Malcolm Blight – Retired Australian Rules Football Player
Popular by the nickname ‘Blighty’, Malcolm Blight was not only a great player of his times but also turned out to be one the best coaches VFL has ever seen.
Born on February 16, 1950, Malcolm Jack Blight (AM) was born in South Australia’s Adelaide. Blight played in both South Australian National Football League and Victorian Football League. In SANFL, he played for Woodville Football Club and in VFL, he played for North Melbourne. Blight is the only player till date who has kicked 100 goals in a single season for both VFL and SANFL. He is also on the list of very few players who have managed to win both Magarey Medal and Brownlow Medal.
Woodville (SANFL): 1968-1973 and 1983-1985
From beginning, Malcolm Blight was a hardcore supporter of Port Adelaide. However, the reason for this support was obvious. His local team Woodville did not play in SANFL. In 1964, Woodville started playing in SANFL and Blight was prompt enough to switch allegiance. In 1969, Blight started playing for Woodville. In 1972, he went on to win the Best and Fairest award of Woodville Football Club. The same year he also won the Magarey Award, which is the highest individual award of South Australian National Football League. No wonder, Blight immediately grabbed attention from VFL and the result was evident. He made his VFL debut in 1974 with North Melbourne Football Club. After serving his VFL career, Malcolm Blight once again returned to SANFL and started playing for his local team Woodville. He joined back the team as a playing coach (and a captain coach) for the period of 1983 to 1985. Immediately on return, Blight won the Best and Fairest award of Woodville once again in 1983. In 1985, his last ever playing season, Blight kicked a total of 126 goals, which made him the only player to have kicked 100 goals or more in a single season for both VFL and SANFL.
North Melbourne (VFL): 1974-1982
North Melbourne recruited Malcolm Blight after he won the Magarey Medal. Blight was not willing to make the move but despite his reluctance, he played in VFL for North Melbourne. He played a total of 178 for the club, kicking a total of 444 goals. His reluctance to join the Kangaroos did not however affect his performance as a player and in 1978; he went on to win Syd Barker Medal and Brownlow Medal for being the Best and Fairest for North Melbourne and in VFL respectively. He became the highest goal kicker in VFL for 1982 season and went on to win the Coleman Medal. Apart from that, he was also the leading goal kicker of North Melbourne on four occasions. Blight was also a member of North Melbourne premiership teams of 1975 and 1977. During his VFL career, Blight became known for his spectacular marks. One of the most memorable moments of Blight’s career in VFL was his 80-meter mark which became famous as the ‘goal after the siren’. That mark earned an unexpected victory for North Melbourne against Carlton. That was the biggest ever torpedo punt by Blight that earned the Kangaroos an improbable victory. That particular mark became the focus of Toyota Memorable Moments series.
North Melbourne’s Playing Coach
Malcolm Blight was undoubtedly one of the finest players of North Melbourne. That was probably the reason why he was appointed as playing coach for the team in 1981 after the departure of Ron Barassi. However, Blight did not perform as expected and after a series of 6 consecutive losses, he was sacked from the position of playing coach but he continued to play for the team. Blight was the last playing coach of VFL.
Woodville’s Playing Coach and Non-Playing Coach
After ending his playing career with North Melbourne in 1982, Blight returned to SANFL and joined his local team Woodville as a playing coach for the period 1983 to 1985. In 1986, he retired for playing but continued as a full-time coach for Woodville. Under his tenure, Woodville performed at its best, specifically in the 1986 reason when the team reached the Preliminary Final for the first time in its history. It was in 1986 that the Woodville club managed to defeat their most hated opponent Port Adelaide. Woodville however did not manage to make it to the finals because Glenelg wiped them out during the Preliminary Final.
Coach of Adelaide and Geelong
Malcolm Blight’s success as a coach began with Woodville but he forged his reputation as one of the best coaches of VFL after coaching Geelong and Adelaide. Blight became Geelong’s coach in 1989 and coached the team until 1994. During this period, Geelong played a total of 145 games of which they won 89 and lost 56. Blight’s true success came when he started coaching Adelaide in 1997 and continued until 1999. In these three years, the Crows went on to win the AFL premiership in 1997 and 1998. Blight became Adelaide’s first premiership coach. In order to honour this achievement, Adelaide Crows have named their Best and Fairest award as Malcolm Blight Medal.
Coach of St Kilda
Blight joined St Kilda as a coach in 2001 by signing a contract of $1 million. However, the tenure did not end well as Blight was sacked after Round 15. St Kilda played 15 matches under Blight’s coaching and lost 12 of them, winning only 3.
Awards And Achievements
Malcolm Blight was one of the finest players of VFL and SANFL. His career as a coach did not have a good start and neither did it have a good end but he definitely forged his reputation as one of the finest coaches of the League somewhere in between. He bagged a laundry list of awards and achievements which are briefly mentioned below:
- 1968: SANFL debut.
- 1972: Won the Magarey Medal.
- 1972 and 1985: Member of All Australian Team.
- 1972 and 1985: Won Best and Fairest Award of Woodville Football Club.
- 1974: VFL debut.
- 1975 and 1977: Premiership player of North Melbourne.
- 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982: Leading goal kicker of North Melbourne.
- 1982: Won the Coleman Medal.
- 1978: Won the Syd Barker Medal.
- 1978: Won the Brownlow Medal.
- 1983 to 1985: Captain Coach of Woodville Football Club.
- 1985: Won the SANFL Ken Farmer Medal.
- 1986: Coach of Woodville Football Club.
- 1989 to 1994: Coach of Geelong Football Club.
- 1997 to 1999: Coach of Adelaide Crows.
- 1997 and 1998: Premiership Coach of Adelaide Crows.
- 1987: Became a Life Member of Woodville Football Club.
- Blight was a member of SANFL Team of the Century.
- 2002: Blight was inducted into South Australian Football Hall of Fame.
- 1996: Blight was inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame.
- Blight is also a Life Member and Life Governor of Woodville-West Torrens.
There is absolutely no doubt that Blight’s fame will outlive him. His success as a player will be a source of inspiration for many players for as long as AFL will exist. Blight’s contribution to Adelaide Crows as a coach will forever remain immortal in form of Malcolm Blight Medal. He was one of THE GREATEST players of all time in the history of VFL and SANFL.