The community of Port Fairy is in mourning following the news that former champion Port Fairy footballer Bernie Baxter passed away after a short illness late last year.
Baxter, 83, was a key player in Port Fairy’s only senior Hampden Football Netball League premiership side in 1958. He booted 692 goals (A Hampden League record that still stands) for the Seagulls in a career which began in 1952 and ended in 1963 when he played in the reserves premiership side.
The key forward was enticed to Port Fairy on the advice of local Port Fairy identities Maurice and Marty Hearn after playing 28 games with Carlton, where he booted 22 goals. Part of Baxter’s payment to join the Seagulls in 1952 was free board in Marty Hearn’s hotel in Sackville Street.
He was also offered him two pounds a game if he booted five goals and four pounds if he kicked 10 goals.
Baxter won the Hampden League goal-kicking on three occasions. He booted 77 goals in 1953, 97 in 1956 and 87 in 1957.
He was runner-up in the League’s best and fairest in 1953, three votes behind winner John O’Neill, of South Warrnambool.
The Port Fairy Football Netball Club held Baxter in such high esteem that its scoreboard was named in his honour in 2007.
My memories of Bernie are his greeting of ‘Gday matey’ to everyone and his serenading of patrons at the Star of the West hotel after a hard day of bowls having a 7 ounce glass or two. He also used to perform a variety of tricks with his false teeth and could always be seen at the footy in his little red Ford Festiva next to the scoreboard which was named in his honour.
Bernie will be missed by everyone within the Port Fairy community.