This week’s WATN tracks down a man who was born with black and white in his blood and holds the historic title of being the club’s first AFL father-son recruit.
Brett Ebert is known as the son of the legendary Russell Ebert but made a name for himself in 64 SANFL and 166 AFL games for Port Adelaide.
The Power’s leading goalkicker in 2007 with 56 goals, Ebert emulated his father’s success by winning the 2003 Magarey Medal as the finest player in the SANFL.
“I was on the Power list but hadn’t played a game so I was playing with the Magpies in the SANFL with Stephen Williams as the coach, which was great, but I thought it was a pretty average start to the year,” Ebert recalled to portadelaidefc.com.au.
“It was about round eight or nine and I hadn’t played well at all and I thought I was probably close to getting dropped.
“I still remember having a few chats with the Power coaches on a few different things I could change and they said to just keep training hard and listen to the coaches then I reckon I turned it around about half way through the year.
“We didn’t make the finals which was disappointing but I grew in confidence and realised what I could do when I put my head down and trained hard.
“Obviously, Dad won four Magarey Medals which was pretty special but to win one myself and have a father-son combo with Magarey Medals was something special as well and I know he was proud and the family was proud.
“It’s crazy to think that was 16 years ago!”
Known for his strong marking ability despite his 179cm frame and his beautiful left foot, he played 16 games in the 2004 premiership season but was overlooked for selection in the Grand Final.
Despite the disappointment, Ebert still felt part of the win and celebrated just as hard with his teammates.
“It would have been fantastic to play in the Grand Final. I think I played 16 games that year so it was a good year as my first year with the Power,” he said.
“It was tough and there were a few young guys around the mark but in the end Kane (Cornes), Dom (Cassisi) and Shaun (Burgoyne) were the ones who had a run in the group.
“I was quite disappointed but you’re also quite excited being part of the motorcade and the whole experience as a 19-year-old was great.
“I look back now slightly disappointed but I am really happy that we won it as the first one for the club in the AFL. We probably should have won a couple in the end but it was pretty special for the club.”
Ebert finally had his chance at an AFL premiership in 2007 when the Power shocked many people including him by making the Grand Final.
Against a raging hot Geelong side, Port Adelaide had one of the more forgettable days in its 150-year history, enduring a record 119-point loss.
“We definitely thought we could beat Geelong having beaten them a few weeks earlier but I don’t think we’d made finals in 2006 so it probably shocked us how well we did to get to the Grand Final with such a young group,” Ebert said.
“We’d had a huge win the week before when we beat North Melbourne and Geelong had just got past Collingwood.
“In the end Geelong were pretty dominant but we took some positives away from the experience. It was pretty disappointing how it panned out but some of the guys hadn’t played a final let alone a Grand Final so there was still some optimism.”
Ebert was a regular in the Power forward line throughout his career, between 2004 and 2012, apart from when he missed much of the 2011 season after suffering a ruptured ACL late in 2010.
Ebert was particularly happy to manage some games with his cousin Brad Ebert, who had been traded back to Port Adelaide from West Coast ahead of the 2012 season.
But Brett failed to register a game in 2013 when adductor, calf and hamstring injuries took hold and he decided it was time to retire.
“I was injured all of my last year in 2013. My body let me down a bit but I did a fair bit that year trying to get right but it didn’t happen,” he recalled.
“I’d had nine years without missing too many games but my body had just had enough. I was about to turn 30 so that’s a bit of a barrier for some people these days.”
He was soon running a personal training business and working with mine workers to help prevent injuries.
And six years on, he’s still involved with the Port Adelaide Football Club’s community programs, visiting schools and assisting his father, Russell, with the Community Youth Program and the club’s domestic violence prevention program.
In 2019 the duo teamed up with another Ebert – Brett’s cousin Brad for a special leadership forum for the Power To End Violence Against Women program.
“I finished a sport science degree literally as I finished up with footy in 2013 so I was looking to do something down that sport science area. I did a personal training course so I set up a PT business – Ebert Health & Fitness – and also used the sport science stuff in getting up to the mines to do some injury prevention work on various sites for four days per month. That business is called SANO health,” Ebert revealed.
“I’m still involved with the club in the Community Youth Program and Power to End Violence Against Women, plus I’m helping out with strength and conditioning and helping with the coaching of the first XVIII at St Michaels Colleg alongside Mark Mickan.”
Late in 2019 Ebert also took on another role, this time with the AFL Players’ Association as the SA Alumni Delegate.
“The AFLPA wanted a delegate in each state, obviously to have someone more locally helping out in those regions,” he revealed.
“They asked if I’d be interested and I jumped at it because the association has done a lot for me over the years so I was keen to help out the past players with education on any injuries and their health and wellbeing – as is my background anyway.
“It’s been great so far, I’ve worked with a few guys already and I’m looking forward to next year being more involved after building up more relationships.”
Still living at Henley Beach with his partner Amanda, much of Ebert’s time is now spent with his sons Ethan, 3, and Ollie, 18 months.
“They’re little Port supporters already, they absolutely love their footy but they keep us busy,” Ebert said.
“It’s good because it gets us back out to the footy, even the local league and a few of the AFL games.”
And who knows, there might just be another Ebert father-son to come.