BOB SKILTON is one of only 4 Australian Football Players in history to have won the Brownlow Medal on 3 separate occasions. Skilton played 238 Games and kicked 403 Goals for the South Melbourne Swans (now known as the Sydney Swans), from 1956 to 1971, after being recruited from the South Melbourne Fourths via the Under 19’s Team. Australian Football Trading Cards from this era are available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Skilton played his entire career as a Rover, and his amazing consistency in churning out games at the highest performance levels is all the more remarkable when it is considered that he often roved to a losing Swans Ruck contingent. Those like myself who witnessed his play on a regular basis, were left in awe of his exquisite Ball Skills, whether by hand or immaculate drop kicks with either foot, with pin point precision to team mates or through the Goals. He is regarded as the finest exponent of the “stab kick” to ever play Our Game, and Legend Jack Dyer rated Skilton , at least equal to another Triple Brownlow Medallist, Dick Reynolds (Essendon), as one of the Best Players in the history of Australian Rules Football.
Bob Skilton had great pace, and combined with his spontaneous baulking ability to either left or right, proved very evasive to opposition players. However, he also possessed a strong grit and determination to win the hard ball in pack situations, and this hunger for the ball caused Skilton to suffer a number of Concussions and many broken bones throughout his 16 Year Playing Career. Due to a snapped Achilles Tendon suffered in a practice Match, Skilton also missed the entire 1969 VFL Season.
Similarly to the Fitzroy Lions Great Kevin Murray, Skilton played the majority of his career in an unsuccessful Swans Team, and only played Finals Football on one occasion against St Kilda in 1970, when the Swans were beaten. Other than Saints supporters, the Football Followers from the other 11 VFL Clubs at the time were extremely disappointed that the man affectionately known as “Chimp”, was to have Team Finals success evade him at his only opportunity in a Brilliant and highly decorated Career.
Bob Skilton earnt huge respect throughout his playing Career and individual awards included:- South Melbourne Swans Best & Fairest Player Award on 9 occasions, Brownlow Medal for Best & Fairest Player in the Victorian Football League in 1959, 1963 and 1968, Victorian State Representation on 25 occasions, including State Captain in 1963 and 1965, South Melbourne Club Captain from 1961 to 1971 and Club Captain Coach in 1965-1966. Skilton was inducted as an inaugural member of the Australian Football League Hall Of Fame in 1996, was named in the AFL Hall Of Fame Team Of The Century, and was appointed Captain of the South Melbourne/Sydney Swans Team Of The Century.
After retirement as a Player, Skilton was a success in the Business World, then took on the challenging role as Senior Coach at the Melbourne Demons from 1974-1977, but without Grand Finals success. Bob Skilton then earnt further respect from the next generation of AFL supporters in a role as a leading radio and Television commentator for VFL/AFL Football.
Bob Skilton will forever be etched in the folklore of Australian Football as a Player of outstanding individual brilliance, who was forever focussed on his Contribution to the Teams performance and retained admirable humility throughout, an endearing quality which many players of the Modern Era could draw strength.
( Image courtesy of footycards.com.au ).