KEITH Milkins is part of the furniture at the Wonthaggi Power Football and Netball Club.
On Sunday, he was recognised for 60 years of involvement in local footy with an afternoon tea at the Wonthaggi Power Social Rooms.
The dedicated volunteer has seen the game evolve and said it’s still the best game in the world.
“It’s got the best principles, it was invented for Australian people and for Australians to enjoy,” he said.
“I’m still as passionate about it now as I was when I was younger. The first time I ran out on the footy ground with a footy jumper on I thought, ‘how good is this!’
“It just had everything – the discipline, the camaraderie, your mates. You didn’t have to work with anybody, they didn’t have to be your bosom buddy, but they wore the same jumper and to me it was the Gallipoli spirit exemplified. The true Australian spirit is Australian Rules Football, it really is.”
The popular clubman can be seen at the club on training nights and game day, strapping ankles and shoulders and caring for injured players as a club trainer – a role he has undertaken since 2000 with the Wonthaggi Rovers.
He saw the merger of the Rovers and the Wonthaggi Blues, which many people thought would never happen.
“There used to be intense rivalry, but I’ve always said the best people from both clubs would make it work and they have,” Keith said.
He has the prestigious honour of being named the inaugural life member of the Wonthaggi Power Football and Netball Club.
On his football journey he has played for the Wonthaggi Blues and Wonthaggi Rovers and coached the Phillip Island, Rovers, Dalyston and Inverloch-Kongwak Thirds and even coached the Dalyston netball team, admitting that he was ‘no good’ at the game of footy.
But it didn’t stop the fitness fanatic from passing on his knowledge of fitness to help footballers get the best out of themselves.
He also gave umpiring a go in the late 1960s, but his short temper ensured that pursuit didn’t last long.
Modern day footy can be criticised at times, and although Keith labelled the game ‘robotic’, he still believes it is the greatest game on earth.
He barracks for Collingwood in the AFL and keeps a close eye on Wonthaggi’s favourite son, Jarryd Blair.
“What a thrill it is to see him playing for
Collingwood. I barrack for Jarryd Blair; if Collingwood get beaten, as long as Jarryd has a good game, it’s ok,” he said.
But he much prefers local footy.
“Once you’ve got a local team, you follow your AFL team and you hope they win, but you can actually help some people here – I can’t help any Collingwood footballers.
“This is our footy club here – I can help somebody, I can help them off the ground, I can ice them, I can listen to them. You become a bit of a sounding board and you can maybe advise a young guy the right way to go if you see he’s heading down the wrong track.
“A good footy club is the best asset any community can have, and that was told to me by Hawthorn’s John Kennedy.”
Keith has been an integral part of the Wonthaggi Power family and you get the sense he’ll be around for a long time yet.