RUSSELL EBERT has the record for the most senior appearances for the Port Adelaide Football Club - 391 games from 1968-1978 and 1980-1985. It is a record that, as a challenge, is meant to be broken.

Kane Cornes holds the record for the most AFL league appearances for the Port Adelaide Football Club - 300 matches from 2001-2015. This too will fall one day.

If all is restored to "normal" after the COVID pandemic, it is most likely both records will fall to a Port Adelaide player with a combined SANFL-AFL tally.

But when it comes to tenure as a senior footballer at the Port Adelaide Football Club, no-one will touch Sampson "Shine" Hosking.

Sampson "Shine" Hosking was a decorated player for Port Adelaide.

His first league game was in the SANFL season-opener on May 4, 1907 against Sturt at Unley Oval (for a 44-point win). He was 19 years old. Plus four months.

His last league match was on June 6, 1936. He was 48 years and 154 days. No-one will rewrite that record in SANFL football.

Hosking's league career lasted for 30 seasons, from start to finish. There were gaps - the war years from 1916-1918; the first "retirement" at the end of 1921; the short comeback in 1927 and the last of the 163 league games in 1936.

At the request of the frustrated Port Adelaide selectors, Hosking played two league games as a forward in 1927, the season he returned to Alberton after advancing his coaching resume at West Adelaide (1922-1924) and at South Adelaide in 1926.

Five seasons (1922-1926) on the sidelines did little to stop the first comeback in 1927 for a Magarey Medallist who was also noted for his athletic prowess by his constant appearances in foot races during the summers.

When Hosking stepped up his training during the 1927 SANFL season, The News noted perceptively from a Tuesday training session at Alberton Oval: "Certainly 'Shine' has not forgotten how to play the game. His work has excellent finish, and he appears to have lost little of his pace."

But 1936 - the SANFL season dedicated to the State's centenary anniversary of proclamation - was something else.

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Port Adelaide was unbeaten (5-0) leading to round six when it was hosting a settled and promising West Torrens team at Alberton Oval on Saturday, June 6. By stark contrast, Hosking - as Port Adelaide's coach - was tormented by injuries and some players in poor form when he and his selection committee met after Thursday training.

They signalled their woes by naming four reserves rather than just the 19th man as was the norm at the time - Robert Lander, Ralph Dawe, Lionel Hagan and Percy Philp.

Captain Jack Dermody was in doubt, along with lead ruckman Caryle Wightman (with the newspapers reporting they were suffering from boils). West was carrying a knee injury. Wilfred Eden was out of form. And George Murphy certainly could not be considered because of a broken finger.

On match day, Dermody withdrew and was replaced by Lander. Wightman played, as did West at full back. Eden took his place at half-back. And Hosking dismissed Hagan and Philp to leave Dawe as his 19th man and lone regulation reserve to cover any injury during the game.

But by the start of the game, Dawe was unable to take to the bench.

"Because of the illness to Dawe," recorded the (Sunday) Mail "Port were without a nineteenth man and decided S. Hosking (coach) should take the field in the event of an injury causing one of the side to leave the arena. However, he was not required."

But - even after almost a decade out of league football - Hosking looked the part.

"Shine" poses for a team photo in his younger years.

"Undaunted by the bleak air, 'Shine' appeared on the boundary line clad once more in the black and white uniform and ready to try his skill against younger generations of exponents," The Chronicle reported.

Hosking did not enter the field, but he did take a permanent place in SA league football's history books as the oldest player to have his name officially registered on a match sheet.

Hosking's greater achievement that day was in his coaching, making critical moves that guided Port Adelaide closer to another SANFL minor premiership with the hard-earned nine-point home win against West Torrens. Hosking's tactics and positional changes of his field 18 were regarded as the key to overcoming a 21-point deficit at the start of the last term.

Hosking, born at Glanville on January 4, 1888, certainly became one of the most colourful characters in SA league football from the turn of the 20th century to the troubled seasons during World War II when he closed his coaching career.

For anecdotes during his 36-year involvement in league football, Hosking commands a book. In 1909 - during the round three clash with Norwood at Alberton Oval - Hosking was the only goalscorer in the match that finished with Port Adelaide beating the traditional rival 1.4 (10) to 0.5 (5).

"The day was the wettest and windiest I can remember for a game," recalled Norwood player and future committeeman Roy Hill. "It rained heavily throughout the day and the wind blew across the ground at gale force. 

"The ball had to be retrieved from outside the ground on the railway side several times.

"'Shine' Hosking kicked the only goal - and it was a fluke.

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"The ball had, more or less, come to rest in a sea of mud and slush about 20 yards out from the goal. 'Shine' and I made a slithery rush for it from different directions. He got there first, kicked the ball as it floated and it sailed through."

Hosking was one of Port Adelaide's first heroes in black-and-white. He was the club's third Magarey Medallist after Stan Malin (1899) and Jack Mack (1907). He was Port Adelaide's first winner of two Magarey Medals, but he had to wait until 1998 - when the SANFL approved retrospective medals - for the history books to acknowledge such.

Hosking won his first Magarey Medal in 1910 and was denied by countback in 1915 when the umpires favoured South Adelaide hero Frank Barry to break the three-way tie with Hosking and Norwood utility, clergyman Charlie "Redwing" Perry.

Hosking completed his league football career with the reputation of being "a success wherever placed (on the field); he showed himself a master tactician at centre and could easily outpace most opponents when stationed on a wing."

But the start of his football story - at Semaphore Centrals - was far more complicated, particularly when Hosking needed to use a false name so that his father did not know he had taken to sport.

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Hall of Fame journalist Lawrie Jervis was the "Michael Parkinson" of South Australian football when he told the stories of the game's heroes in the State's pre-television days. His interview with Hosking in July, 1946 recalls the remarkable start to a phenomenal career in Hosking's words:

IF my father had really had his way, I would have never played football.

When I was a lad, I was thrown out of a baker's cart and dislocated my left elbow. From that day on, the elbow was easily knocked out of joint, leaving me with virtually a broken arm.

It made my father issue a "no football" edict, but I so loved the game that for three seasons I sneaked out on training nights and Saturdays, and played under football under the assumed name of "Sampson".

It was not until 1907, when I first went out with Port, that I dared disclose that I had been playing football, and then he relented - although reluctantly - and consented to my playing the game.

I came to football in a roundabout way. The team I wanted to play with - the Semaphore Seasides - wouldn't have me, because I lived at Glanville, and they had an abhorrence of Glanville boys. There was much district rivalry in those days.

But one day an old friend, Mick Curtin, asked me to appear for a Marist Brothers team against the Seasides. I did, and played well, and the Semaphore chaps thereupon decided to waive their dislike of Glanvilleites and asked me to join their team.

They undertook to look after my bags for me, so that my father would not learn I was playing. I put in two happy years with the Semaphore team, and then graduated to the Semaphore Centrals - an old-established amateur league team from which Port Adelaide had gained many stars. That was 1906.

I was working with Big Tom Leahy at the time and Tom was playing with West Adelaide in the league. I had seen my idols, Port, play only once in my life. He kept asking me when I was going to try for league football.

Day after day, Tom would ask me, "Well, little 'un, have you made up your mind yet - West or Port?"

I was invited to Alberton, and from that day on my football anonymity had to be abandoned. I told my father about the invitation, and he agreed to let me play. That was the 1907 season.

It was not long before I received my first salutary lesson. We were playing West, who were not strong. There were only seven teams in the league then ... and our next match was against Torrens on the Eight Hours Day holiday (May 25).

I was not putting much ginger into my play, when suddenly I felt the heftiest kick in the pants I've ever had. I turned round sharply and found Nicky Corston, Port captain, glaring at me.

"Did you do that," I said heatedly.

"Yes," he replied, "and you'll get another if you don't get into the game."

"I'm saving myself for the Torrens match," I said.

"You won't even be picked if you don't get into the game a bit more," said Nicky.

After that I always scanned the papers anxiously to see if I were picked in the Port team.

However, it was not long before the inevitable happened and I put my elbow "out" - against North at Alberton. At the first bounce I went down and immediately my elbow became dislocated. I said to another Port man, (James Sinclair) "Sinc" Dixon: "Lend me your ankle strap." He gave it to me, and I bound my elbow tightly and played out the first quarter.

This was the first time my elbow was dislocated in league matches. But in the next seven years I was a casualty every July - it always seemed to be July. In all, during my career, that poor elbow cracked up 14 times.

So I always played with a tight stepping on the weakness. If it became dislocated,  a sharp smacked with my right hand usually put it right again, although my left arm would go blue down to the fingertips and at times my fingers were so numb that I could not grasp the ball.

At the start of the 1909 season injury again befell me when at work a ladle of hot metal spilled over my legs and feet. But I resumed football after a short rest and when we played Sturt that year I figured in a controversial incident which contributed to a new rule being brought in.

In this match they had a full back named Gregory .... At least, I think that was his name (Edgar Gordon Gregory).

Jack Willard, Port utility man, told me before the match that Gregory was his brother-in-law and that he was a weak drop or punt kick and usually relied on place kicks.

So I waited until Gregory was about to kick off. I watched him "set" the ball for a place kick and as he walked back to take his run at it I raced up and stood astride over the ball.

Immediately the crowd set up a howling and hooting. Gregory looked amazedly at the umpire. I watched the umpire closely too and could see that he was bewildered and didn't know quite what to make of it.

Anyway, he gave no decision against me and Gregory was forced to kick either punts or drop kicks after that.

Later a rule was introduced compelling players to stand back at least 10 yards from the goal kicking-off area.

The nickname of "Shine"?

Hosking inherited this from an Adelaide comedian, Harry Shine who wore in his stage costume a narrow-brimmed hat during an era of wide-brimmed hats. Ever alert to a change in fashion (a sign of his future smart reading of the play as both a footballer and coach) Hosking took up the narrow-brimmed hat ... and on his first sighting from his mates at the corner of Semaphore and Woolnough roads he became dubbed "Shine".

SAMPSON 'SHINE' HOSKING

Born: January 4, 1888 at Glanville

Died: October 20, 1974 (aged 86) in Adelaide

Height: 167cm (5' 6)

Weight: 57kg (9 stone)

Played: 163 games (1907-1921, 1927 and 1936)

Goals: 41

Represented: South Australia nine times, including 1911 and 1921 national carnivals

Honours: Port Adelaide premiership player, 1910, 1913, 1914, 1921; Champion of Australia, 1910, 1913, 1914; Port Adelaide captain, 1912; Port Adelaide best-and-fairest, 1910; Magarey Medallist, 1910 and 1915; South Australian Football Hall of Fame.

NEXT WEEK: Hosking's coaching manual. A replica of Hosking's coaching notes is available in the Port Adelaide Archive Collection, the limited-edition book recording the  150 years of unrivalled success - and the heroes who took up the struggle to make the Port Adelaide Football Club admired across the nation and an AFL club.

Click here to order your piece of Port Adelaide history.

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