to its inaugural AFL flag in 2004, played 179 SANFL games for Port Adelaide (115 in 1979-80 and 1990-92) and West Adelaide (64 in 1976-78) before beginning his coaching journey with Glenelg in 1993 and 1994.
Carman played 58 games and kicked 89 goals for Norwood between 1970 and 1974 before playing a major role in the revival of the Sturt Football Club as senior coach from 1995 to 2001, which included a berth in the 1998 SANFL Grand Final.
The well-traveled Bunton Junior played a total of 151 League matches for North Adelaide (54 from 1954-56) and Norwood (97 from 1958-60 and 1965-67) whilst also beginning his coaching career in a playing capacity in his two stints with the Redlegs
Upon his retirement as a player, Bunton Junior coached South Adelaide from 1975 to 1982, including the Panthers’ last Grand Final appearance in 1979. He then finished his SANFL journey as Sturt coach in 1993 and 1994.
West Adelaide ruckman Mickan played 139 League games for the Bloods in two stints – 1981 to 1986 and 1991 to 1994 – before starting his SANFL coaching career with Woodville-West Torrens in 1998 and 1999.
Mickan then guided Glenelg from 2006 to 2011 before ending his coaching career on a high back at Richmond, where he broke West’s premiership drought with the 2015 flag in his stint from 2014 to 2017.
Acting captain in Sturt’s 2002 premiership, Maloney played a total of 152 League games from 1996 to 2003 before coaching the Double Blues from 2012 to 2015.
Current Norwood coach Jarrod Cotton is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Redlegs after playing a total of 161 League games for Central District (77 from 1994-98), Norwood (75 from 1999-2002) and South Adelaide (9 in 2003).
SANFL Player Coach Life Member Mark Mickan
There's a great brotherhood and respect among SANFL players and clubs which is a very special quality to have in a competition
As many as five SANFL veterans were welcomed into the 200 Club with Player Life Membership.
Sturt premiership captain Zane Kirkwood, South, Central and Eagles ball magnet James Boyd, Eagles midfielder Scott Lewis, South defender Bradley Crabb and triple Norwood premiership forward Brady Dawe all joined the illustrious group.
Making his debut with Port Adelaide in 2008, Kirkwood has stockpiled his bulging trophy cabinet since arriving at Sturt in 2014. The prolific midfielder has won two Magarey Medals, three Fos Williams Medals and four best-and-fairests with the Double Blues.
Boyd played his first SANFL League match with the Panthers in Round 7 of 2007 before winning a premiership medallion with Central District in 2010. Representing the West End State team on four occasions, Boyd played 95 of his League games with the Eagles.
Like Boyd, Lewis also played for three SANFL clubs but was most dominant for Woodville-West Torrens where he claimed the 2014 Club Champion Award amid his 181 League games for the Eagles. The silky-skilled left-footer also donned guernseys for West Adelaide and Glenelg.
Originally from Kangaroo Island, Crabb’s career with the Panthers stretched across 215 games after making his debut in 2007. Captaining the club from 2015 to 2017, the disciplined defender was named best clubman in 2013 and 2018.
Recruited from Meadows in the Adelaide Hills, Dawe featured in all three of Norwood’s premierships from 2012 to 2014. The long-kicking left footer played a total of 208 League games after making his debut for the Redlegs in Round 2 of 2009.
Boundary Umpire Sam Royans was awarded SANFL Umpire Life Membership for his outstanding service across 16 seasons.
Making his League debut in 2004, Royans reached his 200-game milestone last year.
He has officiated in five SANFL Grand Finals, including the past four, as well as earning the Silver Whistle as Most Outstanding Boundary Umpire in 2017 and 2018.
With nearly three decades of service for the South Adelaide Football Club, Gary Matters was fittingly recognised with a SANFL Merit Award.
For the past 29 years, Matters has assisted the Panthers with gameday coaching communication and IT, statistics and behind the goals project vision management.
West Adelaide’s Jason Thiele received his SANFL Merit Award for more than 25 years service with the Bloods as property and ball steward and hydration manager.
More recently, Thiele has moved into the role as Team Manager for the Bloods’ Women’s team.
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