Cat-alogue of greatness

Geelong Cats' huge mark on footy celebrated at exhibition

Art
A LONG, GLORIOUS HISTORY: The Geelong football team in 1895. The club is the second oldest club in the AFL after Melbourne.

A LONG, GLORIOUS HISTORY: The Geelong football team in 1895. The club is the second oldest club in the AFL after Melbourne.

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Event coincides with celebration of the club's 160th anniversary of its formation.

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AYONE who loves their footy will be fascinated by a significant exhibition of rare Geelong Football Club memorabilia opening at Geelong Art Gallery in September.

Titled The Greatest Team of All - Treasures from the Bob Gartland Collection, it features more than 800 items in a captivating study of the club and its connection with the community. It coincides with this year's celebration of the club's 160th anniversary of its formation.

Bob Gartland is the club's vice-president, a prominent local businessman and a passionate historian.

Geelong Art Gallery chief executive and exhibition curator Jason Smith said the never-seen-before treasures bring to life the history and contemporary relevance of a club that engenders extraordinary civic pride.

A Geelong Football Club membership ticket from 1864

A Geelong Football Club membership ticket from 1864

"Bob Gartland is a natural historian. He has an innate passion for collecting and hunts things down. He's a great communicator and being so well known around the club, people bring things to him," he said.

"The collection reinforces community and team spirit - the historical and the social. There is a relationship between the exhibition and the fabric of the Geelong community.

"One of the reasons the gallery is hosting the exhibition is that it reflects the changes in journalism, photography and design - the football cards, the tickets that were clipped each time people attended a game.

"Everything has a story and the objects in this collection tell their own story."

There are many rarities, including the original letter to Mrs Charles Brownlow proposing an award in her late husband's name.

The collection not only follows key figures in the club's history from Charles Brownlow to Joel Selwood, it also celebrates the club's evolution including its uniform design, the Cats nickname and successes and stories of the playing group over 160 years.

One of those who made a giant mark was Graham "Polly" Farmer, who died on August 14, aged 84.

INNOVATOR: The late, great Polly Farmer, pictured in 1966. One of the finest players ever to lace a boot, he revolutionised the way the game is played.

INNOVATOR: The late, great Polly Farmer, pictured in 1966. One of the finest players ever to lace a boot, he revolutionised the way the game is played.

The WA champion and Indigenous trailblazer played 101 games for the Cats between 1962 and 1967, and changed the way the game was played, being the first to use handball in offense and to grab the ball out of the ruck.

A Noongar man, Farmer grew up in an orphanage and was a leader in the Aboriginal community.

The exhibition also explores the impact of social change and upheaval including war, the transformation of the city, stadium developments and the football club's contribution to community life and wellbeing.

The exhibition runs from September 20-November 10. Gallery entry is free.

geelonggallery.org

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