Almanac Footy Stories: Apology Accepted



Apology accepted!


Earlier in this year of the great modern pandemic, President Joan Eddy rang in to ABC Radio’s 774 afternoon program to assure everyone that the Fitzroy Football Club is well and truly alive and kicking. Her appearance prompted a Bulldog supporter to contact the club with a heartfelt apology he’s been waiting over four decades to deliver.


Footscray’s Edward James Whitten, widely known by his moniker Mr Football, is one of those players we either loved or loved to hate.


But as time went by, any tribal animosity footy supporters may have held partially evaporated when Teddy addressed his big V players and fronted the media in 1995.


And disappeared completely the day he performed a lap of honour at the MCG leaning on his son for support.


According to encyclopaedist and one of the foremost authorities on Aussie football,  UK-based John Devaney, the young Ted Whitten debuted in 1951, lining up against Richmond’s renowned hard man Don ‘Mopsy’ Fraser.


In return for the new recruit’s offer of a handshake, Mopsy delivered a sharp kick to the ankles. But the pain was nothing to what Teddy later experienced at the hands of Mopsy after he marked and goaled early in the first term.


Suffice to say it landed Teddy in hospital overnight.


In his heyday Teddy Whitten was also a tough customer, but Devaney reckons he was nothing if not a quick learner, soon realising that rather than be intimidated, the best way to achieve success was to intimidate. And says that if 90 per cent of this intimidation was bluster, it nevertheless could not mask the fact that Teddy Whitten was also a supremely gifted exponent of the game.


So now we come to the reason why a Bulldogs supporter saw fit to say sorry…



Ralph Rogerson, recruited for the 1964 season, was honoured with the Fitzroy captaincy (1965–66) and his very own Mobile Oil footy card.


Recalling being at the Western Oval one Saturday afternoon in the 1960s to watch the Doggies play the Roys, our informant also caught sight of Teddy Whitten delivering Fitzroy captain Ralph Rogerson a cleverly concealed slap to the face.


Teddy was in the twilight of his playing career by then and our Doggies friend understood that more than ever, the seasoned champion needed to use cunning or force to better his opponents.


But the memory of that slap in the ruck contest has rankled from that day to this. So after hearing Joan and a raft of broken-hearted Roys supporters re-living the distress they suffered during those final AFL days in 1996, our informant decided to send a belated apology.


Lou Richards, another all-time character of the game who eventually got as many laughs off the field as he scored on it, got to write the back notes for Ralph Rogerson’s footy card with his signature tongue-in-cheek.



He says that, like Whitten back then, he’s past his better days and thought it was high time he righted old wrongs that have hung heavily on him throughout the years.


Thank you Doggies diehard. We don’t reckon such a gracious apology could possibly be coming from someone past his prime.


And we accept your heartfelt apology whole heartedly.


For those of you who didn’t get to hear Joan’s 774 appearance, you can listen to her do her stuff from the 1.35 minute mark.


This article by Gabrielle Murphy was first published on the Fitzroy Football Club website.






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