A guard of honour formed by Broadford and Alexandra players claps off Peter, chaired by Matt Dunbar and Jack Connell, in his final game.

By Tricia Mifsud

Anyone affiliated with Broadford Football Club will know the name Peter Ezard and have some idea of the contribution he has made to the club over the past 46 years.

On Saturday, it was Ezard’s final time of donning the blue and white stripes, celebrating both his 450th game played for Broadford, but also his retirement from football.

Ezard played alongside and against familiar names to him in the Broadford-Yea reserves side’s 52-loss to Alexandra at Harley Hammond Reserve, fitting to celebrate his time playing one of his favourite sports.

After a stint playing at Craigieburn, just after Ezard achieved 400 club games with the Roos, he returned to the club after noticing player numbers had dropped.

He had no intention on reaching 450 games, but five years later, the milestone soon approached and there was no way the club was going to let Ezard refuse to play his special milestone game.

The occasion could have come earlier and may have saved Ezard an injury or two, but forfeited seasons during the COVID-19 pandemic and the club wanting the game to be played at home delayed the milestone.

“We’ve been trying for three years to get it to happen and back three years we were playing footy, but two years off with COVID, it wasn’t good for the body, but we had to get me to 450,” Ezard said.

“I left at 400 to go and play at Craigieburn Superules because Broadford started winning and had numbers. I never actually left though; I was around when they needed me but I was playing for both clubs.

“I came back to watch Broadford play and all of a sudden, the numbers were down so I thought, ‘well, can’t let the boys fold, might as well get out there and keep poddling along.’

“I had no intentions of playing 450 games, it was just helping the boys out as long as I could.

“Then after five years, 450 was knocking on the door and I only had seven games to go and figured I might as well keep going, get the seven games and bow out gracefully, but COVID didn’t let us do that.

“I had three games left to play but couldn’t get that in 2021 so I had to lace up again this year and we finally got it.”

Joining Ezard in the milestone match was brother Alan who returned to play a final match for his origin club, after playing 184 games for the Essendon Football Club between 1983 and 1993.

Ezard said the day was overall a good one despite the loss, and he enjoyed having everyone there to help celebrate the huge achievement.

“It was a good day; it could have been a fairy tale. In the first couple of minutes the ball came down my way and I managed a mark at the top of the square. Got the first score and that was about it,” he laughed.

“I got to play alongside my brother Alan, and that too was good … the game being played over the weekend meant he was able to get down and put the boots on too.

It definitely was the last game for the Ezard brothers, Peter adding, ‘straight after the game, the boots went straight into the fire’.

During his time at Broadford, Ezard has won premierships with both the senior and reserves side, coached the 1994 reserves premiership team and capped the year off with being awarded the club best and fairest, and finished runner-up in Heathcote league’s Tom Morgan Medal (Reserves) in 1996.

Looking back on his time playing football, Ezard said sport epitomised being a child growing up in a country town, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way, playing sports with his childhood friends.

He never had intentions on playing professionally like his brother, rather he enjoyed the benefits of committing to a local football club.

“I was born and bred a local kid and that’s all we did – played cricket, played footy, swam together. I just loved sport. I wasn’t serious like Alan, I played the game for the love of it, not for the money or the glory,” he said.

“I’d rather just go there and have a run around with my mates. That’s probably why I annoyed my coaches a lot, I was just there to have a good time.”

And a good time he had during his time at Broadford Football Club, spanning more than four decades.

Alan Ezard, left, pulled on the Roos’ guernsey to play alongside his brother Peter in a final match played together.