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Malcolm Blight: a Hall of Fame Legend whose time has come

Hall of Fame: Legend - Malcolm Blight From big marks to long bombs, 'Blighty' could do it all

MALCOLM Blight possessed exquisite timing.

It's there for all to see in his highlights reel of screamers and prodigious torpedoes, such as the famous post-siren bomb that lifted North Melbourne to victory at Carlton in 1976, and which he later re-enacted for a Toyota commercial.

Blight's perfect timing extends to his elevation to Legend status – it's almost 50 years since his SANFL debut with Woodville, 40 years since he played in North Melbourne's 1977 premiership side (his second) and 20 years since he coached Adelaide to the first of two flags.

"The older you get, the more you realise timing is the essential item," said Blight from his Gold Coast home.

"I had the good fortune of living in an OK area just four streets from Woodville Oval; and I made my way through the junior ranks, and I can still feel the nervous tingles I got when I was picked for my first senior game.

"I achieved my dream of playing 100 games for Woodville and getting my name on the locker. It wouldn't have mattered what happened after that.

"But then the timing of the North Melbourne experience, after some persuasion, was spot on."

A young Blight's imagination was fired by the art of high marking, which he learned by jumping into a wall and pushing off with either leg as he tried to mark a footy.

"People say, ‘Oh, you were born with spring in your legs.' No one's been born with that – it's a learned behaviour," he said.

"And if I fell, I landed on a concrete path – so the aim was to keep your balance!

"But for some strange reason, we're either coaching that out of the game or the kids aren't learning it."

It wouldn't be a chat with Blight without a left-field thought.

"I once said no one should be allowed to punch the ball (in a marking contest) – everyone should just go for hangers. They should trial that in the pre-season comp. Seriously. Imagine the excitement."

A free spirit whom few envisaged would later coach, Blight took his game to a new level under the disciplines imposed by North Melbourne coach Ron Barassi; and he also benefited from competitions with teammate Wayne Schimmelbusch where they tried to make the fewest mistakes while training flat out.

Ultra-versatile, Blight was used everywhere except the ruck.

"Over a six-week period I'd play six different spots – three at either end – which was frustrating initially. But the best thing in footy is playing well in a winning team, and if that meant being moved around, so be it."

Most damaging in attack, Blight is the only player to have produced 100-goal seasons in both the AFL/VFL and SANFL.

He's also the only winner of the Brownlow, Magarey and Coleman medals.

There's a story that aptly conveys Blight's genius.

A Barassi rule was to centre the ball, but late in a close game Blight took possession near the boundary and, with no teammates inboard, slotted a left-foot banana kick.

Barassi dragged him, to the ire of fans.

The coach defended himself in his newspaper column, declaring that at their next training session he'd recreate the scenario and physically apply pressure himself, predicting Blight wouldn't kick one in 20.

After 10 shots, Blight had kicked 4.6, including a couple of posters, when Barassi walked off in a huff.

"What about the other 10?" Blight asked.

Barassi replied: "You're a freak. Get out of here."

FACTFILE: MALCOLM BLIGHT
Club Woodville/North Melbourne
Born February 16, 1950
Recruited from Woodville (SA)
Playing career 1968-85 (Wood 1968-73, 1983-85; NM 1974-82)
Games 341 (Wood 163; NM 178)
Goals 803 (Wood 359; NM 444)
Honours

Brownlow Medal 1978; NM best & fairest 1978; Coleman Medal 1982; NM leading goalkicker 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982; All-Australian 1972, 1982, 1985; NM premiership team 1975, 1977; Magarey Medal 1972; Ken Farmer Medal 1985; SA representative (9 games, 14 goals); Victorian representative (7 games, 19 goals); inaugural Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee; South Australian Football Hall of Fame; SANFL Team of the Century; NM Team of the Century; NM Hall of Fame.

Coaching record: NM 1981 (16 games, 6 wins, 10 losses); Wood 1983-87 (114 games, 41 wins, 73 losses); Geel 1989-94 (145 games, 89 wins, 56 losses); Adel 1997-99 (74 games, 41 wins, 33 losses, premierships 1997, 1998), St Kilda 2001 (15 games, 3 wins, 12 losses)

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