Almanac (Footy) Obituary: RIP Greg Parke







A real dampener to Melbourne’s fabulous drought breaking premiership is Greg Parke’s death.

For a past player of both competing clubs to die after a long illness on the morning of the Grand Final, I feel compelled to say something of the lasting impact from our time together over 30 years ago.

This week I have processed nothing but fond memories sharing a rambling Residential Care home on Princess Street Kew with Greg and a bunch of spirited teenagers.

Greg was the standout with all the young residents at ‘The Gables’, especially the day he turned up in his usual tight jeans and open necked shirt with a perm hairstyle.

Blessed with natural charm and excellent posture, the kids looked up to Greg in more ways than one. He was sensitive to the traumatic history each teen endured from foster homes before their arrival at our facility. It was a privilege to see his gentle nature effectively handle any potential crisis and if a spot fire did occur, they were always short lived.

Greg was open to showing emotions, I remember he cried the day we heard Roy Orbison died. Little wonder The Gables is now a private home probably due to the popular activity misfiring footballs into all the neighbours at the top end of Fellows Street. Greg often winced and rolled his eyes describing his infamous kicking for goals.

He loved the special bond with fellow power forward Ross Dillon but regretted never reaching a final together on the MCG. The dynamic duo teamed up again at Norwood but Greg was a year too late to share in the spoils of a premiership. Greg once joked the closest he got to a Grand Final crowd was working as a police constable on the fringe of the 1970 Vietnam Moratorium in the city.

Those massive hands of his could carry a week’s worth of grocery bags up the hill from Kew junction with ease. No surprise his record 24 marks in a game still stands.

I deeply regret never visiting Greg at his family property in Christmas Hills.

I quit ‘The Gables’ suddenly to rekindle a doomed relationship in Adelaide and neglected to get in touch with the great man again.

My sincere condolences to the Parke family.





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  1. RIP Greg Parke. When Greg Parke arrived at Norwood for the ’76 season, he came with a big reputation as a fine half forward. Gifted with strong marking hands, a good leap and accurate goal kicking, fans of the Redlegs were delighted to see him. So keen was the Club to acquire his services, they paid him handsomely. Well the fans were not disappointed for Parke played many exceptional games However, unbeknown to them, the fact his exceptionally high salary at the club was causing friction amongst some of the players. Whatever the reason Greg Parke was not at the club for season ’77. A real shame for the Redlegs sure could have used his wonderful talents.

  2. Beautifully written Dave. He obviously had a profound impact on you. A gentleman and a man of character with a kind heart. As a Carlton supporter I just looked in wonderment at the amount of marks he took during games; in the days when there weren’t as many of those easy uncontested possessions. I think he was totally underrated as a footballer.

  3. I remember the Greg Parke footy card. I had it. Was it 1972 or 1973? The years roll on, parts of the memory fade.

    1972 was his best season. He kicked 63 goals that season for Melbourne. The two outings against Geelong saw him put through 13 goals. The second encounter was at Kardinia Park: Geelong went in as favourites. By 1/4 time it was over as Parke dominated the air, marking all that came his way. The final margin was 57 points, though that was because Melbourne took the foot off the pedal in the last term after being 80+ points in front. As a young Geelong fan I was shocked by the result.

    I recall going to the MCG with my parents for the round 11 Richmond V Footscray clash in 1974. A big crowd attended the match of the day: the biggest crowd a young me had been in . After 3 even terms Richmond pulled away in the last quarter. This was probably one of Greg Parke’s best games for Footscray, being their equal leading goalkicker that day with a bag of five.

    I also have a vague memory of an advertisement for Victoria Police featuring Greg Parke in the Football Record .

    Vale Greg Parke.


  4. Rosemary Clerehan says

    Greg Parke, looking like a latter-day Carl Ditterich, was the great hope of the Demons in the 70’s when we dared to dream that one or two viable footballers would lead us to the promised land.
    My brother-in-law even devised a ditty: ‘Greg Parke, what a mark. And Ross Dillon, he could kill ’em.

    Condolences to the family.

  5. John Marsicovetere says

    that is a fantastic tribute mate. i’m always glad to hear when my childhood football heroes turn out to be even better as people, and obviously Greg Parke was. Thanks for that JZ!

  6. This is a great piece of writing and should be in the Age obit

  7. Cathy Parke says

    This is a really beautiful tribute, thanks Dave! It was a horrible shock to lose Greg despite his brave battle over the last 3 years, but it’s heartening to read such lovely tributes and comments – the family do appreciate them.
    It is a shame you never made it out here to visit, Greg used to laugh about the escapades at The Gables!

  8. A wonderful tribute David. I remember Greg as a reliable, stalwart half forward. Always reassuring listening to ‘League Teams’ on the National Transister radio on a Thursday night to hear Greg was lining up.

  9. peter lavender says

    Fantastic article Dave. He represents my earliest memory as a devoted Demon and I can still remember a goal he kicked to put us in front against Hawthorn – (the reigning premier) at the G in 1972, a game we won by 1 point. Still one of my favourite footy memories. So sad he amazingly died on our greatest day in 57 years, but he will never be forgotten by many of us.

  10. In the 70s, Greg Parke was one of my heroes. His sister was also my primary school teacher. My condolences to his family.

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