Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Russell Frank Ebert

Known as
Russell Ebert

22 June 1949

Place of birth
Berri, SA (5343)

5 November 2021 (aged 72)

Place of death
Adelaide, SA (5000)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 29y 289d
Last game: 30y 92d

Height and weight
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 90 kg

Senior clubs
Port Adelaide; North Melbourne

Jumper numbers
North Melbourne: 7

Recruited from
Port Adelaide (1979); North Melbourne (1980)

State of origin

Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (1996, 2022 Legend); South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2002)

Family links
Craig Ebert (Brother)Jeff Ebert (Brother)Brett Ebert (Son)Brad Ebert (Nephew)

Russell Ebert

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Port AdelaideSANFL1968-1978, 1980-19853922950.75
North MelbourneV/AFL197925150.6072%14.486.884.049

AFL: 9,055th player to appear, 5,918th most games played, 4,230th most goals kickedNorth Melbourne: 709th player to appear, 418th most games played, 302nd most goals kicked




Four times a winner of South Australia's most prestigious individual football award, the Magarey Medal, Russell Ebert's solo achievements belied the fact that he was, above all else, a quintessential team man. Like his contemporary, Barrie Robran, frequently regarded as Ebert's chief rival for the unofficial title of South Australia's greatest ever footballer, Russell Ebert off the field was shy and unassuming, preferring - if the cliché can be allowed - to 'let his football do the talking'.

And how loquacious that football was! Quite simply, Russell Ebert probably came as close as any player in history to exhibiting complete mastery over all the essential skills of the game. On the attacking side he was a superb mark, handled the ball brilliantly in all conditions, and typically disposed of it, whether by foot or by hand, with pinpoint accuracy. 

However, it was his defensive qualities which really marked Ebert out from the herd; unlike many acknowledged champion players Ebert excelled in performing the small, often unnoticed, ostensibly ignominious tasks that are so vital to a winning performance - tasks like shepherding, smothering, checking, tackling, spoiling which are the traditional function of the football journeyman rather than the superstar. And 'superstar'- an admittedly much over-used term - is exactly what Russell Ebert was.

Between 1968 and 1985 he played a total of 417 games of league football, all but 25 of them with Port Adelaide. (The others came during a single season stint with North Melbourne in 1979.) He also represented South Australia 29 times. In addition to his Magarey Medal wins in 1971, 1974, 1976 and 1980 he was Port's best and fairest player on no fewer than half a dozen occasions. He had the satisfaction in 1977 of captaining the Magpies to their first premiership in 12 years, and also played in the premiership teams of 1980 and 1981. After the 1981 Grand Final victory over Glenelg, he won the Jack Oatey Medal for best afield. Mere statistics can only hint at the true genius that was Russell Ebert, however.

As a coach, Ebert enjoyed rather less success, but his accomplishments were by no means negligible. He steered Port Adelaide to the 1984 Grand Final, for instance, and masterminded South Australia's state of origin victories over Western Australia in 1996 and 1998.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.