Russell Ebert

Russell Frank Ebert OAM (born 22 June 1949) is a retired Australian rules footballer and coach. He is considered one of the greatest players in the history of Australian rules football in South Australia.[1][2] Russell Ebert is the only player to have won four Magarey Medals which are awarded to the best and fairest player in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL).[3]

Russell Ebert
Russell Ebert statue at Adelaide Oval.
Personal information
Full name Russell F. Ebert
Date of birth (1949-06-22) 22 June 1949
Place of birth Berri, South Australia
Original team(s) Loxton
Height 183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 90 kg (198 lb)
Position(s) Midfielder
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1968–1978, 1980–1985 Port Adelaide 391 (295)
1979 North Melbourne 25 (15)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
South Australia
South Australia (Coach)
3 (2–1–0) 66.67%
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1983–1987 Port Adelaide 116 (64–52–0) 55.17%
1988–1990 Woodville 64 (24–40–0) 37.50%
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1985.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 1990.
Career highlights




Sources: AFL Tables,

Early life

The fourth of six children of Doreen and Albert Ebert, Russell was born in the South Australian river town of Berri, South Australia.[4] Russell's father Albert was a footballer with the Alawoona Football Club and captain coached the team to a premiership in 1953.[4] Russell's family moved to Loxton during his high school years and the town was home to his junior football club, the Loxton Football Club.[5] At Loxton he would play with his brothers along with Bruce Light, who would eventually play for Port Adelaide with Russell.[4]


Port Adelaide (1968–1978)

Ebert debuted for the Port Adelaide Football Club in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) as an 18-year-old in 1968 and immediately made an impression, winning the club leading goalkicking in his debut season.

In 1971 Ebert won his first Magarey Medal, awarded to the fairest and most brilliant player in the SANFL, along with Port Adelaide's best and fairest.

For the 1974 SANFL season Ebert was appointed captain of the club and would again be awarded both the Port Adelaide best and fairest along with a second Magarey Medal.

His first premiership as a player came in 1977 when Port Adelaide broke its drought defeating Glenelg at Football Park.

It has taken us a bloody long time but by gee it was worth it!

Russell Ebert during the post game award presentations of the 1977 SANFL Grand Final.[6]

North Melbourne (1979)

Victorian Football League clubs chased Ebert for a decade until North Melbourne finally won his signature and he spent a season with North Melbourne in 1979[7] Port Adelaide agreed to lease Ebert to North Melbourne for the 1979 season in exchange for Mark Dawson, as well as paying Ebert $35,000.[7] North Melbourne also agreed to cover Ebert's large travel costs caused by his desire to stay in Adelaide and fly to Melbourne each Thursday during the season and return on Sunday.[7]

Ebert's tally of twenty five games for North Melbourne is the VFL/AFL record for the most games in a career which only lasted one season.[8] During his season with North Melbourne Ebert would play alongside Malcolm Blight, Graham Cornes, Keith Greig, Ross Glendinning, Wayne Schimmelbusch, Gary Dempsey and Graham Melrose.[9] Ebert would collect the most disposals for the club during the season and 9 Brownlow votes.

Return to Port Adelaide (1980–1987)

Following the end of the 1979 season, Ebert returned to Port Adelaide.

Russell Ebert won two more premierships with Port Adelaide in 1980 and 1981.

Upon the departure of John Cahill for the 1983 SANFL season, Russell Ebert was appointed captain-coach of Port Adelaide. During the year Ebert also captained the South Australian side for the third time.

In 1984 Port Adelaide reached its only Grand Final with Ebert as coach. In front of 50,271 spectators Port Adelaide relinquished a 3-point lead at the final change of the 1984 SANFL Grand Final to eventually lose to Norwood by 9 points.

Ebert retired as a player at the end of 1985 where his 392 games remains a club record. Ebert's playing career spanned a total of 452 senior games for Port Adelaide, North Melbourne and South Australian representative. At least one compilation of Australian football statistics estimated this to be the seventh highest tally in top-level senior football.[10]

Despite Ebert finishing his playing career at Port Adelaide in 1985, he remained coach for a further two seasons. Ebert started the 1986 SANFL season without star wingman Craig Bradley who had been acquired by Carlton.

In controversial circumstances at the end of the 1987 season, after failing to win a final for three consecutive seasons, Russell Ebert was replaced as coach of Port Adelaide by John Cahill for the upcoming 1988 SANFL season.

Although the three seasons preceding Ebert's dismissal at the end of 1987 as coach were ultimately unsuccessful, he is credited with blooding a large number of champions that helped propel the club into the Australian Football League.

Woodville coach (1988–1990)

Russell Ebert took up coaching Woodville after ending his coaching tenure at Port Adelaide for John Cahill's return. Ebert would coach Woodville for three years with the club failing to make finals during that period. The club would end up merging with West Torrens at the end of the 1990 SANFL season.

South Australia coach (1996–1998)

Ebert coached South Australia to memorable wins over Western Australia in 1996 and 1998.

Playing Style

Ebert was a strong bodied player whose physical build and stamina allowed him to dominate football matches. With a high skill level, errors were rare and his ability to hit teammates with accurate spearing passes made him very effective in attacking roles. Ebert was able to win his own ball and could quickly hand pass effectively under pressure.

Personal life

Ebert's brothers Craig and Jeff also played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL. His son Brett and his nephew Brad Ebert have both played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL and AFL. Brad Ebert's grandfather is Trevor Obst and great-grandfather is Ken Obst who also both played for Port Adelaide.[11]


Russell Ebert is widely held to be the greatest player to have played for the Port Adelaide Football Club.[12] He was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and is centre for Port Adelaide's greatest team.

Ebert was the second and currently only one of three Australian rules footballers to have a statue at Adelaide Oval, the other players being Barrie Robran and Malcolm Blight.[13]


  • Ross, John (1999). The Australian Football Hall of Fame. Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 63. ISBN 0-7322-6426-X.


  1. "EBERT HONOURED WITH SCULPTURE | SANFL". SANFL. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  2. "Port poised to pick up son of SA legend Ebert –". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. "Magarey Medal | SANFL". SANFL. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  4. Wood, John (1985). Russell Ebert Australian Record. South Australia: Port Adelaide Football Club. p. 3.
  5. "Loxton Tigers To Play S.A.N.F.L | Loxton Football Club". Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  6. Russell Ebert, 1977 SANFL Grand Final – Port Adelaide vs. Glenelg.
  7. Sheahan, M, "$50,000 – Roos price for Ebert", The Age, 19 February 1979, p. 18.
  8. Rodgers, Stephen (1996). 100 Years of AFL Players – Volume 3. Melbourne: East-Side Printing. p. 1586. ISBN 0646300164.
  9. "AFL Tables - 1979 Stats - Player Lists". Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  10. "AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL FACTS & FEATS: Player Records". Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. "Australian Football – Brad Ebert – Player Bio". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  12. "Who is the greatest Magpies player of all time?". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  13. "Blighty honoured to join the 'brass club'". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
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