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Carlton great in for Dogs

Friday, 16th June, 2017

Diehard Carlton fan Christos Niarossis is excited for Anthony Koutoufides to play for North this weekend and hopes that the other club’s can bring in a marquee player in the future. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan Diehard Carlton fan Christos Niarossis is excited for Anthony Koutoufides to play for North this weekend and hopes that the other club’s can bring in a marquee player in the future. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan

By Tyler Hannigan

Carlton legend Anthony ‘Kouta’ Koutoufides lands in Broken Hill today ahead of his game for the North Bulldogs as they take on the South Roos for top spot on the League ladder.

Koutoufides, 44, played 278 games for the Blues from 1992 until his retirement in 2007, gaining All-Australian selection in 1995 and 2000 and played in Carlton’s 1995 premiership team.

He’s visited Broken Hill before as a guest speaker at South’s old timers function and said he’s looking forward to returning.

“I’ve been to Broken Hill before and really enjoyed it,” Koutoufides said yesterday.

“The people are great and I can’t wait to get back.”

Koutoufides has been keeping in shape by playing in an over-35’s league with great mate Ang Christou but said that tomorrow’s game might be a little different.

“The body is feeling good,” he said.

“I’ve been playing over 35’s with Ang and really enjoying it. It’s pretty relaxed and everyone is just there to have fun.

“I don't think it’ll be like that tomorrow but it’ll be a great challenge.” 

While he’ll be the star attraction, Koutoufides is just happy to help North and AFL Broken Hill (AFLBH).

“It’s not about me,” he said.

“I just want help out and make a day of it and hopefully get a few kicks. 

“The body is getting older so this will likely be one of the last times I do something like this.”

Where Koutoufides will ultimately lineup is still up for debate. During his prime, ‘Kouta’ was able to play anywhere on the ground in key positions up forward and down back whilst also in the midfield which, given his height of six foot three, was a rarity in that era. 

“I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with the boys in the middle,” Koutoufides said.

“So probably somewhere up forward but I might get a run in the midfield at some point.”

If he does play in the forward line tomorrow, North will be hoping for a performance reminiscent of his career best six-goal haul against Carlton’s bitter rivals Collingwood in 1997. If he plays through the middle, something in the realms of his 39-disposal game against Sydney is his best year of 2000 would leave the Jubilee Oval crowd in awe. 

Lifelong Carlton tragic Chris Niaross isn’t sure whether he’ll get to the game or not but hopes that he gets the chance to see Koutoufides while he’s in town.

“Hopefully someone can bring him by the shop on Saturday before the game,” Niaross said.

“It’s my 50th birthday tomorrow and that’d be a great present.”

Niaross said that his favourite memory of Koutoufides was the famous 1999 preliminary final against Essendon where Koutoufides had 10 kicks, six marks and two goals to lead Carlton to a famous victory.

While he may not be at the game, Niaross said that the Jube will be full of people to see the former Blues superstar play and hopes that more clubs follow suit in the future.

“I think they’ll get a big crowd,” he said.

“It’ll be packed like a grand final and hopefully this becomes an annual thing with other club’s getting a marquee player.”

 This game promises to be one of the biggest non-grand final games in Broken Hill’s history with the two top sides battling for top spot on the ladder and containing an ex-AFL great.

AFLBH chairman Andrew Schmidt is hopeful of a sizeable crowd but isn’t getting carried away.

“We’re hoping for a bit over double what a normal North v South game does,” Schmidt said.

“However, others are saying that in excess of 1500 could come through the gates. Our Grand Final normally sits over 2000 but we’re not expecting that. “

Schmidt said the League has ensured that the canteen is stocked for the extra crowd and that there will be a separate barbeque to feed the spectators while there will also be Auskick for the Under 9’s at halftime of the League game. AFLBH has also spread 1200 tickets to primary schools across town.

Schmidt praised the hard work done by North to get Koutoufides to town.

“We must give credit to Justin (Hoskins, North FC president) and North for having a crack at this,” he said.

“It is a gamble for the club as they have to cover their costs but they seem to be on track and we certainly hope other clubs consider this in the future, possibly as part of their past player weekends.”

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