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Proudly Sydney

Supporters’ tribute to a Bloods Legend

Bloods Legend Peter Bedford surrounded by supporters at a special tribute in Melbourne.

Saturday 15th June was a very special day for one of our Bloods Legends.

A close–knit group of passionate, mostly Melbourne–based Swans supporters, gathered at the Rising Sun Hotel in South Melbourne to pay tribute and give thanks to Peter Bedford, a man so integral to the history of our great Club.

Some of those in attendance have been following the Bloods since the early 1930’s, including 90 year old Nellie Cooper, whose five children, 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren still carry on the South Melbourne tradition.  She did admit, however, that two of them don’t support the Swans! And Pat McLindin and Sue Drummond, from the ACT Supporter Group, flew into Melbourne especially for the event.

The celebration revolved around Peter’s illustrious football career, his cricketing achievements, and his current involvement in teaching, coaching and playing the game that, in his own words, was and still is his first passion – cricket.

Cricket?!! A muted sigh was heard around the room, just for a nano–second, but the red and white soon shone through. Proudly wearing his Swans T–shirt, with his Brownlow medal around his neck, the entertainment began.

What a storyteller Peter is, and what a memory he has!

He reeled off anecdotes as if they had happened yesterday. We learned of his early childhood days while playing both sports, his years of study at the Toorak Teachers College, and his decision to choose sport over an academic career. We listened, enthralled, as he spoke of his Port Melbourne footy days in the VFA, his cricketing achievements for Victoria, being approached by the Port Adelaide Football Club to transfer there, and Donald Bradman encouraging him to play Sheffield Shield for South Australia. We also learned that the main reason he rejected the various approaches and chose to sign up with the Mighty Bloods, was simply a financial one. His Sheffield Shield payments were far less than the wages being paid to the young men collecting entry tickets to the ground, and as he was about to be married, he had no choice. Details of his playing days with South from 1968 to 1976 also featured strongly, and in particular 1970, when he won the coveted Brownlow medal, and played alongside his idol, Bobby Skilton, in our first final since the Blood Bath Grand Final of 1945.

His generosity didn’t stop there.  He allowed us to have photographs taken with him, not just with his arm around our waists, but with his treasured Brownlow medal securely placed around our necks.  He signed copious numbers of photographs, answered whatever questions we put forth and watched intently, and sometimes quite emotionally, as we all watched wonderful film and video clips of his extraordinary sporting life.

This was, indeed, a day to remember.

It was initiated and organised by our very own Sharryne Daley, who, like me, went to her first Bloods game as a small child, and is still as passionate as ever. Peter has always been, still is, and will remain her true South Melbourne/Sydney Swans hero. Her husband, Mal, was also instrumental in making the day a very special one.

In fact, the event was to be a surprise for Peter.

As he walked into the room at 12 noon, expecting simply to have lunch with a few Swans people, all 35 of us stood and gave him a rousing ovation for at least 45 seconds. He seemed slightly overwhelmed, as we too were. A couple of us gave speeches, and in turn he replied to a range of questions, and statements of adoration. He was also presented with memorabilia.

The film clips and videos, created by Sharryne, brought tears to many an eye, including mine. Even giving my little speech, I found my lips quivering and becoming emotional – I can’t help it when talking about my 70-year passion for my beloved club!

Peter’s illustrious career saw him win South’s best and fairest five times, captain the team from 1973 to 1976 and eventually in 1999 being inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Then, in 2003 he was named in the Swans team of the century. What an honour for such a great man!

How thankful we must be today that he chose not to go to South Australia all those years ago, but instead, to remain at home in Victoria and join South.

That decision, 51 years ago, not only wrote the history books, but it allowed those of us in attendance to celebrate his achievements and his life, and pay tribute to the one and only Peter Bedford.

Go Peter and Go the Mighty Bloods!

Jan Courtin, a passionate lifelong Swans fan who attended her first game in 1948, moved to Sydney to be closer to her team in 1998. In 2016 her book “My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans” was launched by the Swans, and she was chosen "Female Fan of the Year" by the AFL Fans Association. Her website: http://www.myswansloveaffair.com  You can read more great Sydney Swans fan reviews at footyalmanac.com.au