Almanac Footy History: KT’s ton – 40 years on

A young KT.

 

 

“Where would we be without Kelvin?” If I received a dollar every time I heard that phrase uttered by Doggie devotees during the late 70’s my finances would’ve been a helluva lot healthier.

 

From the moment he burst into the consciousness of footy fans with a headline grabbing six goal debut, Kelvin Templeton gave the Footscray faithful a reason to feel enthusiastic about their team’s chances that day, next week and next year. Quite an achievement when you consider hope was in short supply during his nine season stint on Barkly Street.

 

Templeton’s Bulldog biography is dazzling: Leading goal-kicker awards for club (1976-80) and competition (1978-79) state representation, two best and fairest awards (1978 & 1980) and of course his historic 1980 Brownlow Medal victory – the first key forward to be awarded the games highest individual honour. What his remarkable resume doesn’t illustrate is how significant he was keeping his team relevant during a particularly bleak period for the club. Footscray’s 29.5% win percentage from 1978-1980 certainly didn’t do the trick.

 

2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of the Temple ton, a season in which the 21 year old became the first Footscray player to reach a three figure tally of goals in a VFL season. Much has been written about the events of July 1 1978, a record setting day for both Templeton and Footscray so I’ve avoided revisiting that astonishing day for this piece. [The highlights of that 15-goal haul against St Kilda are in the YouTube clip at the end of this piece – Ed]

 

I hope you enjoy this six pack of memories from Templeton’s triple figure winter.

 

 

Round 2 St Kilda 20.17-137 defeated Footscray 19.16-130 – Saturday 8 April @Moorabbin

 

KT’s contribution – 12 kicks, 2 handballs and 10 marks. 8 goals took his season tally to 11.

 

Two days after senior coach Billy Goggin resigned and pacey wingman Denis Collins was cleared to Carlton, the Dogs came mighty close to snatching an all too rare win at Linton Street. Templeton’s eight goals were a game high and just one shy of a career best. The Saints/Scraggers scoring spree was a precursor to the decadent goal orgy these teams would partake in three months later.

 

Footscray’s best was Full Forward Kelvin Templeton who gave St Kilda Full Back Barry Breen a torrid afternoon. Templeton kicked eight goals and used his ample frame to take strong pack marks. – Tony Peek, Sun News Pictorial, Monday 10 April

 

 

Round 7 Hawthorn 27.15-177 defeated Footscray 13.13-91 – Saturday 13 May @ Princes Park

 

KT’s contribution – 11 kicks, 1 handball and 10 marks. 8 goals took his season tally to 34.

 

Templeton kicked Footscray’s four opening quarter majors and had half a dozen to his name at the main break as the Dogs trailed their more fancied opponent by just 17 points. It was one way traffic after the resumption as the well-oiled Hawthorn machine piled on 18 goals to run out convincing winners. If not for Templeton’s lone hand up forward the final margin would’ve been ludicrous.

 

I felt especially sorry for Kelvin Templeton who was ready for the game of his life but couldn’t get anyone to kick the ball to him – Ross Brundrett, Footscray Mail, Wednesday 17 May

 

 

Round 10 Footscray 19.11-125 defeated Carlton 15.14-104 – Monday 5 June @ Western Oval

 

KT’s contribution – 16 kicks, 4 handballs and 12 marks.  9 goals took his season tally to 52.

 

With Carlton 35 points clear at the half it looked like Jezza would complete his first month as Captain/Coach of the Blues unbeaten. Enter Kelvin Templeton. Three goals in the third quarter, four in the final term, nine for the match. Impressive? You bet, even more so considering his direct opponent that afternoon was the legendary Geoff Southby.

 

Templeton gave a masterly display of leading, marking and kicking, despite the poor kick in the first quarter that cost him 10 goals for the match. Templeton is the equal of any forward in the competition – Mike Sheahan, The Age, Tuesday June 6

 

 

Round 12 Footscray 13.12-90 defeated North Melbourne 8.12-60 – Saturday 24 June @ Arden Street  

 

KT’s contribution – 12 kicks, 1 handball and 10 marks. 7 goals took his season tally to 65

 

The Scraggers hadn’t beaten North Melbourne since Ron Barassi’s arrival in 1973. Gary Dempsey’s last minute withdrawal due to a calf injury suggested more Arden Street agony was in store for the visitors. Leading at every interval Templeton’s proved the difference. In a rare act of benevolence Barassi moved star WA recruit Ross Glendinning from Full Back sparing him any further embarrassment after Templeton’s fourth of a magnificent seven goals for the game.

 

Footscray had state spearhead Kelvin Templeton in sure form as he proved too big a handful for Ross Glendinning – Jim Robb, Sporting Globe, Saturday 24 June

 

Round 14 Footscray 20.7-127 defeated Melbourne 8.11-59 – Saturday 8 July@ Western Oval  

 

KT’s contribution – 9 kicks, 1 handball and 7 marks.  6 goals took his season tally to 86

 

The follow up to the goal glut against the Saints was always gonna disappoint. Still, history was created with Templeton’s six goals taking him to 86 for the season surpassing Jack Collins’ single season club record (84 goals in 1954). Heady days for first season coach Don McKenzie as the Tri colours led all day to register a third win on the trot.

 

A word of praise should be given to Melbourne Full Back Shane Grambeau who was given the unenviable task of guarding and curbing Templeton. He stuck to his guns well – Rex Pullen, Sunday Press, Sunday 9 July

 

 

Round 19 Collingwood 11.16-82 defeated Footscray 10.6-66 – Saturday 12 August@ Victoria Park

 

KT’s contribution – 9 kicks, 1 handball and 7 marks. 3 goals took his season tally to 101

 

Victoria Park, locale of his sensational VFL debut four years earlier, fittingly provided the setting for Kelvin Templeton’s date with destiny. Entering the contest two goals shy of the ton an early major suggested the milestone would be reached post haste. Infuriatingly Templeton couldn’t convert a fistful of first half chances. Thirteen minutes into the third term Footscray’s George Brown took possession of the ball in front of the Rush Stand and belted it deep into attack. Juggling the rookies offering Templeton was awarded the mark. From deep in the left forward pocket, Sherrin Stand end, Templeton played on to open up the angle. This time there was no mistake. 76 games into his storied if somewhat injury truncated career, Kelvin Templeton joined immortals of the game such as Coventry, Pratt, Coleman, Hudson and McKenna as a member of the “100 club”.

 

Calling the game for ABC TV Peter Booth encapsulated the feelings Red, White and Blue diehards held for their young champ:

 

     He’s been a great player for Footscray over just a few seasons; he’s an ornament to the game, a great asset to football here in Victoria. 

 

Templeton’s second goal of the match put Footscray up by four points and an upset was a distinct possibility. It wasn’t to be as a finals bound Collingwood seized control of the contest early in the final quarter and registered a comfortable if not convincing victory.

 

So how did Kelvin Templeton spend his first night as a centurion?  The answer, as reported in the Wednesday 23 August 1978 issue of the Footscray Mail, was obvious – as the guest of honour at the East Launceston Football Club Annual Ball. And, for good measure, Templeton took teammates Alan Stoneham, Ted Whitten Jnr and Richard Murrie along for company.

 

Sadly the evening would end in less than satisfactory circumstances. Upon returning to their motel the dog tired Doggies realised their room key was still in the possession of an unnamed East Launceston official. It meant the four spent a bitterly cold Northern Tasmanian night huddled inside a borrowed Holden Gemini. When queried of his night to remember Templeton responded “I would’ve gladly swapped the 100 goals for a warm bed.”

 

Kelvin Templeton finished the 1978 season with 118 goals from his 21 senior appearances. The 7 win/15 loss Bulldogs’ 31.8% “success” rate is the lowest winning percentage of a team to have a century goal kicker in the same year.

 

Scribes charged with the responsibility of covering the 11th place Dogs for the local press were afforded one benefit – a front row seat to the weekly KT show. Their end of year reviews suggest it might’ve been the only one.

 

Individually speaking the one bright light was the great year Kelvin Templeton had. His tally of 118.71 represents about 1/3 of Footscray’s total score for the year*. That speaks volumes in itself. What it doesn’t tell you is how he got those goals, often having to struggle against two or three opponents – Ross Brundrett – Footscray Mail – Wednesday 13 September 1978

 

It was the talented Templeton who put Footscray into the limelight on many occasions, even on days when the team suffered defeat – Roy Jamieson, Footscray Advertiser, Thursday 14 September 1978

 

Kelvin Templeton’s 1978 football commitments would end disastrously when he suffered a punctured lung during an end of season Gaelic Football tour of Scotland and Ireland. Templeton’s weight plummeted from 14 and a half stone (92 kgs) to 11 and a half stone (73kgs) as a result and his preparation for the 1979 season was severely hampered. Despite this setback he retained his title of VFL leading goal-kicker shading Richmond’s Michael Roach by the smallest of margins (91 to 90).

 

As mentioned earlier Templeton created history in 1980 when he became the first key forward to win the Brownlow Medal. Sadly any thoughts he may have entertained in taking his game to a higher level were sabotaged in his first competitive match of the 1981 season. A severe knee injury sustained in a night series match in March 1981 sidelined the reigning Brownlow Medallist indefinitely. Templeton’s mid-July comeback provided a sliver of sunshine in an otherwise putrid year for the 2 win/20 loss Scraggers’. The following season proved just as frustrating as niggling injuries limited him to 14 senior appearances. Unbeknown to the 16,259 in attendance an 8 disposal effort against Richmond in, ironically, Round 19 1982 would serve as Templeton’s swansong for the `Scray.

 

When the Melbourne Football Club sought a clearance for Templeton during the 1982/83 off season the cash strapped Bulldogs had little option but to grant the Dees their request. The bad luck that ruined Templeton’s post Brownlow career at the Kennel followed him to the Coliseum. Sadly injuries restricted him to just 34 games in his three seasons in Red and Blue. On July 20 1985 Templeton made his final VFL appearance in Melbourne’s 10 goal loss to Carlton at VFL Park.

 

In addition to his outstanding on field efforts Kelvin Templeton was the CEO of the Sydney Swans from 1996 to 2002 (inclusive) a period that saw the Bloods establish itself as a competition powerhouse. It’s to the chagrin of myself and Bulldog brethren of my vintage (old, full bodied, bitter) that Kelvin Templeton is yet to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. I sincerely hope the 10 member selection committee can rectify this mystifying oversight as soon as possible.

 

Please.

 

#KT4HoF2019  

 

*– Templeton’s 118 majors accounted for 35% of Footscray’s total goals in 1978

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. george smith says:

    Where do you start? Footscray were given incredible largess by the “Let’s give Carlton Another Premiership Scheme”, Country Zoning. They had the Latrobe Valley, probably the richest zone in the state, from which they got Templeton, Jennings and Royal amongst many others. But like an English Football Pools winner they squandered their fortune. Thorpe, Quinlan, Round, Dempsey and Templeton all ended up elsewhere.

    Finally they did something right – at rock bottom, in 1982, they finished last and had first choice in the national mini draft. Spurning the overrated Gary Shaw, they chose a ruckman called Andrew Purser, who was the cornerstone of their realistic tilt at the flag in 1985.

    Templeton was the first Footscray player since Whitten to be lauded for individual achievements, rather than the team thing, and it blighted them until that great day in 2016 – everybody won a flag, nobody won a Brownlow!

  2. Good onya Mick.

    I was there up in the back of the John Gent stand that arvo. I’d played footy that morning, so i followed a lot of my Maribyrnong team mates to the Western Oval to watch the match.

    The day started with a heavy fog but by the time the Footscray match started it was a beautiful, sunny winter afternoon; Melbourne’s weather at its best. For all those years i surmised he kicked 15-7, not 15-9; seems i was wrong.

    A few other points. His 6 goal debut was in R 3 1974 versus Collingwood @ Victoria Park. The home side winning a close one. I remember being in the car with my parents that day,listening to 3GL. Geelong beat Melbourne @ the ‘G’ by 4 points, their first win against Melbourne there since 1970. I recall Peter Doyle, ex Berrigan did well for Geelong that day. He had a career cruelled by injuries.

    When Templeton did his knee in that wet, miserable, night match V Melbourne, Graeme Gaunt, footballing journeyman kicked 4 of Melbourne’s 6 that night. It was probably his best ever game: he never kicked 4 in a match for premiership points. Templeton did his knee in the final minutes; what a tragedy.

    Templeton didn’t do much for Melbourne,though one match sticks in my mind. R 5 1983 they played Geelong @ Kardinia Park. Under new coach Tommy Hafey the Cats were undefeated. In this match they led by 36 points @ quarter time, 20 @ half time,before losing by 11 points. Templeton with 8 goals was the difference.

    I remember seeing his second last match. Melbourne journeyed out to the Western Oval in R 15, 1985, for a 120 point loss. Simon Beasley with 12 goals, 3, outscored Melbourne. Templeton kicked 2 points. I recall him having a couple of shots @ the Geelong Road end; shots that from 30 meters out barely got the distance. Sad.

    Glen!

  3. Cowshedend says:

    Brilliant Mic, brings back great memories, best Footscray player I have seen, the side was rubbish, and he would still dominate, a very rare beast.
    Was at all of those games, from memory Frank Goode coached them at Moorabbin with EJ assisting, Goggin was standing near us on the terraces.
    The fact that KT has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame is a travesty

  4. Did Alfred Hitchcock do the footy cards that season Mic?

  5. Excellent stuff, Mic. This sure brings back memories.

    Coincidentally, I was one of the few at VFL Park the night Templeton did his knee. From memory it was a wet and miserable night.

    And don’t get me started on the Hall of Fame – or I will start talking about Brent Crosswell again.

  6. Mic Rees says:

    Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for your feedback, very kind indeed.

    George: Every Footscray captain from 1979-1989 (inc) came out of the Latrobe Valley zone:
    Geoff Jennings (79-81) KT (82) Jimmy Edmond (83-85) Ricky Kennedy (86-88) Steve Wallis (89). Love your thoughts/comments on Andrew Purser, my second favourite player of all time. Played 112 of a possible 113 games in his 5 year stint with the Dogs. His only miss (Rd11 1985) was due to suspension, having copped a week for striking Brian Taylor. Bit stiff there.

    Glen: Two questions – did your team (Maidstone?) win that morning and did Gaunt play in the Oakleigh GF side in 1974?

    CSE: EJ and Don McKenzie managed the team at Moorabbin in 1978. Frank Goode stepped in when Royce Hart was ill for the Round 3 clash with Melbourne in 1981. Dees by a point (18.12 to 18.11), Jacko kicked 8, their only win that season.

    John: Kelvin’s, or should I say KEVIN’S, 1975 Scanlen card (as seen at the top of the page) is the only footy card I own. Good condition, not for sale! And thank you for your assistance with this story/piece.

    Smokie: As a loyal Roo I must ask what inspired you to trek out to Waverley on that miserable March evening to watch teams that, at seasons end, would fill the bottom two spots on the ladder? Agree wholeheartedly re: your comments on the talented Mr Crosswell – #TigerHoF2019

    Thanks again everyone.

    MCR

  7. G’day Mic.

    By 1978 i’d transferred from Maidstone to Maribyrnong, under the tutelage of one Neville Sillitoe. Did we win that day: no !

    Unsure re Gaunt in the 1974 First Division Grand Final. He made his debut for Richmond in 1972, so he was around.

    Glen!

  8. Carl Rayson says:

    A great piece as usual Mic and as always a great read. I too was there that wet and miserable night at VFL Park so I reckon the entire crowd has checked in now!

    KT was just a machine taking mark after mark usually from a bullet pass from Ted a Whitten Jr. or Geoff Jennings. Between round 10 and round 14 he’s kicked 42 in 5 games. An average of 8.4, like I said he was a machine.

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