KEITH WARBURTON* - 2018
The history of Country football is marked by not only the players raised in the country but those who came out of League clubs and made a great impact on the clubs and the Leagues they joined. Players like Noel McMahon at Rochester, Graeme Arthur at Echuca and Bob Rose at Wangaratta rovers were stars of the then VFL who the crowds flocked to see when they transferred to the country.
In the Goulburn Valley League the Tatura Football Club reaped great benefit when they snared the mercurial Carlton forward Keith Warburton.
Warby as he was known was a freakish player who could launch himself to mark above the packs and pulled down amazing marks. He played the type of football that brought fans from far and wide to see him play.
Warburton played his early football with Cheltenham under 18s, before playing with his brother at Highett and then with Brighton before being recruited by Carlton in 1951. He was a well built and very strong player. By 1952 he was a Victorian player and became a good friend of the player he admired most, Collingwood’s Bob Rose.
Unfortunately he suffered an abdominal injury in a game which needed an emergency operation to save his life. The call went out for blood donors and it was flooded with offers particularly from footballers and football fans. Keith pulled through and returned to the Blues in 1953.
However injury continued to dog his career and in 1954 he suffered a bad knock to the kidney. However he returned to the game wearing a brace for protection. In 1955 Keith played the last of his 74 games with Carlton where he kicked a total of 91 goals.
He was recruited by Tatura Committee members Edgar Francis, Pat Kerrins and Charlie Taylor and moved to the Goulburn Valley to coach the Bulldogs and electrify the game in the GVL. The fans crowded into the local venues to see Warby fly and dominate games with his great skill and acrobatic marking at full forward or Centre half forward. He had a great impact on the League.
Keith had some great battles with legendary Shepparton Coach Tom Hafey and blood was spilt on a number of occasions. Warby was a very fair player and led by example.
Naturally Keith was selected to represent the GVL. He was vice captain of the League in 1956 and captained the League in a game against Geelong in 1957 when he was best on the ground and kicked 4 goals. He represented the GVL 4 times and was selected in the centre for the GVL team of champions. He was a wonderful leader of the GVL teams and was looked up to by all his players.
The Shepparton News writers chose him as the News player of the year in 1959 and 1960.
But Keith’s luck didn’t run well in regards to the League’s best and fairest award the Morrison Medal. He was runner up in the medal three times in 1957, 1959 and 1960. Keith would have to be regarded as the best player not to win the Morrison.
His time at Tatura came to an end in 1960 when a knee injury forced him out of the game. The GVL had lost a champion, a good family man and a gentleman of the sport.
Following his retirement from football, Keith became a successful greyhound trainer with a large kennel of dogs that responded to Keith’s gentle nature. He became trainer of the year. He also took up lawn bowls with great success and became GV Champion, Champion of Champions and played State bowls for Victoria.
The GVL is delighted to welcome a great man and a fantastic exponent of the game in Keith Warburton into the Hall of Fame.