Otto Modra drove up from Naracoorte with fellow farmer Brian 'Spazzo' Johnson and played two games under coach Alan Killigrew before deciding to stick with country football. Born at Tumby Bay on 18 November 1938, Otto was one of 11 children of Yeelanna farmer Vic Modra and his wife Dora. He had two older brothers, a kid brother and seven younger sisters.
After leaving Immanuel College, Otto at 17 was a premiership player with Yeelana in the Great Flinders Football League in 1956. His opponent that day was Jim Cronin, a champion wheat lumper and "good bloke" who played with North Adelaide. In 1957 Otto bought a property at Cadgee, 20 km north of Naracoorte, and began a 14-year career with Border Districts in the Kowree Naracoorte Football League. A gentle giant and consummate club man, Otto was a splendid mark and fast for a big man. He played in ruck or at centre half-back.
In 1960, he had a tough league debut as a follower against Port Adelaide, winner of six successive premierships. Norwood went down 12.21 to 9.10 at Alberton and a week later to Sturt at Unley, 13.13 to 9.17, with Otto kicking a goal. Norwood recovered from a slow start to the season and went on to contest a heartbreak grand final, going down to North Adelaide by five points.
Back with Border Districts, Otto celebrated a premiership in 1962 - his third year as vice-captain - and also in 1967, but had to be content with second spot in 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1965. In 1964 he won the club's best and fairest award and was runner-up for the Mail Medal. He played more than 200 games with Border Districts, where he was runner-up as club best and fairest in 1958, 1962 and 1965. He represented the league in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1965 and was voted the outstanding player in 1962.
Otto married Faye Pridham in 1961 and they have two sons, two daughters and 11 grandchildren. Before retiring to Naracoorte, Otto ran Merino and fat lamb sheep. He also grew clover seed for harvesting, and radish, dill, coriander and carrots for seed, as well as wheat, barley, lupins, canola and oats.
P Robins March 2019