Kouta pulls crowd
Monday, 19th June, 2017
By Tyler Hannigan
A massive crowd packed into the Jubilee Oval on Saturday to watch AFL Hall of Famer and Carlton legend Anthony Koutoufides play for the North Bulldogs in their clash with South.
Estimates on the numbers vary somewhere in between 1500 to 1700, making it one of the largest crowds for a Broken Hill regular season game in decades.
The game itself didn’t fail to live up to expectations either with South prevailing by 12 points after both sides traded the lead multiple times through the day.
A huge crowd, a close game between the best teams in town and a former AFL legend. As Bill Lawry would say; it was all happening at the Jube!
‘Kouta’ provided glimpses of his best that had punters reminiscing about his famed last quarter against Essendon in the 1999 preliminary final but ultimately struggled with the pace and intensity as one would expect of a 44-year old who retired from the AFL 10 years ago.
He admitted that he was feeling anxious before the game but enjoyed taking the field with the Bulldogs.
“You just don’t know the level of the competition until you get out there so I was really nervous,” Koutoufides told the media following the game.
“But I had a great time. As soon as I got here the boys made me feel welcome. The whole club made me feel like I was a part of the team and we had a good laugh before the game.
“The boys went out to battle but just didn’t quite get the points.”
While he might not be up to the physicality of the game anymore, Koutoufides said that his love for the contest will never wane.
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“I’m now 44 and I know that I can’t do the things that I used to,” he said Saturday.
“But I enjoy the challenge and thrill of the game and that will never leave me. I think at my age I doubt I’ll play (at this level) again but I enjoyed it today.”
Koutoufides spoke to his North teammates prior to running out, telling them to make the most of their time playing football.
“I told them that you’re only young once and you get old very quickly,” Koutoufides added.
“A coach once said to me that you never know how many good games you’ve got left when I was about 27 or 28 while I was playing really well and he was spot on.
“So I told the boys to take advantage and make the most of the opportunity they’ve got.”
Over his 278-game career at Carlton, Koutoufides was coached by the likes of David Parkin and Denis Pagan who had over 800 games of coaching experience between them. On Saturday, he was led by first-year coach Chris Jones who said it was very special to coach a personal hero.
“(He was) a childhood idol of mine,” Jones said yesterday.
“I was really nervous about it in the days leading up to the game but he was professional and very much all about the team.
“So once the game day prep actually started, he was just another player but it will certainly be something to talk about for a long time.”
With the success of the weekend, the other Broken Hill clubs would have to consider going down this path in future years as a way to increase interest in their club and the league itself.