K.M.Bennett Oval - Whyalla, South Australia, Australia

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Presentation made by
Trevor 'Nipper' Evans.

 

 

 

 

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Australian Rules football followers have been blessed & spoilt over the years by the unbelievable talents displayed by our Indigenous community.

It is fair to say that Whyalla has had more that its share of exciting Aboriginal footballers and many names come to mind, but if the discussion should centre around families of Aborigines it would be fair to say the 'Croft' name would be at the forefront of all discussions.

Ken Croft was the eldest of five brothers and played most of his career as a wingman. Only 5' 7" but very fast and 'nuggety' & extremely hard at the ball.

Perhaps he lacked the supreme kicking skills associated with the 'Croft' name but Ken worked very diligently at his game and was an enthusiastic team member who went on to play 'A' grade in the S.A.N.F.L..

The twin boys, two years Kens junior, Gary and Ian were an instrumental part of West Whyalla's 'golden era' and mesmerised quality opposition with their uncanny 'sixth' sense that was loved by West supporters and begrudgingly acknowledged by opposition supporters as something akin to 'black magic'.

Gary was a rover/forward pocket specialist with superb foot and hand skills that enabled him to be one of only five team-mates that played in the five consecutive West Premierships (1969-1973).

Incidentally, the other four were Doug Matchett, Graeme 'Fritz' Fargher, Kevin 'Tooty' O'Donoghue and Trevor 'Bee' Selby.

Ian was a  5' 8" Centre Half Forward and made up for his lack of height by an extraordinary ability to 'outwit' and 'outread' all his opponents which invariably resulted in the ball hitting the 'deck' and providing Ian with the opportunity to utilise his sublime ball handling talents and creating an avenue direct to goal.

If Gary wasn't running pass for a handpass, or 'Fritz' Fargher was not on a direct lead, Ian would 'baulk' an opponent and kick the goal himself.

Mention the name Gary and Ian Croft to any 'long term'  Whyalla fan and they will shake their heads in unabashed admiration.

Barry Croft was a little taller than the older brothers and whilst he didnt possess the breath-taking pace that they did, he was a very talented footballer in his own right and has a playing record to be proud of.

Barry played mainly half forward or wing and shared the joy of playing with both Ian and Gary in Premiership glory, and with Gary and younger brother Henry on another occasion.

He was a passionate and dedicated footballer which was reflected by his long playing career.

Henry Croft was the tallest of the boys, but fair to say no taller than a 'Collingwood six footer'.

Henry is best remembered as a dashing rebounding defender with a marvellous ability to turn defence into attack.

A tremendous junior footballer who made a successful transition to League ranks but unfortunately was restricted by injury and subsequent weight problems that did see a premature end to his playing career.

Whilst three of the brothers did go on to play Senior football with other Whyalla Clubs their best football was undoubtedly at ‘Dragonland.’ The 'Croft boys' were an inspiration to many of todays players as they loved nothing better than 'talking footy' or having a 'kick to kick' and did coach many Junior teams after their playing days had finished.

Ken Croft

1959 - 1960  West Whyalla Colts Premiership team member

1961 Nielsen (Seconds) Medallist at 16 years of age (played 4 ‘A’ Grade games in 1961 also)

1961 West Best & Fairest (Seconds) & 1961 Seconds Premiership team member

1963 Spencer Gulf League ‘A’ Grade Premiership member with West

Total of  79 ‘A’ Grade games with West Whyalla.

1967-1969  over 40 League Games with West Torrens

Gary Croft

1967, 1969-1973 West League Premiership member (6 flags)

1971 Also played in West Seconds Premiership team

1972 West Best & Fairest & received West Life Membership

Total of 124 ‘A’ Grade games & 320 goals for West Whyalla.

1974-75 9 ‘A’ Grade games for Roopena.

Ian Croft

1967, 1969, 1971-72 West League Premiership member (4 flags)

1967 West Best & Fairest

1967 West & League leading goal kicker

1972 Received West Life Membership

Total of 105 ‘A’ Grade games & 243 goals for West Whyalla.

Note Ian did play for Barmera-Monash in 1973 and represented the Riverland Association.

Barry Croft

1971-73 West ‘A’ Grade Premiership member (3 flags)

1973 West Best & Fairest (Seconds)

Total of 36 ‘A’ Grade games with West Whyalla.

1974-1989 a total of 103 ‘A’ Grade games for Roopena.

Barry was also a Playing/Coach for Weeroona Bay ‘Seconds’ in the 1990’s for 3 seasons.

Henry Croft

1972 West Premiership Captain (Under 18's)

1973 West League Premiership member

Total of 27 ‘A’ Grade games for West between 1973-1975.

1976-1979 a total of 13 ‘A’ Grade games for Roopena.

 

     
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