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 and a household name around Australia. EJ rubbed shoulders with the lands high and mighty but never lost his common touch. In the mix were equal parts of kindness, charity, tough talk and loveable devilment. E.J. Whitten was one of those rare souls who clung passionately to his roots while inspiring a whole generation.
VOTED AFL CHARACTER & Personality of All time
In 2012, 17 years after his death from Prostate Cancer, the legendary Ted Whitten was declared the greatest personality in AFL history. The iconic “Mr Football” was renowned for his prodigious talent on the field but it was also his philanthropic work off it that earned him the accolade. The EJ Whitten Foundation honours the legacy of this great man.
EJ -A local god, Victorian hero, Mr Football
EJ was the boy who grew up in the western suburbs to become a household name. He was ‘E.J.’ and Teddy, and he revelled in his undisputed title of Mr Football, but in truth he wore the mantle lightly 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 the family, as he went from grandson to grand-father, are a moving glance at changing times in Australia over seven decades.
EJ’S FOOTY CREDENTIALS
EJ played his first game with the Bulldogs in 1951 aged 17 and by 23 he was captain-coach. He remained coach for 10 years and after a break for 2 seasons coached for three more. Ted Whitten sustained his brilliance for almost two decades.
1996 Australian Football Hall of Fame
In 1996, he was the very first inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame, immediately elevating him to Legend status.
EJ – The Legend Lives On
EJ collected many accolades and has been described as –
Best all rounder footballer able to play everywhere on the field.
“EJ was the first stand out player in the game’s first 115 years, perhaps even beyond.”
Geoff Poulter, Herald Sun Sports Feature writer
There are many illustrious quotes from eminent sports people. They all agree that EJ touched their lives in more ways than just Football. He was a man who helped people from all walks of life in many ways. He encouraged careers such as Sam Kekovich and Eddie McGuire. He promoted indigenous football in the Tiwi Islands and he also found time to visit schools in the western suburbs where he was greeted like a god.
EJ loved people and people loved him
At one stage in 1962 he noted his footy commitments meant he didn’t hit the pillow before midnight for 27 nights in a row. He loved state duties and was well known to all. The advent of TV in 1956 propelled EJ and his larrikin spirit into every lounge room where he grew to be one of the first superstars of the multi media age.
EJ’s Legacy for Prostate Cancer Awareness and Men’s Health
The early passing of Ted Whitten Snr in 1995 from a long battle with Prostate Cancer, caused real grief beyond the confines of those who knew him, going across the State and into the wider reach of Australia. His funeral was a State occasion and people farewelled him in pubs and lined the streets to bid farewell. As with football itself, rich and poor alike rubbed shoulders in witnessing his passing.
EJ – Sparked the push for Prostate Cancer Awareness and Men’s Health
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 and recognition of Prostate Cancer symptoms and men’s health. Many remember EJ’s Last Lap of the G, where partially blind and weakened by Prostate Cancer EJ found strength to stir the crowd with his famous fist in the air salute – We stuck it up em, which now has become “Stick it up Prostate Cancer.”
The EJ Whitten Foundation continues his legacy promoting Prostate Cancer Awareness to men and the wider community via awareness campaigns and fundraising events.
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
- 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 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
- 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