ARARAT - There is not much Colin Wilson hasn't achieved during his association with Australian Rules football.
Mr Wilson was a revered ruckman of the Melbourne Football Club for six seasons and played the majority of his football under legendary coach Norm Smith and along side team mate and AFL great Ron Barassi.
He was a member of the Demons' 1957 premiership winning team against Essendon and was a part of the same side that lost the grand final the following year to Collingwood.
After finishing his career with Melbourne at the age of 27, Mr Wilson moved to the Wimmera where he coached Horsham to a drought-breaking premiership in his first season.
The 80-year-old had called Ararat home now for more than 30 years and continues to stay active by playing lawn bowls and lifting weights.
"I started playing football when I was 14 and finished when I was 38, so that's not a bad innings when you think about it," Mr Wilson said.
"I went to Melbourne as a 21-year-old from the Ormond Armatures. Myself and a fella call Laurie Mithen we went over together to Melbourne in 1954 and there were 110 players trying out. Of all the players to be invited to the club we were the only two players to make the senior list.
"Laurie went on to play in five grand finals and I played in two."
Mr Wilson said the Victorian Football League, as it was known in those days, was a cut throat game.
He said there are plenty of stories of being knocked around on the field in the early stages of his career, but one incident sticks out in his mind.
"What we didn't get a free kick for then, the bloke would be rubbed out for six months in today's game," he said.
"I was hit so hard once with a fella called Murray Weideman who was a hit man for Collingwood and apart from the fact that I thought I was going to die, I didn't even get a free kick - not that it would have helped because I couldn't stand up!
"It was in front of 99,000 people at the MCG and I am in the back pocket as the ball comes in and I knew I'd either have to mark it or take it on the half volley. I just didn't make it in time and it hit the point and it went straight up in the air.
"So I'm waiting under it and out of the corner of my eye I saw Murray leave home and he ran the length of the cricket pitch to get to me and I just remember thinking 'this is going to hurt', he hit me right between the eyes and not even a free kick!"
Mr Wilson said the impact broke his nose, but that was the name of the game in that era - 'it was a tough old game back then'.
The highlight of Mr Wilson's career came in 1957 when he played a vital role in helping Melbourne win the grand final by 61 points over Essendon.
"Probably the main thing I remember is we got 20 quid for it, that was a big bonus," he said.
"The following year we should have won (the grand final) again, but Collingwood got us. We had beaten them a couple of weeks earlier in the semi final, but then fell short in the one that counted."
Despite having such a decorated career, Mr Wilson believes he took a lot of the success for granted.
Even as a 14-year-old he believed he would play football at the highest level before settling into a coaching career after his playing days came to an end.
"That is exactly what happened and because I just expected it to happen in a way I missed so much," he said.
"I wasn't amazed at anything, I wasn't amazed at running out onto the MCG, I wasn't amazed at the crowds.
"My forte I guess was that for my height, in those days, I was very quick. Norm Smith constructed a different way for a ruckman to play which changed the rules of VFL in terms of how that role was used.
"He gave me the pivotal job of putting that into practice and making it work. For more than two years it was unbelievable the way it benefited us, until other coaches like John Kennedy (Hawthorn) and the like woke up to it."
After his career finished with Melbourne, Mr Wilson made his way to Horsham where he was a highly respected coach and credited by many with bringing the Horsham Football Club up to a professional standard.
"I was the one who changed the name to the Horsham Demons, taught them the club song, which is 'Grand Old Flag', the same as the Melbourne song," he said.
"We won our first grand final in 1960 which is when I arrived, it was the first grand final they'd won in 22 years so naturally I was made mayor of the town.
"We missed the next grand final and then won the one after that in 1962 and again in 1963."
Mr Wilson said the Wimmera Football League was an extremely competitive competition and it was not uncommon to attract thousands of people to matches on Saturdays.
"We've had 10,000 people watching Horsham on more than one occasion," he said.
"We even had 5,000 watching training one night because one of the rules at Melbourne was when you went out on your first year of coaching the Melbourne Football Club came up and trained one night at your new club.
"So it came up in your paper The Ararat Advertiser and the Wimmera Mail Times, all of them and we had 5,000 people turn up. One memory from that night was my half-back flanker in those days was Tommy Parish, he was a plumber, rough as guts, but a good player.
"We were doing circle work and Ron Barassi came charging down the wing and he yelled at Tom because he was going to pass the ball to him.
"He hand balled it so bloody hard it hit Tom, who to this day still says the force knocked him to the ground. It bounced off him that far and Barassi was running that fast he collected it again on the full and kicked it on. He then walked back to Tom and said 'next time I tell you to f***ing move, MOVE!'."
To this day Mr Wilson still catches up with former Demons' teammates once every couple of months at the Bentleigh Club, which is the Melbourne Football Club's social home at the MCG.
"There is a former Melbourne captain called Noel McMahen who played in the drawn grand final of 1948 and as we were going up to the luncheon room one day a tour group of the MCG went past and I said to Noel 'those people wouldn't have any bloody idea who we are or what you did in particular'," Mr Wilson said.
"Football is a different game now, that's why I don't really keep up to date with the local teams in the Wimmera, but I still enjoy getting to Melbourne and catching up with friends to reminisce about the good old days."