Steve, Harry and Evvo: three Hall of Famers
By Richard Jones
Steve McKerrow, Harry Watts and Gary Evans all played with more than one BFL club yet all three enjoyed stellar careers.
It was fitting, therefore, that the trio were inducted into the Hall of Fame back in October 2014.
I’ll re-trace each career in detail because in 2019 we’ll celebrate another induction, probably just after the footy season has concluded.
The same criteria will apply to candidates as they did in the earlier 2000s inductions.
Players must have racked up at least seven senior BFNL seasons, been retired from footy for five years, have been awarded with individual honours at club and/or league level, represented the BFNL in inter-league clashes and, just as importantly, be of upstanding character.
Coaches must also have been in charge for seven seasons, retired from the BFNL for five years, done service at inter-league level, won premierships and present as an upstanding character.
Umpires, outstanding administrators and media people can also be considered with different criteria applied: 20 years for administrators, eight years for umpires and 15 years for media people.
Gary Evans started as a 17-year-old with Eaglehawk and racked up 174 senior games for the Hawks before moving on.
Top of the list for his achievements at Canterbury Park was the 1980 centenary-year premiership while in the club best and fairest count that season he finished runner-up to eventual winner Tommy Devlin by a single vote.
Evvo played eight finals games for the Two Blues for a premiership, a runners-up plus a preliminary final appearance.
He moved to YCW in the then two-division structure in the Bendigo Golden City F.L. for the 1982 season with the Eagles taking out the flag.
They blooded 10 under-18 players in that grand final win over North Bendigo and had come from fourth place --- and a finals match each weekend --- to snatch the premiership.
The following season was a long one.
The BGCFL structure was a 12-club one with the remaining clubs consolidated into a single division.
So it was a long, drawn-out home-and-away affair with a lot of big thumpings dished out by the top, former BFL clubs to the newbies.
Evvo headed out to Raywood to play for Northern United for the start of 1984 where his great pace and ability to burst clear of milling packs was used to advantage.
He was a pivotal member of the Swallows’ four consecutive BFL-flag winning sides of 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987.
In the ground-breaking ’84 win over his former club Eaglehawk Evvo was named in United’s best six.
He ended up playing five seasons in the maroon and gold colours.
I covered many of those mid-Eighties matches for the Addy and recall Evvo’s great dash away from congested passages of play as one of his big weapons.
And on the inter-league scene Gary played 15 inter-league matches for Bendigo with his final BFL games record standing at 303: 174 at Eaglehawk, 35 in two seasons for the YCW Eagles and 94 with Northern United.
Steve McKerrow moved from the Woorinen club in the Swan Hill region to Bendigo in the mid-1970s.
But he was handed a standing BFL executive ultimatum when he arrived: ‘play for the Kennington-Strathdale club while you’re at Teachers’ College or don’t play BFL footy at all.’
So Steve moved out to the Neale Street oval and played 85 games in five seasons for Kennington with his designated club winning just five times in that long stretch.
With his BFL club strictures behind him, Steve moved to Sandhurst for the 1979 and 1980 seasons where his uncanny goalkicking ability was better employed.
Although he’d topped the Kennington goals tally in each of his five seasons there with the QEO-based Maroons he nailed 100 majors.
Going into the 1979 grand final on 99 goals he managed to pop through a couple despite a hammering from Tony Southcombe’s rampaging Golden Square combination.
Steve had a late start to the 1980 season because of pennant tennis finals’ commitments which stretched into the late autumn.
Then in one amazing stretch of the BFL season McKerrow leapt to 100 goals in just 11 games.
During a memorable burst which took in four matches Steve hammered home 50 goals. It could have been more as on a fine, sunny day against South Bendigo in the middle of the four-game blitz he finished with 11.11.
He reached the ‘ton’ with eight majors against Castlemaine and during that season’s finals he landed eight more to finish the 1980 season on 109 goals.
A switch to Kangaroo Flat followed in 1981 with the Roos in the new Bendigo Golden City F.L. structure.
He nailed 107 goals during the home-and-away rounds and finished up with another seven in the finals series to take his tally to 114.
The Roos won Division 2 by one, straight kick over Northern United as Steve went on to finish his career with the Flat.
He coached the Reserves towards the end of his 200-game career which finished up in 1990.
McKerrow represented Bendigo’s Blue and Golds more than a dozen times playing as a forward pocket or a high half-forward in the days when Ron Best was the automatic choice as the BFL spearhead.
Harry Watts played in the era just before Evans and McKerrow as he ran out for South Bendigo in the Sixties and Seventies.
He was out on the QEO in four grand finals for two premierships with the Bloods: in 1969 under playing coach Colin Rice and again in 1974 when Bernie McCarthy was at the helm.
Harry has vivid memories of Rice’s tenure at South as the former Geelong premiership player took the Bloods to three BFL grand finals in succession.
They went down to Echuca and Eaglehawk in the 1967 and 1968 play-offs but used those losses as motivation for a stirring three-point win over Eaglehawk in the tense 1969 decider.
He’d started off as a 16-year-old in 1962 but didn’t move into the centreman’s spot, a position he later made his own, until three or four seasons down the track.
Watts was a courageous, skilled centreman who was a strong overhead mark, read the play astutely and gathered many possessions most games he played.
He won not one, not two, or even three club best and fairest awards but six during a decorated career with the Bloods --- in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1973 and 1974.
Two of those awards came in the premiership seasons of 1969 and 1974. He was installed as a South life member in 1970.
Appointed as senior playing coach of Castlemaine an achilles tendon injury ruined Harry’s season-and-a-half at Castlemaine during 1976-77.
By 1979 Harry Watts was back at South as the Red and Whites’ playing coach before handing over to Reg Gleeson at season’s end.
Watts represented the BFL on three occasions: against Ovens and Murray, Sunraysia and the North-East Waranga league.
He also has the unique representative honour of playing for a combined BFL side against a touring, national Papua New Guinea combination.
In all he played 205 games with South and Castlemaine in an 18-season career, from 1962 to 1979: 201 games with the Bloods and four with Castlemaine.