Sports

Port Adelaide legend Russell Ebert dies


Port Adelaide legend Russell Ebert, considered the greatest player and possibly figure in the club’s rich 151-year history, has died at the age of 72 after a battle with cancer.

Ebert was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December last year and on Friday passed away at home surrounded by his family.

Ebert played a club-record 392 games with the Port Adelaide Magpies, winning three premierships, four Magarey medals and six best-and-fairest awards.

He was recently elevated to ‘legend’ status in the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame.

His elevation saw him become just the seventh ‘legend’, after Sir Donald Bradman and Bart Cummings (2010), Barrie Robran (2011), Victor Richardson and Gillian Rolton (2016) and Anna Meares (2020).

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In addition to Ebert’s 392 games with Port Adelaide, he played 25 matches with North Melbourne and made 29 appearances for South Australia.

He is also a centre in Port Adelaide’s greatest all-time team and a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Ebert progressed from playing to coaching, leading his beloved Port Adelaide in 116 games between 1983 and 1987, before having coaching stints at Woodville and South Australia.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has paid a beautiful tribute to Ebert.

“Russell Ebert was an extraordinary footballer and his record attests to that as the only person in SANFL history with four Magarey medals, coupled with multiple premierships and nearly 400 senior games just for his beloved Magpies, alongside his brilliant state career and a season with North Melbourne in the VFL,” McLachlan said.

“As a young fan of the game in Adelaide, even when watching him as an opposition player, you couldn’t help but admire his high marking, his one-touch ball-gathering, his brilliant attacking handball and his exceptional kicking skills on both sides of his body, as he was taking your side apart. All while being an incredibly fair player who relied on his skills while being strong and brave.

“As his time in football concluded, Russell then truly blossomed as a humble but strong leader in wider society, not just football, and across more than 30 years he diligently worked every day in seeking to improve his community, using his profile and leadership to show people better ways to treat each other, and assist those who were struggling.

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“The child in me will always admire the great footballer, but the adult that I am is in awe of what Russell Ebert was as a man, and his loss after bravely confronting his illness is devastating for his family, for his club, his many fans and for the state of South Australia, where he has given so much.

“He was everything you would hope to be in a man, and perhaps the best of all of us.”

Ebert’s son, Brett, made 166 appearances for Port Adelaide and topped the club’s goal-kicking in 2007, while nephew Brad ran out for the club on 184 occasions.

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