The Finley Football Club Hall of Fame dinner was recently conducted at the Apex and Sporting Centre and was once again hailed an outstanding success.
Guests were very receptive to the induction of a further three legends of the club in Terry Walsh (1946-1955), Leo McNamara (1963-1973) and Michael Hawkins (1970-1983).
All three individuals provided outstanding contributions on the playing field at both local and representative level. Dissection of their respective playing profiles certainly justified elevation to Hall of Fame status.
Leo McNamara and Michael Hawkins were the exceptional players in a golden era for Murray League Football which encompassed the period 1960-1980.
Throughout this time the MFL emerged as a genuine power at interleague level and both men were pivotal to this unexpected resurgence.
Leo and Michael were teammates in Finley’s 1971 premiership success and unsurprisingly Leo (three) and Michael (five) dominated club best and fairest voting throughout their reign.
Michael won further premierships with the Cats in 1981 and 1982 and added the 1977 O’Dwyer Medal to his impressive list of achievements.
Following his departure from Finley, Leo coached for three seasons at Jerilderie before moving north to Palm Beach Currumbin in the Queensland Football Association.
He also achieved legendary status at this club before his eventual retirement in 1987. His senior playing career had spanned an incredible period of 23 years.
When the late Bill Limbrick (considered by many to be the doyen of MFL football) was called on to select his best ever teams it was not surprising the names of McNamara and Hawkins featured prominently throughout.
A highlight of the Hall of Fame evening was undoubtedly the induction of 1950s ruckman Terry Walsh.
Terry played with Finley from 1946-1955 with a brief intermission 1947-1948 when he was recruited by North Melbourne.
His stint at North yielded 28 games but was unfortunately abbreviated because of his need to return to the family farm to assist his father who at the time was in ill health.
Terry was a dominant ruckman and half back during his time with Finley and starred in premierships in 1952 and 1954.
He represented MFL on several occasions and won the club best and fairest award in 1946 and 1953.
At the age of 28, Terry’s life came to a tragic end as a car in which he was travelling in company with good friend Noel Baker collided with a passenger train just north of Tocumwal.
This accident occurred on July 20, 1955 and left an entire community in a state of shock. Terry was survived by his wife Dulcie and three young boys less than five years of age.
The youngest of the siblings, Terry jnr was born only days before the accident.
The melancholic thoughts evoked by recollection of these events were heightened when it was revealed that all three of Terry’s sons were present for the evening and would accept the induction on his behalf.
Now aged in their 60s all three men admitted to having very little recall of their father or indeed their time on the farm.
As such they expressed deep appreciation for the various anecdotes and tributes afforded their father and would cherish the esteem in which he was held.
There was a touching twist to conclude the Terry Walsh story when former player Jim Jewell, who now owns the farm on which the Walsh children were born, made a presentation of significant relevance to the occasion.
As it transpires several years ago a building on the old Walsh farm was demolished and several items of minor interest salvaged from the rubble and retained by Jim and his family. One relic was a brick bearing the inscription T Walsh 1947.
Jim was oblivious as to the identity of T Walsh or any associated history until being involved in discussions about prospective inductees for this Hall of Fame event.
The presentation of the relic to the Walsh family added yet another layer to the poignancy and nostalgia that had typified the evening. The fact that the brick represented a tangible connection between Terry’s family and the Finley community resonated with everyone in attendance.
The Finley Football Club would like to thank all persons who contributed to the success of this event and look forward to the induction of contemporary champions in the near future.