John Rantall.
John Rantall.

Rantall joins AFL board

FORMER South Melbourne captain and soon-to-be Examiner columnist John Rantall has joined the AFL North Coast board to assist in the development and growth of the game.

Rantall has an illustrious background having been selected in both the South and North Melbourne Team of the Century as well as briefly holding the league’s all-time games record of 336.

The North Coast has seen rapid growth in Australian rules in the past 12 months with the Grafton Tigers entering a junior team for the first time and the Lower Clearance Eagles joining the North Coast Juniors.

The AFL Hall of Fame inductee said this is not the first time he has assisted in the development of AFL in a state.

“I moved to Queensland in 1983 and that was virtually the first of the pioneering for Australian rules in Queensland,” Rantall said.

“Quite a few well-known players like Alex Jesaulenko, Mick Nolan, Peter Morrison and myself, we were the first wave of ex-AFL players to move into a developing state and try to assist the promotion of AFL.

“Back in those days we were really in rugby league territory. I’m no stranger to trying to promote Australian rules.”

With the introduction of the Gold Coast and GWS, it is now more accessible for people on the North Coast to get along to a game.

Rantall doesn’t see the expansion of other codes as a hurdle in his sport’s quest to be established on the coast.

“There’s room for all codes, I’ve got no doubt about that,” he said.

“I don’t see it (Australian rules) as a threat to rugby league, just another option for kids to play. I’m just hoping it will be viewed like that by a lot of the parents, which I’m sure it will be.”

One thing is for sure, Rantall believes the challenge to grow Australian rules on the North Coast as an easier task than cross from South Melbourne to North Melbourne at the end of the 1972 season.

“It’s not easy to cross over from one team to another,” he said.

“Even back in my day, you have pressures on you because when I swapped over I was the captain of the side and a well established player, but when you cross over to another club you want to continue to play well.”

Rantall is now a resident of Palmers Island and it’s hoped his experience at the top level will benefit all clubs.

He played 260 games for South Melbourne from 1963 to 1972 before crossing to North Melbourne where he won a premiership and the club’s best and fairest award, the Syd Barker Medal.

While Rantall only played three seasons for North Melbourne he left behind an indelible imprint when he crossed back over to South Melbourne in 1976. Rantall also played six games for Fitzroy.

His column on everything Australian rules begins soon.

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