FORMER champion Port Fairy footballer Bernie Baxter died yesterday after a short illness.
Baxter, 83, was a key player in Port Fairy’s only senior Hampden Football Netball League premiership side in 1958. He booted 692 goals for the Seagulls in a career which began in 1952 and ended in 1963 when he played in the reserves premiership side.
The key forward was enticed to Port Fairy on the advice of colourful Port Fairy identities Maurice and Marty Hearn after playing 28 games with Carlton, where he booted 22 goals. Part of Baxter’s payment to join the Seagulls in 1952 was free board in Marty Hearn’s hotel in Sackville Street.
The club also offered him two pounds a game if he booted five goals and four pounds if he kicked 10 goals.
Baxter won the Hampden league goalkicking on three occasions. He booted 77 goals in 1953, 97 in 1956 and 87 in 1957.
He was runner-up in the league’s best and fairest in 1953, three votes behind winner John O’Neill, of South Warrnambool.
The Port Fairy Football Netball Club held Baxter in such high esteem it named its scoreboard in his honour in 2007.
Former Port Fairy president Damian Gleeson, who was behind the move to name the scoreboard after Baxter, said he was a legend at the club and well known in the local community.
“Bernie’s passing is a sad day for the footy club and the town. Bernie often said the naming of the scoreboard in his honour was one of the greatest days of his life,” Gleeson said.
“Bernie was a larger than life person in the town.
“He was one of the greatest players that ever played for the Port Fairy Football Netball Club.”