Malcolm Blight

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Malcolm Blight
Personal information
Full name Malcolm Jack Blight
Nickname(s) Blighty
Date of birth (1950-02-16) 16 February 1950 (age 64)
Place of birth Adelaide, South Australia
Original team Woodville (SANFL)
Height/Weight 182cm / 89kg
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)

1968–73, 1983-85

1974–1982
SANFL
Woodville
VFL
North Melbourne

163 (359)

178 (444)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
South Australia
Victoria
7
7
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1981
1983–1986
1989–1994
1997–1999
2001
North Melbourne
Woodville
Geelong
Adelaide
St Kilda
16 (6–10–0)
91 (29-62-0)
145 (89–56–0)
74 (41–33–0)
15 (3–12–0)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1986 season.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2001.
Career highlights

Malcolm Jack Blight AM (born 16 February 1950) is a former Australian rules footballer who represented Woodville Football Club in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and North Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL) during the 1970s and 1980s.

One of few players to have won the Brownlow Medal and the Magarey Medal, and so far the only player to have kicked 100 goals in a season in both the VFL and the SANFL, Blight is rightly regarded as one of Australian football's greatest-ever players. In addition, he has captained the state representative sides of both Victoria and South Australia.

In spite of his "failure" as a playing coach of North Melbourne, Blight would cement his reputation as one of the greatest coaches during his stints with Geelong and Adelaide, before finishing up in an acrimonious circumstances at St Kilda. The name Blight is of Cornish origin.[1] In 2012 Blight was appointed director of coaching at the Gold Coast Suns.

Football career[edit]

Woodville Football Club, SANFL[edit]

Blight grew up supporting Port Adelaide, but when his local team Woodville began to play in the SANFL from 1964, he promptly switched allegiances and made his debut for the Woodpeckers in 1969. Blight had a break-out year in 1972 when he won Woodville's Best and Fairest award as well as the SANFL's highest individual honor, the Magarey Medal, bringing him to the attention of the VFL.

After his stint in the VFL, Blight returned to Woodville, serving as captain-coach from 1983 to 1985 before continuing as non-playing coach in 1986 and 1987. He was club best and fairest in 1983 and in his last season of playing football (1985) topped the league goalkicking list with 126 goals.[2]

North Melbourne Football Club, VFL[edit]

Blight was recruited by the Kangaroos and, although he was reluctant to join at first, he went on to play 178 games for the club between 1974 and 1982.[3] He was a member of the Kangaroos' premiership sides in 1975 and 1977, and in 1978 won both the Brownlow Medal and the Syd Barker Medal for being the best and fairest player in the VFL and for North Melbourne respectively.

Blight was consistently one of the most brilliant players in the VFL during the 1970s. Besides taking spectacular marks, he was also a prolific goalkicker, renowned for his ability to kick the torpedo punt. In 1982, Blight won the Coleman Medal for leading the VFL in goalkicking, and led the Kangaroos' goalkicking four times during his career.

Eighty metre goal after the siren[edit]

In a moment that has since passed into Australian Rules folklore in 1976 Blight kicked a famous goal after the siren against Carlton. After kicking two goals in time-on in the last quarter, Blight marked an estimated 80 metres from the goals. North Melbourne were still trailing by one point – only a goal would win the game. Many assumed Blight's effort would be futile and spectators were already entering the playing arena. However, Blight unleashed one of the biggest-ever torpedo punts winning an improbable victory for North Melbourne. This moment was the focus of a television commercial in the Toyota Memorable Moments series, which featured Blight.

Infamous moments[edit]

For all of Blight's brilliance as a player, there were also moments he would rather have forgotten.

During the 1977 VFL season, which happened to be played during the wettest Melbourne winter in 40 years, North Melbourne hosted Hawthorn at Arden Street. The ground conditions were atrocious, and the match for the most part resembled something more akin to mud wrestling. Hawthorn led by one point when Blight was given a free kick and a set shot for goal. He scored a behind, which would have levelled the scores, but was given a second attempt after the umpire penalized Hawthorn for an infringement. Unfortunately for Blight and North Melbourne, the ball slew off the side of his boot and went out of bounds on the full, giving the Hawks victory.

In 1981, while still serving as playing coach, Blight made one of the most bizarre blunders ever seen in a football match. In North Melbourne's Round 14 clash against Richmond at the MCG, Blight was on the end of a chain of handpasses deep in the forward zone. He seemed certain to score a goal as he ran into the goal square, only to run past the goal posts and kick the ball through the behinds. As he said after the match when he realized his mistake: "I've never done that before. I'm probably going barmy."[4] Richmond won that match by 43 points, and Blight was sacked as playing coach less than a month later.

Blight was indirectly involved in another infamous football incident during the 1980 Escort Cup Grand Final against Collingwood, held at VFL Park, Waverley. Blight kicked the ball to Kerry Good as the siren sounded. However, the umpire did not hear the siren and awarded the mark to Good who kicked the winning goal to win in controversial circumstances.

VFL Statistics[edit]

[5]
Legend
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Denotes seasons in which Blight won an AFL Premiership
Led the league for the Season only*
Led the league after finals only*
Led the league after Season and Finals*

*10 games required to be eligible.

Season Team # Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1974 North Melbourne 15 15 17 18 200 60 260 91 - 1.1 1.2 13.3 4.0 17.3 6.1 -
1975 North Melbourne 15 18 14 18 187 63 250 69 - 0.8 1.1 11.0 3.7 14.7 4.1 -
1976 North Melbourne 15 23 35 29 378 102 480 159 - 1.5 1.3 16.4 4.4 20.9 6.9 -
1977 North Melbourne 15 24 24 33 415 115 530 127 - 1.0 1.4 17.3 4.8 22.1 5.3 -
1978 North Melbourne 15 24 77 51 361 69 430 136 - 3.2 2.1 15.0 2.9 17.9 5.7 -
1979 North Melbourne 15 19 60 27 275 67 342 102 - 3.2 1.4 14.5 3.5 18.0 5.4 -
1980 North Melbourne 15 20 44 29 282 90 372 87 - 2.2 1.5 14.1 4.5 18.6 4.4 -
1981 North Melbourne 15 15 70 45 206 31 237 79 - 4.7 3.0 13.7 2.1 15.8 5.3 -
1982 North Melbourne 15 20 103 66 233 43 276 112 - 5.2 3.3 11.7 2.2 13.8 5.6 -
Career 178 444 316 2537 640 3177 962 - 2.5 1.8 14.3 3.6 17.8 5.4 -

Coaching and after coaching[edit]

Blight later became a successful coach famous for employing unorthodox, and at times controversial, coaching methods as attempts to motivate his players.[6]

Playing coach at North Melbourne[edit]

Appointed playing coach in 1981 after Ron Barassi departed, Blight was sacked as coach after six consecutive losses.[7] The following week he rebounded with a club-record 11 goal haul against Footscray, at the Western Oval. Once again, Blight's inaccurate kicking for goal may have prevented him from kicking a club record of a possible 16 to 17 goals. Blight's total as playing coach (Wayne Schimmelbusch was captain) was 16 games (6 wins, 10 losses) and the last of the playing Coaches in the VFL.

Back at Woodville[edit]

Playing coach 1983 to 1985, continued as non-playing coach to 1987. His tenure as coach coincided with the clubs most successful season (1986) in the entire history of the Woodville Football Club, when they reached the Preliminary Final.[8] During the season the Warriors (who had changed from being known as the Woodpeckers to the Warriors in 1983) had defeated their hated "big brother" Port Adelaide once during the minor round at Woodville Oval (drawing the oval's ground record attendance of 11,026 to their Round 18 clash), and also in the First Semi-final at Football Park, before going down to eventual premiers Glenelg in the Preliminary Final.

Geelong and Adelaide: A reputation is forged[edit]

Senior coach from 1989 to 1994, highlighted by Grand Final appearances in 1989, 1992 and 1994. Total of 145 games, 89 wins, 56 losses. One of the strangest incidents as a coach of Geelong was his extroverted decision to stand on a metal box to watch the game against the West Coast Eagles in Perth. His excitement of "seeing the game at ground level", was an attempt to get back to basics and some nostalgia.

Blight's arrival at the Crows at the end of the 1996 season was marked with dramatic effect, with the delisting of four ageing club stalwarts Tony McGuinness, Chris McDermott, Andrew Jarman, and Greg Anderson.[9] This attracted great criticism at the time, but Blight was vindicated by winning the AFL premiership in 1997, and again in 1998. He retired as coach at the end of the 1999 season after an unsuccessful year finishing 13th. To commemorate his legacy as Adelaide's first premiership coach, the club named their annual Best and Fairest award the Malcolm Blight Medal.

St Kilda: Promising start, disappointing end[edit]

After finishing at Adelaide, Blight went on to coach St Kilda. After being signed for $1 million as coach for 2001,[10] Blight was sacked after Round 15 (3 wins, 12 losses). His famous humiliation of the players by making them stay on the ground (Telstra Dome) highlighted the worsening relation between the coach, players and club supporters. Some years later CEO Butterss questioned Blight's commitment to the club during his tenure. Blight responded memorably from his position as media commentator with Channel Ten, saying:

I couldn't give a rat's tossbag whether he thought I could coach or whether anyone thinks I can coach or can play. But when he talked about commitment for St Kilda, for the time I was there, it was absolute garbage made by a very naive person.

Involvement at Gold Coast[edit]

Blight has joined the 17th AFL team, the Gold Coast Football Club, as a board member.

In July 2012, the Gold Coast announced that Blight had stepped down from the board to take up a part-time advisory role to Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna, following a similar growing trend where former coaches (among them Mark Williams, Dean Laidley and Mark Harvey) have been employed as advisors to other head coaches.[11]

Blight's Squad of Champions[edit]

Looking back over his coaching career, Blight nominated in June 2012 a team of the greatest 22 players that he had coached, plus four emergencies.[12] This was how the team looked:

Malcolm Blight's Squad of Champions
B: Ben Hart
(Adelaide)
David Dench
(North Melbourne)
Mark Bickley
(Adelaide)
HB: Andrew McLeod
(Adelaide)
Ross Glendinning
(North Melbourne)
Nigel Smart
{Adelaide}
C: Keith Greig
(North Melbourne)
Paul Couch
(Geelong)
Mark Bairstow
(Geelong)
HF: Wayne Schimmelbusch
(North Melbourne)
Barry Stoneham
(Geelong)
Ralph Sewer
(Woodville)
F: Darren Jarman
(Adelaide)
Gary Ablett, Sr.
(Geelong)
George Whiting
(SPOC)
Foll: Shaun Rehn
(Adelaide)
Mark Ricciuto
(Adelaide)
Garry Hocking
(Geelong)
Int: Ken Hinkley
(Geelong)
David Pittman
(Adelaide)
Simon Goodwin
(Adelaide)
Tyson Edwards
(Adelaide)
Coach: Malcolm Blight


The four emergencies named were: Peter Caven (Adelaide), Kane Johnson (Adelaide), Peter Riccardi (Geelong) and Tony Modra (Adelaide).

Media career[edit]

Blight continued his football involvement through the media. He commentated for the Seven Network during his hiatus from coaching in 1995 and 1996 and also co-hosted Talking Footy with fellow commentator Bruce McAvaney and journalist Mike Sheahan. He was one of the commentators at Waverley Park during the famous "Lights Out Incident" during a night match between Essendon and St Kilda in 1996. After finishing up as a coach, Blight commentated for Network Ten's television coverage.

In 2006 Blight appeared in a Toyota Legendary Moment ad recreating his goal after the siren against Carlton.

He also wrote football-related articles for the Sunday Mail.

Blight is known for his dislike of the practice of players using grubber kicks when attempting to score a goal, due to the lack of control and unpredictability of the bounce.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ron Barassi
North Melbourne Football Club coach
1981
Succeeded by
Barry Cable
Preceded by
John Devine
Geelong Football Club coach
1989–1994
Succeeded by
Gary Ayres
Preceded by
Robert Shaw
Adelaide Football Club coach
1997–1999
Succeeded by
Gary Ayres
Preceded by
Tim Watson
St Kilda Football Club coach
2001
Succeeded by
Grant Thomas
Awards
Preceded by
Russell Ebert
Magarey Medal
1972
Succeeded by
Barrie Robran
Preceded by
Graham Teasdale
Brownlow Medal
1978
Succeeded by
Peter Moore
Preceded by
Michael Roach
Coleman Medal
1982
Succeeded by
Bernie Quinlan