Koonibba unveils 100-year team

DARREN MONCRIEFF
Wednesday 17 January 2007

TEARS flowed and rousing ovations were given for some of the most talented players to ever pull on the boots for football's oldest continuous Aboriginal football club as Koonniba celebrates its first 100 years.

Twenty-three of Koonibba Football Club's leading players over its first 100 years were honoured with selection in the club's Team of the Century at a gala event at Ceduna's Memorial Hall attended by over 200 people.

The unveiling of the 100-year team concludes a year of centenary celebrations for local community and proud club, which was established in 1906 at the original Koonibba Mission in South Australia's far west.

Leading Aboriginal rockers Coloured Stone, originally from the same area, and the 'Black Queen of the Kimberley' Mary G provided entertainment on the night for the special guests, some of whom came from as far as Alice Springs, WA and country SA. The inclusive club also had as guests its former non-Aboriginal players, one of whom made the 100-year team as its ruckman.

Manned by some of the club's most prolific goal-kickers, dour defenders and highly regarded leaders of men, Koonibba's Team of the Century features nine Mail medallists, countless regional representatives and virtually all premiership players, although the latter was not a criteria for selection.

Selectors used criteria that centred upon a player's consistency, length of service, honours (club awards, Mail medals, bests and fairests), rep selection, leadership, respect, goals, on-field fairness and the ability to perform under pressure.

Life memberships were also awarded to long-time servants -- on and off the field -- of the club.

Many of those selected in the 100-year team are now in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, with only two current players chosen. Eight players selected in the team are no longer with us.

Koonibba Football Club's Team of the Century: 1906-2006

Forward Pocket
Normie Wombat

Half-Forward
Shaun McLennan

Wing
Don Tschuna (capt.-coach)

Half-Back
Corey McLennan

Back Pocket
Raymond Coleman

Ruck
Dean Heyne

Full-Forward
Auville Gray

Centre Half-Forward
Lindsay Benbolt

Centre
Maurice Miller

Centre Half-Back
Bob Miller (vc)

Full-Back
Rodney Duckford

Rover
Reg Betts

Forward Pocket
Ray Coleman

Half-Forward
Michael Miller

Wing
Willie Newchurch

Half-Back
Joe Smith

Back Pocket
Murray Peel

Ruck Rover
Jon Warrior

Interchange
Charlie COLEMAN, Jim O'LOUGHLIN, Lester HIGHFOLD, Kirk BETTS, Frank CARBINE

The players

Left Back Pocket
Raymond COLEMAN Played 173 games for Koonibba. Best and fairest for the club in 1978 and showed enormous courage under pressure and fine defensive skills.

Full-Back
Rodney DUCKFORD Moved to Ceduna in 1995 and quickly slotted into a most difficult position, full-back. Won club best in 2000 and 2002. Was captain in 2002. Played 100 games and is a 5-time premierhip player.

Right Back Pocket
Murray PEEL Began at Koonibba in 1956. Played with Eyre Peninsula in 1961 alongside mentor Dean Heyne. Played 110 times and won several best player awards at association awards. Played in 9 grand finals in 9 years in the 1950s and 60s.

Left Half-Back
Corey McLENNAN Triple Mail Medal winner, 1 of only 2 at the club to achieve the feat. Was captain at just 23. Coached inter-league in 2002 and 2003 and then at Eyre Peninsula. Played 147 games befire retirement at age 29.

Centre Half-Back
Bob MILLER (vice-captain) One of 8 brothers to represent the club. Began with Wanderers in 1945. Played 24 association matches, mainly at CHB. Controlled aggression and fearless dashes were his trademark. Led Far West and was a 9-time premiership player. Played 155 games plus 55 with Rovers.

Right Half-Back
Joe SMITH Over 200 games and 159 goals. Dual Association best and fairest (against Port Lincoln and Mid West). Club best and fairest in 1992. Captain for 4 years. A Pivot representative in 1990.

Wing
Don TSCHUNA (captain-coach) Four Mail Medals in the 1970s. Began with Koonibba in 1971 before playing with Wirrulla where he won the 1972 Mail Medal. Played 80 games with Koonibba. Led Far West at Motlock 4 times and led the league against other leagues on Eyre Peninsula.

Centre
Maurice MILLER Supremely fit, beautifully balanced and physically strong. Club best and fairest in 1973 and 1978 and with Rovers in 1958. Club captain from 1973 to 1976, Enormous distinction to be given the nod as centreman.

Wing
Willie NEWCHURCH Eight times a Mortlock player. Played 140 games in a range of positions including full-back. Winner of club best and fairest. Non-playing coach for 3 seasons and widely honoured as a father figure at Koonibba.

Left Half-Forward
Shaun McLENNAN Began with Koonibba in 1985 and played just 38 games. The only player to win Mail Medal, Madigan Medal, Transcontinental Medal and Whyalla News Medal. All-Australian honours in 1988 and 1994.

Centre Half-Forward
Lindsay BENBOLT Four-time association award winner. 1995 Mail Medallist and 1 of 6 brothers to represent Koonibba. Played 170 game and booted 100 goals. Also starred in the Broughton league.

Right Half-Forward
Michael MILLER Won Mail Medal at Port Lincoln in 1981. Koonibba best and fairest in 1983 and 1987. Captain in 1986 and 1987. Played 94 games and kicked 185 goals. In a class of his own at association level.

Left Forward Pocket
Normie WOMBAT Began with Wanderers in 1945. Played with Far West 29 times, and had a stint at Mortlock in 1957 and 1958. At his best when the pressure was on, the opposition was strong and the crowds big. Played only 65 games but won the 1952 Mail Medal.

Full-Forward
Auville GRAY Began senior career in 1937 and soon controlled the most difficult of positions as a key forward. Won the 1949 Mail Medal and kicked 100 goals in the same year -- the first Aboriginal footballer to do so. A 10-time premiership player.

Right Forward Pocket
Ray COLEMAN Second rover, played 102 games and kicked 107 goals over 9 seasons. Played also with Charra where he won a Mail Medal, as well as at Thevenard and Wudinna. Coached Koonibba in 1972.

Ruck
Dean HEYNE THe only non-Aboriginal player selected -- a living legend. Dual Mail Medallist and mentor to all who gathered about him. Perhaps the best ruckman on Eyre Peninsula. Irreplaceable at Koonibba.

Ruck Rover
Jon WARRIOR Has a rare ability to play anywhere. 8 times a Mortlock man and is the youngest of 4 highly talented brothers. 1 of only 2 current players selected.

Rover
Reg BETTS Burst on to the scene in 1953 and regarded by many as the finest of all players. Played 23 games for the league and kicked an astonishing 48 goals. Life tragically cut short by an accident.

Interchange
Charlie COLEMAN Statistically, the most successful coach in Koonibba history. Coached the club to a flag in his forst year and again in 1998, 2001 and 2002. Played 169 games and kicked 69 goals.

Jim O'LOUGHLIN Moved to Ceduna in 1987. Began at Koonibba in 1990. Played 179 games for a massive 284 goals. Kicked 10 goals in one game against Mid West in 1993. Captain of Far West in 1994. State Aboriginal team rep in 1991.

Lester HIGHFOLD Averaged better than a goal a game over 150 games. One of the best big men to represent the club. A 4-time winner at Mortlock, matched only by Michael Miller.

Kirk BETTS Made his debut in 1975. Born to be a champion. Played 243 games for the club and booted 254 goals. Highest number of games played at the club and ranked fifth of all-time in goals. A past captain-coach. Record of 9 premierships from 16 grand finals.

Frank CARBINE An incredible 550 goals from just 140 games (averaging almost 4 goals a game). Kicked 44 goals in 4 games in 1946. Was 6 times Far West leading goal-kicker with a career-best haul of 16 against Charra in 1946. An 8-time premiership player.

* Thanks to Corey McLennan for this information.

AboriginalFootball@westnet.com.au




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