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Footscray Flashback: John Schultz  

January 2, 2018 6:00 AM

AFL 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final - Sydney v Western Bulldogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs and John Schultz celebrate during the 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 01, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

It’s 1957 in the small agricultural community of Charlton, 245 kilometres north west of Melbourne.

Footscray recruiting scout Ern Edwards, on his way back to Melbourne after a trek further north, apparently stopped in to catch a North Central League clash between the home side and the Boort Football Club. 

As the story goes, the Bulldogs’ man leant on the fence and asked the locals if there were any players he should keep his eye on, when he was told he’d do well to look out for the big blonde headed kid playing for Boort.

The rest is, as they say history, and John Schultz’s almost 60-year journey with his beloved Bulldogs began.

Schultz’s on field performance over 188 games is now Footscray folklore; 1960 Brownlow Medallist at the age of 21, All-Australian, Team of the Century member, State representative and five time best and fairest, one of only ten players to win it more than once.

But it didn’t all end in 1968 when he hung up the boots for the final time.  Back in 2015 when he was interviewed as part of The Ride, the Club’s documentary series, Shultz talked of the thrill he’d get as a boy going to see his idols up close.

“I used to always go into the rooms in the country football, I’d be in amongst the players, looking at them and seeing what they were doing and all that sort of thing,” he said. 

“I idolised them.”

It’s funny how life can sometimes come full circle, and that boy, now 79 years old, is the one being idolised. 

Every game, without fail, Schultz is in the rooms watching over his Dogs, greeting each player and official at the door with his familiar ‘go well’ refrain.  His impact and his standing among the current group can’t be underestimated.

Luke Beveridge, speaking at the 2017 Sutton Medal count, spotted ‘Gentleman John’ in the crowd and couldn’t hide his affection.

“It’s great to see you, Johnny, we love you to death.  Every time we lay eyes on you mate, the love fills our hearts.”

And former skipper Robert Murphy says the email he’d receive from Schultz after every game was the highlight of his week.

It’s been 60 years since Ern Edwards laid his eyes on the blonde kid from Boort, but this football club has not been the same since.

This article original appeared in Bulldog: 2017 Yearbook.  Click here to become a member and receive your exclusive copy in 2018.