Michael "Rowdy" Aish is unquestionably one of the all-time greats of the Norwood Football Club. Loyal, highly-skilled and courageous, it is easy to see why he was popular with Norwood supporters.
Aish made his senior debut for the Redlegs in the 1979 Escort Cup Series, against West Adelaide, at the Parade. Later that week he played his first League match, also against West Adelaide, on the Richmond Oval. He kicked three goals, helping the Redlegs win the match 19.17 to 19.9. Aish played 21 games for the year and was named best first year player.
After breaking his collarbone twice, he was restricted to 14 games in 1980, but well and truly made amends the following season. After making his interstate debut against Western Australia in Perth, he capped off his season by winning the 1981 Magarey Medal, being named Club Champion, and taking out several media awards.
Only slight in stature, his ability to consistently find the ball and to fight for every contest was exemplary throughout his career.
His good form continued into 1982. Playing as a ruck-rover, he was regularly in Norwood's best players. Aish was amongst
Norwood's very best players in its ten goal victory over Glenelg, in the 1982 premiership decider - he also represented the State against Western Australia, in Perth.
After another outstanding season in 1983, Aish was named Club Champion, and was selected in the All-Australian team of the year, having performed superbly at State level.
1984 was to be an even better year, with 'Aishy" collecting his second Club Champion award, reaching his 100 game milestone, and the Redlegs winning the premiership after finishing fifth at the end of the minor round. Aish was also included in the Australian team that toured Ireland for an end of season International Rules Series.
One of the first SANFL players to be heavily tagged, he was runner up to the Club Champion, Michael Taylor, in 1986.
He also captained the South Australian State of Origin side against Victoria and Western Australia, and was later selected as vice-captain of the All-Australian team.
Named Norwood captain for the first time in 1987, he was a member of the South Australian team that was crowned Champions of Australia during the season. Continuing as Norwood skipper in 1988, Aish played his 200th game and was made Life Member of the Norwood Football Club. Once again he proved to be a key performer for the State team, helping South Australia retain the Champions of Australia title. The following year he captained both the Norwood and State of Origin teams.
The formation of the Adelaide Crows at the end of 1990, resulted in a mass exodus of Norwood players to the AFL. Fortunately for the Redlegs, Aish decided to play on in the SANFL after being overlooked by the Crows selection panel. Despite ongoing injury problems, his class and experience were invaluable to the young Norwood line-up.
He was runner up to Club Champion Garry McIntosh in 1991, and won the award in 1992. He played in every game during the 1992 season, and became the first Norwood player to reach 300 games.
Unfortunately, serious back and knee injuries ruined his final year at the Parade, limiting him to four games. Aish announced his retirement at the end of the season, but by then he had well and truly stamped himself as one of Norwood's greats.
Quick thinking and evasive, he was scrupulously fair, yet fiercely competitive to the end. A wonderful role model, he resisted many offers during his career to move interstate.
He returned to the club and joined the Norwood Match Committee in 1998-99.
In October 2000, Aish was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in recognition of his achievements in football.
His son Jesse (38 games), father Peter (162 games), brother Andrew (89 games), and nephew James (24 games) have all represented the Redlegs with distinction at League level.
R Cialini May 2017