Benalla Football Club is mourning the death of 1973 premiership and former South Melbourne player Chris ‘‘Slim’’ Elliott, who died recently after a battle with dementia.
Elliott played eight games for South Melbourne in the VFL, including the 1977 elimination final at Waverley Park against Richmond.
A broken ankle during an inter-club match ended his VFL career just as it was starting.
Born in Yarrawonga, Elliott moved to Benalla as a child with his father Norm, mother Iris and siblings Norman and Leonie.
He played his junior football in the Benalla and District league before being invited to train with Ovens and Murray league club Benalla.
In 1971, under coach Vern Drake and in his first season aged 17, Elliott played 15 games and polled 17 votes in the Ovens and Murray league’s Morris Medal.
Former South Melbourne rover Steven Hoffman remembers like yesterday the skinny kid from the bush who turned up at South and made an instant impression.
‘‘He was a great player with speed and good ball use. A great teammate, very popular and was liked by everyone around the club,’’ he said.
Elliott was educated at St Joseph’s Primary School before attending the Benalla High and technical schools.
Demons premiership teammate and coach Bill Sammon said while Drake had started to put together a competitive team, one side of the wing continued to be a problem.
‘‘In the reserves at the time was a young lad by the name of Chris Elliott, who was quite small,’’ Sammon said.
‘‘I have to admit, I was very concerned for him as we thought he might not be mature enough to play senior football. Five minutes into the game, I realised not only was he strong enough, but we had a future star on our hands.’’
Elliott quickly became a member of the Demons’ ‘‘mosquito fleet’’ that included Wick Symes, Paul and James Hopper, Reg Levy, Butch Sherwill, Wombat Burnell and the Allen brothers.
He represented the O&M and was named in the Demons’ Team of the Century in the forward pocket alongside premiership teammates Robbie Allen, Brian Symes, Emmy DeFazio, Bill Sammon and Wayne Levy.
A life member of the club, many regard Elliott as one of the best small players to pull on the Demons’ colours.
Chris Elliott’s funeral will be tomorrow at 11am at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Arundel St, Benalla, followed by a wake at the Benalla Lakeside Centre.