DURING the 1950s no forward put his head to the pillow with ease on the eve of any SANFL fixture with Port Adelaide. For 212 league games from 1950 to 1961 there was the challenge - and torment - of three-time All-Australian and future Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee John Abley.

"And Geof Motley and Neville Hayes," recalls 1961 All-Australian Geoff Kingston, the SANFL's leading goalkicker while Abley took his final bow in '61.

Abley's retirement did not leave SANFL forwards counting sheep again on Friday nights.

"We had just finished dealing with Abley ... and Ron Elleway came along at Port Adelaide," added Kingston. "There was no respite. Motley, Hayes, Trevor Obst ... and Elleway. He was one of the best defenders I faced - not just in the SANFL but also in interstate games."

Ron Elleway arrived in his Volkswagen from Monash in the Riverland to maintain the tradition of uncompromising defenders setting the standard for Fos Williams' teams during the 1960s when Port Adelaide played in seven consecutive SANFL grand finals from 1962.

Port Adelaide's 1962 team poses for a team photo.

Elleway was true to all the Williams' Creed demanded of his players and his club. He looked fierce. He played that way. He was nicknamed "Lurch" after a rival worked the comparison of the slim, tall Elleway to the straight-faced butler character in the television hit show, The Addams Family.

"Ron was tough, all-round tough," says premiership team-mate Steve Traynor. "Not dirty tough as you could be in that era. But a genuinely tough full back. He'd niggle. He would mark his man, standing on his toes as you would in those days. And he was competitive - bloody competitive - every week.

"And we always will remember those raking left-foot kicks ... those drop kicks."

Elleway would bump, he would concede little and he would confuse battered forwards to find space for kicking long from deep defence with his left foot.

In his 204 league games in the No.4 guernsey from 1961-1971, there was only one exception to the image of a miserly defender - the 1966 SANFL grand final in which Sturt spearhead Malcolm 'Emmy' Jones kicked eight goals. He represented South Australia nine times and was acknowledged by the SANFL with life membership in 1972.

Elleway and Bob Fabian formed a partnership in defence during the 1960s in the same way modern-age Port Adelaide fans know George Fiacchi and Roger Delaney as the Batman and Robin pair guarding goal.

"To play 204 league games in that time - when there was so much competition for spots at Port Adelaide - tells you of Ron's talent and ability," Traynor said. 

"And I can understand - as a half-forward myself - how any forward would have been terrified just with the thought of facing Ron."

Ron played 204 league games for Port Adelaide, a testament to his talent.

Kingston recalls every game against the Port Adelaide defence during the 1960s was "hard work".

"You would never hear a murmur from Ron," said Kingston, the star forward at West Torrens during this era. "He never spoke. But you knew he was there - and you certainly knew he was doing his job."

Elleway is a member of Port Adelaide's Hall of Fame that honours the 1962, 1963 and 1965 premiership winners - the men who gave Williams his three flags as non-playing coach.

Lured to Port Adelaide after he had studied at Newcastle - to earn his credentials for a job with the Berri fruit juice producers - Elleway had a contrasting reputation off the field.

"Ron was very socialable," said Traynor who joined Elleway at the academy at Alberton in 1961. "He built a reputation as a tough footballer, but there was a softer side to him away from the game.

"He was so dedicated to his wife Barb (married in 1967). She was a teacher and Ron was just as dedicated in that field, coaching at schools. He was a great volunteer at his bowls clubs, particularly at Rosewater. He was a genuine good guy.

"Ron came from an era when football was tough. It was a different style of football - one umpire, a lot happening off the ball and no-one holding back. For all that, Ron did not play 'dirty tough' ... he was just tough."

Born on January 1, 1942, Elleway died on July 29 and was farewelled at his funeral on Tuesday (August 8).