COLLINGWOOD icon Ron Wearmouth, who was raised in the Western District and coached Port Fairy, goes Under the Auld Pump with TIM AULD.
AT A GLANCE
Born: Melbourne on July 17, 1950.
Children: Peta, Rocky, Lucy, Robert, Dylan, Ellie, Paige and Louis.
Education: Terang Primary School before going to Terang High School and I had one year at University High School in Melbourne.
Sporting highlight: Playing 186 games of VFL-AFL footy with Collingwood.
Ronnie, you're recognised as one of Collingwood's most colourful characters after playing 186 games with the club from 1969 to 1981. How did it occur that you joined the Magpies?
When I was 15 years old, I played two games with Noorat and they were in the old Collingwood zone, and that's what helped me get to the Magpies.
Following those two games with Noorat, I went and played with Terang.
I can still remember playing with Terang in 1968. I got nine votes in the Maskell Medal and I played in the grand final side. We were beaten by Camperdown in that grand final.
I was only a light sort of player and ended up getting a bad corked thigh before half-time and that took me out of the game.
One of your old teammates at Collingwood was Bill Picken, who passed away suddenly last week. Bill will be buried on Thursday in Hamilton. What are your memories of Bill as a footballer and a bloke?
I've got countless memories, and there are lots that can't be printed, but Bill was just a champion bloke.
I don't think you would find a better person than Bill Picken and there would not be many people who never liked Bill. He had a laid-back attitude.
Bill has to rank as one of the best players to have worn the Collingwood jumper.
He made the Collingwood team of the century, which is a huge performance.
I started playing for Collingwood in 1969, while Bill began his career at the club in 1974.
I suppose I took him under my wing when he arrived at the club in 1974 because he came out of the Western District like me.
Bill and I just clicked as mates. I suppose it was our love of footy, racing and having a good time which saw us get on so well.
Bill played in five grand final sides but I played in four of those with him. There were two in 1977 because of the drawn grand final and then 1979 and 1980.
I'll tell you a funny story. I often used to go to the games with Bill and he would nearly always eat a Chiko roll before the game.
All the grounds back in that era used to sell the Chiko rolls in takeaway food vans. Bill always used to say don't forget the soy sauce.
It's strange; I've thought a lot about Bill since his sudden passing.
I suppose that happens when you lose a mate.
I can remember Bill never really liked training. He could be described in racing terms as a bad track worker.
He never liked working out in the gym. He would have struggled to lift 20 kilograms back then in the gym but, believe me, he could play footy.
Bill had the ability to rise to the occasion. He was a champion footballer and I reckon he would still be a champion footballer in this era.
I can still remember going away on the footy trips with Collingwood.
We went to America for the end of season trip on three occasions.
Bill and I were roommates for those trips.
We finished up down in San Francisco.
Bill was a pretty plain sort of eater, and so was I, but Bill found the clam chowder in San Francisco and just loved it.
What do you think made Bill Picken such a good footballer?
I think it had to do with his casual attitude. He never let many things faze him. He played in 21 finals for Collingwood and five of them were in losing grand finals.
I would rate him in the best three finals players that have played for Collingwood.
Bill was a brilliant mark. He had the ability to take a mark with one grab not two grabs but he was a terrible kick. He would kick punt kicks like Peter Hudson. They would sort of just float in the air.
Anyone who doubted the football ability of Bill Picken should just check out the names of some of his opponents back in that era. Malcolm Blight, Mark Maclure, Terry Daniher, Paul Salmon, Royce Hart, Ross Glendinning and Paul Van Der Haar. They were all champions and Bill played on them and beat them on more occasions than they beat him.
I can still hear him screaming out "here comes Billy" when he was going for a mark.
Ron, are you going down to Bill's funeral at Hamilton on Thursday?
No. I'm sad I can't make the trip down from up north.
I'll be in Port Douglas watching the funeral on the internet with some other passionate Collingwood fans.
Do you still follow Collingwood?
Yes. I'm a passionate Pies fan.
My favourite player is Jamie Elliott.
It's great to see that Jamie wears my old number five.
What are your memories of coaching and playing at Port Fairy?
Let's say they had highs and lows. I can still remember getting the scaffolding installed at the Gardens Oval, so I would have a high vantage point to watch games.
I also copped a $200 fine from the Hampden Football Netball League for unbecoming conduct after I called for a head count against South Warrnambool.
I thought that decision back in 1993 was garbage and I still think the same today.
I'll never forget I purchased Port Fairy's Star Of The West Hotel with my old Collingwood teammates Ricky Barham and Wayne Richardson after my VFL-AFL career was over.
We had some huge nights at the Star.
How's your own health?
It's not too bad, to be honest with you, I haven't seen a doctor in more than 30 years. I gave away the cigarettes a few years ago but still have a few beers.
I'm living up here, north of Port Douglas. I've got an old truck and help out a few mates and other people who are less fortunate than myself, which keeps me pretty busy.
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