Lap of the G
25 Years Since “The Lap of the G” – June 17 1995
The Lap of the G was EJ’s last public appearance before succumbing to prostate cancer at age 62.
3AW Neil Mitchell Talks to Ted Whitten Jr 25 years on
Watching his final lap 25 years on we relive EJ’s fight with prostate cancer. We are reminded of his great legacy to spark the push for Prostate Cancer Awareness for men’s health.
EJ’s Legacy for Prostate Cancer Awareness and Men’s Health
EJ farewelled 65,000 footy fans on what was to be his last lap of the MCG. Partially blind and his body weakened by his battle with Prostate Cancer found strength to stir the crowd with his famous fist in the air salute – We stuck it up em!
EJ died soon after his last Lap of the G, two months later on August 17 1995.
Ted Whitten Jr reflects on the Lap of the G 25 years on
It is still heartwarming 25 years on when I look at the vision of so many people coming to the MCG to show their respect for dad at the State of Origin game between Victoria and South Australia.
Not many people know that the Lap of the G almost didn’t happen! The night before, he was so sick and frail that he said he wasn’t going to be able to do it. We called the AFL and cancelled.
The next morning he arose determined to go through with it, no matter how sick he felt! We called the AFL to let them know he was good to go and it was back on!
We started getting ready, but he asked for a hair cut first! We had to quickly drive him to his Barber across town and then back to the western suburbs to get dressed in the Big V tie and blazer. He was now ready for the MCG and the State of Origin. The car ride to the ground was quite solemn. Nothing was said but we knew this would be “Mr Football’s” final goodbye to his beloved football family. The MCG came into view and a shot of adrenaline seemed to course through his ailing body because his spirits rose and his trademark cheeky grin appeared on his face as we entered the ground.
During the lap it was very emotional for everyone. Although Dad’s vision was failing, he could hear and sense the outpouring of emotion from the thousands of men, women and children gathered in the MCG.
He had recently suffered a stroke, he couldn’t see clearly and I was holding him up as he didn’t have the strength to sit up on his own. He was asking me where we were positioned on the ground. I was pointing out to him the MCC Members, the coaches box, the Long Room, and then the commentary area where all of his TV and radio mates were. On hearing he was in front of the media boxes, he lifted again to give a “big Stick it Up em!” to the cameras and his mates in the media!
That was Dad’s last public appearance and he succumbed to prostate cancer shortly after.
I feel so grateful that Dad was able to rise to the occasion as it was an amazing , emotional, and memorable day. It gave everyone – family, friends, the football public -the chance to say farewell and let Dad know the outpouring of love for him before he passed. It became a very historical event in AFL/VFL history being voted the most memorable moment in 150 years at the MCG. It also became a significant moment in men’s health as it inspired the formation of the E.J. Whitten Foundation later that year to carry on the legacy of Dad in promoting men’s health awareness.
Formation of the E.J. Whitten Foundation
EJ was one of the first public figures to openly talk about men’s health issues and the lap of the G created enormous awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health matters. As a result the E.J. Whitten Foundation was formed in 1995 to continue his legacy. The Foundation has raised over $14 Million for cancer research and treatment as well as developing and delivering awareness programs to hundred’s of thousands of Australian men that has ultimately saved lives.
Sadly, there is still no cure for prostate cancer! The good news is that early detection through a simple blood test can save your life through the various treatment options now available.
SO WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
- Go to the Doctor.
- Ask about a men’s health check-up including a PSA test.
- Do it annually and catch any health issues early.
A STATE FUNERAL AND FITTING FAREWELL TO EJ
“The greats gathered
Victorians lined the streets
The Choir sang to reach the spires
Setting the scene for a remarkable farewell to EJ”
EJ’s death brought an outpouring of grief from media and an avalanche of condolences. On August 22 1995 people lined the streets in their thousands for a State Funeral that went from St Patricks Cathedral to Footscray. Premier Jeff Kennett and dignitaries attended including well known names from far and wide in the sports world. The list seemed endless.
He was a hero to hundreds of thousands, perhaps of millions of ordinary Australians and to some who have never seen themselves as ordinary.
Geelong Advertiser – Editorial Opinion 1995
The funeral was televised and people in pubs stood silent, glasses in hand to remember Mr Football. He had passed all club or State allegiances and become everyone’s hero, a great Australian.
EJ inspired men to talk about Prostate Cancer Symptoms and Treatment
In EJ’s era men did not talk openly about ill health yet EJ bravely gave a voice to his public battle with Prostate Cancer, sparking the push for greater awareness of this disease and recognition of Prostate Cancer symptoms and men’s health.
EJ – The Legend Lives On
The western suburbs are full of Whitten memories – Whitten Oval and the Whitten stand, Whitten Ave and the Whitten statue stand as a hallmark of a great man who gave so much to his community. Watching the Lap of the G we relive EJ’s brave fight with Prostate Cancer and are reminded of his great legacy to spark the push for Prostate Cancer Awareness for men’s health.
The EJ Whitten Foundation was formed in his honour to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research and continue to deliver Prostate Cancer Awareness to thousands of men. The Foundation has contributed to Prostate Cancer Treatment centres that have been named in EJ’s honour at the Alfred and the Western Hospital.