|Full name||Malcolm Jack Blight|
|Date of birth||16 February 1950|
|Place of birth||Adelaide, South Australia|
|Original team(s)||Woodville (SANFL)|
|Height||182 cm (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||89 kg (196 lb)|
|1968-73, 1983-85||Woodville||152 (342) |
|1974-1982||North Melbourne||178 (444)|
|Representative team honours|
|South Australia||7 (11)|
|1981||North Melbourne||16 (6-10-0)|
|2001||St Kilda||15 (3-12-0)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1986.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2001.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Malcolm Jack Blight AM (born 16 February 1950) is a former Australian rules footballer who played for and coached the North Melbourne Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL) and Woodville Football Club in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL). He also coached the Geelong Football Club, Adelaide Football Club and St Kilda Football Club.
Blight is to date the only player to have kicked 100 goals in a season in both the VFL and the SANFL. He is also one of three players to have won the Brownlow Medal and the Magarey Medal. He was an inaugural inductee Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and was elevated to Legend status in 2017. In addition, he has captained the state representative sides of both Victoria and South Australia.
In spite of his "failure" as a playing coach of North Melbourne, Blight would cement his reputation as one of the greatest coaches during his stints with Geelong and Adelaide, before finishing up in an acrimonious circumstances at St Kilda. The name Blight is of Cornish origin. In 2012, Blight was appointed director of coaching at the Gold Coast Football Club.
Blight grew up supporting Port Adelaide living close to Alberton Oval with his favourite player at the time being forward Rex Johns. However, when a new local team Woodville began to play in the SANFL from 1964, and Blight was now in their recruiting zone and he would make his debut for the Woodpeckers in 1969. Blight had a break-out year in 1972, kicking 45 goals while playing mainly as a ruck-rover. He won Woodville's best and fairest award as well as the SANFL's highest individual honor, the Magarey Medal, bringing him to the attention of the VFL.
Blight was recruited by the North Melbourne Football Club and, although he was reluctant to join at first, he went on to play 178 games for the club between 1974 and 1982. He was a member of the Kangaroos' premiership sides in 1975 and 1977, and in 1978 won both the Brownlow Medal and the Syd Barker Medal for being the best and fairest player in the VFL and for North Melbourne respectively.
Blight was consistently one of the most brilliant players in the VFL during the 1970s. Besides taking spectacular marks, he was also a prolific goalkicker, renowned for his ability to kick the torpedo punt. In 1982, Blight won the Coleman Medal for leading the VFL in goalkicking, and led the Kangaroos' goalkicking four times during his career.
In a moment that has since passed into Australian rules football folklore, in 1976, Blight kicked a famous goal after the siren against Carlton in Round 10 (5 June). The Blues led by 14 points going into added time in the final quarter, but Blight kicked two goals and then marked an estimated 80 metres from the goals just seconds before the final siren. North Melbourne were still trailing by one point, needing a behind to draw and a goal to win. Many assumed Blight's effort would be futile and spectators were already exiting the playing arena. However, Blight kicked one of the biggest-ever torpedo punts, with the ball going over the goals but between the posts to an improbable victory for the Kangaroos by 11.15 (81) to Carlton's 11.10 (76). (YouTube video)
During the 1977 VFL season, which happened to be played during the wettest Melbourne winter in 40 years, North Melbourne hosted Hawthorn at Arden Street. The ground conditions were atrocious, and the match for the most part resembled something more akin to mud wrestling. Hawthorn led by one point when Blight was given a free kick and a set shot for goal. He scored a behind, which would have levelled the scores, but was given a second attempt after the umpire penalized Hawthorn for an infringement. Unfortunately for Blight and North Melbourne, the ball slew off the side of his boot and went out of bounds on the full, giving the Hawks victory.
In 1981, while still serving as playing coach, Blight made one of the most bizarre blunders ever seen in a football match. In North Melbourne's Round 14 clash against Richmond at the MCG, Blight was on the end of a chain of handpasses deep in the forward zone. He seemed certain to score a goal as he ran into the goal square, only to run past the goal posts and kick the ball through the behinds. As he said after the match when he realised his mistake: "I've never done that before. I'm probably going barmy." Richmond won that match by 43 points, and Blight was sacked as playing coach less than a month later.
Blight was indirectly involved in another infamous football incident during the 1980 Escort Cup grand final against Collingwood, held at VFL Park, Waverley. Blight kicked the ball to Kerry Good as the siren sounded. However, the umpire did not hear the siren and awarded the mark to Good who kicked the winning goal to win in controversial circumstances.
After his stint in the VFL, Blight returned to Woodville, serving as captain-coach from 1983 to 1985 before continuing as non-playing coach in 1986 and 1987. He was club best and fairest in 1983 and in his last season of playing football (1985) topped the league goalkicking list with 126 goals.
|Led the league after season and finals|
|Season||Team||No.||Games||Totals||Averages (per game)|
Blight later became a successful coach famous for employing unorthodox, and at times controversial, coaching methods as attempts to motivate his players.
Appointed playing coach in 1981 after Ron Barassi departed, Blight was sacked as coach after six consecutive losses. The following week he rebounded with a club-record 11 goal haul against Footscray, at the Western Oval. Once again, Blight's inaccurate kicking for goal may have prevented him from kicking a club record of a possible 16 to 17 goals. Blight's total as playing coach (Wayne Schimmelbusch was captain) was 16 games (6 wins, 10 losses) and the last of the playing Coaches in the VFL.
Playing coach 1983 to 1985, continued as non-playing coach to 1987. His tenure as coach coincided with the club's most successful season (1986) in the entire history of the Woodville Football Club, when they reached the Preliminary Final. During the season the Warriors (who had changed from being known as the Woodpeckers to the Warriors in 1983) had defeated their hated "big brother" Port Adelaide once during the minor round at Woodville Oval (drawing the oval's ground record attendance of 11,026 to their Round 18 clash), and also in the First Semi-final at Football Park, before going down to eventual premiers Glenelg in the Preliminary Final.
Senior coach from 1989 to 1994, highlighted by Grand Final appearances in 1989, 1992 and 1994. Total of 145 games, 89 wins, 56 losses. One of the strangest incidents as a coach of Geelong was his extroverted decision to stand on a metal box to watch the game against the West Coast Eagles in Perth. His excitement of "seeing the game at ground level", was an attempt to get back to basics and some nostalgia.
Blight's arrival at the Crows at the end of the 1996 season was marked with dramatic effect, with the delisting of four ageing club stalwarts Tony McGuinness, Chris McDermott, Andrew Jarman and Greg Anderson. This attracted great criticism at the time, but Blight was vindicated by winning the AFL premiership in 1997, and again in 1998. He retired as coach at the end of the 1999 season after an unsuccessful year finishing 13th. To commemorate his legacy as Adelaide's first premiership coach, the club named their annual best and fairest award the Malcolm Blight Medal.
After finishing at Adelaide, Blight decided to retire from football and moved to Queensland. St Kilda officials visited him there during 2000 and overcame his reluctance to coach St Kilda in 2001 with a $1 million offer. Blight was sacked after Round 15 (3 wins, 12 losses). His famous humiliation of the players by making them stay on Colonial Stadium after a Round 10 loss to Melbourne and again after a Round 15 loss to Adelaide (his final game as coach) highlighted the worsening relation between the coach, players and club supporters. Some years later the former president of St Kilda, Rod Butterss, questioned Blight's commitment to the club during his tenure. Blight responded memorably from his position as media commentator with Channel Ten, saying:
I couldn't give a rat's tossbag whether he thought I could coach or whether anyone thinks I can coach or can play. But when he talked about commitment for St Kilda, for the time I was there, it was absolute garbage made by a very naive person.-- Malcolm Blight, Out of left-field, Blight's passion burns furiously
However, as early as February 2003, Butterss had admitted that his appointment of Blight as coach was "an error." In August 2017, Butterss further admitted that he'd made crucial decisions (including the Blight saga) while under the influence of drugs and alcohol during his tenure at the club.
Blight joined the 17th AFL team, Gold Coast, as a board member.
In July 2012, Gold Coast announced that Blight had stepped down from the board to take up a part-time advisory role to Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna, following a similar growing trend where former coaches (among them Mark Williams, Dean Laidley and Mark Harvey) have been employed as advisors to other head coaches.
Looking back over his coaching career, Blight nominated in June 2012 a team of the greatest 22 players that he had coached, plus four emergencies. This was how the team looked:
|Gary Ablett Sr.
Blight continued his football involvement through the media. He commentated for the Seven Network during his hiatus from coaching in 1995 and 1996 and also co-hosted Talking Footy with fellow commentator Bruce McAvaney and journalist Mike Sheahan. He was one of the commentators at Waverley Park during the famous "Lights Out Incident" during a night match between Essendon and St Kilda in 1996. After finishing up as a coach, Blight commentated for Network Ten's television coverage.
In 2006 Blight appeared in a Toyota Legendary Moment ad recreating his goal after the siren against Carlton.
He also wrote football-related articles for the Sunday Mail.
Blight is known for his dislike of the practice of players using grubber kicks when attempting to score a goal, due to the lack of control and unpredictability of the bounce. He is currently the cohost of Sportsday SA on FIVEaa in Adelaide with Kane Cornes.