Vale George Ilsley by Richard Jones

eaglehawkeGEORGE Ilsley, one of the Bendigo Football Netball League’s greatest ever key forwards, has died.

He was 84.

Ilsley turned out in the famous two-blue colours of Eaglehawk for 16 seasons, starting his career at Canterbury Park when he was just 15.

He also played two games for Carlton in the then VFL in 1954 but returned to central Victoria in time for an inter-league series played in Ballarat. City life didn’t suit George.

Throughout his illustrious career Ilsley was an automatic selection for Bendigo’s inter-league sides and he represented the league on more than a dozen occasions.

Under coach Ollie Grieve Eaglehawk won the 1953 BFL premiership with Ilsley a key contributor. He had finished runner-up to Sandhurst rover Noel Evans in the 1953 Michelsen medal count.

Ilsley was best afield in the Hawk’s 1957 grand final victory over Kyneton. Playing coach Basil Ashman still believes it was Ilsley who sealed the win for the Hawks in that momentous season decider.

After serving as the Hawks’ playing coach from 1958-60 he moved to Northern United in the Golden City FL for the 1961-62 seasons and won the Golden City league’s Rupert Betteridge Medal in 1962.

He returned to Eaglehawk for the 1963-64 seasons only hanging up the boots after an outstanding career of more than 350 games at the end of 1964. He was then 32.

At Eaglehawk selection meetings, George Ilsley holds a unique record. He was never dropped from the senior side throughout his outstanding career.

George Ilsley was a member of the BFNL’s inaugural Hall of Fame in 1986, the centre half-forward in Eaglehawk’s Team of the Century named in 2005 and since 2006 the Eaglehawk senior football best and fairest medal is called the George Ilsley medal.

He was installed as a life member at Eaglehawk in 1956.

I always enjoyed a chat with George when passing through the gates at Canterbury Park where he served as ground manager for many seasons. If I ever happened to mention some bruising encounters against old BFL foes such as Clive Philp, Ken Carter, Wally Culpitt or Ron McKnight George would always reply that what had happened out on the field should stay “out on the field of play”.

 

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