Vale Bernie Baxter, Port Fairy footballer and identity

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.



  1. Thanks Scott. Bernie Baxter is no doubt threading through a few more goals in that great football ground in the sky. Go the Seagulls.

  2. John Harms says

    Scott, I didn’t meet Bernie, but I did have a chance to meet Maurie Hearn who was then the oldest surviving Swans player and one of three surviving Roys premiership players from 1944. His story is also terrific. He was the professor of Yambuk I believe. I’m told that at lunch times he’d wander down from his farm to the Yambuk pub where they’d have the Age laid out on the bar ready for him.

  3. Craig Down says


    The front bar of the Yambuk pub is knee deep in characters.


  4. Andrew Starkie says

    Thanks for bringing Bernie’s passing to almanac attention, Scott. The Gardens Oval, Port Fairy, is one of the best and most attractive in the south-west. In the middle of the caravan park, near the river, the centre square mud always had a distinctive smell. Changerooms under the small, wooden grandstand. Always loved playing there. Never got a kick, of course.

  5. Bob O’Halloran says

    I was 10 years of age when Bernie came to Port Fairy and he was every kids favourite. He worn the No. 10 jumper and we would stand behind the goals every quarter.
    My uncle was Maurie Hearn who coached Port after his playing days at Fitzroy and C&C of Williamstown.. He was also non-playing coach for most of the 1958 Premiership when the then coach took ill.
    I can still remember Bernie’s “g’day matey” greetings to all.
    Many years later, when I was “on the list” at Carlton, and returned home for a weekend, Bernie would always have a chat and want to know what was happening at his old Club.

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