John Miles Medal

John Miles wearing his VAFA and Ivanhoe life member badges. Pic: Phil Skeggs

Ivanhoe’s best clubman award is named after club legend John “Plumber” Miles, who was a VAFA and Ivanhoe life member and triple premiership player.

One of three sons of Arthur Miles — himself an Ivanhoe player from the 1920s and a club stalwart in later years — John played during a halcyon era for the Hoes. He was a half-forward flanker in Ivanhoe’s only A Grade senior premiership-winning team in 1956 and also played in the Hoes’ 1954 B Grade premiership and 1953 under-19s premiership.

John continued to serve the Hoes as an under-19s coach and on the committee as president (1974-76 and 1999), vice-president and secretary (2001) He also served on the VAFA executive from 1977-95. His legacy included the so-called “Miles Rule”, which allowed under-19 teams that were a few players short to top up with opposition players to enable matches to go ahead instead of forfeiting.

John also made his mark as a VAFA chairman of selectors between 1981-85, with VAFA senior teams recording 10 consecutive wins between 1981-84. He was awarded VAFA life membership in 1987.

In 1984, to mark the club’s first 50 years in the VAFA, he typed up a brief history that has proved an invaluable record for later generations.

John’s plumbing background proved invaluable in maintaining the playing surface and clubrooms at Ivanhoe Park and, later, Elsternwick Park.

Even in his later years, John would volunteer as a goal umpire, timekeeper, bar manager, football polisher or even tending the barbecue after training. The club was John’s second home, but he couldn’t have dedicated his life to it without the wholehearted support of wife Mary, who spearheaded ladies committees and was also a popular club life member.

John was the first inductee into Ivanhoe’s Hall of Fame. The best clubman award perpetuates his unstinting work over the decades.