Port Adelaide are mourning one of their greatest ever figures, eight-time premiership player and life member Neville ‘Chicken’ Hayes, who passed away aged 88.
Hayes, who is a member of Port’s greatest ever team and the South Australian Football Hall of Fame, played 217 games for the club during its most successful era between 1953 and 1965.
He was one of only six players to play in each of Port Adelaide’s record six consecutive premierships between 1954-59, while only three players in the history of the SANFL have won more than his eight flags.
Analysis, local footy and the biggest moments, Seven and 7plus are the home of footy shows for every fan. Stream them all for free on 7plus >>
He also represented South Australia in 21 state games.
Port Adelaide CEO Matthew Richardson said it was a massive loss to the club.
Kangaroos ‘disappointed’ as AFL legend makes family decision
Western Bulldogs hand best and fairest award to sacked player
“The Port Adelaide Football Club extends its heartfelt condolences to Margaret, Nina, Sally, Kara and the entire Hayes family during this time,” he told the club’s website.
“Neville was a remarkable player. When you think of Port Adelaide’s golden era through the 50s and 60s, you think of Chicken Hayes.
“He was a tough, uncompromising defender who came through the ranks at Port Adelaide and went on to win a remarkable eight premierships at the club and represent South Australia 21 times.
“Neville played a pivotal role in the Port Adelaide side through the golden era of the late 1950s and early 1960s that has created such a great legacy for our club today.
“In later years, Neville remained connected with the club and his team mates, and we loved hearing his stories. He was great character, passionate about his football club and never missed a game on TV.”
Neville Hayes (far left) was one of Port Adelaide’s most successful players ever. Credit: Port Adelaide
In an interview last year, late Port Adelaide legend Geof Motley, who is one of the only three players to have won more SANFL premierships than Hayes with nine, described his teammate as unwaveringly reliable.
“Chicken was a very important player for us. He rarely made a mistake and would not stop running,” Motley said at the time.
“Chicken was as tough a player as you’ll see. He never came off the line and was one of the best exponents of the hip and shoulder bump that I’ve ever seen.
“When opposition players knew Chicken was around, they would get very nervous. He was not frightened to run into someone, and more often than not, they came off second best.
“Chicken had a philosophy: ‘Do unto others as they would do to you, except do it first’.
“He was a great teammate and was a key reason as to why we were so successful in that period.”
Neville Hayes won eight premierships with Port Adelaide. Credit: Port Adelaide
Motley passed away in September this year.
Richardson said Hayes’s passing represents the end of an era.
“The sad passing of Chicken means we have a lost the last hero who played in every one of our national record six-in-a-row premierships from 1954 to 1959,” he added.
“While it’s a sombre time for our club we look back fondly on what the likes of Chicken and his great mate Geof Motley and others achieved during that period that has set us up to be the club we are today.
“Their remarkable achievements will never be forgotten and their legacy shines as brightly today as at any other time in our club’s history.”