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E.J Story

“Mr. Football”

E.J. Whitten OAM

27 July 1933 – 17 August 1995

Born and bred in Melbourne’s Western suburbs, he was loved for his caring nature, unique character and common touch.

E.J. (Ted) Whitten was the largest of the larger than-life characters that have decorated Australian Rules football. Considered by many as the most complete footballer to play the game, he was also a rich mixture of headline grabbing talent – schoolboy prodigy, working-class battler, inspirational leader, knockabout clown, The King of Footscray and all points west who became a football icon for the whole of Victoria. In the mix were equal parts of kindness, charity, tough talk and loveable devilment.

He starred for Footscray and was variously captain, coach, selector, mentor to a host of champions and an automatic state selection who later became the voice of Victorian football. Whatever was ‘on’ in fundraising, presentations, publicity, TV, radio and promotion of anything and everything, especially football, Ted was up for it and putting his own stamp on it.

e revelled in his undisputed title of Mr Football, but in truth he wore the mantle lightly and was always in touch with his heartland of the western suburbs and the ‘real people’.

And he had a private life, enriched by a wide family and old friends – a world of knockabout fun around the pool and the barbie and a few beers on a Saturday night. The pictures of that family, as he went from grandson to grand-father, are a moving glance at changing times in Australia over seven decades.

In 1996, he was among the first batch of inductees to the Australian Football Hall of Fame, immediately elevating him to Legend status.

The early passing of Ted Whitten caused real grief beyond the confines of those who knew him, going across the State and into the wider reached of Australia. His funeral was a State occasion. As with football itself, rich and poor alike rubbed shoulders in witnessing his passing.

E.J. Whitten was one of those rare souls who clung passionately to his roots while inspiring a whole generation.

Career Highlights

‘Mr. Football’

FOOTSCRAY FOOTBALL CLUB

  • E.J. Whitten OAM – Mr. Football
  • Playing Career 1951 – 1970
  • 321 Games Footscray Football Club
  • 5 times Best & Fairest – 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961
  • Member of 1954 Premiership Team
  • Captain Coach 1961 Grand Final Team
  • Captain/Coach of Footscray Football Club to 3 night premierships
  • Captain Footscray Football Club to 2 night premierships
  • Captain/Coach Footscray Football Club for 13 seasons
  • Life Member of Footscray Football Club for 30 years

VICTORIAN GAMES

  • Represented Victoria on 29 occasions
  • Captain/Coached Victoria on 2 occasions
  • Represented Victoria in 4 Carnival sides 1956, 1958, 1961, 1966
  • Won Simpson Medal in Perth WA – 1957
  • Won Tassie Medal in Melbourne – 1958
  • E.J. Whitten Medal struck for Best Player in the Victorian State of Origin team
  • Chairman of Selectors Victorian State Team for 10 years

ALL AUSTRALIAN

  • All Australian 3 times – 1956, 1958, 1961
  • E.J. Whitten Grandstand named in honour – 1970
  • Australian Chairman of Selection Tour of Ireland – 1984
  • Australian Chairman of Selection Australian Tour of Ireland 1986, 1990
  • All Australian Team Selector• Worked in football media on television, newspaper, radio for 30 years

AFL

  • Elected Life Member AFL – 1969
  • Member of AFL 300 club
  • Member of AFL 200 club
  • First AFL Member of Australian Sporting Hall of Fame
  • Awarded OAM 1992 for services to Australian Football
  • Awarded Reg Hickey Trophy 1994 for services to Australian Football
  • Elevated to Legend at Australian Sporting Hall of Fame 1995
  • E.J. Whitten Cup Perpetual Trophy awarded in 1995 for Bulldogs v Essendon games
  • 2012 Voted greatest Personality in AFL history

NAMED IN HONOUR

  • E.J. Whitten Foundation formed 1995
  • Western Oval renamed Whitten Oval 1995
  • Grandstand at Western Oval renamed E.J. Whitten Grandstand 1970
  • Statue of Ted Whitten erected 1995 for outstanding service to football and the Footscray Football Club
  • E.J. Whitten Bridge on Western Ring Road opened 1995
  • E.J. Whitten Bar – Etihad Stadium 2006

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