JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Vale the Geelong Flyer, 'fair dinkum unbelievable'

Date

Greg Baum

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Sad day for Geelong

Geelong loses a favourite son with the death of AFL legend Bob Davis.

PT0M0S 620 349

TO PUT Geelong in the mood for the 1963 VFL grand final, coach Bob Davis brought in piano accordionist and television clown Happy Hammond. Hammond led the players down the race and through the banner. Geelong won that premiership, beating Hawthorn by a handsome margin. For the coach, it complemented the flags he won in 1951 and 1952 as the Geelong Flyer, who was named for the express train and played like one.

It would be 44 years before the Cats won another, but always, something of that blithe Davis spirit animated the club, setting it philosophically as it is physically, a little apart from the the rest. It still does.

John ''Sam'' Newman, who Davis plucked out of Geelong Grammar to play for Geelong in 1964, said yesterday: ''He had some very strict principles about how sport should be played. He didn't like snide football. He liked to play it hard, but play it fair.'' Of the many tributes paid to Davis yesterday, this was the most telling.

Mr Geelong: Bob Davis, scene-stealer extraordinaire at the Cats' premiership cup presentation in 2009.

Mr Geelong: Bob Davis, scene-stealer extraordinaire at the Cats' premiership cup presentation in 2009. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Oddly enough, Davis lost his job in 1965, and thereafter held no official position at Kardinia Park. But, simply, he personified Geelong, and it took its cues from him. ''He was just so much a part of Geelong,'' Premier Ted Baillieu said yesterday. Baillieu is a Cats' fan, as is former Premier Steve Bracks. Geelong's support - in the image of their club - is smaller than some, but select. This is a Davis legacy.

Geelong put a premium on style. Eschewing the Machiavellian machinations of the draft, they are the only club in the modern era not to finish in the bottom four. From Polly Farmer, to Newman, to the Abletts and now Joel Selwood, the lineage was aristocratic.

Malcolm Blight's teams were heroically unsuccessful, but irresistible to watch. At last under Mark Thompson, it all came together. When the Cats augmented their 2007 premiership with another in 2009, a beaming Davis presented Tom Harley with the cup, but only after a good, long hold of it himself. It was the last public image of Davis. In it, his joie de vivre shines.

Bob Davis with Jack Dyer, Lou Richards and chimpanzees on the set of League Teams. Click for more photos

Geelong legend Bob Davis

Geelong player, coach and legend Bob Davis has died. 

In Melbourne, Davis was family. With Lou Richards and the late Jack Dyer, he pioneered the cult of the football television entertainer in two forums, as the ''three wise monkeys'' in League Teams on Thursday night and on World of Sport on Sunday morning. Both shows were calculatedly maladroit, right for Melbourne and for the football zeitgeist, and were much-loved. ''Fair dinkum unbelievable,'' Davis, the straight man, would intone. It has passed into the game's lingo, and was the hashtag linking hundreds of Twitter tributes yesterday.

Davis's personality worked on television as it did in his football endeavours: he took the game seriously, but not himself. He was on television, on and off, from his retirement as a player in 1959 until 2001. ''Perhaps his greatest contribution of all,'' said AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, ''was to take our game into lounge rooms every weekend.''

That is debatable. It is natural that his post-playing life usurped his football exploits in public consciousness, but it should not be allowed to obliterate them (the same is true of Newman). From Ballarat, the son of a barber and SP bookie, he barracked for South Melbourne, but was rejected by the Swans - so is history incidentally shaped - and alighted on Geelong in 1948, at the start of a thrilling era.

In 10 years, he played 189 games, won two flags and a best-and-fairest, played in an unbeaten streak of 26 games - still a record - and captained the club. He played regularly for the state, and in his last season, 1958, was Victorian and all-Australian captain. In 1996, he was an inaugural inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame.

At 183 centimetres and 95 kilograms, he was big and burly for his time, but also electrically fast. He made his name as a half-forward flanker, but played everywhere. ''Run-on football is not something that was discovered in the '70s,'' he said once. ''I played it in '57-'58. I had the pace to do it.''

In the absence of YouTube, one bold image endures: Davis in long sleeves, legs splayed fore and after, like an Olympic sprinter, but with a football under his arm, goal-bound.

As a coach, he prized flair over intricacy. ''Barassi called me the last of the non-thinking coaches,'' he said. ''I'd like to think he left out 'successful'.'' But, deliberately, humour masked method. He believed in the power of recruiting; his biggest coup was the inestimable Farmer, his next Newman.

Newman called Davis a ''loose cannon and bon vivant''. The Geelong Flyer's record on the road trip to Melbourne was 27½ minutes. Unsurprisingly, he lost his licence three times.

Priorities were different then. But he grew up. At 50, he moved with his family to England for a year to sell cars and see if he could manage without being a football and television identity. He could; he almost stayed.

Just as Davis embodied Geelong, so a part of the club has died.

The modern players knew him only as an old man, but coach Chris Scott said they were feeling this moment keenly yesterday. Unwittingly, they had already honoured him deeply. As Davis's last siren sounded, his beloved Cats were unbeaten, having just lowered Collingwood's colours. Yesterday, not even the hardest-nosed Magpies begrudged them.

1 comment so far

  • " Charlie Clymo, who's Charlie Clymo?"
    " Charlie Clymo...only coached one yee-ar!"
    Vale Bobby

    Commenter
    Shane Backx
    Location
    Mooloolaba Qld
    Date and time
    May 18, 2011, 3:35PM

    Make a comment

    You are logged in as [Logout]

    All information entered below may be published.

    Error: Please enter your screen name.

    Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Please enter your comment.

    Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

    Post to

    You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

    Thank you

    Your comment has been submitted for approval.

    Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

    Related Coverage

    Sad day for Geelong (Thumbnail) Sad day for Geelong

    Geelong loses a favourite son with the death of AFL legend Bob Davis.

    Bob Davis. Geelong legend Bob Davis

    Geelong player, coach and legend Bob Davis has died.

    Footy loses a legend

    Listen to reaction to Davis's death from football luminaries.

    Bobby Dazzler a great player, great coach

    Bob Davis may have been a character but he was also one hell of a player.

    Davis loved Cats, and they him

    Geelong lowers premiership flags to half-mast and will wear black armbands against Carlton before discussing a more lasting tribute to Bob Davis, the club's champion player, coach and motivator.

    State funeral tremendous honour, Davis's son says

    The son of football legend Bob Davis has welcomed the prospect of a state funeral for the much-loved football and media figure who died on Monday night.

    Related Coverage

    HuffPost Australia

    AFL 2015

    Round 1
    Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
    SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
    BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
    WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
    ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
    FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
    Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
    GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
    COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
    GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
    PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
    ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
    NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
    ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
    SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
    NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
    BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
    GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
    WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
    ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
    GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
    PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
    FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
    GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
    WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
    SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
    GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
    NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
    WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
    STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
    ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
    WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
    GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
    GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
    MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
    FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
    PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
    HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
    CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
    SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
    WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
    RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
    BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
    GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
    GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
    HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
    FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
    MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
    PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
    MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
    WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
    RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
    ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
    COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
    WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
    GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
    ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
    PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
    NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
    STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
    Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
    MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
    WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
    NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
    STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
    ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
    GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
    WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
    Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
    GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
    BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
    STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
    Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
    Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
    COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
    GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
    WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
    MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
    Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
    ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
    Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
    Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
    WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
    NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
    WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
    Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
    HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
    BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
    Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
    GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
    GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
    COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
    SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
    FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
    Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
    MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
    PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
    STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
    CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
    Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
    ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
    RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
    ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
    BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
    Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
    WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
    MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
    WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
    HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
    Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
    COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
    SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
    CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
    GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
    Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
    PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
    ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
    FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
    Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
    WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
    BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
    GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
    WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
    Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
    MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
    GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
    STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
    SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
    Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
    ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
    NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
    PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
    GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
    BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
    Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
    RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
    WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
    FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
    Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
    GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
    GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
    STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
    ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
    Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
    NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
    CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
    WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 22
    Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
    Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
    GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
    HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
    NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
    ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
    GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
    Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
    STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
    FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 23
    Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
    RIC ($1.08)vs NTH ($8.00) 19:50ES
    Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
    GEE ($2.20)vs ADE ($1.67) 13:05SS
    BRI ($4.00)vs WBU ($1.25) 13:45G
    PTA vs FRE 15:50Adelaide Oval
    HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($17.00) 16:40MCG
    SYD ($1.04)vs GCF ($11.00) 19:25SCG
    WCE ($1.04)vs STK ($11.00) 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
    MEL ($2.45)vs GWS ($1.55) 13:10ES
    COL ($1.28)vs ESS ($3.70) 15:20MCG
    View All Fixtures
    AFL 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D % Pts
    Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
    West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
    Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
    Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
    Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
    Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
    Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
    North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
    View all
     

    Follow Us on Facebook

    Featured advertisers