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Pianto and English: two Eaglehawk on-ball stars

By Richard Jones

Peter Pianto and Des English were clearly walk-up starts for on-ball positions in Eaglehawk’s Team of the Century.

And so the selection panel was faced with a reasonably simple task to place them, together with long-serving follower Fred Trewarne, as the Two Blues starting on-ball trio.

The late Peter Pianto has a hugely interesting back story with Eaglehawk.

Club champion in 1949 he was one of 12 children and so owned just the one pair of boots.

These were for wearing to school but super-enthusiastic about his footy he’d go to Canterbury Park for training wearing those very boots.

So what did the club’s veteran boot-studder do? He’d carefully place six stops in each of Peter’s boots --- four along the sole and two in the heel area --- so the teenager could complete his training.

His mother hated footy so young Peter would arrive for the evening meal wearing his boots, but with the stops removed after training by the very careful boot-studder.

It wasn’t until a while later Mrs. Pianto was alerted to her son’s blossoming footy career by a nosey neighbour.

She’d noted a “P. Pianto” in Eaglehawk’s best players’ list in the Monday Advertiser and passed on the snippet.

So Peter’s Mum finally knew he was a star down at Canterbury Park.

After his burgeoning late Forties Eaglehawk career Peter was signed by Geelong and went on to play in two Cats’ premiership sides: 1951 and 1952.

And as well, the ’53 grand final side beaten by Collingwood in the Big Dance.

Along with later-to-be State parliamentarian Neil ‘Nipper’ Tresize Pianto was a half of one of the most dominant on-ball pairings in the then VFL.

His Geelong career stats read: as a player: 121 games (144 goals). As a coach: 105 games (70 wins 34 losses, 1 draw).

Buried in those 1966 to 1970 coaching statistics, Geelong Team of the Century member Peter went on to coach the Cats into the 1967 grand final and passed away reasonably recently: in 2008 aged 78.

Even though he’d been chased by three other clubs, not just Geelong, Peter had decided on Kardinia Park as his home base because it felt more like a country environment for him.

Des English had a career almost as star-studded as Pianto’s.

He played 66 games for the Hawks, won the 1978 Michelsen Medal and then went on to play 104 VFL games with Carlton from 1980 to 1986.

Included in those just-over-the-‘ton’ matches for the Blues Des was a member of the club’s 1981 and 1982 premiership sides, plus the 1986 grand final team, and was named in the VFL Team of the Year in 1983.

And like Rod Ashman Des had not only won an Eaglehawk fairest and best award, but additionally was a regular member of the BFL’s inter-league sides, either in the back pocket or across half-back.

Ruckman-follower Fred Trewarne had a cult following during his 18-season career with the Hawks.

He played 340 games between 1923 and 1941 and was renowned for his high marking and excellent place-kicking for goal.

Advertiser reports of the day recall ‘the gentle giant’ placing the ball carefully on the turf before backing away and starting his run-up for a shot at goal.

Fred had started off with the Sailor’s Gully club and following a period in Melbourne where he joined the police force, Fred returned to Canterbury Park in 1923.

On the interchange bench is one of the greatest spearheads in BFL history.

Frank Crapper held the BFL goal-kicking record from 1933 to 2012 --- an astounding close-to-eight decades statistic.

He booted 154 goals in the home and away matches to top the table, and then added another nine in the finals series for an astounding 1933 tally of 163 majors.

He was just 22 years of age.

Crapper won the league goalkicking award three times: in 1930 when he was just 19 with 108 majors, (the first time a ‘ton’ had been kicked in a Bendigo footy season), again in 1932 with 129 and finally in 1933 with 154.

These tallies are for the home-and-away season. Goal kicked in finals matches were added later in BFL history.

Frank also played 27 games for North Melbourne with his tenure there being the 1931 season and then from 1935 to 1939.

In his tally of 56 goals with the Shinboners Crapper nailed eight against Footscray on his 26th birthday in 1937.

Two players from recent seasons are also among the Team of the Century interchange group.

Darren Thompson (261 games) was six times the Eaglehawk club champion while on-baller Steve McDougall was voted best afield in the 1982 grand final victory.

The fairest and best under-18 club award at Eaglehawk is named the Darren Thompson Medal. His son Sam took it out in 2012.

I saw quite a bit of these two players while working full-time with the Bendigo Addy and they were both great clubmen.

McDougall (145 games) was an on-baller who could take a spell on the half-forward flank. He was renowned for his pinpoint passing by hand or foot and was runner-up to Derrick Filo in the 1991 Michelsen medal count.

McDougall captained the Two Blues in 1990 and 1991.

George McWilliam as I’ve noted in an earlier article was a Bendigo CBD pharmacist.

He was a star in the early 1900s playing a variety of roles: as a half-forward, as a ruckman but most vitally as the centreman.

George was a Two Blues premiership player in 1903-06-08 and had also played 18 games with Fitzroy in the VFL.

It was when he returned from his stint with the Roy Boys that George captained Eaglehawk to their flag hat-trick.

And Kevin Smith was a half-forward in Eaglehawk’s grand final wins in 1953 and 1957 while George Ennor was the No. 1 ruckman in the Hawks’ premiership teams of 1946 and 1953.

George was selected as the back-up follower for Fred Trewarne.

And for those who weren’t there at the official presentations for the Team of the Century back in 2005 Pianto and Rod Ashman were very emotional --- virtually in tears --- as they told the audience being in the Hawks best-ever side meant more to them than any VFL/AFL accolades they’d received.

Plus for all those statistically-minded footy followers, Square’s Grant Weeks topped Frank Crapper’s BFNL goalkicking record of 163 majors late in the third quarter of the 2012 grand final.

By one. He’d landed 148 majors in the home-and-away season and then added another 12 in that year’s finals.

Needing four to tack onto his 160 for season 2012 ‘Weeka’ nailed those four goals in the Big Dance to give him 164 majors and the overall BFNL record total.

 

The Two Blues team: 1880-2005

 

B: B. Ashman (v-c), O. Grieve, B. Clough.

Hb: P. Rogerson, R. O’Connell (capt.), F. Jinks.

C: A. Williams, E. Esposito, J. Slattery.

Hf: M. Davies, G. Ilsley, A. Baud.

F. H. Morgan, G. Kennedy, R. Ashman.

Foll: F. Trewarne, D. English, P. Pianto.

Inter: F. Crapper, D. Thompson, G. McWilliam, S. McDougall, G. Ennor and K. Smith.

Coach: John Ledwidge.

 

Acknowledgments: Ken Piesse -- Football Legends of the Bush (2011).

Archie Lenten: Eaglehawk F.N.C. treasurer and fellow Hawks’ Hall of Fame selector.

Note: This is the third and final of my articles about the Two Blues’ Team of the Century.

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