KEITH Warburton, who passed away last week in Tatura at the age of 89, is one of my all-time favourite Goulburn Valley Football League footballers.
He would certainly be in my best six players in my 50-plus years playing in and covering GVL games.
I was only a teenager when he left Carlton to play and coach Tatura in the mid 1950s.
Because of insurance problems due to a kidney injury his VFL (now AFL) career ended prematurely in 1954 at Carlton, where he was regarded as a freak player. In his four years with the Blues from 1951 he chalked up 74 games and kicked 91 goals and was one of the genuine heroes in the VFL at that time.
He proved an instant sensation in the GVL when he took over coaching Tatura in his prime in 1955.
I can still see him skippering the GVL side to a stunning victory over the Bob Davis-coached Geelong at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton, in 1957 with a best-on-ground performance.
He was recently inducted into the GVL Hall of Fame.
The aspect of Keith’s playing style that has always fascinated me was his prolific vertical leap to haul in breathtaking marks. No need for a run-up to take a speccy — and there were plenty of them — for the man they called Warby.
In his days in Melbourne he had the distinction of representing both the VFL and Victorian Football Association in state representative games.
It was after his footballing days Keith quickly made a name for himself as a gifted lawn bowler and a successful greyhound trainer and ‘muscle man’ who was regularly called on to treat injured racing canines. He represented Victoria in lawn bowls, which was another feather in his sporting hat.
A real gentleman who didn’t drink, smoke or swear, Keith Warburton’s funeral took place on Monday in Tatura where he was given a fitting farewell for a life well lived and which gave so many so much pleasure.
Kyabram’s list set for flag tilt
THERE were no late recruits or departures for the Kyabram Bombers when the clearance deadline closed on Saturday.
There was early season talk that a couple of players who departed the Kyabram ranks after last season’s premiership triumph were being mentioned in a possible return to the Bombers’ hangar but nothing eventuated.
Which is probably the best thing that could have happened, given the Bombers are coping very well without them.
One of those players, Josh Vick, has helped out with numbers in two reserves games but the other three — Billy Burstin, Jake Reeves and Rhys Clark — won’t be back this season at least.
There have been some last-minute signings by other GVL clubs though.
Euroa has another Gleeson in its ranks. Zac Gleeson was cleared by Northern Football League club Heidelberg while former Strathmerton junior Louis Pinnuck, a VFL-listed player with Werribee, has named Shepparton as his second side.
Benalla has been keen to add former Greater Western Sydney ruckman Tom Downie to its list. He is still battling anxiety problems that forced his retirement last year but Benalla wants him onside just in case he has a change of mind.
He is a product of Benalla and was picked up at number 56 by GWS in the 2011 draft and played nine senior games with the club.
Jumper swap good for the game
GOOD to see the Kyabram Bombers reserves give a loan of some of their players to Mooroopna for their match on Sunday.
Kyabram players Brady Cooper, Justin Chambers and Tom Hunt swapped jumpers when it became obvious it was going to be an ugly outcome after the Bombers had kicked nine first-quarter goals against a depleted Cats side.
Brady made the first move when Mooroopna copped an injury early in the first quarter and were down to 14 men, Justin and Tom then followed.
Kyabram coach Mark Dillon supported the move of the Bombers’ trio ‘jumping ship’ for the game and said at one stage Mooroopna had more players out on the ground than the Bombers.
The Kyabram gesture helped to make it a more beneficial clash for both teams. Refusing to help out a side struggling for numbers is perfectly legitimate but I don’t feel it’s in the spirit of the game. The Bombers are flying high at the moment in all grades but that is not to say down the track they won’t be in a position Mooroopna finds itself in at the moment.
Picola problems piling up
CRACKS in the Picola Football League’s decision not to be part of AFL Victoria’s regime are starting to appear and peace talks are in the pipeline.
The decision of Katamatite player Callan Aldridge to line up with Violet Town in the Kyabram District League for two games while serving a two-match Picola League suspension received no sympathy from the Kyabram League or AFL Goulburn Murray regional football manager Martin Gleeson.
Kyabram League operations manager Sharon O’Dwyer said the league could not uphold suspensions her league was unaware existed.
O’Dwyer was quoted as saying ‘‘they (Picola League) are not affiliated with us, we don’t know their contracts, their rules. We don’t have any information and we can’t verify anything’’.
Gleeson backed O’Dwyer by saying AFL Goulburn Murray had no way of tracking the suspensions in the Picola League.
‘‘There is no way of tracking what the Picola League is doing or not doing and that’s an unfortunate part of the fall-out of their decision not to affiliate (with AFL Goulburn Murray),’’ said Gleeson, who warned that not recognising the Picola League’s existence ‘‘could cause chaos down the line’’.
Picola League operations manager Shane Railton said a dangerous precedent had been set by the Ky League and Aldridge even though his league was not affiliated.
‘‘The Picola League made the conscious decision in the best interests of local football to honour all suspensions and contracts from other leagues. For us we made a rule if any club is found to have a suspended or under contract player in their side they would be deemed ineligible,’’ Railton added.
Violet Town coach Sean Horsburgh who got the all clear from the Kyabram League said the move made to play Aldridge had been made because his team was encountering problems with player numbers.
While all this has been unfolding, talks between the Picola League and AFL Goulburn Murray are on the agenda and according to AFL Goulburn Murray there is no bad blood between the two bodies and Picola would be welcomed back to its ranks.
Trotters in line for big payday
KYABRAM-trained and owned trotters will be chasing the big money at Melton this Friday night.
All of the Vicbred Super Series finals being contested on the night carry prizemoney of $90,000.
Kyabram trainers Peter Shellie and Mick Blackmore will be represented by Andyou and Claudys Prince respectively in the four-year-old trotters finals — Andyou in the mares final, and Claudy in the colts and geldings final.
Rob Shellie owns the Bec Bartley trained and driven Black Cat Claw who is contesting the three-year-old fillies final.
A Kyabram group of owners in Phillip and Trudy Plumb, Stuart Laidlaw, Terry Gregory and Geoff Berry are also in the syndicate which races Always Ready who is one of the top fancies in the two-year-old colts and geldings final.
Mick Blackmore also has qualified Claudy An Gus engaged in this final but he will need to run considerably quicker than one of his namesakes to cause a boilover.
Lancaster trainer Russ Thomson also has Prettylilangus contesting the two-year-old fillies final while Kyvalley owner Jim Connolly has Kyvalley Finn engaged in two-year-old fillies final.
Echuca really motoring
ECHUCA Football Netball Club has pulled off a ‘recruiting’ coup by securing Isuzu Ute as a sponsor.
The sponsorship was unveiled along with new recruit, former Hawthorn and Sydney Swans player Ben McGlynn, at the recent Echuca-Mansfield game.
The Echuca Motor Group acquired the Isuzu franchise in January of this year and this is the first major sponsorship the group has become involved in since Isuzu became part of the business.
Beck hits stride at Morningside
FORMER Kyabram premiership player Nathan Beck has made an impression playing for Morningside in the Queensland Australian Football League.
A dashing game in defence recently earned him top votes in the Syd Guilford Trophy.
This is an award in which coaches cast the votes.
The votes are revealed up to round 14 then suspended to the end of the season when the winner is announced.
Nathan, a member of Kyabram’s 2013 and 2016 premiership sides, virtually walked in off the street to join Morningside when he moved to the area to work.
Three Bombers to don big V
KYABRAM footballers Kayne Pettifer, Mick Mattingly and Brad Whitford all look set to don the Victoria Country big V after being named in the extended squads for this weekend’s clash with Victoria Metro.
Pettifer and Mattingly are part of the open age Vic Country squad that currently sits at 29 players. The final team will be announced at training in Melbourne tonight.
Whitford has been selected in the final team for the Under 19 Victoria Country team after the 2017 GVL rising star winner’s impressive season with the Kyabram senior team.
Both matches will be played at Ballarat’s MARS Stadium with the Under 19 Challenge Cup match to kick off at 11.30am before the highly anticipated 2018 AFL Victoria Community Cup clash between Vic Country and Vic Metro at 2pm.
Seymour’s Jason Cole will captain the senior Vic Country team with Rochester’s Steve Stroobants also part of the line-up.
Both representative matches will be live streamed at the AFL Victoria website aflvic.com.au
Milly’s calling it a day
STANHOPE-raised Mark Milthorpe (pictured) is set to retire from football coaching at the end of this season.
The much loved and respected ‘Milly’ — as he is affectionately known — is currently coaching the Finley Under 14s in the Murray Football League and has the team in finals reckoning.
A Heathcote Football League reserves medal winner in his early days at Stanhope, Milly joined the Murray League Cats when he moved to the town in 1999, where he has had various coaching and selector’s roles at all levels with the club since.
One of the highlights of his coaching career at the club was coaching Finley’s Under 14 team to the premiership in an undefeated season in 2010.
During his coaching career Milly has thrived not only on the challenge of developing younger players’ football skills but also as future solid citizens.
You won’t get anyone saying a bad word about Milly anywhere such is the esteem in which he is held.