22 February 1941 (age 81)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 24y 152d
Last game: 30y 112d
Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 84 kg
South Melbourne: 16, 28, 24
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|South Melbourne||V/AFL||1965-1968, 1971||62||38||0.61||34%||12.15||2.34||3.89||9|
The quintessential football journeyman, Eric Sarich played with no fewer than five different league clubs during his career, without ever giving the impression that he had settled down. He commenced with South Fremantle in 1960, but was only ever a fringe senior player at best, playing a mere half a dozen games in two seasons. Haydn Bunton junior saw something of value in him, however, and in 1962 Sarich found himself in new surroundings at Bassendean Oval, home of the reigning WANFL premiers, Swan Districts.
In three years with Swans, Sarich improved markedly as a footballer, albeit without ever quite managing to establish himself as a first choice senior player. Nevertheless, in 1965, after 39 games for Swans, he opted to try his luck in the VFL. The initial intention was that he should join Fitzroy, but when that deal fell through he was quickly snapped up by South Melbourne. Despite not being the most skilful of footballers, Sarich adapted well to life in Australia’s toughest football competition, seemingly finding the hurly-burly atmosphere of Victorian football more to his liking than the open, free-flowing, skill-based West Australian game.
Tough, tenacious and brave, Sarich excelled in those defensive aspects of the game which had perhaps been undervalued by his coaches earlier in his career. Many of his best performances came in games when his attacking function was limited, with his chief objective being to nullify an opposing star player's impact. He was, in essence, an early version of the dedicated tagger.
In 1969, Sarich headed home to Western Australia when he was appointed captain-coach of East Fremantle. In his debut season the team managed just eight wins from 21 games, but given that this was a 100% improvement on their 1968 showing it seems reasonable to suppose that Sarich was judged a success, or at any rate that he was manoeuvring things in the right direction. An abysmal first half of the 1970 season, however, saw him unceremoniously dumped in favour of Harry Neesham. Sarich finished the season at Subiaco, where he added 14 league games to the 17 he had played with Old Easts. In 1971 he returned to South Melbourne for one last season of VFL football, taking his final tally of games with that club to 62.
Author - John Devaney