A STORY from The Sun in 1959 mentioned a “slightly-built and unspectacular centre half-forward” who had helped turn Hawthorn’s fortunes around in its quest for a first flag.
That player was Bob Nisbet, a gangly young recruit sourced from South Warrnambool.
He would wear the brown and gold for just 16 senior games, during which he kicked 13 goals and helped the Hawks finish only a few games short of the finals in 1958 and ’59.
But by 1960 Nisbet was gone from the side — cut by incoming coach John Kennedy for being “slightly built”.
With his team of “Kennedy’s Commandoes”, the new coach would lead the Hawks to their first flag in 1961. By that time Nisbet had moved on to a successful career at Mordialloc.
Last year, Nisbet returned to Warrnambool to enjoy retirement and tomorrow he’ll have his feet up at home watching his Hawks do battle with the Dockers.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hawthorn,” he said.
“There were a lot of characters and it was always fun.
“But Glenferrie Oval was a terrible ground to play on — it was half the width of anywhere else.
“I played at centre half-forward, with Brendan Edwards and John Peck in the forward line, so more often than not the ball went over my head,” he laughed.
“We weren’t quite good enough in those days ... until ’61 when John Kennedy took over.
“They were good times. Everyone was very friendly and the club itself looked after me very well. They put me through schooling.”
Nisbet played in a few premierships with West End-Allansford as a young man before moving to South Warrnambool for a year.
That was when the VFL clubs came calling.
“I trained with Essendon for a while and Footscray and South Melbourne wrote to me.
“(Hawthorn), you might say, were a little bit keener and ticked all the right boxes ... and Hawthorn offered my mother a box of chocolates,” he laughed.
As for tomorrow’s grand final, Nisbet said he’d like to see the Hawks win, but was just keen to see a good game. “I like to watch whatever game’s on television, and the grand final’s the only one left,” he said.