Vale Graham Vivian “Polly” Farmer MBE

Where do you start recognising the life that has just passed to the sorrow of us all; that of Polly Farmer. Perhaps commence by pointing to the accolades, namings and awards that ensure he will live in our historical memory forever.

Inducted into the inaugural Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996, one of 12 legends. West Australian Football Hall of Fame 2004. In 1997 the Northern City Bypass becomes the Graham Farmer Freeway. First ruckman in every team of the century and captain. Repeated WANFL Premier teams and VFL. Repeated Sandover medallist, Simpson medallist. East Perth, West Perth, Geelong teams of the century.

He was one of Aussie Rules’ great innovators. The perfect ruckman he invented directly palming the ball and transformed handball. His great career was conducted with a background of an Indigenous man in a different era, and his dynamic physique developed despite the handicap of developing polio in his youth.

Commentator and Geelong footballer Sam Newman was quoted as saying,
“Without speaking one word he [Farmer] taught me everything I know. I watched how a man overcomes not the physical, not the mental, but the spiritual, that’s the most important. He was an absolute star, about one decade, one century ahead of his time.”

As a boy I looked up to him in awe. In a competition here and in Victoria of historically great players he stood out. I was also a victim of polio. Polly stood there as a beacon of the truth that it need not defeat you. The Farmers are a great Indigenous WA family. Polly was preceded by relatives who devoted everything to the defence of this country.

It was a great thing that when Stephen Hawke (Bob’s son) wrote his superb biography of Polly that the Polly Farmer Foundation was established. He was the patron of that inspired support for Indigenous education. Hundreds of Indiegnous kids have been beneficiaries.

He was a great West Australian and Australian. Deepest sympathy to his family. He was truly a legend.

The Honourable Kim Beazley AC

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