Vale Graham 'Polly' Farmer

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 11:59 AM

The East Perth Football Club pays tribute today to the great Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer who has passed away peacefully at the age of 84 after a long battle with illness.

A legend of our club and a giant of Australian Football, Polly was beloved all over the country

Farmer was born in Hillcrest Hospital, North Fremantle and brought up at Sister Kate's orphanage in Queen's Park. A bout of poliomyelitis left Farmer with his left leg shorter than his right leg. According to Farmer, he was nicknamed "Polly the Parrot" as a six-year-old because people thought he chattered away like a parrot. At high school, Farmer was spotted by talent scouts for East Perth Football Club, and his football career commenced with our club in 1953.

Few people at the time would have predicted the illustrious career that would follow. A once in a generation talent, he developed styles of play never seen before in football. Farmer’s tap outs with either hand were attacking and he was the master of quick handball that would revolutionise football. This pattern of play continued to be a winner for East Perth.

The league team won their first premiership in 20 years when they won the 1956 flag. It was Farmer’s first great year in football. He set the scene by winning the Tassie Medal and the Simpson Medal at the Australian Carnival played in Perth. He capped off an outstanding year by winning the first of three Sandover Medals.

It was also the year Polly meet his future wife Marlene. They were married in Tasmania in 1957 and had three children Brett, Dean and Kim.

After a career with East Perth from 1953 to 1961 and 176 games Farmer was cleared to play with Geelong in the VFL 1962-1967. He finished 2nd in the Brownlow Medal in 1963 and was Geelong’s best and fairest in 1963-64 and a member of Geelong’s premiership team of 1963.

Farmer returned to Western Australia at the start of the 1968 season and was cleared to West Perth as a playing coach 1968-1971. He led West Perth to premierships in 1969 and 1971.

After finishing his playing career with West Perth Farmer returned to Victoria as the coach of Geelong 1973-1975.

In 1976 Farmer returned to East Perth as coach. The club finished the season as Runner-Up and in 1977 finished fourth.

Farmer established the Polly Farmer Foundation, joined by former High Court judge Sir Ronald Wilson, former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Fred Chaney and Greg Durham, chief executive of Geelong Football Club. The foundation provides assistance to young Aboriginal people to reach their full potential become leaders in the community.

Games Played:

East Perth           1953 – 1961        176 games

Geelong               1962 – 1967       101 games

West Perth         1968 – 1971        79 games

                                                           356 games

Goals:    East Perth 157

Geelong 101

West Perth 79

 

Fairest & Best Awards:

East Perth           1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961.

Geelong               1963, 1964.

West Perth          1969.

 

Sandover Medals: 1956, 1957, 1960.
During his W.A.F.L. playing career he polled a total of 161 votes 3rd highest after Barry Cable on 183 votes and Bill Walker with 167 votes.

Premierships:

East Perth           1956, 1958, 1959.

Geelong               1963.

West Perth          1969, 1971.

Interstate Games:

Played 31 games for Western Australia which is the highest number of State games by a player. 23 games were played while a player with East Perth and 8 games while playing with West Perth. Captained the State team 6 times and coached the team on 6 occasions.

Represented Victoria in 5 games.

All Australian Teams: 1956, 1958, 1961.

Tassie Medal: 1956.

Simpson Medals:

1956 WA v SA.

1958 WA v VFL.

1959 WAFL Grand Final.

Australian Football Hall of Fame:  Listed under - Legends

Coaching:                                                      Games     Won      Lost        Drawn                  

West Perth          1968 – 1971                        91           59          30         2

Geelong               1973 – 1975                        66           24          42          -

East Perth           1976 – 1977                        45            30          15          -

                                                            Total      202         113         87          2

Further Honours

Life Membership: East Perth

Inaugural Inductee East Perth Hall of Fame

WA Football Hall of Fame