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Don Keyter

Born:  13 Sep 1931    Died: 11 Nov 1986    
Came from: South Melbourne   Went to: Nhill
First game: 12 Apr 1959    Last game: 21 Aug 1960
Appearances: 31   Goals: 58

League Rep.: 3

Other clubs played for:  Merbein, 1953-58 South Melbourne (86 / 61), 1961-62 Nhill (c-c), 1963-64 Moe (c-c), 1965-67 East Hawthorn (c-c), 1968 Rochester (c-c).​

Premierships: East Hawthorn 1965, 66, 67.


THE recent death of Don Keyter would have opened the memory bank of many Griffith Australian Football fans with the automatic recall of the heady days in 1959 and 1960 when Keyter coached the Griffith Swans. Don Keyter came to Griffith direct from South Melbourne following an extensive career with the VFL Swans. Immediately Keyter established himself as one of the best ever footballers to play South West League football. His ability on the football field and his personality off it established Keyter as one of the greatest talking points in Riverina football. Keyter soon become a legend in his own time. His on-field battles with Ian Gillett, coaching Coolamon and a team mate of Keyter's when they both played with South Melbourne, soon became game-of-the-year attractions. 
A recent press article concerning Keyter said he was known as a "character".  He certainly was this ... as many Griffith and Riverina football fans and players could tell. The Area News has reprinted the Melbourne article. We believe it tells of Keyter only too familiar to the Riverina people who knew him.
The Melbourne story began: "In his heyday Don Keyter was one of the league's most colourful men; the type we like to refer to as a "character". Sadly he was probably one of the last of the fascinating footy species. For in the strictly controlled, sterile atmosphere of modern-day club life even smiles are at a premium. Keyter's views about what was good about being alive would never have been tolerated, not for a day. The rawbone, nomadic South Melbourne ruckman of the 1950s would have gone bush at the first mention of a rigorous, full pre-season. His earthy philosophy was that a man got fun out of playing the bloody game, and not practicing it until his bones ached.
The Swans, according to clubmate Bob Skilton rarely sighted Keyter before the final practice night when the jumpers were handed out. Then he would arrive, as he did on every match day, with what he could find of his football gear wrapped in brown paper or even newspaper. Skilton recalls the time one sympathetic supporter presented Don with a new gladstone bag and before it was unlatched he had sold it and returned the wrapping paper. 
Dressing room tales about Keyter were legendary wherever members of Lake Oval fraternity meet. Not all are true; a few Hans Christian Andersen material, said Bobby. "I never once saw Don step into his street clothes after a match without showering," said Bobby. "But I did see him get the boot studder to pull the stops out of his footy boots so he could wear them to the dance on a Saturday night. "And most likely he would wear the hooped socks as well. 
On an interstate trip Don would always travel light. On one he only had a shirt and a toothbrush in his case. Keyter wore No. 1 with the Swans and used to like "breaking it in" by wearing the jumper to work on chilly days. 
The triple Brownlow Medallist rated Keyter as a fine ruckman for his height and considered him one of the toughest in the game at a time when Roy Wright, Geoff Leek and Murray Weideman were around. "They were not fibbing when they tell you that Jimmy Sharman actually paid Don to stay out of his boxing tents when he toured the Murray River looking for challengers for his fighters," said Bob.
Don Keyter, 55, lost the biggest fight of all the other day, his heart finally gave out. Apart from his wife, Wynn, and five kids, football will also miss Don Keyter for he was one of the special breed".

(By Jack Luhrs -  Wed Jan 14, 1987).

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