Hall of Fame for Robertson Jr

Sourced from AFL.com.au

IN THE Australian Football Hall of Fame, Austin Robertson is a rarity: an inductee whose post-footy life featured greater success in a different sphere.

 

Subiaco's superstar full-forward amassed a WAFL record of 1211 goals before becoming perhaps the first manager of sporting talent in Australia, with his key role in the formation of World Series Cricket portrayed in the 2012 television miniseries Howzat! Kerry Packer's War

His also-famous father, Austin Robertson senior, also enjoyed divergent careers, being the world professional sprint champion and a star utility for South Melbourne. 

Young Austin inherited his father's nickname – ‘Ocker’ – along with his sporting ability and some of his speed. Robertson junior, 72, said he'd finish last over 100 metres but was "quite quick" over the first 10 – crucial for a leading forward.

Being the son of a sporting great was a blessing rather than a burden.

Senior's masterstroke was to encourage junior to become a full-forward, and the youngster slotted 179 goals in 18 games in two years for Scotch College.

In his first four seasons with Subiaco, Robertson won the league goalkicking award three times and was runner-up on the other occasion – in a team that played just one final. However, he emphasises that he was reliant on his teammates.

A master set-shot at goal, Robertson revealed he learned his craft from watching East Perth star Neil Hawke (also a Test cricketer), who he said revolutionised the game by using the drop punt over long distances.

He would also practice his goalkicking with Subiaco stalwart Westy Gilbert, who was "a terrible kick" himself but was "actively promoting a positive attitude".

Fellow WAFL legend Bernie Naylor also helped Robertson develop a torpedo punt for long-range goalkicking. For their summer morning sessions, Naylor would wear pyjamas, a dressing gown and slippers.

"As brilliant as the spiral punt kick was, the slipper went further!" Robertson said.

Robertson still sees imaginary goalposts in everyday life – gates, lamp posts, trees – and visualises kicking a ball between them.

He joined his father's old club South Melbourne on a three-year deal in 1966.

It was one of Melbourne's wettest winters, and the first time Robertson had played in mud, but he finished runner-up in the League goalkicking with 60 goals.

When Bob Skilton stepped down as coach, his replacement Allan Miller told Robertson he wanted a stay-at-home full-forward, so Robertson returned to Subiaco.

Two years later, Norm Smith became Swans coach and convinced Robertson to rejoin the club, but Subiaco wouldn't clear him.

In that first season back home, after achieving career-best fitness under new coach Haydn Bunton junior, Robertson piled on a record 157 goals.

West-side story: Robertson bagged 15.11 in one remarkable game for Subiaco. Picture: AFL Media

 

Amazingly, he pipped Naylor's previous mark by one when, in the last round against East Fremantle at Subiaco, he bagged 15.11 in a total of 19.14. (Robertson insists most of his behinds were the result of "ridiculous snap shots".)

Bunton played on with a split scrotum to feed several majors to Robertson, including a possibly backward pass for the record. Robertson remains in awe and grateful.

"I look back (on my career) and wonder, 'How?' If I'd kicked 29 more goals I would've averaged 100 a year – and I don't know how you do that," he said.

Robertson finally won a premiership in 1973, his second-last season. He has only vague memories of the game after playing more than three quarters with concussion.

He found consolation in coach Ross Smith's words to him: "'Ock', this premiership is as much yours as anyone's."

FACTFILE: AUSTIN ROBERTSON

Clubs

Subiaco, South Melbourne

Born

April 29, 1943

Recruited from

Scotch College (WA)

Playing career

1962-74 (Sub 1962-65, 1967-74; SM 1966)

Games

269 (Sub 251; SM 18)

Goals

1271 (Sub 1211; SM 60)

Player honours

Sub best & fairest 1965, 1968; WAFL leading goalkicker 1962, 1964, 1965, 1968-72; Sub leading goalkicker 1962-65, 1967-74; SM leading goalkicker 1966; Sub premiership 1973; Sub Legend; Sub Team of the Century; WA Football Hall of Fame; State representative (WA 10 games, 44 goals)

 

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