Infotainment Factory: Vale Polly: The story behind the legend

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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Vale Polly: The story behind the legend


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One of the great ironies in Graham Farmer's life was his nickname, Polly.

Ironic because he was a reasonably quiet man.

"I was probably six or seven years of age when boys and girls started calling me Polly the Parrot. They said I talked too much," Farmer explained in later years.

"Most people today would think that wouldn't be right, but in those days it may have been right … and it just stuck," he added.

Graham 'Polly' Farmer

So, Polly it would be for the rest of his life … and what a life it was.

Born in Fremantle in 1935, he was shipped from home to home at the behest of the state.

It wasn't long before Polly found the place where he felt most at home. The football field.

He carved out a celebrated career at WAFL level, playing in three premierships with East Perth and winning three Sandover Medals.

Achieving just about everything he could in WA, Farmer then decided to take his young family to Victoria.

There waiting was the Geelong Football Club, delighted to have landed one of the biggest names from the west.

That was 1962.

In 1963, Polly Farmer was a premiership hero for the Cats.

To this day many of his teammates credit him with being the architect of the victory through his ruck work.

That, along with his long range handballs, almost revolutionised the game.

Polly worked hard on those handballs. His routine included finding the narrow gap of a car window slightly wound down.

It was the stuff of legend. Indeed, Polly had become just that. A legend.

By 1967 Farmer had done his time at Kardinia Park and headed home to Perth where he again enjoyed the greatest of success, coaching West Perth to two premierships.

When his football career came to an end, Polly should've had the best of retirements.

Fame and fortune had come his way early in life, but his latter years brought financial and health worries.

In 2013, his old East Perth mates gathered for a reunion and Polly, despite his ailments, attended.

Despite being unable to speak, and battling the effects of dementia, Farmer still had a certain presence about him.

He died in a Perth hospital aged 84, prompting a flood of tributes.

"When the Australian Football Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, Graham Farmer was one of the elite dozen players in our game's history who was deemed both exceptional and worthy to be an inaugural Legend," AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said.

The terms 'champion' and 'legend' are thrown around far too readily these days.

But in the case of Graham 'Polly' Farmer, they almost downplay his true greatness.

One of the great ironies in Graham Farmer's life was his nickname, Polly.

Ironic because he was a reasonably quiet man.

"I was probably six or seven years of age when boys and girls started calling me Polly the Parrot. They said I talked too much," Farmer explained in later years.

"Most people today would think that wouldn't be right, but in those days it may have been right … and it just stuck," he added.

Graham 'Polly' Farmer

So, Polly it would be for the rest of his life … and what a life it was.

Born in Fremantle in 1935, he was shipped from home to home at the behest of the state.

It wasn't long before Polly found the place where he felt most at home. The football field.

He carved out a celebrated career at WAFL level, playing in three premierships with East Perth and winning three Sandover Medals.

Achieving just about everything he could in WA, Farmer then decided to take his young family to Victoria.

There waiting was the Geelong Football Club, delighted to have landed one of the biggest names from the west.

That was 1962.

In 1963, Polly Farmer was a premiership hero for the Cats.

To this day many of his teammates credit him with being the architect of the victory through his ruck work.

That, along with his long range handballs, almost revolutionised the game.

Polly worked hard on those handballs. His routine included finding the narrow gap of a car window slightly wound down.

It was the stuff of legend. Indeed, Polly had become just that. A legend.

By 1967 Farmer had done his time at Kardinia Park and headed home to Perth where he again enjoyed the greatest of success, coaching West Perth to two premierships.

When his football career came to an end, Polly should've had the best of retirements.

Fame and fortune had come his way early in life, but his latter years brought financial and health worries.

In 2013, his old East Perth mates gathered for a reunion and Polly, despite his ailments, attended.

Despite being unable to speak, and battling the effects of dementia, Farmer still had a certain presence about him.

He died in a Perth hospital aged 84, prompting a flood of tributes.

"When the Australian Football Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, Graham Farmer was one of the elite dozen players in our game's history who was deemed both exceptional and worthy to be an inaugural Legend," AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said.

The terms 'champion' and 'legend' are thrown around far too readily these days.

But in the case of Graham 'Polly' Farmer, they almost downplay his true greatness.

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