By Peter Cornwall
SANFL is mourning the passing of League Life Member and great of Glenelg John Robinson.
The long-serving player, coach and official died on July 2, aged 87.
Robinson carved out an impressive playing career at Port Adelaide and Glenelg before serving the game he loved from the other side of the fence for the rest of his life.
Awarded SANFL Life Membership in 2007, Robinson incredibly played in premierships in each of the four grades – including two league premierships – in the space of six years at Alberton.
He captained Port’s junior colts premiership side in 1951, added a senior colts flag in ’52, played in the back pocket in league grand final wins against West in 1954 and Norwood in ’55 and in 1956 played in the Magpies’ seconds grand final win.
Robinson was tallish for his era at 183cm but was wiry, weighing just 65kg to be one of the lightest men in SA footy. It was his pace and rebound that made him a formidable back pocket player. In the days before interchange players he would stand the ‘resting’ rovers and use his height against them to win the ball and explosive speed to dash clear.
Robinson’s association at Glenelg was over a remarkable 65 years. He played 46 league games for the Tigers between 1957-59, was junior colts coach (1960), senior colts coach (1961-62), selector (1967-70 and 1992-94), chairman of selectors (1978-80), committeeman for two decades from 1975-95, chairman for nine seasons from 1987-95, recruiter for many years and a member of the Hall of Fame selection committee from its inception in 2001 until this year.
His phenomenal achievements elevated him to Greats of Glenelg status, one of just 18 people to have gained the highest honour the club can bestow on its players or officials.
After helping the Tigers reach the preliminary final in 1959 he was keen to contribute in off-field roles, determined to give the players support he felt was not always prevalent at the Bay in the late ’50s. Robinson, a methodical, commonsense thinker who was respected by management, coaches, players and volunteers alike, helped supply the off-field strength needed for on-field success.
He also was a long-time contributor to the SANFL as a club delegate and director, while he made an outstanding contribution to the sport’s development as a member of the SANFL Football Development Foundation from 1995-2005. And he served on the South Australian School Football Association executive for a decade.
SANFL and the SA Football Commission extends its deepest sympathy to the Robinson family as it honours John’s outstanding service to the game in South Australia.
12 September 1934 – 2 July 2022
Port Adelaide (1954-56) 42 games
Glenelg (1957-59) 46 games, 3 goals
SANFL total: 88 games, 3 goals
Glenelg Football Club chairman 1987-95
Glenelg Life Member 1975
Great of Glenelg
SANFL League Life Member 2007
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!