LANCE Mann, one of Albury’s greatest sportsmen, has died aged 84.
Born in the Upper Murray as one of 10 children, Mann reached the highest levels of professional running and Australian Rules football.
He started his football career with Walwa before his speed and skill attracted the attention of Albury.
In an era when it was an accepted norm to combine sporting pursuits, Mann excelled at both athletics and football.
He was recruited by Essendon in 1951 as a 21-year-old and forced his way into the senior team mid-season.
The Bombers made the grand final, but without legendary full-forward John Coleman due to a controversial report in the final home and away match of the season, they lost to Geelong.
Mann played on the wing in the grand final team coached by Essendon great, Dick Reynolds.
Mann and Essendon teammate Norm McDonald were among the best professional runners of the time and raced against each other when Mann entered the record books by winning the Wangaratta, Stawell and Bendigo gifts in the same year — 1952.
The Albury speedster saluted as the red-hot favourite at Stawell and media reports from the day claimed he was “backed off the board” with 6000 pounds taken from the Central Park bookies.
He also promised his fiance, Margaret, the 750-pound first prize as a pre-wedding gift.
His athletics trainer was Pat Kennedy and Mann would have further success at the Bendigo meeting in 1958 after breaking down a year earlier.
Mann played 80 matches for Essendon in two stints either side of a highly successful return to Albury in the Ovens and Murray league.
His 1954 season was ruined by a knee injury, but the following year he finished third in the Morris Medal.
The following season Mann won the Morris Medal by six votes from Benalla star Len Fitzgerald and helped the Tigers to the premiership.
Albury’s flag was coached by one of Mann’s former Essendon team-mates, Jack Jones, before the Tigers lost the 1957 grand final to Wangaratta by two points.
Mann was named in the centre of Albury’s Team of the Century alongside Jones, Jim Robison, Leon Pain and Reg Gard from the same era.
Following his brilliant career, Mann survived two heart attacks before undergoing a heart transplant in 1992.
He died last Friday and is survived by his wife Margaret and children Christine, Brian, Jeffery, Garry and Ross.
He was pre-deceased by another son, Paul.
His funeral will be held at the Radcliffe Funeral Services Chapel, Wodonga, next Monday at 2pm.