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  1. #1
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    Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Thought I'd share some fantastic stories that a Bulldogs barracker called Steve Campbell told me when I interviewed him for the PhD I'm writing on footy barrackers. It's still the time of year for stories and Steve was kind enough to give me permission to post this on WOOF.

    Steve's family immigrated to Australia as "ten pound poms" in 1951 and lived and worked in the Western suburbs for much of his life. Unfortunately he was too young to experience much of or remember 1954 (his mother saw the red, white and blue streamers and thought there was a Royal visit she and missed. Steve's first footy memories date back to 1956, but the story I'll start off with is from 1961.

    With one round to go in the home-and-away season the Bulldogs were in fifth position, but they were playing third-placed Geelong at the Western Oval in the last round, and knew that if they beat them they would replace them in the four and make the finals. This was the ladder (Melbourne, Geelong and Fitzroy had all drawn a match during the season):

    HW 52 124.1
    ME 46 133.7
    GE 42 102.0
    SK 40 117.6
    FO 40 108.4
    FI 38 109.1
    ES 36 110.2
    CA 36 96.4
    CW 20 83.8
    RI 20 79.4
    SM 20 75.8
    NM 18 78.3

    So Steve was in the grandstand as a fairly young kid, and he was sitting beside a man who was a Geelong barracker. The Bulldogs started off the game slowly, but then in the second quarter came an amazing moment that Steve remembers with absolute crystal clarity.

    Ted Whitten took a mark out on the EJ Smith Stand side of the ground, the outer wing and proceeded to line up for goal. The Geelong supporter took a look at what was happening and said, “ah look at the idiot, he’s going to have a shot for goal.” Although he was much younger Steve said, “he’ll kick it”, and the guy said “he couldn’t kick a goal from there”, and Steve replied “he’ll kick it!”

    Whitten went back and released this drop kick that just sailed and sailed and sailed, it didn’t seem to travel particularly high, it was just this long raking drop kick that just cleared the pack in the goal square and went through for a goal. And then in the last quarter he did the same thing from almost the same position, with the same result. Steve remembers these goals as absolutely inspirational, and the Bulldogs ran out winners, by 21 points (0.3 6.6 8.10 12.12 [84] to 1.6 4.6 6.11 8.15 [63], in front of 42,015*).

    Steve, who had learnt to read by bringing the Sporting Globe into his parents bed of a Sunday morning and getting his father to help him the words, recalls that the following Monday morning in the Sun Lou Richards began his article by saying that Ted Whitten beat Geelong with two drop kicks – one went 90 yards and the other went 89 yards two foot six inches.

    The Bulldogs had been struggling since 54, and Steve remembers the great excitement after the game when we won and were in the finals. The rooms were absolutely jam-packed with supporters. Steve squeezed in, and then squeezed up to the front. Ted Whitten got up on a table, and stark naked, addressed the crowd. He gave a really impassioned speech about how though we had made it into the finals, our run hadn’t finished. How he was so proud of the team, they were unfancied but had got this far and wanted to go further. It was really really inspiring. Everyone went away feeling on top of the world after that win, and the scenes at the end of the game after the win. It was, in Steve's words, just a marvelous occasion, and I almost felt like I was there, listening to him describe it.

    I'll write a couple of Steve's other stories up in the next few days if people want me to.

    * the stats and scores are from this beaut of a website: http://stats.rleague.com/afl/seas/1961.html#18

  2. #2
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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    RT, keep them coming. I enjoyed the read
    "Lets roll and hey...lets do it to them before they do it to us"

  3. #3
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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Great read. Thanks.
    HEIGHT IS OVERRATED: CALEB DANIEL > TOM BOYD

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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    I had one meeting with Ted it was between the 2 grandstands at the W.O i would have been about 12 i think, i was a bit overawed but found the courage to say hello, his reply was to respond with a smile and a hello how are you. It blew away the myth of him being a big mean man. Its amazing what a difference a smile and a gentle hello can make to a young supporters thoughts on a hero.
    I think Ted knew what it meant to do the little things, maybe ahead of his time in that department too?
    He definitley had an aura and warmth kind of feeling about him. Might sound silly but i found myself feeling safe that he knew me.

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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Quote Originally Posted by Raw Toast View Post
    Steve, who had learnt to read by bringing the Sporting Globe into his parents bed of a Sunday morning and getting his father to help him the words, recalls that the following Monday morning in the Sun Lou Richards began his article by saying that Ted Whitten beat Geelong with two drop kicks – one went 90 yards and the other went 89 yards two foot six inches.
    It's lovely to hear from people who remember '54 and in such detail; it was a great time. Ted did it again at the WO last round of '61 and against Geelong too. We had to win to sneak into 4th place and Ted just wasn't going to let the chance go. He kicked a couple of monster goals at times when the Cats looked like getting on top of us.

    I'm not sure Lou had started writing for the Sun by 1954. He was still captain of Collingwood and didn't retire 'til near the end of the '55 season. It's easy to confuse them but I think Jack Dyer did the celebrity journalistic thing in '54.
    I believe there's nothing on this earth that we own. All we do is look after it for our children - Terry Wheeler

  6. #6
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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Quote Originally Posted by alwaysadog View Post
    It's lovely to hear from people who remember '54 and in such detail; it was a great time. Ted did it again at the WO last round of '61 and against Geelong too. We had to win to sneak into 4th place and Ted just wasn't going to let the chance go. He kicked a couple of monster goals at times when the Cats looked like getting on top of us.

    I'm not sure Lou had started writing for the Sun by 1954. He was still captain of Collingwood and didn't retire 'til near the end of the '55 season. It's easy to confuse them but I think Jack Dyer did the celebrity journalistic thing in '54.
    That game v Geelong in 61 is actually the game they're talking about.

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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Quote Originally Posted by ledge View Post
    I had one meeting with Ted it was between the 2 grandstands at the W.O i would have been about 12 i think, i was a bit overawed but found the courage to say hello, his reply was to respond with a smile and a hello how are you. It blew away the myth of him being a big mean man. Its amazing what a difference a smile and a gentle hello can make to a young supporters thoughts on a hero.
    I think Ted knew what it meant to do the little things, maybe ahead of his time in that department too?
    He definitley had an aura and warmth kind of feeling about him. Might sound silly but i found myself feeling safe that he knew me.
    Wonderful story ledge. Nothing silly about that at all.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Keep the stories coming RT.

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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Quote Originally Posted by Sockeye Salmon View Post
    That game v Geelong in 61 is actually the game they're talking about.
    Sorry, I misread the lead in. I think that was also the season Lou promised to cut Ted's front lawn with toe clippers if the Doggies won and when they did turned it into a big media event, Lou on his knees with Ted looking on etc., but I doubt that more than 2 blades of grass were actually cut.
    I believe there's nothing on this earth that we own. All we do is look after it for our children - Terry Wheeler

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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Sorry about the delay in replying (been rushed off my feet). Great to hear Ledge's story as well. TwoDogs was saying to me the other day that someone should write a book of people's stories about Teddy Whitten and I reckon it's a great idea. Just a few more snippets for now.

    Steve had the great privilege of meeting Whitten once as well. Steve was 12 or 13 when his brother went for his driving license. Ted had a driving school at that time, and after Steve's brother got his license Ted came over for a cup of tea and some fruit cake in their kitchen. Steve got his autograph, spoke to him about footy and had a great time as Whitten sat round with him and his mum and brother as if he'd known them for years.

    Steve also told me about the famous lawn-mowing incident that alwaysadog referred to. Lou Richards was famous for drumming up interest by making outlandish bets, and when it came time for the Dogs to play Melbourne, Lou said he would cut Whitten's lawn with nail scissors if we won. Melbourne were of the powerhouse of the day, and were coming to the end of a period where they won the flag 5 out of 6 years.

    The Bulldogs won, however, and Steve turned up at Whitten's house to see a huge throng already there. Ted owned a milkbar in Sunshine at that stage
    and they actually erected temporary seating so everyone could see. It seemed to Steve that every kid in Sunshine and Braybrook was there witness the occasion. Fortunately for Richards the lawn was only a small area outside the front of the shop so he didn't have a huge amount of cutting to do.

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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    RT what has happened to our society, there are no more Characters left anymore. The players are all robots, the journos are only after dirt, like drug stories, or players speeding getting drunk. The Whittens, the Lou Richards, the Carmens etc etc are all gone. Sheedy was really the last of them and he hadn't really shown anything since the jacket waving and the marshmellows comment.

    Its a shame.

  11. #11
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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    RT what has happened to our society, there are no more Characters left anymore. The players are all robots, the journos are only after dirt, like drug stories, or players speeding getting drunk. The Whittens, the Lou Richards, the Carmens etc etc are all gone. Sheedy was really the last of them and he hadn't really shown anything since the jacket waving and the marshmellows comment.

    Its a shame.
    Aker is one who is prepared to say something interesting but whenever he does half the football world jumps down his throat.

  12. #12
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    Re: Steve Campbell on Ted Whitten and other memories

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    RT what has happened to our society, there are no more Characters left anymore. The players are all robots, the journos are only after dirt, like drug stories, or players speeding getting drunk. The Whittens, the Lou Richards, the Carmens etc etc are all gone. Sheedy was really the last of them and he hadn't really shown anything since the jacket waving and the marshmellows comment.

    Its a shame.
    A massive shame.

    Remember when EJ had to walk down Rundle Mall in a Croweaters guernsey? Sam going onto the MCG in a tutu? Football was made more enjoyable by antics like this.

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