Demon champion Hassa Mann and MCC hockey’s John Tait were most worthy recipients of the club’s prestigious Hans Ebeling Award for services to the club’s sporting sections at the sections’ annual dinner on November 16.
Both men boast an extraordinary connection to their club and their sport.
Hassa, the boy from Merbein who became a triple premiership player for Melbourne (1959-60 and 1964) and later served as a director of the club (1989-92) and CEO (1992-97), is “widely regarded as one of the most treasured figures to have donned the red and blue colours in the modern era.”
Hassa has remained involved with the club for many years in a voluntary capacity as a director of The Bentleigh Club and in assisting with various club activities such as organising reunions and the production of publications. He is, and has been for a long time, part of the furniture at Melbourne.
Hassa played 178 games for the Demons, was All-Australian, best and fairest three times and a member of the Team of the Century, among many accolades collected both here and interstate.
A great lover and promoter of the game, he coached in Perth and in Melbourne at VFA and junior level before taking on the MFC Under 19s in 1986-87.
John Tait has been an outstanding contributor to the MCC Hockey Section since he started with the club as a 14-year-old. He has played nearly 700 games and still takes the field after 38 years wielding the stick.
Most importantly, life member John has filled nearly every administrative position since 1978, including club secretary (1989-92), men’s chairman (1993-95) and club chairman (1996-2000).
He also was a Victorian Hockey Association committeeman from 1983 to 1986.
There were two major initiatives during John’s time in office. First came the introduction in 1989 of two merged teams of ladies to form the MCC Women’s Hockey Section, which has been stunningly successful.
Next was the joint venture with Melbourne High for the building of a synthetic pitch and clubrooms, completed to widespread acclaim in 1995.
Little wonder that a proponent of John’s Ebeling Award offered that “when others falter, he is always the grand statesman, the collaborator, the historian and peacemaker.”