Legends from the ages of Australian football today surprised South Australia’s Neil “King” Kerley to mark his 80th birthday.
Kerley walked into Melbourne’s Savage Club, supposedly to give a motivational talk, only to be stunned by a sea of faces that included Ron Barassi, Stephen Kernahan, John Schultz, Des Tuddenham, Sam Newman, David Parkin and Kevin Bartlett, among other greats of the game who had been hiding in wait for Kerls’ arrival.
The big names in footy were there: AFL deputy chief Gillon McLachlan, John Elliott, Eddie McGuire, Bruce McAvaney, Gordon Bennett, Mike Sheahan, Steve Phillips and leading horse trainer David Hayes.
Former foe and great friend Ron Barassi said before the big surprise that it was time Kerley had another step up in recognition for his contribution to the game.
“Kerls, an AFL ‘Hall of Fame’ member, but considering his significant success and contribution to the game as a player, coach and popular commentator, I just can’t understand why Kerls does not have AFL ‘Legend’ status,” he said.
Graham Cornes, also in Melbourne for the big day, said: “Kerls has many great mates from far and wide, which just reflects the type of person he is …we all love him.”
Cornes’s SA contingent included Malcolm Blight, former AFL chief Wayne Jackson and great mate KG Cunningham.
Neale Daniher and Sam Kekovich also joined in.
Earlier this week in Adelaide Kerls said he still lives by the motto: “We all get older everyday – but the secret is to never get ‘old’.”
At 80 years young, Knuckles still thinks he has a lot more time and energy to be a back seat ‘coach’ – and still believes he has the edge over more modern day coaches.
“Footy is and has always been the same – you win the ball – you kick the ball – and you kick straight.”
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