Kyabram legend farewelled

By Shepparton News

One of Kyabram Football Club's legendary coaches died at the weekend.

Tony Bull, who led the Bombers to the Goulburn Valley League flag in 1958 in his first season with the club, had been battling dementia for several years. He was 89.

Bull revolutionised Kyabram Football Club when he took the reins as coach in 1958.

At the time the Bombers were known as the Robins. He ruled that was not a name that would instill fear into rivals, so he changed it to The Bombers, the title the club has today.

Bull brought a professionalism to the club never previously experienced. He preached that if you wanted to be a footballer, you had to at least look like one.

Players invited his wrath if they had their socks down. They also had to hit the ground running from the dressing rooms in a tight group to show they meant business when they took to the field.

Bull was a tough no-nonsense onballer famous as a player for his Dustin Martin-like arm - or sometimes fist - fend-offs when he had possession of the ball.

In his time at Kyabram, Bob Vick was his vice-captain, which turned into a lifelong friendship.

‘‘He was a gentleman, but very tough on the field. I can still see him bursting through the centre with his pace and hair flowing,’’ Vick said.

‘‘The first night he took training he lined all us players up and said they would be running 11 laps before training even started. It raised a few eyebrows, I can tell you.”

Bull came to Kyabram from Melbourne metropolitan club Moorabbin West, a club he joined in 1957 after playing for the Melbourne Football Club in the 1950s.

He played 31 senior games for Melbourne and in one VFL grand final was the emergency for the senior and reserves teams.

Bull’s youngest son Lindsay recalled his week how legendary Melbourne coach Norm Smith told is father he was the best player in the reserves and the worst player in the seniors.

But because he was an emergency under the rules at the time he was ineligible to play in the reserves grand final team because he had also been named as an emergency for the senior side.

In his first year as coach of Kyabram in 1958 he led it to a premiership - 12.13 (85) to 9.6 (60) against Nagambie.

Kyabram again was a grand finalist in 1959, beaten against Lemnos (Shepparton Swans). Kyabram missed the finals in 1960, finishing fifth, and were finalists again in 1961 when eliminated from the premiership fight by eventual premier Tongala.

Kyabram was finalists again under Bull in 1962 – his last season as coach of the club - but it lost the second semi-final and preliminary final by three and 11 points, respectively.

A private family funeral service was on Saturday.