Michael ‘Flash’ Graham Inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame

Michael 'Flash' Graham Inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame

In a testament to one of the most remarkable careers in Australian football, Michael Graham, known affectionately as ‘Flash’, was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Michael ‘Flash’ Graham Inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame

A Dual State League Champion

Graham’s illustrious career saw him splitting his time between South Australia and the Northern Territory, amassing over 500 senior games at the highest level of the sport. His dedication and skill were unmatched, carving out a legacy that spanned nearly two decades from 1969 to 1987.

St Mary’s Stalwart

In the NTFL, Graham donned the colors of St Mary’s, where he played 230 games and secured three premierships. His exceptional performance earned him two club best and fairest awards. Notably, Graham was awarded the prestigious Nichols Medal as the NTFL’s best and fairest player for the 1973-74 season, further cementing his reputation as a top-tier footballer.

SANFL Success with Sturt

During the winter months, Graham showcased his talents in the SANFL with Sturt. Over 15 years, he played 282 games, scored 455 goals, and was instrumental in winning two premierships. His prowess on the field earned him a place in both Sturt’s and the NTFL’s Team of the Century, a testament to his significant impact in both leagues.

From Humble Beginnings to Football Greatness

Michael Graham’s journey began at the Point Pearce mission on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. One of fifteen children, he honed his skills at the Penola Football Club before making his mark in professional football. Speaking at the Hall of Fame ceremony, Graham reflected on his influences: his father and older brothers, his childhood spent chasing rabbits, and his rich heritage, all of which contributed to his speed and agility on the field.

A Unique Year-Round Career

Graham’s year-round football career was initiated by his brother Cecil, who invited him to Darwin. This move allowed Graham to maintain peak physical condition without the need for extensive preseason training. “So I got to play, come back match fit, then I’d go up to Darwin match fit from playing down south. So it worked good for me,” Graham said.

Recognition from Peers and Legends

In a pre-recorded tribute, Graham’s Sturt teammate and fellow Hall of Fame member, Rick Davies, highlighted Graham’s extensive and impressive career. “I believe he’s played more decent football games than anyone else in Australia,” Davies remarked. Graham’s ability to excel in various leagues across the country, including Adelaide, Darwin, Waikerie, New South Wales, and Katherine, underscored his exceptional talent.

Honoring Indigenous Heritage

Graham’s career was also marked by his contributions as one of the few First Nations players in the top competition during his era. He is a proud member of the SANFL’s Indigenous Team of the Century and has been a trailblazer for Indigenous athletes in Australian football. “I feel proud for us, the Aboriginal, Indigenous mob who play these days. Back in my day, there were only a couple,” Graham stated, expressing his pride in the increasing representation of Indigenous players in the AFL.

Long-Awaited Recognition

After decades of waiting, Graham’s induction into the Australian Football Hall of Fame was a moment of great pride and fulfillment. “I thank the Hall of Fame selectors for picking me at last… I’ve only waited 45 years,” he joked. Despite the wait, the honor was well-deserved, reflecting his enduring impact on the sport.

Hall of Fame Inductions and Accolades

Graham was previously inducted into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and the AFLNT Hall of Fame in 2019. His extensive list of accolades includes:

  • Australian Football Hall of Fame (2023)
  • South Australian Football Hall of Fame (2002)
  • AFLNT Football Hall of Fame (2019)
  • Indigenous Team of the Century
  • Sturt Team of the Century
  • SANFL Indigenous Team of the Century

Career Highlights

  • SANFL: 282 games for Sturt (1971-1985), 2 premierships
  • NTFL: 230 games for St Mary’s (1969-1987), 3 premierships, 2 club best and fairest awards, Nichols Medal (1973-74)
  • Representative Honors: 11 state games for South Australia

Michael Graham’s extraordinary career and his contributions to Australian football continue to inspire future generations, particularly Indigenous athletes, to pursue excellence in the sport.

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Source: https://nit.com.au/19-06-2024/12057/indigenous-trailblazer-st-marys-and-sturt-champion-michael-flash-graham-inducted-into-australian-football-of-hame

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