It’s early 2019 and I’ve been lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to speak with the man Port Adelaide fans consider ‘God’, Russell Ebert.
As I make the trek down to Alberton Oval to meet Ebert, I’m sitting of the extra things to ask him and to remember to go into as much detail as possible.
As soon as I arrived at the home of the Port Adelaide Football Club, I’m taken up stairs into the offices and I’m introduced to the man himself.
Instantly, the man’s achievements are the first thing to come to my mind.
Magarey Medals, premierships and even his statue at Adelaide Oval.
However, the feeling of intimidation didn’t last long, as he’s more than happy to have a chat.
While we were on restricted time due to a commitment pre-booked following our chat, I knew I had to make the most of it.
After some small chat which calmed my nerves, we go back to his early days growing up in Berri and how he started his footy.
Instantly, he was open and more than happy to reflect, with a few jokes here and there.
As a 23-year-old at the time, I had heard the stories of Ebert and his accomplishments, but was unable to see him play.
I’d seen some clips, but was never able to fully experience the full thing.
My late grandfather had idolised him and Russell Ebert himself was like royalty within my family.
I was informed my great grandmother had kept an image of him in their China cabinet, so he was held in quite held esteem.
For someone who is labelled ‘God’ by the true believers, he’s incredibly humble and hearing him speak on his heroes growing up was an unbelievable reflection.
“They all had businesses or were on the land, so I knew they were hardworking and then to go down and watch them play, they were our idols and heroes,” he said, speaking of the senior players at his junior club, Loxton.
For someone so humble, the statue of himself at Adelaide Oval was a bit to take in.
“It was really was [embarrassing], but when Basil and Rex Sellers said that they wanted to do it, you get all sorts of mixed emotions; you’re embarrassed by it, it’s somewhere the pigeons can sit and do their business, you’re recognised with other sporting people in South Australia which have a rich heritage,” he said.
There were many factors to his career, breaking into the side as a full-forward after convincing coach Fos Williams he was capable, his accolades, his move to Victoria for a season, captaincy and the role of captain-coach.
Yet, representing South Australia was one of his highlights.
“But when you played and pulled on that red jumper for the state, you were playing for everyone,” he said.
“And suddenly, Sturt, Glenelg, Centrals, Norwood and West Adelaide supporters were all barracking for you.
“I was thinking “whoa, how good is that” …the next week they hated you, but for seven or eight days, they watched you and watched you with a lot of pride, which some of them may not of got 100 percent with their local clubs.”
For me, the chat with Ebert was one of, if not the highlight of my career so far.
It was the opportunity to chat with my grandfather’s hero, the greatest Port Adelaide player of all time.
It was only half an hour, but for me it was a memory I’ll have for a lifetime.
Russell, the entire football community is behind you as you battle this insidious disease and we can only wish you the best.
With the tenacity and toughness you’ve shown in life and your career so far, you can do it.