Magical Michael Aish

I am 53 years old and have followed Norwood closely since the early 70s. We have had some incredible footballers during that time. The tough and tenacious Garry McIntosh, the gutsy Greg Turbill (would have been a VFL sensation if it hadn’t been for shocking knee injuries), the goal-kicking wizardry of Neville Roberts and Roger Woodwock, the sublimely skilled Phil Gallagher, the physicality of the late Jim Thiel (the one player David Grainger was terrified of), fabulous Phil Carman, the consistency of Kingo Taylor, the vastly underrated ruck man Neil Button and the list goes on. But if I am forced to name my number 1 player of all time, it is the magical Michael Aish.


It is a sensational resume and Michael well and truly has claims to be the SANFL player of the 1980s. From impressive pedigree, being the son of Peter, right from Michael’s debut against Westies in 1979 we knew we had a very good player. Geez was he skinny, though!

Michael was extremely quiet and shy in the beginning and was bestowed with the obvious nickname of Rowdy by the ‘legs late charismatic full back Ian Stasinowsky. Michael played mainly half forward at the start of his career. And while we quite rightly laud Keith Thomas’ mark running against the oncoming traffic in the 1984 grand final, Michael took a similar mark in the 1980 grand final – if the result had been the other way round, it would have received more kudos.
Michael was courageous with sensational poise and vision. While he had well and truly announced his arrival, he really exploded in 1981 playing as a ruck rover and duly saluted, winning the 1981 Magarey Medal.

The 1981 Magarey medal night; watching the count at the Redlegs club and then the celebrations back at the club; is probably my favourite non-premiership night as a Norwood supporter. On reflection there are several reasons; the most important being the presence of his lovely sister, the late Sue, who was working at the SANFL at the time. The closeness of brother and sister was palpably obvious. My mind now also wanders back to the funeral of Sue in January 2015. Seeing how Sue fought cancer and the love of the whole Aish family. Incredibly sad, but in the correct way uplifting also. Michael in the last couple of years has gone through a scare with prostate cancer. He handled this superbly unlike a lot of males – in particular being very open. Thank goodness he has received the all clear.

Michael’s brother Andrew, an extremely talented footballer in his own right, a Norwood Premiership and state player, is a special and caring person. Close Redleg followers truly appreciate Andrew. His passion to help others is second to none. (Andrew is, of course, James’s father – a dual Norwood Premiership player and now starting to come in to his own as a ‘Pie. The Aish dynasty continues).

Michael was also one of the first players to be heavily tagged, with Trevor Roe from Centrals being the best at it, with mutual respect from both re: the way Roe went about it. Unlike John Harvey from Port – while Michael received several free kicks in the 1984 grand final, if he had got every one he deserved, Jack Hylton and Laurie Argent would still be blowing the bloody whistle (not sure if Aishy and Harvey exchange Christmas cards).

While Harvey did a good job (cough cough) tagging Aishy in the 1984 grand final, who can forget the brilliant five bounce run from Michael resulting in a sensational goal to Keith Thomas?

 (Aishy’s artistry and dodging ability show up in the brilliant passage of play against South Adelaide which follows the 1984 grand final run when you view the above YouTube). 

Some personal Michael Aish and Norwood memories are in 1983 the ‘Legs competed in the Sterling Cup (a night series featuring several SANFL,WAFL and VFL sides). Geoff Wilson and myself travelled to Melbourne for the game against Footscray. The ‘Legs duly saluted and we accompanied the team back to the hotel. An interesting lady appeared and word has it that Michael, who had by this stage gone to bed, was the object of her desires. Someone ran up to Aishy’s room to warn him. He quickly got dressed and joined us back at the celebrations – that night in particular was an education in life! (A certain non-drinking and very disciplined player in the now Port Power CEO Keith Thomas’s eyes nearly popped out of his head all night). Thanks for paying for our room as well Rocky!

One summer, Michael absolutely worked his backside off with on the weights with Jim ‘Piano’ Michalanney in the Norwood gym and at Lifestyle run by Neville Roberts and the late David Hookes. It came the big day for the weigh in. Up stepped Aishy on the scales and he had lost weight! Aishy was spewing – we pissed ourselves laughing!

In 1983 I umpired with the SANFL and of course being the very quiet person I am, and never voicing my opinion, I unusually voiced my disgust at Michael not winning the 1983 Magarey medal at umpires training the next night. I reckon I effectively stamped my papers to never having a crack at umpiring league footy that night (so glad I ventured out to the blacks in 1984).

Michael at several stages looked like heading off to the VFL (he used to go OK car-wise out of VFL clubs – the famous yellow Celica a highlight!) Back then though there was not the huge difference financially or in standard of competition – so not that many guys departed SA.

Michael, obviously hugely talented, was driven hard by his father Peter as a junior.

On turning up to umpire a game, Michael is there and his son Jesse is playing. Michael isn’t exactly complimentary towards Jesse and I don’t hold back (surprise, surprise) letting Michael know what I think, and to let Jesse go and play and learn himself. Yes, advise and help, but don’t abuse. Over time I had gotten to know Pam (definitely Michael’s better half) well. I even happened to run in to Pam on her doe’s night at the Feathers and sat down and joined in. I thought thirty-odd ladies – and I was the only bloke at that stage – it wasn’t too bad a possible strike rate. Alas c Marsh b Lillee no score yet again. Pam used to get me to talk to Michael about both Jesse (who did play league footy but injuries did not help him) and Joel during their young footy years. I certainly feel that Joel could have gone further with his footy overall in the end.

Michael readily admits he would handle things differently today. Michael has always been giving of his time regarding charity and for sick kids and a quick phone call was all it ever took to get him involved.

Summing up, Michael was an amazing footballer with a sensational state record (also played in the Gaelic footy in 1984 when Gary McIntosh nearly started a war with the Irish – not enamoured with his physical style of goal keeping. Michael formed a close friendship with Dermott Brereton, who has said on several occasions he wishes he had recruited Michael to the Hawks). The 1980s was a golden era – not only the footy but socialising with the players and supporters in the Redlegs club and SAMs disco. With the building of the new facility at the Parade, hopefully those days return.

It has been a pleasure to watch the Aish family in action and to be involved. THANK YOU.

FAlmanac banner sq


  1. Brilliant piece “Book”, straight from the heart. Michael Aish was playing for Pulteney Grammar 1st XViii when I was in Grade 5 – 1978 from memory. I was fortunate to witness an Aish master class in his final year at school. He was playing centre-half-forward against a much bigger and stronger opponent from Sacred Heart College plus an imposing big ruckman lurking a kick behind the play.

    Aish nonchalantly helped himself to 8 goals in a losing side, and more importantly had a hand in every other score Pulteney made that day. An older brother of one of my best mate’s at school suggested he would win 3 Magarey medals, this suggestion was made before he had played 1 senior game for Norwood.

    The second Aish master class I observed was the 1981 Elimination Final against West Adelaide. Aish had 41 disposals and it was the first time West Coach Neil Kerley gave serious consideration to using a tagger in his side.

    The other impressive thing about Michael’s career is that he had a serious back ailment that restricted his movement, but the fact that he was still able to perform at such a high level for so long is a credit to his devotion to the game and Norwood.

    I also recall a mark running with the direction of the ball in a State game that was often overlooked. A running machine, turned either way, kicked both feet, brave and dangerous around goal. All class.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    The passage of time allows me to regard M Aish in a new light. You’ve done him justice ‘Book.

    I used to love it when Roe towelled him up though, which was always.

    I knew Sue Aish quite well through softball (she was a State player) around the time of the Magarey win. I had no idea of her passing and agree that she too was a lovely person.

  3. Rob Allevi says

    One of the Greats that’s for sure never forget that great run . Nice write up Malcom

  4. Many of my footy memories as a kid include Michael Aish.

    That first goal of the 1984 grand final from a free kick sent the crowd wild.

    To that run down the wing.

    And the helmet .

  5. Bill Drodge says

    Nice Article Malcolm.

    I got to know Michael when he was working at the Lifestyle Gym in the Hilton Hotel. And then met up again with him, when as a very average Footballer trying to get a game with the U19’s, he would go out of his way to help me.

    Great player, and a great person.

    p.s. I always wondered if the umps mistakenly gave Andrew some of Michael’s Magarey Votes in ’83?

  6. Marcus Smith says

    Michael Aish is the best Norwood player I ever saw play.

  7. Dave Brown says

    Good stuff Malcolm. My first Norwood guernsey (the long sleeved blue with red collar type they used to sell at K-mart or equivalent) had No. 8 on the back. He was my first Aussie Rules footy hero. I have heard him tell a story about evening up with John Harvey that may or may not involve an iconic brick wall. That run down the outer flank mirrored (i.e. in the other direction) by his nephew 28 years later, wonderful!

    Also, consider myself fortunate to have witnessed Jesse’s finest game for the Redlegs. A Friday night game against Sturt at the old Adelaide Oval – he kicked 5 playing as a half forward. Had the ball on a string and every time it bounced it bounced straight into his hands. Was magic if all too brief. Across three generations the Aishes have given a lot to the Norwood Football Club, well deserving of the love.

  8. Michael Rehn says

    Michael Aish was an extra-ordinary player. Not physically gifted which meant his body took an immense pounding throughout his career, he was gifted with what certainly seemed like an extra sense. He always knew who was about him, he knew where his team mates were, and he seemed to always know who was in the best position to give the ball to. His balance and vision were well above normal, and oddly that vision he had was so evident when he won a celebrity event at one of the very early Adelaide Grand Prix, where his driving skills in many ways mirrored his onfield vision and decision making. Make no mistake, he didn’t rest on his natural ability, no one trained harder than he did, and he threw his body into the fray so recklessly it was almost dangerous. Michael is best summed up to me by his last quarter run down the outer side of Football Park in the 1984 Grand Final which ended with a Keith Thomas goal….!!!!

  9. Robert Bryson says

    Great article Malcolm. Aish,Macca and Thomas were a driving force and during that era we had many fine players. Michael was a delight to watch fast paced, fearless and never selfish being a great team man. We had a lot of players in following years such as the James boys and Matthew Primus plus ‘Tractor” Chris Prime who were good team men and fine players. I agree Aish and Macca stand out as exceptional Men of Norwood.

  10. Mark Duffett says

    (Grudging) respect. SANFL player of the 1980s is a big call in a pretty packed field, however I’m struggling to name an unequivocally better one.

  11. Michael Aish says

    Thank you for this this article. I look back at my time with the Legs with so much joy.I thank the good lord for the little bit of talent he blessed me with. You do not really appreciate it while you are in the middle of it. The players,coaches ,staff, trainers, medial personal , volunteers all incredible people. Who can forget Wally Miller,Smokey Dawson, Ackam, Bill the sprigger, Kev,The Bandit, Big Al, Doc Sando Porter,Potter and Max our Physio. In fact since retirement my greatest joy other that seeing my boys and James play was the run of three flags. Particularly the last one. It was amazing. The players were sensational. The thrill of that win against the the Magpies was something i will cherish for a very long time.The Norwood Football club means a lot of things to a lot of people. Cant forget the supporters. Passionate as anyone would be about their team. Years of loyal support in good and not so good times. Thank you to everyone who has supported this great club over the years. I like to leave
    you with a quote that just may help someone one day. In life you are guaranteed of two types of pain. The Pain of Discipline and the pain of Consequences and you get to Choose.Thanks again Malcolm for your kind words

  12. Many including Aish was a bit before my time, but Paul McCormack and Todd Davey were two of underrated favourites from 97.

  13. Well scribed Malcom …! Aishy was after my time @ Norwood but I did see him back in old days training in
    Boomer Beach Sand hills when Wynne & I would go to Boomer for a body surf ..I later built a cedar
    Beach house there ” Beaches ” 1983 .. and spent another 30+ years @ Boomer ..
    Back to Aishy yes he loved coming to Sams Disco. Run By 28. I was on the door bouncing & taking tickets ..Ties only attire /. He was a very fast creative footballer but his brother Andrew was also great but went for his physio caree instead … fixing my neck few times. Ha ha ! They were both naturals in their blood. Father Peter played at Norwood with my dad Clem Pinches very early days …
    Yes Aishy was one of the best but so too in their own way were Wynne , Roberts, Turnbill, Dillion, Poulter
    Carman , King o , Craiggy Staz & Tangles. Menze / A great era in Football …#18 Pinches aloha

  14. Jamie Mason says

    Great read Rulebook… What a wonderful player he was. Just wish he has taken up the Tigs offer

  15. Tom Warhurst says

    just watched the video of Keithy’s goal

    all my mates were there , starting with Lester , Scans, Aishy , Neags , Piano , Wocky , Hallbag , little thommo, and KT of course

    must admit sent a tingle down the spine , then almost got a bit teary !!

    my thoughts on Aishy will have to come later , i’ll nead time for that one !!

  16. He was all class on the footy field, and obviously off it as well.

  17. Yep best Redleg I’ve seen too Marcus. I remember standing on Coopers Hill at the Parade in the early 80s with Goves and exhorting Aishy to make it rain after we hit the lead late in the last. He’d done everything else that day after all. Well played Malcolm.

  18. Tom Warhurst says

    Sorry wasnt Neags but Danny making the block , sorry Captain
    also noticed Gags back there in defence , must have be down there giving us a ‘spray” ha ha

    great article Malcolm , well done


  19. david butler says

    Well done again Rulebook. Michael Aish and Steven Kernahan were ‘sons of guns’ who both attracted lots of press attention even during their schoolboy days. One always wondered at the time whether this was just journos getting carried away, but despite all the pressure of that expectation they both excelled from day 1 and then went on with it. Michael’s courage as a schoolboy rookie was almost suicidal; I don’t know how he survived.

  20. Don’t know whether I ever told you Malcolm – when my eldest Eddie (now 22) was about 10 or 11 & a very handy tennis player he found himself on the same team as Aishy & Keith Thomas. Of course he had no idea who these blokes were. I’m like, “you realise you’ve just played with 2 of the greatest ever Norwood players?!”. They were both classy as that day too, especially the way they engaged with my young fellow.

  21. Great review Mal… Well worth the read

  22. I remember him as an exquisitely talented, impossibly skinny flanker who combined smarts and tenacity. Norwood Oval’s boggy surface didn’t seem to bother him at all.

    As always thanks for showing us more of the man himself.

  23. Jill Tathra says

    As usual a great write up mate about a great player. Mind you I only saw him a couple of times a season being a West Torrens supporter from way back.

    I feel all of our clubs back in the 50`s 60`s and 70`s had some really great players that would have well and truly not only made AFL but beaten so many of todays players with their talent.

  24. Cabbage Patch Kid says

    One of my 2 favourite players ever – 8 and 14 both so different in style but absolute superstars. Still have a 14 Guernsey in the shed with the red collar from year 5 – can’t bear to part with it.

  25. I remember playing for Scotch College in 1977, on the way to the game ( against either Pembroke or Pultney), our coach told me I was to be playing on some state rep who was a bit of a gun. He spared me the news earlier in the week I think as not to get me too worked up about the task at hand.

    I ended up playing on MA who was centre half forward that day.. I thought I was a reasonable overhead mark, and given that he wasn’t that tall or overly intimidating, I thought I would do alright.

    It turned out he was way too fast, and could out mark me from behind. He also seemed to have an amazing knack of finding the ball. He was in another league.

    I think he kicked six goals that day.

  26. Great write up Malcolm. Aishy legend and terrific bloke. Agree with your comment on Neil button being under rated, how is he not in the Sanfl hall of fame. Was he better than Carey?? Perhaps that is a future story?

  27. Martin Rumsby says

    An interesting article, Malcolm, and a fitting tribute to an amazing footballer and a great man. I was working in the country for most of Michael’s early career so usually only got to see him play when Norwood games were televised. However, I was there to see in person the ’82 and ’84 grand finals and then saw all of his games in his last five years. The Aish – McIntosh combination served Norwood well for many years. Both were highly skilled, courageous, loyal and determined, but their modes of playing were markedly different and I greatly admired both of them.

    Michael and Garry played in a by-gone era when playing for Norwood was the ultimate and we were privileged to see exceptional footballers represent Norwood (and other SANFL clubs) for their entire careers. Thank you for the great memories, Michael and to you for the article, Malcolm.

  28. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Lachlan yes I should have mentioned his back injury well and truly thanks,Swish they were great battles between,Aish and Roe with honours evenly spread I thought and Sue was a fantastic person.
    Thanks Rob and Farmboy,Bill some great memories at lifestyle and I reckon your on the money in 83,Aishy should have won by plenty.Marcus we agree thank you.Dave I remember those gurnseys well and great point re the 2 runs and Jesse liked your post.Michael great point about,Aishys vision and awareness,Caleb Daniel has similarities and outstanding re the driving comparison spot on.Robert love your passion.Thankx Mark I had a giggle.Michael sensational all class I love who you have mentioned and being back at the parade with you on those premiership nights was pretty special also.Tofe love who you mentioned ( good fun re the emails back and forth ) Roger entertaining as always you are a great Norwood man.Mase he would have been a gun at tigerland.Great stuff,Tom and no problems being emotional with that and surely,Gags got lost going deep down in to defence ? thanks,Peter.Daddsy amazingly you had never told me about,Eddie with KT and Aishy re tennis ,the 2 represented,Norwood at Woodlands in a tennis tournament where,Pat Thomas screeching voice calling out foot fault in the final against,Kym Dillon and David McKay was a highlight and KT and Aishy did win. I enjoyed your,1st comment also.Harry we played against,Sticks Kernahan at school yes he was outstanding at a young age also.Thanks Brenton and Mickey yep the bog never worried him.Jill thank you and I totally agree.CBK fair enough too keep the gurnsey.Thanks DA he didn’t play in a a double 1 Premiership side tho ! Ben S yep it is a farce that,The Bear is not in the SANFL hall of fame and put it this way,Button has a extremely good record against,Carey in big games and certainly should at the very least be regarded n the same manner.
    Martin yes 2 amazing players in a golden era of SA footy thanks folks greatly appreciated

  29. Great article again! Wish I could’ve been round to see him play for the ‘legs!

  30. Ben Larsen-Smith says

    Great to get more insight into another football family, who are contributors on the football field as well as in their community. Keep up the articles which for me offer information I haven’t heard before, cheers Rulebook

  31. Sally Dickson says

    Always enjoy reading your articles Malcolm. Again back to my era. I sooo miss those days. As you know I’m a Sturt supporter but wow Michael Aish is an absolute legend and it was an honour to be able to watch him play. I remember Michael wearing his head gear and we used to joke that he swapped jumpers with Andrew. They were pretty hard to tell apart. There were a few that didn’t head over the border in that time. Paul Bagshaw and GarruyMcIntosh come to mind. David Granger (grave danger) was he scared of anyone?? Not that I ever recall. I do remember him sticking his leg out and tripping a player over which resulted in this player getting a broken leg. I can’t remember who though. You might be able to enlighten me. Maybe you could do an article on the guy who made me a footy fanatic all those years ago. The great Michael Graham!

  32. Mark Mcinerney says

    This was a bit before my time but he was a great player indeed

  33. Great article Rulebook. Aish was part of an imposing Norwood team that was so competitive throughout the entire 1980’s. A great player indeed.

  34. Well said, we had some very good footballers at the time.
    Aish was one of my favorites as well but I can’t just pick one there where so many good players at the time, interesting read thanks Malcom

  35. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice tribute, Book. One of the best to never play VFL.

  36. Rick Neagle says

    Was there that night v Footscray and my recollection was that Lester was ‘her’ object of affection!

  37. Peter Schumacher says

    I loved reading every bit of this post and the following comments. I left South Australia in 1977 so never saw Michael Aish play. That is certainly my loss.

    What has been reignited is my passion for the Norwood Football Club. I only had a vague idea of their greatness during the eighties. South Australian Football didn’t exactly get much coverage in Canberra or the Sunshine Coast. during that time.

    I think that it is a crying shame that James isn’t playing for the Crows. Sure, to this stage, in comparison to his uncle he hasn’t done much yet but the signs are starting to emerge that he too could be really something.

    My wife was somewhat bemused that I chose to look at video of the 1981 Magarey Medal Count. This was a throw back to times and attitudes gone past, nevertheless I much preferred the format to that currently used in the Brownlow count. And to hear and see the roll call of names was a fascination in itself.

    Adelaide will always be my home town and Norwood my first team. I see stuff like this and wonder why I/we ever left the place.

  38. Jeff Milton says

    Three generations of Aishs playing for Norwood is a remarkable achievement and Michael’s record stacks up well against the very best who have ever played the game. A skinny kid with amazing courage and skills. When it came to the crunch in the last quarter of 1984 GF (Norwood playing 4 finals in 4 weeks) against a Port side that had played 2 in that time, the skill, courage and composure of two champions in Aish and KT rose above everyone else on that ground to win Norwood a premiership against the odds.

  39. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Campbell yep could seriously play,Ben greatly appreciated,thanks Sally yep some great players stayed home and yes Grave Danger was well and truly intimidated by Jim Thiel.Michael Graham met a few times at the Grenfell Tavern he was always entertaining bug I don’t no him well.thanks,Mark,Paul and Coke.Phil indeed he wasNeags I think the object of her ( cough cough ) desires changed a few times during the night and it was not a near que definitely a far que.Thanks Peter and I totally agree re James I was disapointed that he wasn’t the Crows number 1 target in last years trade thanks folks

  40. Well done MAl, Aishy was a favorite of mine also! I’ll never forgot that 1984 Grand Final.
    Well written mate, they were good times!

  41. charlie brown says

    Sally, I think the player whose leg was broken by Grave Danger was Steve Barrett (the Glenelg version rather than the NAFC/WT variety of the same name).

  42. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Jeff spot on ( good to catch up with you,Mickey and Dave last night,JTH outstanding 3 votes )
    thanks,Sam great times indeed,Charlie thank you I neglected to include that info in reply to Sally

  43. Don’t recall seeing him play but heard on many occasions of his skill. I played footy in Adelaide in 1980 with a school boys team (we pumped the hapless South Aussies!) and we went to watch Glenelg V Norwood ??(might be wrong there, its a long time ago). Could he have been playing that day RB?

    Great write up. Plenty to keep me reading on.

  44. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Dips who did you play against in SA re school footy ( which school also your good self ) and Michael would most likely have been playing unless injured

  45. great article, thank you. I seem to remember that Ian Stasinowsky was the last footballer I ever saw have a fag during a quarter time break down at the Bay. I may be mistaken, cough, cough.

  46. A wonderfully talented footballer, I have followed the REDLEGS for many years , many players have impressed me , but none more than Michael Aish , he made the ball sing .

  47. Steven Ronson says

    Terrific testimony Malcolm – I concur with your assessment that he is truly magical and the standout Leggie of the 1980s – what a glorious decade was ’75 to ’85 – but the early 80s was my favourite time – as a young teen in the NFC cheer squad we had the Aish Margarey Medal patch sewn on to the duffle coat super fast

  48. Good stuff rulebook, insightful article. Certainly looked pretty handy based on the clips!

  49. King of Passion says

    Michael Aish was a gun. Knew how to position his body so played bigger and tougher than he was. Would have liked him more if he was on my team. Would love to see him play AFL in today’s era.

  50. Shaun Heeps says

    Another great read Book…a fantastic gutsy footballer who would have been a superstar in any era!!

  51. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Woof I reckon you are tight on the money re the late,Stazza well played.LM loved it great comment.
    Steven while I wasn’t in the cheer squad I remember that badge it was brilliant.Sam thank you
    ( well done today ! Sam won 64 cartons of beer for Ad Uni cc in a race at the races ! ) KOP spot on re his use of his body and as you and Heepsy point out he would have been a star in any era in any competition and would well and truly be a elite player in today’s afl thanks folks

  52. Great read Book – totally agree he should have another Magarey. Aishy is quality – went to Norwood Oval to watch a game, lining up at ticket box and he just comes over and says “Do you boys want a free ticket?” From his SANFL life membership benefits.

  53. Malcolm Ashwood says

    TC surely Aishy was just looking after a fellow medalist ? Did the great man ask for any of stormtrooper of love advice ? thanks mate

  54. Ah memories! Back in the early 80s my pride and joy was a red & blue frog with a number 8 on its back

  55. Good read Rulebook. He was the reason I’d climb the back fence or the tree at the primary school and watch the game.

  56. Super footballer. Medal winner. Must be placed in the top ten of SANFL all time best. On the same shelf as Robran, Ebert, Hank, Head and Bagshaw.

    Rail thin. Got knocked around but seemed to survive it. Fantastic to watch. Had a brother Andrew Aish who was also pretty handy.

  57. Bryan McIntyre says

    Nice article Malcolm – Aishy was a great player & one of my redleg heroes.
    Just wonder how many players who didn’t have a crack at VFL maybe wish they did. Watching lots of AFL Winners Rebooted recently so many South Aussies were doing great things – I’m sure Aishy would have killed it in VFL also – not sure if Micheal now wishes he went over – Essendon were really keen to get him over the border I seem to recall. Even so we got to enjoy watching him play great footy for the legs & SA all those years

  58. I must declare that I am a Bays fan but clearly remember Michael Aish. Absolutely top drawer skills but would rank Phil Carman and McIntosh above him as the best legs players I saw in that era. That’s no knock on him as you would appreciate!

  59. Luke Reynolds says

    Malcolm, really enjoy when you write about guys who are not only your favourite players, but favourite people as well. Think he may have played in the State of Origin game at the MCG in 1989? Other than that I don’t recall seeing him play, so enjoyed the Youtube clips.
    After a slow start, very happy with James Aish’s finish to the season at Collingwood. Hope he continues to do the Aish legacy proud.

  60. Yep, pretty sure AIsh played in the ’89 SoO game, Luke

  61. Malcolm Ashwood says

    That’s gold Smack,Raf so we thank Aishy for helping re your reflexes to make you a 3 time Olympian ?
    DH totally agree and Andrew could seriously play but put his physio career as his priority.Bryan plenty of clubs were after,Michael with the bombers one of them and yes deep down I am sure he regrets not having a crack to some extent..Budge purely natural ability yes re Carman bug longevity and as a long term player,Aish in front,subjective just my opinion I rate,Aishy just in front of Macca.Tjanks Luke appreciated and yep,James is away now ( he should have been the crows number 1 target last year IMO )
    and thanks Dave yes I was pretty sure,Michaek played in the 89 game thanks folks

  62. An excellent tribute, Rulebook.
    Thanks for the highlights packages also.

  63. bernard whimpress says

    Lovely piece Malcolm. Sue Aish worked with me when I was at the League. I recall taking a lovely photo of Michael and Sue on Magarey Medal night – from memory it was the first year women were invited to the event. I’m sure that pic was posted in the following week’s Footy Budget.

  64. Rob Crompton says

    Once again a well written and engaging piece, and one that fills the holes in my memory about the football feats of Michael Aish, though I was living in Canberra during many of the years he played. The 1984 GF was live on TV in Canberra and some die hard Norwood supporters gathered in front of the TV for that match. Luxury compared to the 1975 GF which we listened to in the car at the top of Mt Ainslie in Canberra – the only place we could pick up a signal.
    I’ve just watched the video of the end of the 75 GF again … you can never get enough of that!
    Thanks again for a terrific set of memories Malcolm.

  65. Debbie blades says

    Great reading Malcolm thank you. I have a son at norwood so I’m very vested in the club and it’s good reading about past and present players.

  66. Bryan Collins says

    What a champion. You know in Primary school you could write a letter to someone that was either famous or you admired. I wrote to Michael Aish, my Norwood hero, and a few weeks later he personally wrote back. I was absolutely stoked and loved the fact he took the time to do that. A true champion of the game and of the redlegs.

  67. Michael Aish is no doubt one of the greatest to pull on the Norwood Jumper, From game one to game 307 he put it out for the club and the supporters of that great club.It is difficult i think to get into the greatest ever as there have been so many over time , if we just look at some in his era McIntosh+Aish+Thomas that explains what i mean. All 300 game players, all multiple Club Champions, all premiership players 2 Magary medallists. i am fortunate also to have come to know these guys personally and they stand tall as Great People that have great respect for the Norwood footy club and its supporters. so in saying that boy there are a host of others that you would add to the list and debate.

  68. Another good read ashy, Aishy was my favourite player when I was a kid, I only wish I remembered his early 80s better not to say his mid to late 80s weren’t special. Also great to see former players commenting on here. A golden player from a golden era

  69. Adam Sheridan says

    Malcolm, I absolutely loved this article. Like you Michael was my all time favourite footballer.

    My mother used his business around 15 years ago and I was fortunate to meet him. Such a humble guy who was happy to chat about the mighty legs.

    As far as modern day footballers, I see Nat Fyfe as a comparable player. The way he could run, move, but also take a big grab.

    Thanks Aisha for the memories




  70. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Smokie,Bernard yep 82 was the 1st year ladies were invited to the medal and yep remember the photo.,Rob love re listening to the 75 gf at the top of Mt Ainslie and yep never can get enough of the old memories.Thanks Debbie I will follow your son with keen interest.Thanks Bryan that Iis sensational.
    RP couldn’t agree more,Thanks Gilbo yep a truly special player.Adam yep I can well and truly see similarities re Fyfe good stuff thanks folks

  71. A piece from the heart Malcolm – rare insight.

    It didn’t matter who you supported you always loved State of Origin. Those games of elite footy when players such as the great Michael Aish, Stephen Kernahan and John Platten were all on YOUR side, and teammates of your own club’s heroes. Just for one day.

    Like my fellow Sturt supporter and Michael Graham devotee from an earlier comment, there are a couple of key things you love about players like these – they inspire hope and they turn footy into something magical. When the impossible becomes reality. They leave mere mortal players in their dust.

    Perhaps the other thing that we all love about the game is that we can all take a Sherrin (or should I say Faulkner) to the park for a dob and in our imagination for a moment we become these players: when we get onto a torp, slot a checkside, or spin out of the pack and hit dad lace out.

    Conversely great players like these seem to imagine they too can park their wings in the corner and become an average jack-the-lad.

    Picture if you will two Pulteney school boys perched on top of the school chapel quietly surveying the quadrangle (or the ‘quad’ as it was known) while they ate their lunch. Picture also, just below eye level, the headmaster’s study at the top level of the main wing. Feel your heart sink as the sliding door opens and our late headmaster Jock MacKinnon steps out on the balcony. Feel the disbelief as his eyes fix on you and he lifts his arm and quietly beckons you over.

    Michael Aish – Pulteney legend.

  72. Great article Rulebook and fabulous remarks/comments by all. Being a Sturt supporter, I still appreciated the player talents from all SANFL clubs – pity our children will (most unlikely) get to see true State of Origin matches like we use to see in the 70’s and 80’s . To see Aish, Bagshaw, Kernahan and Co playing together in the same team.

  73. Great words Malcolm. For a player of his size, he was absolutely brilliant to watch. Copped heaps physically from the opposition over many years.
    Along with some of the other names you mention, it was a fantastic era for the Norwood footy club.

    As for Sams disco……

  74. Well done Malcolm one of your best

  75. Kevin Hammond says

    Great article Malcolm, My greatest is Aishy too (just over Macca)…… Aishys run in 84 to this day ,32 years later , still wells me up, Ive watched the youtube clip a thousand times, it also has a similar run /goal both maternally and with the run and bounce, of course I speak of his nephews sealer in the 2012 GF, straight away at footy pk , I pumped the air and yelled ” just like his uncle in 84″.

    Back in 1981 , my dad took the whole family to Aishys magarey medal dinner…..we all got dressed up and had a great night, great memories.

    I had Michael 8 Aish on me duffle coat……Wore it with pride to school, footy and everywhere.

    In 1983 , My dad and I nearly had a dustup with a cocky westies supporter and it started with me wanting to defend my love and loyalty of Aishy…….It was the Qualifying final in 83 and West were all over us, they were the best team that year, anyway this westies muppet was loudmouthing Aiishy and I had a gutful of it and i told him ” yeah yeah go have a tug”……..He arced up and pointed his finger at my face and said “you watch your mouth boy or i will knock your block off”” ..Well my late father was 3 seats up and didnt hear what I said but definitely heard the muppetts taunt……Dad obviously had built up frustration from the redlegs plight and stood up leant over 2 persons and yelled angrily “youll do what, where do you get off yelling at young kids”……The muppett took off to change his underwear Id imagine…….we got pumped but I dont regret standing up for a player that was a role model for me and my beloved redlegs. I actually delivered this anecdote as part of the eulogy i delivered at at Dads service last year..

    The No 8 wherever I see it will always mean MICHAEL AISH for me. If in a raffle, 8 is always the first number I pick, if its gone its 14.

  76. Too young to remember Michael Aish as a player but from everything I have heard and seen on the internet, he is one of Norwood’s greats. The Aish family is like royalty to Norwood as the Ebert family is to Port Adelaide. Excellent article that dives into the history of one of Norwood’s greatest. I wonder if anyone will ever join Michael, Garry McIntosh and Keith Thomas in playing 300+ games. In this day and age, highly unlikely.

  77. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Model absolutely superb ( I enjoyed the phone call to Aishy about his Pulteney exploits he was surprised I had found out about that) DMG those state of origin games were special and are fantastic memories
    Steve yes he was as courageous as any player,it was a great era and as for Sams disco that’s a book not a article.thankd,Plug,Kevin yep similarities re the runs,I had a giggle re the altercation,I love the emotion in
    your comment.Thanks Cameron yep a true great of the game and longevity will not be seen as much.
    thank you

  78. Your column and Michael Aish, both brilliant!!

  79. Great call again Mal, couldn’t agree more. He was up there with the great Garry McIntosh for me, courageous and skilled. Terrific person as well. Go the Redlegs.

  80. Willow Wilson says

    Another quality article Book, as a Legs supporter great to read about the personalities and families from that great era. Aish (x2), Jenkins, Turbill, Woodcock, McIntosh, Thomas, Stasinowsky, were all Norwood greats (my favourites, there were plenty of other greats!)
    My favourite player was Michael Taylor. I came down from the country in either 1979 or 1980 to play mini league at Norwood Oval and Michael Taylor signed his picture that was on the cover of the Budget for that weekend. One of my most treasured items as a kid.
    Keep up the good work!

  81. David Payne says

    Congrat’s Rowdy,

    I must have been misled, I thought he was called rowdy after he had a few Brandy’s, ah well, [lol]
    The Most Talented and Courageous player i have played with , a superstar infact.
    There will only be one Michael Aish.

  82. Chris Smelt says

    Michael Aish a more talented or courageous you could not find in the SANFL. My first memories of Michael was in a State Schoolboys trial game we were playing against Pultney Grammar & Aishy was playing in the centre for Pultney. I was rover for the schoolboys. He dominated the game & kicked 6 goals from centre in the first half then he had to leave to go to Norwood training. Along with Macca my two favorites of SANFL footy. A true superstar well played Rowdy.
    Thanks for the article Malcolm its important that kids of today are aware of players like Aishy from years gone by.

  83. A fair whack of man love going on there Book – but well earnt by MA. Had the pleasure to play against and with him in 1st XVIII days – tho he didnt represent the Penguins or Blacks the lad has done well since!!
    A great way to wrap up the footy year Malc.

  84. Andrew 'Legs' Meaney says

    A great article on a champion player and person Rulebook! I have to agree Michael Aish was courageous, brilliant and consistent throughout his career.

    I have followed Norwood my whole life and was lucky enough to watch them week in week out growing up in Adelaide during the 70’s – mid 80’s when the family moved to Wallaroo. Such a wonderful era during the 80’s and to now have kids of my own and for them to have watched Norwood win 3 in a row was just awesome.

    I have to say though one of my proudest moments in football was walking off the Mt Pleasant oval in 1995 after Echunga had just comeback and defeated the Eastern Rangers in the Grand Final. This win ended a 20 odd year premiership drought for Echunga and as we were celebrating i was greeted by Michael Aish who said to me “Legs i have never seen someone turn a game in a half like you just did”.
    That was it for me. Retired from football at 22. Actually living in Alberta, Canada and then working remotely in Queensland the real reasons i never played again. I had played in back to back premierships at Wallaroo as a junior (87/88) and played A grade as a 15 year old at Wallaroo (88) , I had 2 really great years of 1st 18 at SHC (89/90), U19 at Norwood (91), Goodwood Saints (92/93) to then wind out my football playing days at Echunga (94/95).

    Norwood forever – its a grand old flag!

  85. Michael Fienemann says

    Great read Malcolm. Aishy was my 2nd favourite player of all time, just behind Michael Taylor, and that’s saying something given all the footy players I’ve seen over 50 odd years both in the SANFL and the VFL/AFL. Early in his career, before the broken collarbone, bad back, etc, he was simply on another level. Quite amazing. Kingo is the reason why I follow Collingwood in the AFL (showing my age) so I’m rapped that now James is at Collingwood as well. BTW Scott, I bought your signed guernsey at a B&F once and got Michael to sign it as well. It’s a family heirloom now.

  86. Darryl Barker says

    Great article Malcolm! Grew up watching Michael and Andrew play and they provided me with memories that will last a lifetime. The Aish name is synonymous with the NFC and is one of the great sporting families. I named my youngest daughter Aish.

  87. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Higgsy,,Robey appreciated( Macca a s next) thanks Willow,Kingo is a chance to feature as well,
    Payney thanks mate and that says it all,,Chris exactly how l feel and a major reason for writing these articles.Damian I look forward to chatting to you about that thank you.Andrew a compliment like that from the great man a bloody good reason to give it away ! Michael yes re the debate where,Rowdy fits in amongst the greats he is certainly in the upper echelon and amazing the Norwood link with the pies,Fabulous Phil,Kingo,Ned,Tony Francis,Scotty Burns,Brett James,Bart,Patto amid some others and now of course the famous name in Aish.Darryl sensational and your daughter could not be more appropriately named thanks folks

  88. Scott Borlace says

    I wore number 8 because of Aishy. I also felt a great deal or responsibility and obligation to perform in that jumper. Being 20 at the time, I even questioned whether I was worthy of being given that jumper.

  89. Mark Ducker says

    Great read Malcolm. I admired Michael’s immense talent as a young teenager watching most Norwood matches with my Dad or friends as I got older. Couldn’t believe in ’86 I was playing with him and could see at close range just how good he was. He had an incredible will to win and as a result sometimes struggled to tolerate or understand those less talented than him, their inability to perform tasks he found easy especially when he was Captain. But what a player – incredible courage and was crunched every week with a slight frame, skills on both sides, good overhead and use of his body with drop zones, awareness of exact time he did or didn’t have, reading of the play but most of all in my eyes was his superb vision. He knew where everybody was and could spot you out the corner of his eye that most would miss, but better still, he’d find you with a pin point pass well weighted. A privilege to have played most of my games with one Michael Aish.

  90. Barry Solomon says

    i can’t remember when it was but i do remember watching the last qtr of aishys final game at the parade through the mesh window in the western stand tunnel and vividly thinking how blessed I’d been 2 have seen such artistry and grace over the period. The man moved like cheetah and seemed to find openings through the heaviest of traffic. Aishy, the years have moved along but the memories remain ….. Like I said, just blessed to have witnessed it live.

  91. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Scott beautifully put,Ducks thank you fantastic insight.Bazz great point it was like watching a famous artist at work thank you

  92. Great article one of the most skilful ever t pull in the boots

  93. Brilliant Malcolm. I know Michael too. I’m actuily going to watch his sons play today.

  94. Eric Weltner says

    What a fantastic player he was, and by all reports a great bloke too. One particular memory I have is the final home-and-away round of 1990, playing against my mob at Football Park. I believe Aish was reported the previous week, but must have got off. Every time he went near the ball he copped the booing of the Port supporters (although I would have to say he was one of the fairest blokes going around, I don’t ever remember him being suspended). Even though his team was getting pumped and he was booed incessantly every time he went near it, Aish went on to kick all four of Norwood’s third-quarter goals himself.

    Of course there were also many match-winning highlights, and while the 1984 Grand Final is not one I care to remember, his scintillating run down the outer wing was certainly unforgettable. Also great that Malcolm mentioned his courageous mark in what was a very physical 1980 Grand Final – highlighting that as well as being in the top echelon of skillful blokes going around, he had plenty of hardness and courage as well.

  95. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Raj and Travis.Eric remember that game as is the case with champions the booing seemed to spur,Michael on he was our entire side in the 3rd quarter and undoubtably one of the most courageous footballers in the history of the game

  96. Brad Bobrige says

    All I can say is…..LEGEND!!

  97. Mark Thompson says

    A great guy as well who wanted to help people, not only in footy. I gather his family business has either moved or closed as I went pass the old place the other week. I was thinking of seeing how he is going. I did a lot for encouraging kids as well. and my eldest daughter got to interview him for his Queen’s badge. A real gentleman as well. Thanks Malcolm.

  98. Barry Solomon says

    Workin on the ground ya don’t often see much of the games but I remember either Pete Nanotti or Gav stood with me in the western tunnel for the last qtr of Aishys last game at the parade. I remember commenting to whichever 1 it was that we were watching the end of one of the greatest ever. How absolutely blessed we’ve been to live it and luv it. Great work Malcolm Ashwood??

  99. Mark Duffield says

    Well Done Malcolm undoubtedly one of the best the legs have seen. That footage of the 5 bounces still makes the hair stand up on the back of the neck and brings tears of joy. So many great memories from a great club. Thank you Malcolm

  100. Lorraine Munday says

    A wonderfully talented footballer, I have followed the REDLEGS for many years , many players have impressed me , but none more than Michael Aish , he made the ball sing .

  101. Tim Wedding says

    Always trusted Michael with the ball at any time of the game and in any area of the field. Great article, brings back a lot of fond memories.

  102. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Brad definitely.Mark apologies I have forgotten to chase up will ring,Aishy tomorrow had to anyway.Bazz yep a absolute privilege.Mark likewise I better have another look now.Lorraine yep my thoughts also.Tim yep and thank you greatly appreciated

  103. Just re-read your outstanding profile on Rowdy Aish. What memories it brought back. What a combination Aishy and Rocky was in ’82 – out of this world. Remembering the Aish / Roe clashes, I was always perplexed that Coach Balme persevered with Michael on the ball when he could have shifted him to half forward (even centre half forward) and putting someone like Keith Thomas on the ball. Many of us thought Balme had no plan B He put too much faith in his players. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. Years ago I had the good fortune to meet the Aish clan at a Powell family get together, my wife is a friend of the family (Peter Aish married Roslyn Powell). What a great family. As per usual, love your work Malcolm and keep the profiles coming.

  104. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fisho I agree re Michael to full forward etc could definitely have been used more re Trevor Roe
    ( who Aishy respects enormously for playing the game in the correct manner and a magnificent family.
    Bruce Winter up next thank you

  105. Chris Kendall says

    Had his number on the back of my duffle coat growing up but Mum put just “Aish” underneath it, on the off chance that he went to the VFL, so she could cut the 8 in half to a 3, put a 4 in front of it for Andrew (43) instead. Great honour to play a tagging role on him in a Hills ressies game at Echunga in around 1997 – safe to say I wasn’t Trevor Roe that day, but brilliant to see, even at the age then of around 40, what made him such a champion player close up – that sudden swivel of the hips, the sidestep and he found 3 metres of space just like that. Idolised him as a young fan and have met him since – a champion person.

  106. Theo Grivas says

    Well written Malcolm. When young and very nervous before a big game I would console with the reasoning that we have Michael Aish on our side.

Leave a Comment