19 May 2022

Fifteen Eastlake/Manuka Football Club champions to be inducted into the Hall of Fame

| Tim Gavel
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Guy Cannon. Photo: Supplied.

Guy Cannon dreamed of playing for Manuka but found a home at Eastlake when they merged. Photo: Supplied.

Guy Cannon grew up with an overwhelming desire to play for the Manuka Football Club. The family ties were strong.

Guy’s aspirations were realised in 1988, so it took some adjusting when Manuka and archrivals Eastlake became one club in 1991.

“We had the option of going to either Eastlake or Weston Creek,” remembers Guy. “I went to Eastlake, as did the majority of players.”

As merged clubs go, the new Eastlake/Manuka entity was successful from the outset. The club made the grand final in 1991.

Guy Cannon

Guy Cannon helped end the dominance of Queanbeyan and Ainslie. Photo: Supplied.

Ten years later, in 2001, Guy captain-coached the Demons to a premiership, ending the dominance of Queanbeyan and Ainslie in the competition.

“We had a good year in 2000, but we were beaten convincingly by Queanbeyan in the Grand Final. We set about making sure it didn’t happen again the following year,” Guy said.

His determination to succeed set him apart from many and it is one of the reasons why he is being inducted into the Eastlake/Manuka Hall of Fame at a function on 21 May.

“It’s a great honour. I take great pride in being a local junior. Our family has a strong connection to the club, and there have been some great players who have played for the club,” says Guy.

Guy is one of 15 to be inducted into the inaugural Eastlake Football Club/Manuka Hall of Fame.

Edney Blackaby

Edney Blackaby is officially a legend. Photo: Keith Miller, Eastlake Football Club.

Two will be elevated to legend status: Manuka champion Edney Blackaby, and Roger Duffy, who coached Eastlake to six premierships.

Roger Duffy

Roger Duffy originally played for Newtown as a full forward. He then joined Footscray in the VFL before coaching at Eastlake. Photo: Keith Miller, Eastlake Football Club.

One of the game’s biggest names, Alex Jesaulenko, won the under-19 and senior premierships for Eastlake on consecutive days in 1964 and will be installed as an Icon.

Alex Jesaulenko. Photo supplied by Keith Miller, Eastlake Football Club.

Alex Jesaulenko during his early playing years. Photo: Keith Miller, Eastlake Football Club.

Keith Miller, himself an iconic figure at the Eastlake Club, was on the committee that decided the 15 Hall of Fame inductees.

“We have been talking about putting it together for a number of years,” remarks Keith.

“It wasn’t an easy task comparing players from different eras over almost 100 years of history.”

It was made easier through the efforts of Alex Smith, who painstakingly detailed the benchmark criteria.

“We were very conscious about evenly balancing across both Manuka and Eastlake,” Keith said.

To that end, leading administrators from both clubs are included in the first intake of inductions. Ken MacDonald OAM devoted five decades to Eastlake, while Jack Dorman had a similar influence on Manuka as both a player and administrator.

Mel Backhouse

Mel Backhouse playing for Eastlake. Photo: Supplied.

Eastlake great Mel Backhouse, who played 150 games, securing six premierships along the way, is one of two women to be inducted. The other is Eastlake’s multiple premiership winner, Emily Diprose.

Emily Diprose

Emily Diprose’s career was cut short due to injury. Photo: Supplied.

“It’s pretty humbling,” says Emily, “It was a special time for everybody involved. Being put up in lights is hard when you are a team player. The premierships are reflective of the team we had. Also, we had great people around the club, such as Greg Lonsdale, who guided us through.”

2013 was Emily’s last season as she suffered another knee injury that year. Five knee operations later, she says she would have liked to have played longer.

Now the mother of two daughters, she says there’s a chance she might again become involved in the sport.

“Hopefully, my girls will play, and potentially I could get back to be involved with the club.”

Keith Miller says the first 15 are just the start, with plans to continue adding names to the club’s Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame ceremony on 21 May is sold out, but the Hall of Fame Wall can be viewed at Eastlake Football Club at 3 Oxley Street, Griffith.

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