Remembering a legend | Gus Underwood’s sporting snaps

By Kyabram Free Press

I, like many, was saddened to hear last week of the passing of Jack Jones at the grand old age of 95.

Diagnosed with cancer in December last year, Jack was a three-time premiership-winning player (1946, 1949, 1950) in 175 games and kicked 156 goals for the then VFL Bombers.

Rather fittingly Jack left us on March 24 — this was the number of the battalion he served in and the number he asked to wear when he arrived at Essendon after the war to honour his fallen World War II mates.

I got to know Jack when his two sons Tony and John were playing with Tongala Football Club in the 1980s.

Tony was a brilliant key forward and John an ever-reliable defender.

Tony’s daughter is sports presenter Sarah Jones.

Jack and I would bump into each other at Tongala games and have a quick yarn. He was always on for a chat and I suspected after being raised and living in Melbourne most of his life he loved his Saturday jaunts to the country.

I rated him a quality human being and often thought of him since those days when the Des Campbell-coached Tongala ruled the GVL.

Des this week described Jack as a ‘‘beautiful person and a pleasure to have known’’.

And Des said his sons Tony and John had inherited his virtues as footballers and human beings.

Des remembers Tony, who played with the club for several years and was a member of both its 1983 and 1984 premiership sides, as a champion player and a matchwinner.

‘‘He kicked seven goals in the grand final in 1983 when we beat Shepparton Swans,” Des said. "He could turn a game in a flash.’’

John played only two or three seasons with the Blues and was in the 1984 premiership side at centre half back.

‘‘I called John Mr Consisent because he just never played a bad game,’’ Des said.

● Some district names featured in the recent win by Nightcliff in the AFL Northern Territory competition.

Nightcliff led all the way to beat St Mary’s by 13 points in the season decider 10.13 to 9.6.

Tongala’s Cameron Illett, Finley coach Zac Brain and Seymour’s Kyle Winter-Iriving were all members of the Nightcliff premiership team.

Illet, who will return to play with Tongala this season, has now savoured seven premiership triumphs in the league, five of these coming from his time with St Mary's and the last two with Nightcliff.

There were further Goulburn Valley connections in the grand final with the winners being coached by Chris Baksh, who spent time at Picola Football Club. Former Shepparton United and Congupna utility Daniel Bowles was also named best afield for Nightcliff in the win.

In another local link, one of the grand final umpires, Sam Wood, hails from Tatura.

●It’s an interesting situation in Central Murray and Golden Rivers Football Netball Leagues regarding the proposed starting date for their seasons.

Both leagues are administered by the one board, which has listed June 6 as a possible starting date.

But among its present bans, effective until the end of May, is no team training. So if the season starts on June 6 that will give the players a week to prepare.

Admittedly most players will keep up reasonable fitness levels until then but team drills, game plans and tactics will have to be rushed a bit.

●The Heathcote Football League is contemplating playing midweek games if football returns later this year.

League chief Peter Cole said games could be potentially played under lights at Elmore or White Hills.

Any such move is only one of several possibilities being discussed by the league if and when football returns this year.

‘‘We’ll just sit back and watch but I can tell you now that if the AFL gets to round four or five without any dramas that will open up a whole new scenario,’’ Cole said.

“At the moment, the AFL had a view of not do what I do but do as I say but as far as we are concerned everything is on the table.”

●Kyabram Lawn Tennis Club’s annual Easter tournament is not the only one to be aced by the coronavirus and cancelled for this year.

Huge annual Easter tennis tournaments at Echuca, Shepparton and Yarrawonga have also been put on hold for a year.

●Campaspe Valley Bowls Association’s pennant season did not get to the premiership showdown stage, with the coronavirus causing the plug to be pulled in the week leading to the season deciders.

Both the midweek and Saturday division one competitions were due to be fought out between Echuca and Moama teams.

●Allrounder Lachlan Watts has had a big year in the Seymour District Cricket Association.

Watts, who captained Tallarook to this year’s flag, picked up a swag of association awards.

He was named Cricketer of Year and was the Frank Zanelli medallist in the A grade competition.

His 364 runs at an average of 45.5 and his 24 wickets also earned him the Best Allrounder accolade.

And to top it all he was named captain of the association’s Team of the Year.