Australian Sport Hall of Fame inductee Robert John “Bobby” Skilton is a tenacious ex-AFL player, captain and coach, and is still considered one of the best players to grace the AFL. Thanks to the coaching of his father, Bob Skilton Senior, Bobby Skilton became known for his ability to kick with both feet and for one of the best stab kicks in the game. At a young age he showed the grit and determination that would propel him into his AFL career, playing his first game for South Melbourne in 1956 and winning the club’s best and fairest award in 1957 – an award he would eventually make his own, winning nine times over twelve years. He is also one of the few players able to boast three Brownlow Medals.
Skilton made a huge impact on the game thanks to his incredible pace and remarkable skills – which also made him a frequent target of the opposition. Skilton has dubious honour of being one of the most injured players in the game with his injuries including concussions, 12 black eyes, fractured cheekbones and three broken wrists. Fast paced and a superb baulker, this merciless player was never afraid to attack the ball and despite his short frame was classed as a rover. But his size never got in the way of his success on the field even in an era when rovers were notoriously strong and tall.
He was captain for South Melbourne a record 11 times, represented Victoria 25 times and captained Victoria twice, named captain of the Swan’s Team of the Century and the AFL Team of the Century – making him a true titan of AFL who never gave less than his best on and off the field. It is safe to say that Bobby Skilton remains one of the game’s most revered and respected players.