TONY Russell is the Hampden league's greatest goalscorer and achieved just about everything that matters in football.
Except one thing.
A decade after he last played in the competition, one of his former club's, South Warrnambool, is leading a push for the full-forward to be awarded life membership of the league.
Under league rules, players who reach the 250-game milestone automatically earn life membership. But Russell ended his career on 247 senior games, three short of the honour.
South Warrnambool, in a submission to the league, argue that Russell's feats and more than 24 interleague games not included in his tally of games, make him a deserving recipient.
Russell, who now lives in Broome with his wife Deb and works as a prison guard, said his career in the Hampden league meant a lot to him.
"It would be good to have Hampden league life membership," Russell said yesterday at Friendly Societies' Park.
"But I'm not going to get down and beg for it."
He said he was thrilled the Roosters had put his name forward.
Russell ended his Hampden career early in 2001 with 1020 goals to his credit during stints with South Warrnambool (149 games), Koroit (56 games between 1996 and 1998) and Port Fairy (42 games between 1999 and 2001).
His tally, which included 792 goals at an average of 6.3 with South Warrnambool, saw him eclipse the previous league record of 692 held by Port Fairy legend Bernie Baxter.
Russell also kicked 83 goals while playing interleague matches with Hampden.
He started his Hampden career with South Warrnambool after being persuaded to join the club by committee man Barry O'Toole in 1986 where he averaged 99 goals per year (including finals) as the Roosters claimed the 1990, '91 and '94 flags.
Russell was named in the Roosters' team of the 20th century, coached the club's under 16s to day and night premierships in 1988 and also mentored the under 18s in 1989.
He was named in the league's team of the year six times and holds the league record for the most goals in finals, 97, including 21 in the 1990 finals series.
Ruusell, now 50, is continuing his involvement in football, coaching Cable Beach in Broome.
"I've played seven or eight games since I have been up there," Russell said.
"But I can't play now, my knee is buggered."
Russell, known as Rusty during his playing days, missed South's recent reunion of the 1990 and '91 premiership sides by two days, but is back in Warrnambool for his son John's 21st birthday.
While he regretted not catching up with his teammates, he doesn't miss Warrnambool's weather.
"Twenty-four degrees is the coldest day I've had," he said of Broome.
He intends returning in October when his daughter Kate is due to have her first child.
By that time he may be a Hampden league life member.
Chief executive officer Stephen Soulsby said he couldn't see why Russell's bid for life membership wouldn't be accepted.
He said the league had previously awarded life membership to David Dickinson, a player who had narrowly missed the automatic 250-game criteria but his interleague matches and work with juniors and behind the scenes had elevated him to the rare club.
But Soulsby said any life membership had to be voted on by club delegates and board members at the annual general meeting.
He said Russell's would be put before delegates at the AGM which would be held after the season ended.