Ky legends enter GVL Hall of Fame

By Kyabram Free Press

KYABRAM Football Club legends Tony McDonnell and Jeff Cooper were among the seven new inductees to the Goulburn Valley League Hall of Fame on Sunday night in Shepparton.

And the Hall of Fame has its first grandfather-grandson combination after Tongala Football Club’s Mick Souter was among those inducted.

Souter is the grandson of Kyabram’s Wilf Cox, the GVL’s first Morrison Medallist.

Shepparton Swans netballer Debbie Atkinson, Rochester stalwart Bruce Watson, Euroa’s Mick Williams and Mooroopna’s Bill Wong also were bestowed with the honour at Sunday’s function.

Atkinson won three Wellman Family medals in three years playing for the Swans in the 1980s.

As well as being an A grade premiership netballer, Atkinson was selected in the Australian Indigenous team to play an international competition in the Cook Islands.

McDonnell, Watson, Wong and Souter were all 300-game players with their clubs, with Watson a servant of the Tigers for more than 50 years in various roles.

McDonnell and Souter both held the GVL games record at stages of their careers.

Cooper won two Morrison Medals in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Former long-serving Tatura player and long-time servant of the league Freddo McMahon was promoted to GVL Legend status at the function.

He joins triple Morrison Medallist Robbie Ormann to have achieved this honour.


MANY Kyabram Football Club supporters and GVL fans with long memories still rate Jeff Cooper as the classiest footballer to play with the Bombers since the 1950s.

Such was the impact he made during his time with Kyabram in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Those privileged enough to be around then to watch him weave his magic still talk about his feats today.

Jeff joined the Bombers for their 1958 Goulburn Valley League campaign under legendary coach Tony Bull and became an instant sensation in GVL football.

Small but powerful with relentless running power, speed and reflexes, he was a player well ahead of his years and the game as it was in those days.

Coaches in today’s frenetic style of football would have loved the way he ran through the lines, dodging, mesmerising and frustrating opponents with his scorching pace and uncanny ball skills.

Jeff’s career started at Mid Murray (now Central Murray ) League club Woorinen, where he played his first senior season as a 16-year-old, representing the league in a match against Carlton in 1956.

In 1957 he played with Mathoura in the now defunct Echuca and District Football League and won the league’s best and fairest medal.

Umpires in the GVL also appreciated his electrifying style of play and in his first season at Kyabram in 1958 he won the league’s top individual award, the Morrison Medal.

He was also a member of the Kyabram premiership side that season.

He repeated his Morrison Medal win in the 1961 season, and is one of nine players in the history of the GVL to win two medals.

He was also runner-up in the Morrison Medal in 1962, third in 1963 to Kyabram coach Charlie Stewart and fourth in 1964, his last year at Kyabram before being cleared back to Woorinen. He played 104 games with Kyabram, where he won two best and fairest awards.

Many good judges still rate Jeff Cooper and current Kyabram coach Paul Newman as the two best Kyabram footballers never to have played AFL/VFL football.


SOUTER played junior football for Tongala, winning three premierships and a league best and fairest award. He went on to play his first senior game for Tongala at just 15, and was selected in the Goulburn Valley Schoolboys team in 1974 and the winning Victorian team in the under-17 Australian Championships.

He played 333 senior GVL games with Tongala, representing GVL in country championships football during that period.

In 1989, he was the GVL’s highest goalkicker with 78 over the season, including kicking 14 in one match.

He went on to play another 37 games, this time with Nathalia, winning the MFL goal-kicking in consecutive seasons with a total of 242 goals — with 18 in one game.

All up, Souter kicked an impressive 1007 goals in his GVL senior football career.

He has also coached junior football for 12 years.


AFTER starting his junior footy career with St Augustine’s junior club, Tony McDonnell joined the Kyabram Football Club in 1982.

He played 337 senior games and 18 reserve games with the Bombers, and was the GVL senior games record holder from 1999-2004.

He was the runner-up in Kyabram’s best and fairest award in 1990, and third in 1996 and 1997.

In the 1996 grand final he was the premiership captain and Wilf Cox medallist for best player.

McDonnell is a life member of the GVL and coached KGFL club Lancaster to a premiership in 2001. In fact, he coached the Lancaster side through 35 consecutive wins. He played for Lancaster until he was 47.

In 2008 and 2009, he won the KDFL reserves’ Wade Medal as best and fairest.

He then returned to the Kyabram Football Club and coached the under-18 side for five seasons.

McDonnell also played in the Ted Whitten charity match as a member of the Big V side, and subsequently kicked a goal at the MCG.

All told, he has played over 500 games of country football.