Almanac Obituary: Farewell to Mr Footscray

The 2016 Premiership provides a handy new measurement of time for the Footscray faithful. The last measurement of time, ‘remember ’54’, was taken out of the song at some point, because there weren’t many supporters who could remember that day.

Last week, we farewelled one of those supporters, one of the story tellers the rest of us relied on to know what it was like to be there – to win a Premiership and throw the biggest party Footscray Town Hall had ever seen.

Ron Palmer was known around town as ‘Mr Footscray’. Awarded a life membership of the Club, Ron was part of the fight to save the Footscray Football Club in 1989, and held an Order of Australia for his services to the our community.

In a profile in our local newspaper a few years back, Ron said he was involved because he wanted to contribute, “I was proud to be born in Footscray; it has been my life.”

Ron was the driving force behind the Christmas Carols in Yarraville Gardens. He set up breakfast clubs for kids through the Rotary Club and was President of the Historical Society, the RSL, the Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Footscray Yarraville Band. Mr Footscray was part of all these institutions and so many more.

Like many of us, Ron believed the football club represents more than a place where a game is played but that it is integral to our story and identity.

I was fortunate enough to hear his memories of 1954. He loved a scrap and his stories of the fightback were colourful and wildly parochial. I wish I had of written them down.  There’s a quote attributed to Ron in an Almanac story about the fightback (here – Ed.), “It’s all right, they can’t take our Club away from us. We beat ‘em… We’ll beat ‘em again if we have to.”

Toward the end of his life, Ron was nearly blind, but I’m so glad he lived to ‘see’ the 2016 Premiership. Ron’s passing is a sad loss for Footscray.

It’s been ten months since that magical spring, when everything went our way. If good things come for those who wait, our wait produced an overwhelming amount of goodwill. There was a palpable feeling of belonging for the true-believers.

Houses were decorated in damp, rained-on crepe paper and ‘lucky’ scarves. ‘Sons of the West’ played over the loudspeaker at Footscray train station. It was a great time to live in this wonderful part of Melbourne.

We are so fortunate to have had people like Ron Palmer who fought to keep the Doggies alive – supporters who knew the importance of the Footscray Football Club at the heart of the community then, so that we could benefit from it now and into the future.

A stone’s throw from the EJ statue, two of my Bulldogs supporting friends have recently welcomed the newest member of the Footscray faithful – baby Lucas.

A premiership baby, a delightful addition to our growing group of kids toddling around in red, white and blue.

Welcome to Lucas. I know that you will grow to experience all the pride, heartache and joy that comes with being part of this loyal tribe.

To the Palmer family – thank you for sharing Mr Footscray with us. We are indebted to you.

 

Comments

  1. Good onya Katie. Ron Palmer was around the west for a long time. If my memory is still functioning he was writing in the local paper, i think it was the Mail in those days, doing the weekly footy round up. It was Footscray in that period of time, prior to being the West Bulldogs.

    Vale Ron Palmer.

    Glen!

  2. Katie Hall says:

    Thanks Glen! I wouldn’t be surprised if Ron wrote the paper, took the photos, printed the newspaper and then hand delivered them around town. He really was in everything. A good man.

  3. True Katey, he seemed ubiquitous.

    Being raised in the West last century the name Ron Palmer seemed omnipresent. The West bred those wonderful types.

    Glen!

  4. Leonie Hall says:

    Katy, this gave me goosebumps and of course our family knew Ron through the ALP for which he may well have contributed most of whatever he had left.
    2016 is, and will be forever the greatest year of my life for many reasons but October 1 will be etched forever.
    Leonie Hall

  5. Narelle Wiggan says:

    Beautifully written Katie. Ronnie lived such a full life and made a lasting legacy which will live on in the family, friends and community he touched and loved so much.

  6. Hello Katie,

    Great article on an icon of the West and the Bulldogs, well done from a close friend of your mum.
    Regards from Yack.
    Go the dogs.

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