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Hall of Fame News

Hall of Fame: Legend Blight, Baz joins greats

Malcolm Blight, Barry Hall among those honoured at Hall of Fame gala

11:19pm  Jun 20, 2017

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

The only winner of the Brownlow, Magarey and Coleman medals is recognised as a Legend

10:52pm  Jun 20, 2017

Six moments that made Malcolm Blight a Legend

'Blighty' is now a Legend of Australian Football. Here are six reasons why

10:51pm  Jun 20, 2017

2017 Hall of Fame: Anthony Stevens - hard-nosed heart of the Kangaroos

Anthony Stevens is a 2017 inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame

10:27pm  Jun 20, 2017

Hall of Fame: Ern Henfry
Ken Henfry and Tom Davis on a football leader
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ERN HENFRY had a habit of achieving great things before he was entitled to. Some would say he had the Midas touch.

Consider this career snapshot.

Henfry played for Perth at barely 16, represented his native Western Australia at 17; won a club best and fairest and finished runner-up in the Sandover Medal at 20; missed five prime years due to war and a clearance dispute but was appointed Carlton captain in his first full VFL season; was best-afield in a premiership that same year on his way to the first of two best and fairests in grand final years; and in just his third VFL season became the first non-Victorian to captain the state.

After a jam-packed playing career spanning two states – during which he was widely hailed as the game's best leader and centreman, and one of its most popular figures – Henfry then coached Perth to its first flag in 48 years; and then coached Western Australia.
Clubs Perth/Carlton
Born July 24, 1921
Recruited from Victoria Park
Playing career 1937-54 (Perth 1937-41, 1945, 1953-54; Carlton 1944, 1947-52)
Games 169 (Perth 85; Carlton 84)
Goals 106 (Perth 86; Carlton 20)
Player honours 2nd Sandover Medal 1941; Perth best and fairest 1941; Carlton best and fairest 1947, 1949; Carlton captain 1947-52; Carlton premiership 1947; Carlton Hall of Fame; West Australian Hall of Fame; WA (2 games); Victoria (2 games)
Coaching record Perth 1953-54 (captain-coach), 1955-59, 1962-64 (242 games, 139 wins, 103 losses, premiership 1955); WA 1956-57 (6 games, 3 wins, 3 losses)

It's some honour roll, but son Ken (the sole survivor of a family of five) says his father, who died on January, 2007, at 86, would still be surprised by his Hall of Fame induction.

Ken Henfry, 60, says: "My father was modest but he still had a healthy sense of how good he was. He was particularly proud about being a good player when so young."

So good, in fact, that Henfry must have been among the few who weren't daunted by playing on legendary rover Haydn Bunton (who pipped Henfry by a vote in the 1941 Sandover Medal).

"Ern thought Haydn's greatest strength was reading the play and felt he liked running free ahead of the ball, but Ern was confident playing Haydn man-on-man," Ken says.

After two mature efforts against Victoria in Perth shortly before his 18th birthday, several Vics approached him, asking him to join their clubs. He declined, believing he wasn't experienced enough.

Ern Henfry - a champion player, captain and coach. Picture: supplied

Henfry eventually landed at Carlton.

After playing a services match in Sydney in 1944, the young RAAF pilot became friendly with a Blues official, who invited him to visit the club if he was ever in Melbourne. While on leave just weeks later, and with little fitness, Henfry played two VFL games, including what the The Argus lauded as as "one of the finest debuts we have seen".

After the war Henfry transferred his bank job to Melbourne but Perth refused to clear him to Carlton, so he stood out of the game for another season to join the Blues.

The delay only intensified Henfry's determination to succeed, and few players have matched the immediate impact he made in 1947.

A big centreman for the era at 183cm and 83kg, he was quick, evasive, superbly balanced, dual-sided, a precise kick, a safe mark and, according to Essendon captain-coach Dick Reynolds, could be "devastating".

Henfry devastated Reynolds and his Bombers in the 1947 Grand Final, despite carrying an ankle injury that had limited him to just two training sessions in the previous six weeks.

Henfry pulled a masterstroke by moving Ken Baxter into the ruck for the last 10 minutes, and had a hand in the last two goals of the match, which gave Carlton a famous one-point win.

Henfry (middle row, fourth from left) and the 1949 Carlton team. Picture: supplied

Two years later, after producing an even better individual season, Henfry again showed great courage in a Grand Final against Essendon.

Entering the game with a leg injury, he was poleaxed early (Ken Henfry: "My mother thought it was a terrible thing, and as a result I was raised believing Essendon was the enemy") but soldiered on to have 18 kicks and again be among Carlton's best.

Ken Henfry says when his father announced his retirement as a Carlton player in 1952, he received coaching overtures from three clubs – Richmond, South Melbourne and Footscray – but insisted there was only one VFL club he'd ever consider coaching: Carlton.

As Perth coach, Henfry openly gave back to the game and not just his own club. For a time he even had a game-day routine of meeting a rival full-forward at a local oval to help with his goalkicking.

As Ken says: "Can you imagine that today?"

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- By Ben Collins