PETER Woite saw a senior Port Adelaide player 20 metres directly in front of him on Alberton Oval. In between him and Peter Fletcher was league coach Fos Williams, ready to roll a football in their converging path.
Young bull against prime bull with the aim of winning a rolling Ross Faulkner football ... and the demand of not flinching nor deviating. This was a rights of passage moment at Alberton for a young footballer being measured for a famous jumper at Port Adelaide, the No. 17 guernsey worn with distinction by premiership captain Geof Motley.
"I was knocked out," recalls Woite of that Tuesday night in the late 1960s. At least he did not go off the line ...
Woite had earned the right to train with the seniors on the Tuesday night by being the best player in Port Adelaide's under-17 ranks at the weekend.
"My luck, the A-grade lost that weekend - and Fos was not tolerating it," said Woite. "So I was knocked out, carried into the medical rooms and (head trainer) Ted McMahon was waving the smelling salts under my nose and telling me I had to get out there again.
"Wednesday, I was back with the under-17s - we would train Mondays and Wednesdays - and everyone was asking me what it was like to train with the A grade. All I could say was, 'Just hope when it is your turn to go up that they win on the Saturday ....'."
Woite played 182 senior games with Port Adelaide from 1969-1978, earning a place in the club's Greatest Team, 1870-2000 - and breaking the record run of Russell Ebert's four Magarey Medals (1971, 1974, 1976 and 1980) with his own triumph in the 1975 count. And if he could rewrite history, Woite would melt down the 1975 Magarey Medal to recast it as the 1976 SANFL premiership medal.
"I only played to win premierships, with my mates and for my club," says Woite, one of Port Adelaide's 19 Magarey Medallists. "That is the way I was indoctrinated to the Port Adelaide way. We have this thing, the creed (written by Williams in 1962) that demands everyone at Port Adelaide sacrifice individual glory and honour for the sake of the team.
"The only prize is team success, premierships.
"As players, we all fancy ourselves as forwards," adds Woite who proved himself at centre half-forward in club matches, on a wing as a state representative and won the Magarey Medal at centre half-back. "But there are those of us who do play in the back lines for the team."
Season 1975 was Woite's seventh in senior company while he was also making his off-field career as a policeman. By the time famed television presenter Tony Charlton was returning to Adelaide from the east to host the presentation of the 1975 Magarey Medal - at Channel Nine's Tynte Street, North Adelaide studio - Woite was carrying his left arm in a sling to ease a broken elbow that had been pinned after a training injury. A fall to the concrete gutters inside the boundary fence at Alberton Oval ended Woite's season on the eve of the finals.
Woite certainly was not eager to attend the count that put the top-three votegetters at each of the 10 league teams on the club tables for a dinner before the start of the live television presentation.
"Who wants to eat a meal with one hand?" Woite said.
Port Adelaide general manager Bob McLean cut up Woite's dinner. He told Charlton on camera, "That's the most I've ever got out of Bob."
Almost 50 years later, Woite remains as modest of his Magarey Medal victory as he did of his pre-count prospects.
"I just saw no need to go along," Woite said.
More so when in Woite's calculations - and those of every pundit and many other SANFL stars - Ebert was the pre-count favourite. But McLean urged Channel Nine football director Des Flavel to convince Woite to attend. Flavel persisted, more so by his strong appreciation of McLean's keen eye on football talent.
"Channel Nine just kept ringing me, saying I had to go," Woite recalled. "Russell picked me up, but I still saw no need to go along. There was no count. They called the top 10 to the stage - I was the last up there."
Of being asked by Charlton to nominate his tip for the Magarey Medal, Woite answered without hesitation and with conviction: "Russell, by a mile ...
"For sure," added Woite during the telecast, "you don't appreciate how good he is, other people don't - not as much as the players do. Russell this year, while he has had 25 kicks per game, he has had at least 17 handballs and the play he creates makes for a backman's dream.
"He is so important to the team. His football brain is so important to the team. Being in the pivot position, he controls play."
After the commercial break, Charlton called on SANFL president Don Brebner to turn the stage into a victory podium.
"Third place," said Woite reliving the on-stage announcements, "with 18 votes, Ross Dillon of the Norwood Football Club.
"Second place, with 19 votes, from the Glenelg Football Club, Peter Marker.
"And the winner of the 1975 Magarey Medal with 20 votes from the Port Adelaide Football Club ...
"Everyone thought it was Russell ... it was me."
Woite became the Port Adelaide Football Club's 12th Magarey Medallist (including those honoured with retrospective medals in 1998). Despite missing four games of the 18-round home-and-away series with injury, Woite polled votes in eight matches - five times as best-afield, twice with second preferences and once with the single vote on the 3-2-1 slips.
The umpires' verdict - and McLean's hunch - was backed up by Woite winning the Port Adelaide best-and-fairest award in 1975.
It took another two years for Woite - after playing in losing grand finals in 1971, 1972 and 1976 - to get the league premiership medal he craved more than the individual glory and fame gained with the Magarey Medal.
"And it wasn't excitement in 1977 - after losing in '71 and '72 (to North Adelaide) and that debacle (against Sturt) in 1976," recalls Woite, who was eagerly pursued by VFL club North Melbourne in 1976 while Ebert collected his third Magarey Medal.
"Strange year 1976. And very unusual day that grand final. It certainly was strange with that crowd spilling onto the field at Football Park. You'd say, we got ahead of ourselves. Looking back, we just didn't play as we had all year ... (Sturt ruckman) Rick Davies was superb ... and we had to wait another year.
"What they say about winning premierships is right - that win in 1977 (after a 12-year drought at Port Adelaide) was sheer relief."
Woite's path to the Port Adelaide Football Club is true to the traditional storyline of the club's first century. Raised at Largs North in the club's traditional LeFevre Peninsula district, Woite was scouted by former Port Adelaide and state follower-defender Marx Kretschmer who had umpired a Friday afternoon football game at Largs Bay Primary School. While Woite's routine was to play soccer on Saturday mornings, Kretschmer invited had 12-year-old Woite to play football in the under-15s at Ethelton.
"The coach was," says Woite, "Harry Vincent ... Fos (Williams') runner."
By the start of SANFL Season 1969, Woite was being trialled on a half-back flank against VFL club Melbourne. His first half in that practice match reaffirmed all Williams had noted of Woite that night he saw stars in refusing to budge when faced with a charging Peter Fletcher.
"And I did my knee," said Woite, who returned to the league line-up for three matches in the final month of the home-and-away season - the first SANFL premiership race since 1949 without Port Adelaide in the finals and first since 1949 without Port Adelaide in the preliminary or grand final.
"By the time I finished (in 1980 with his last two seasons at Glenelg to take his career tally to 202 games), I had done both knees. It was bone on bone. (Team doctor) Henry Kneebone was draining fluid from those knees every week.
"But I loved every minute of my time at Port Adelaide. I loved the people. Bob McLean was a great mate. Fos Williams, he was fantastic. John Cahill's record speaks for itself. I was lucky to have Russell Ebert as a team-mate. And I played alongside men like Wayne Broadbridge and Bob Clayton, players who never strayed from the line and set the standard. Bob was unbelievable in his efforts. His commitment to the team things set an example you had to follow.
"Those older blokes looked after you. And then it was your turn to pick up the baton and look after the next group of young Port Adelaide players being called up to live to our traditions.
"The funny thing about the 1970s was everyone was reading about the 'power of positive thinking'. People will say, 'Port Adelaide expected to win' ... but our motivation came from a fear of losing and in fear of failing to uphold the traditions of a very successful club."
From 1970, the club's centenary season to his exit from Alberton at the end of 1978, Woite played in finals in every season but 1975 when he was sidelined by an elbow injury and in top form as the Magarey Medallist.
Half a century ago, Woite stood on Alberton Oval for the centenary celebrations in late May. "There is a fabulous photograph of Neville Thiele and me dressed up in the old blue-and-white and pink jumpers," recalls Woite. "It was a great to be involved in the club's 100th year. And to rebound from not playing finals in 1969 to the minor premiership that was year wasn't a bad effort."
Port Adelaide's 19 Magarey Medallists since the award was first presented in 1898 are - Stan Malin (1899), Jack Mack (1907), Sampson "Shine" Hosking (1910 and 1915), Jack Ashley (1914), Charlie Adams (1921), Peter Bampton (1925), Bob Quinn (1938 and 1945), Dave Boyd (1956), Geof Motley (1964), Trevor Obst (1967), Russell Ebert (1971, 1974, 1976 and 1980), Peter Woite (1975), Greg Anderson (1986), Scott Hodges (1990), Nathan Buckley (1992), Tony Brown and Ryan O'Connor (2001), Brett Ebert (2003) and Jeremy Clayton (2005).
Port Adelaide's 19 Magarey Medallists - from Stan Malin in 1898 to Jeremy Clayton in 2005 - are honoured in the Archives Collection, the special limited-edition record of the Port Adelaide Football Club's achievements and achievers. The book can be pre-ordered here.