Vale Graham "Polly" Farmer (10.3.1935 - 14.8.2019)

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_Mike_

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Elevated to an AFL legend as one of the original 12 inductees into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1996.

VALE Polly

1996Graham FarmerGeelong/ East Perth/ West PerthBecame a rucking giant after crossing from Western Australia. His tap-outs were attacking and his handball revolutionised the game in Victoria. Also capable of playing for much of his career with injury. A great leader.Playing career:
1953-1971 (East Perth 1953-1961, Geelong 1962-1967, West Perth 1968-1971). Games: 356 (East Perth 176, Geel 101, West Perth 79)

Goals: (East Perth NA, Geel 65, West Perth 55).

Player honours: Sandover Medal 1956, 1957, 1960; 2nd in Brownlow Medal 1963 (equal); Geel best and fairest 1963, 1964;

Geel premiership 1963;

EP best and fairest 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961;

EP premierships 1956, 1958, 1959; WP best and fairest 1969;

WP premierships 1969, 1971 (captain-coach);

All-Australian 1956, 1958, 1961.

Coaching record: Geelong 1973-1975 (66 games, 24 wins, 42 losses).
 

Kwality

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I watched a lot of Polly's games for the Cats and a few interstate games. He remains the best ruckman I have seen. People rightly point to his use of handball changing the game but he was also a clever and accurate kick. He also had wonderful visions and footy IQ.

He also remains a peerless palmer of the ball to his rovers.

People will rattle on about his battles with Nichols. They were really no contest other than the latter would try every filthy trick against him.
A feature of Pollys game before the knee injury was leaping early into the opposing ruckman and contrlling his body in the air to palm or grag/handball - so effective 1957 & 4 time AA East Freo champ Jack Clarke argued it was outside the rules. He didnt succeed.
In the 50s Polly competed against outstanding ruckman, including fellow Sandover Medallists including Clarke, Brian Foley & Merv McIntosh.
 

Seadog

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I remember how excited I was as a kid when he came to West Perth. We lived in the country and didn't have tv and I never saw him play live, i listened to games on the radio and in my head as I visualized him he was the greatest player who ever was.
Thanks Polly and rest in peace.
 

Jughead77

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Pioneer in every sense. He was such an important trailblazer for his community, at a time when the government still considered indigenous Australians to be sub-human. Its crazy to think he was captain of Geelong, yet legally wasn't allowed to vote.

Not only did Polly change the game forever, he also did it with one leg shorter than the other(from polio). The man is an absolute legend. Rip.
 

Kwality

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Pioneer in every sense. He was such an important trailblazer for his community, at a time when the government still considered indigenous Australians to be sub-human. Its crazy to think he was captain of Geelong, yet legally wasn't allowed to vote.

Not only did Polly change the game forever, he also did it with one leg shorter than the other(from polio). The man is an absolute legend. Rip.
You might be interested to know the East Perth premiership sides of the 50s included e indigenous team of the century members (Polly, Square Kilmurray & Jack Hunt) and Billy Roe from the 1956 side is a NT Hall of Famer. Polly was the leader.
 

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RussellEbertHandball

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Sad but unfortunately not surprising news. Hasn't been well for a long time. Simply the greatest.

I hope NITV replay episode 1 of the Nyoongar Footy Magic series they released last year, which was all about Polly's career.

When the government names the biggest/most expensive single piece of infrastructure ever built by the them, up to that point in 2000, after him, The Graham Farmer Freeway with a one mile tunnel under part of the CBD which links west part of the city to the east part as well as an exit to the north, you know he made a big impact in WA and not just on the footy field.


 
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chaddy22

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You might be interested to know the East Perth premiership sides of the 50s included e indigenous team of the century members (Polly, Square Kilmurray & Jack Hunt) and Billy Roe from the 1956 side is a NT Hall of Famer. Polly was the leader.
East Perth were way ahead of kevin sheedy in playing indigineous footballers.Most probably my biggest regret was that when he came back from Victoria he played for west perth and not at east perth.would have loved to watch him every week play for us.
 

LeakyValve

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East Perth were way ahead of kevin sheedy in playing indigineous footballers.Most probably my biggest regret was that when he came back from Victoria he played for west perth and not at east perth.would have loved to watch him every week play for us.
Unfortunately for us Royals, Polly was taken for granted by East Perth who just assumed he would return to the club once he had finished up at Geelong.

West Perth to their credit, sniffed an opportunity, sounded him out about his intentions and the rest is miserable history for the black and blue.

1971 is particularly galling as East Perth was demonstrably the better side that year. 1969 not the case.

1971 definitely was Polly's flag.

His last game and the West Perth players responded accordingly after Polly from all accounts, gave one of the great pre-match addresses.

One game that always goes missing when talking about Polly's CV is the 1970 VFL v WA game at the MCG.

A very pedestrian pre state of origin WA side gave the Vics a real fright (10 points from memory) and Polly was inspirational that day.

Amazing effort from a 36 year old.
 

Shane Heard

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FarmerRuck

The dictionary definition of a "Legend" when applied to an individual human being is a "person having a special place in public esteem because of striking qualities or deeds" Such a definition arguably applies to very few exponents of any sport (and certainly not to every one of the individuals so aggrandised by the AFL) but if any player in history is worthy of the accolade it is Western Australia's Graham "Polly" Farmer.

There have been more highly decorated individuals in the history of the game and arguably more gifted all round performers (though not too many of them) but in terms of impact, style and influence one is hard pressed to think of anyone to equal the East Perth, Geelong and West Perth great. As a ruckman during the 1950s and 1960s Farmer was unexcelled, with not even compatriot Jack Clarke or Victorian superstar John Nicholls being capable of living with him when he was fully fit and focused. Moreover, with his innovative and incomparably effective use of handball - often over prodigious distances - Farmer almost single-handedly revolutionised the sport. When you superimpose over all of this a resolute, almost regal demeanour and an unremitting determination to succeed - albeit without any of the egocentricity all too often associated with such traits.

 

LeakyValve

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When Polly captain-coached West Perth in a GF he got physical, 'took out the axe' my father called it, can you recall it?
Yep Polly was not a sniper or cheap shot Charlie, but in the spirit of the times, if he saw an opportunity he never declined.

Keith Doncon in the '69 Grand Final was crunched by the big man at the opening bounce and never played again at league level.

The preceding second-semi between West and East Perth is part of WA folk lore for it's toughness and brutal clashes and that was in part down to Polly's take no prisoners approach.

I recall he also made mince meat of some poor Croweater when he represented the VFL one year.

He played hard but without spite.
 

Shane Heard

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A feature of Pollys game before the knee injury was leaping early into the opposing ruckman and contrlling his body in the air to palm or grag/handball - so effective 1957 & 4 time AA East Freo champ Jack Clarke argued it was outside the rules. He didnt succeed.
In the 50s Polly competed against outstanding ruckman, including fellow Sandover Medallists including Clarke, Brian Foley & Merv McIntosh.
Yes...he caused an uproar with his technique at the time because no one had dominated the ruck so absolute as Farmer did as a young player.

He just decided for himself that he was going to go against the traditional ruck way and turn everything on it’s head.

And his ruck rovers gleefully joined in on his plan.

One of things he said in an interview has always stuck with me and made me realise how deadly serious he took his craft.

It went something like “ when the ball went out of bounds and into the crowd, I never took my eyes off that ball even while jogging over to get into position. My entire focus and concentration was on that piece of leather at all times no matter where it was”
 

Kwality

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East Perth were way ahead of kevin sheedy in playing indigineous footballers.Most probably my biggest regret was that when he came back from Victoria he played for west perth and not at east perth.would have loved to watch him every week play for us.
Not just East Perth, my earliest memory of an aboriginal is Des Davis at Subi also in the 50s, Neon Leons Uncle.
 

Kwality

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Yep Polly was not a sniper or cheap shot Charlie, but in the spirit of the times, if he saw an opportunity he never declined.

Keith Doncon in the '69 Grand Final was crunched by the big man at the opening bounce and never played again at league level.

The preceding second-semi between West and East Perth is part of WA folk lore for it's toughness and brutal clashes and that was in part down to Polly's take no prisoners approach.

I recall he also made mince meat of some poor Croweater when he represented the VFL one year.

He played hard but without spite.
Saves me looking, cheers.
No one I know ever suggested Polly was outside the law that day.
Keith Doncon, all Australian, oft overlooked in the era of Barry Cable & Billy Walker, up there with them ..went back to the farm.
 

TheShardMan

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I've got this vague memory of some indigenous ppl not being happy with him for some reason way back in the late 80s. Can't for the life of me rem what it was about. Just rem it was discussed on 6pr. F'ing memory of a goldfish. Nvm.

Too bad theres limited footage from his playing days. Esp from the 50s and early 60s. Would make a great highlight reel.
 
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