Gene bottles 100 big ones

Saturday afternoon was a magical time to be around McDonald Park as Gene Robinson did something only one man has done before in the 21st century, score a Western Border century.

The magic Millicent man entered the huge final-round clash against East Gambier on 99 goals and all the attention fell on his shoulders.

Amazingly the star forward did not raise a sweat after taking a mark and lining up for a set shot from the highway end pocket less than 60 seconds after the first bounce.

Robinson looked completely unfazed by the occasion as he ticked every box in his set-shot routine, striking the kick superbly before watching the Sherrin sail through the big sticks.

The big crowd erupted as the centurion was engulfed by his raucous team mates in a moment those who saw it would never forget.

Despite being the only man to join North Gambier’s Justin McConnell to kick 100 WBFL A Grade goals in the last 21 years, Robinson did not get swept up in the emotions as he focussed on the bigger picture.

“It was obviously a nice feeling, but to be honest I was only fazed on getting second spot on the ladder at the time,” he said.

“I think a lot of people around the football club enjoyed it much more than I did with not many goals being kicked in the competition in recent years.

“My main focus is just to play good footy with all my mates.”

The painter is starting to compile a 100’s column many of the world’s best batsmen would be proud of.

Saturday’s century was the fifth of his storied career having previously exceeded triple figures for Mannum (2017, 18) Bordertown (2015) and Mypolonga (2013).

Robinson said the latest edition in the WBFL was the most difficult given all the external challenges in play such as adapting to life in a new area on and off the field with COVID-19 in the backdrop.

“I would probably say this would be the hardest just because of the nature of the competition in the South East,” he said.

“It is a very good competition and all sides have a decent amount of gun locals playing high-level footy.

“Some games are wet and windy and others are low scoring, but with what I think is the best midfield in the competition, I cant take too much credit for what has happened this year because they make my life so much easier.”

Despite Robinson hand-balling a lot of credit to his team mates, Millicent coach Clint Gallio said the forward had been one of the biggest reasons behind the sides 2021 resurgence.

“When he first arrived at the club, he worked super hard being involved in preseason and has obviously had a great year,” he said.

Robinson had connections with the Saints through friendships with former players Hamish Nitschke and Mitch Gordon, but the forward’s move to Millicent was sealed after the club helped him find a job, while his partner also landed a role at Mount Burr Primary School.

Initially the plan was only to play for a year, but after tremendous personal and collective success in 2021 he hopes to put pen to paper for at least another season.

Robinson grew up at Murray Bridge and played juniors for Mannum and Mypolonga and broke into the A Grade squad at the latter at a young age.

With hundreds of goals already under his belt at 21 Robinson took an opportunity to represent the Adelaide Crows’ inaugural SANFL side as a top-up player in 2014.

He said it was an honour to play alongside some future Crows’ AFL stars, but never had his sights set on making a name for himself at the top level.

“I had a few offers to play SANFL in the past, but never really wanted to commit to a full preseason or anything like that,” Robinson said.

“I have always loved playing footy, but do not want it to absorb my life, so I took the opportunity to play around 13 games and really enjoyed the experience.

“A lot of the younger lads like the Crouch boys and Charlie Cameron were coming through the side, so just watching how they conduct themselves not just on game day, but during the week was really eye opening.

“It made me realise there is a lot more to football than just rocking up on a Saturday.”

Despite interest from AFL clubs including the Crows and some Victorian teams, Robinson had a stronger urge to play alongside his mates than take a chance as a mature-aged recruit.

After the SANFL stint, Robinson went to Bordertown to rejoin his mates before following them back to his childhood home in the River Murray Football League.

Fast-forward a couple of years and the goal-kicking superstar has the chance to win a Western Border flag at his first attempt.

Robinson is looking for a personal three-peat having won his last two A Grade deciders and admitted the winning feeling was addictive.

More milestones could follow with Robinson only 13 goals away from kicking his 1000th, but he only has his eyes on helping the Saints march to a second WBFL premiership in three seasons.

“Obviously South is the team to beat, but everyone is excited and there is a good buzz around the club,” he said.

“From the outset the talent was there and I think the young players are fulfilling their potential now and they could be the difference.

“Once you taste success, you do not want to settle for second, so hopefully that is the case again this year.”

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