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Talent shone across borders

PORTRAIT OF PERTH FOOTBALLER BARRY CABLE (AGED 20). 08/04/1964 Click for more photos

Barry Cable : Legend of Hall of Fame

West Australian and Nth Melbourne champion rover Barry Cable was elevated to Legend Status by The AFL. Cable, a triple Sandover Medallist in the WAFL, also starred in the VFL with North Melbourne, playing in the club’s first two premierships in 1975 and 1977. Cable was named the 24th Legend in the game's history at Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, held at the Palladium Room in Melbourne. Joining him are Glenn Archer, Graham Cornes, Shane Crawford, Chris Grant, Robert Harvey and Bob Johnson. Photo: Perth West Australian

TO VICTORIANS, the story of Barry Cable, the 24th and latest official Legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, is one told in three distinct chapters, each several years apart. For anyone remotely familiar with West Australian football, they, however, are only an edited version of one of the greatest tales the game has seen.

In the first, the man who would become known as the ''Little Master'', was North Melbourne's star West Australian recruit, a blond genius rover who arrived at Arden Street at the peak of his powers in 1970 to give a perennially unsuccessful club some badly needed cachet. He didn't just have an immediate impact, he won the club's best and fairest and finished fourth in the Brownlow. And, after one season, was gone again.

The Cable Victorians saw for a second time arrived back at North for the 1974 season, by now a triple Sandover medallist, a seven-time winner of Perth's best and fairest and, at the age of 30, the complete master of his craft, the greatest exponent of handball football had known. For North Melbourne, along with Malcolm Blight, he also represented the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle coach Ron Barassi had begin to assemble the previous year.

Inspirational: Barry Cable playing for North Melbourne in 1975.

Inspirational: Barry Cable playing for North Melbourne in 1975.

The Kangaroos had stormed the upper reaches of the ladder with the services of Barry Davis, Doug Wade and John Rantall, narrowly missing a finals berth in 1973. Cable and South Australian star Blight were the ingredients to take them further.

Cable would spend four years at Arden Street this time, during which the Roos would reach only their second grand final in 50 VFL seasons, then in 1975, land a historic first flag.

They made it a double in 1977, playing five finals - including a grand final tie with Collingwood - to get there, Cable now 34, but still one of North's driving forces. He would end his VFL playing days with 115 games, 133 goals and two flags.

In the third VFL instalment, Cable returned to North this time on an SOS mission as coach, as Blight's stint captain-coaching the club in 1981 ended disastrously mid-season. Cable returned the Roos to finals action the following year, and had them finishing the 1983 home and away season on top before bidding Victoria farewell one final time at the end of the 1984 season.

That is enough of a legacy to have seen him selected in the Kangaroos' Team of the Century. But there is so much more, and not only in purely football terms, including another 13 seasons and 267 games with WAFL clubs Perth and East Perth, four WAFL premierships, the last famously won for East Perth as captain-coach against his old club, and 20 state guernseys.

Cable was brought up in a family of 10 by his part-Aboriginal mother after the death of their father, battling his lack of size (168 centimetres) to make an indelible mark on the indigenous football code with his razor-sharp vision and reflexes, helping turn handball from a football practice frowned upon to one synonymous with attacking football.

But the greatest challenge of his life would be presented in late 1979, when Cable was caught beneath the spinning wheel of a tractor.

He almost died, his right leg torn to shreds. He pleaded with surgeons not to amputate. After fighting infection, and recovering from several bouts of surgery and massive skin grafts, Cable recovered.

He would walk with a limp, and his football career was finished. But his famed fitness didn't desert him, completing a series of rides for charity.

He would help usher in the new era of AFL football with a role as an assistant coach with the newly formed West Coast, and watch with pride his son Shane turn out for the Eagles.

Cable's is a story to which Victorians have been privy only to a limited part, but a football tale which sits comfortably alongside those of the Hall of Fame Legends with whom he now keeps company.

AFL Hall of Fame

GLENN ARCHER

Nth Melb 1992-2007. Games: 311. Goals: 143.
NORTH Melbourne has boasted a few stars whose talents were more lauded than those of Glenn Archer. But few eyebrows were raised when the Kangaroos several years ago announced him as their "Shinboner of the Century", such was the aura which had grown around the gritty and courageous Kangaroo defender. At his peak, Archer could not only thwart the best opposition forwards, but be sent forward in a "shock trooper" role, always with the uncanny knack of making things happen when his side most needed them to. He loved the big occasion and saved arguably the best performance of his career for the biggest - the 1996 grand final. He helped subdue a rampaging Sydney spearhead Tony Lockett and landed North its first premiership for 19 years, and in the process win himself a Norm Smith Medal.

GRAHAM CORNES

Nth Melb 1979. Games: 5.
Glenelg 1967-82. Games: 312. Goals: 339.
South Adelaide 1983-84. Games: 47.
CORNES was one of a handful of South Australian stars who left his run at a VFL career a little too late and, after five games with North Melbourne under Ron Barassi, headed back across the border. But his record in SA is the stuff of legend, winning three best and fairests with the Bays and famously helping the club to its first SANFL flag for 39 years in 1973 with a towering mark and goal in the dying seconds of the grand final. He earned 21 state guernseys with SA, and would go on to forge a distinguished coaching career, including becoming the inaugural AFL coach of Adelaide in 1991.

SHANE CRAWFORD

Hawthorn 1993-2008
Games: 305. Goals 224.
FOR much of Crawford's career, he appeared to have been cast as a victim of bad timing, his arrival at Glenferrie coinciding with the temporary end of Hawthorn's long reign as a VFL then AFL power. That didn't prevent him quickly establishing a place among the AFL's upper echelon of on-ballers. A popular Brownlow Medal win in 1999 was fitting reward for his efforts, coinciding with one of four club best and fairests. Coach Alastair Clarkson's arrival at the club in 2005, however, kept alive his ultimate dream of team success, the 16-season veteran eventually bowing out in the most memorable fashion possible, his last game in a famous grand final win when the Hawks upset Geelong in 2008.

CHRIS GRANT

Western Bulldogs 1990-2007
Games: 341. Goals: 554.
GRANT survived a traumatic introduction to league football when it appeared the club which had drafted him was about to merge. The Dogs, however, would not only survive but prosper, as did the slightly built key forward, who became the youngest player in league history to kick 50 goals in a season. Grant's tremendous athleticism, strong marking and fine reading of play always served him well, a feature of the Bulldogs' regular finals campaigns during the 1990s. He won two best and fairests, three All-Australian nominations, and was cruelly denied the 1997 Brownlow Medal, when he polled the most votes but was precluded from winning for a controversial mid-season suspension.

ROBERT HARVEY

St Kilda 1989-2008
Games: 383. Goals: 215.
FEW, if any, players of the modern era can match the St Kilda ruck-rover for consistency of performance over such a long period, hardly any of his 383 games resulting in anything less than a pass mark, and a vast majority in which he was inevitably one of his side's best handful of performers. Harvey's sheer endurance was his trademark, coupled with his ball-winning ability which regularly saw him leading the possession count. Such consistency was rewarded with consecutive, highly popular Brownlow Medals in 1997-98. Harvey won four St Kilda best and fairests and eight All-Australian nominations, and was still a damaging on-baller up until his retirement at the age of 37.

BOB JOHNSON

Melbourne 1954-61
Games: 140. Goals: 267.
East Fremantle 1962-66
Games: 106. Goals: 359.
Subiaco 1967 Games: 19. Goals: 34.
A LANKY ruckman and dangerous forward, "Big Bob" was a leading light in Melbourne's greatest era, playing in seven grand finals and winning five flags. Supremely confident, Johnson was equally adept at the bounces, or playing part of a forward tandem, twice winning Melbourne's goalkicking. At 27, Johnson headed to Western Australia, where as captain-coach he took East Fremantle to four successive grand finals and the 1965 flag. He returned to Victoria in 1970 and led Oakleigh to the 1972 VFA premiership.

Compiled by ROHAN CONNOLLY

13 comments

  • Barry Cable "the greatest exponent of handball football had known". Er, aren't you forgetting someone? Maybe the great Graham Farmer?? This is typical Rohan Connolly hyperbole. No wonder I don't read his stuff anymore.

    Commenter
    Peter Quick
    Location
    France
    Date and time
    June 14, 2012, 5:51AM
    • Great article about Barry Cable.

      The unwritten part about his story is that when he was a kid, he was told by coaches that he wasnt allowed to play because they were worried he would get hurt by the bigger kids.

      He was the last guy ever to captain and coach a premiership side in the WAFL (East Perth in 1978).. and his dual premierships for North Melbourne are the icing on the cake in a career that lasted nearly 30 years.

      He ended up playing over 400 games... pity he didn't go to Victoria a bit earlier, given he was even better back in 1965 :-)

      The Vics never saw it, but he might have had the best drop kick in the history of the game, he used to drive the ball into the goal square from the wing at Subi with his lethal left foot...

      And I never ever heard a story that he sledged an opponent or was anything other than a gentleman on and off the field.

      Commenter
      Lroy
      Date and time
      June 14, 2012, 9:51AM
      • Long overdue accolade for "Cabes". An incredible football success story.

        Commenter
        Damo
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        June 14, 2012, 1:11PM
      • "Cable's is a story to which Victorians have been privy only to a limited part..."

        And sounds like Rohan Connolly would be included in that category as well.

        As a kid, I remember people talking about the prowess of the drop kick, and Cable being the finest exponent.

        Commenter
        jj
        Location
        perth
        Date and time
        June 14, 2012, 5:10PM
    • Cornes is a legend after 5 games at north??
      Since when do SANFL games count in VFL now AFL legends?
      Why does everything VFL/AFL have to descend into farce?

      Commenter
      what
      Location
      the
      Date and time
      June 14, 2012, 12:14PM
      • you are a moron typical Victorian what about me attitude!! if it wasnt for the SANFL, and WAFL there would be no AFL as most of the Victorian clubs were broke and about to fold. Oh hang most of them are still broke!!!

        Commenter
        Steve from Para Hills
        Date and time
        June 14, 2012, 12:55PM
      • Why do Victorians think they own everything? The trouble with keeping VFL records in the AFL is that you end up with these sort of comments.

        Commenter
        Ross
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 14, 2012, 1:22PM
      • Very churlish...

        Commenter
        Mick
        Location
        Qld
        Date and time
        June 14, 2012, 3:32PM
      • It's the Australian Rules Football Hall of Fame, Not the VFL/AFL Hall of Fame. And G.Cornes has been inducted but is not a legend. Get a grip, and be clear of the FACTS before you make yourself out to be what is obvious that you are. A moron.

        Commenter
        spaceben
        Location
        in the real world
        Date and time
        June 14, 2012, 5:10PM
    • easily the greatest exponent of the handball in the history of the game - anyone who knows the game, knows this.
      cable was/is an ornament to the game.

      Er, Peter Q - dont recall ever seeing you er, play, er footy.

      Commenter
      frog
      Location
      tathra
      Date and time
      June 14, 2012, 12:44PM

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