MALCOLM BLIGHT was recruited by the North Melbourne Kangaroos, from Woodville ( South Australia ), where he played 163 Games, kicking 359 Goals and had won the Magarey Medal in 1972. Blight enjoyed an outstanding career at North Melbourne where he played 178 Games, kicking 444 Goals from 1974 to 1982 . There are a number of Blight’s career Football Cards, and those of his team-mates and players he coached at qualityafltradingcards.com. He is generally regarded as one of the most spectacular Australian Football Players to have graced our grounds, and was a key focus for the North Melbourne Kangaroos during the mid to late 1970’s, in particular.
Blight was fast on the lead, had a safe and sure pair of hands in marking contests, showed fine agility in spontaneously turning either left or right to avoid opponents tackles, had impressive judgement in timing his athletic, vertical leap, and had surprising strength for his size, which he used to out-position defenders. He was not afraid to lead beyond the 50 metre mark to gain possessions, as his prodigious kicking style enabled the Goals to remain within his target distance.
Malcolm Blight achieved a string of individual Awards and Honours during his playing career, which included:- Winner of the Syd Barker Medal as North Melbourne’s Best and Fairest Player in 1978, North Melbourne Premiership Player in 1975 and 1977, North Melbourne’s Leading Goalkicker on 4 occasions, selected in the North Melbourne Kangaroos Team of the Century and inducted to the North Melbourne Hall of Fame in 2003, Victorian Representative on 7 occasions ( including Captain twice), South Australian State of Origin representative on 7 occasions ( including appointment as Captain), selection as an All Australian in 1972 and 1985, winner of the Coleman Medal in 1982, winner of the Brownlow Medal in 1978, selected as an inaugural inductee to the Australian Football League Hall of Fame in 1996, and was honoured with the award as a Member of the Order of Australia, for his services to Australian Rules Football , in 1993.
Malcolm Blight was always “his own man”, and surprised many Football Experts when he announced his career at the Kangaroos was over at the end of the 1982 Season, when he finished at the head of the VFL Goalkicking ladder with 103 Goals. He had an introduction to Coaching in 1981 when he was appointed the last of the Playing Coaches, however, after 16 Games with only 6 Wins, he was replaced as Senior Coach. It seemed as though Blight wished to complete his VFL Career whilst still in the top echelon of players, and the offer to return to Woodville Football Club ( his Club of Origin), as Playing Coach , fed his appetite for Coaching, which was whet at the Kangaroos in 1981.
Blight completed three seasons in the Playing Coach role at Woodville from 1983 to 1985, and was responsible for guiding the Club to the Preliminary Final in 1986, the most successful season in the Club’s history. Blight had been non-playing Coach for the 1986 and 1987 Seasons, having retired as a player at the end of the 1985 Season, when he had won the South Australian Football League’s Goalkicking Award with 126 Goals, and selected as an All Australian. Malcolm Blight had the ability to replicate his departure from VFL Competition, when he hung up his boots on South Australian Football in 1985, when still performing at superstar levels.
Malcolm Blight was appointed Senior Coach at the Geelong Cats Football Club in 1989 and was succeeded by Gary Ayres at the end of the 1994 Season. Blight was renowned for employing unorthodox coaching methods to motivate his players, which was considered to be an extension of some of the great Ron Barassi’s influence on Blight, the footballer. Although Blight deveoped an all out attacking Game Plan, with the mercurial Gary Ablett Senior as the key Goal Scorer, the Cats were unable to win a Premiership, although they figured prominently in Grand Final appearances in 1989, 1992 and 1994.
Channel Seven employed Blight in an Australian Football commentators role for Seasons 1995 and 1996, and his comments were forthright and ” on the money”, on most occasions, and it was refreshing for viewers to digest a number of Blight’s suggestions for Team Tactics and player positional switches. His commentary obviously hit the right chords for the Adelaide Crows who appointed Blight as their Senior Coach for Season 1997. He immediately set about sweeping changes in player personnel, and although heavily criticized, Blight’s Master Plan for the Crows had resounding sucess, with Premiership Victories in both the 1997 and 1998 Seasons, bearing the fruit of the Coaches and players labour. The Adelaide Crows Football Club has named their Best and Fairest Player Award, the Malcolm Blight Medal, in honour of their Dual Premiership Coach. After an unsuccessful 1999, Blight was replaced in the Senior Coaches role, ironically by Gary Ayres, who had previously replaced him in a similar role at the Geelong Cats.
Malcolm Blight resumed his media involvement, until the St Kilda Saints co-erced him out of retirement for the 2001 Season as their Senior Coach. Blight’s unusual and unorthodox methods , together with his perceived lack of commitment to the role, saw his demise after Round 15, with only 3 wins on the board. He has once again taken to a role as an expert Australian Rules Football commentator ( currently with Channel 10 ), and recently was appointed to the Board of the new Gold Coast Suns Football Club.
Blight is a unique character, who also holds the distinction of being the first AFL/VFL footballer to win the Brownlow and Magarey Medals, the only player to top both the VFL and SANFL Goalkicking Lists and the only player to Captain both the Victorian and South Australian Representative Teams. His uniqueness, at Player, Coach and Media Commentator levels, is what has set Malcolm Blight apart from all others before him, and his individuality is a lesson to all those involved in Australian Football ; the current trend to mould players to fit positions, in an overly scientific and increasingly over-stategized game environment, will stunt the growth of potential champions, who could have an impact similar to Malcolm Blight.
( Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au ).