VALE : Alan Salter – Club Legend
Uni Blues is saddened by the passing of club legend, Alan Salter, a man who has played a significant role in moulding the Uni Blues into the club it is today.
Uni Blues was a completely different club before the arrival of Salts in late 1974, quite frankly we were a rabble. Poorly organised, no non-playing officials, very little talent.
In 1974 we hit rick bottom. Seniors did not win a single game. Probably not that surprising when you had Peter Brukner (21 year old medical student trying to run a club where all experienced people had left) and Bobby Girdwood captain.
That all changed forever for Blues on a fateful Friday night in September 1974.
Salts had applied for the Senior Coaching position and whilst we weren’t sure if he was a good fit for the club, we thought we should at least do him the courtesy of interviewing him.
Salts was driven to the interview by his old friend and Coburg Amateur manager Ted McNamara.
The interview started slowly, but within the space of about 5 minutes the interview panel was ready to run out on the ground and run through a brick wall. It was very clear that he was the man for us. He was inspiring. At the end of the interview he said he had this mate who had driven him to the interview, Teddy McNamara, and if Alan came Ted and his wife Norma would come and do any job we wanted them to do. Little did he realise that Ted and Norma would do every job we had! He also said he had another mate Jimmy Gilchrist who would do our preseason training. So instantly we went from having no off-field support to having three experienced campaigners.
Salts taught us how a football club should work. He was inclusive and welcomed everyone. For example, Frank Henagan was around at the time but very much a loner and outsider who just ran the boundary. Salts and Yvonne adopted Frank and the rest is history – Melbourne Uni football and cricket and Trinity College got one of their finest assets in Frank.
Salts taught the club a lot about life. His philosophy was that you treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself. Pretty simple really, but he lived his philosophy and we all benefitted.
On the field Salts, worked us hard, but everyone wanted to play for him. We had some good Juniors at the time, and Salts and Ted, Yvonne and Norma took them under their wings, fed them, clothed them, and generally acted as surrogate parents. Not surprisingly success came on the field. Promotion back to A Grade at the end of the first season, finals first year up, then a series of A Grade Grand Finals. We never managed to handle the Elsternwick Park wind on Grand Final day so that elusive A Grade premiership was not won, but in the space of a few years Blues had gone from being a laughing stock to one of the most successful and respected clubs in the VAFA. And that has continued for 40 years.
We take it for granted that we are now part of a very successful, well run club, among the top Amateur football clubs in the country. But 41 years ago it was very different.
It all started with Alan Salter and we should be eternally grateful.
Alan was recognised for his services to the club by being awarded the Chris Brown award in 1981 and life membership in 1989. In 2015, the club further recognised Alan by naming the Senior Coaches award the Alan Slater trophy.
Alan is survived by Yvonne and his family and the club passes is sincere sympathy and thanks for a truly great man.
The funeral service for Salts will be held at St Oliver Plunkett’s Catholic Church, 11 Landells Road, Pascoe Vale on Wednesday, November 16th at 10:00 AM. The “after-match” for Salts will be held at Glenroy RSL.