Aboriginal affairs

Polly’s legacy lives on

A collection of Graham “Polly” Farmer memorabilia bought by the Western Australian State Library went on display since yesterday.

The collection contains Polly’s 1960 Sandover Medal, his 1959 Simpson medal and his 1971 British Empire Medal, along with a collection of archival material.

State Library of WA communications manager Charles Hayne says the acquisition of the collection has given football fans an opportunity to reflect on Farmer’s legacy and influence on the game.

“The role of the state library is to collect, preserve and share West Australian stories,” Mr Hayne says.

“Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer is a West Australian Legend and an important part of our story.

“That is why we have acquired this important collection of his memorabilia.”

Mr Hayne says they aim to collect memorabilia that interests all parts of the community.

“We also bought some letters from Bon Scott to his friends for the same reason.”

Sports and Recreation Minister Mick Murray, Kim Farmer, Cole Baxter and Culture and Arts Minister David Templeman. Photo: Supplied.

In a government media release, Sports and Recreation minister Mick Murray said Farmer was an iconic athlete who transcended AFL.

“Polly Farmer was an exceptional player and an incredible Western Australian, who both changed the way football was played and inspired many young potential players and coaches, myself included, to get involved with the game,” he said.

Mr Murray says Farmer had transformed the lives of thousands of young Aboriginal people by establishing his charitable foundation, The Graham “Polly” Farmer Foundation.

Author of Australian Football: The people’s game 1958-2058 and RMIT Adjunct Professor Stephen Alomes says Farmer was ahead of his time and revolutionised the game.

“The long handball was revolutionary because back in those days you were only meant to hand pass in the back line when you were under serious pressure.”

Professor Alomes says Farmer had to overcome a lot of racial abuse while playing.

“Because of his Aboriginal heritage he faced a lot of abuse, especially from a ruckman in Perth Jack Clarke, he struggled with that in the early days,” he says.

“When he moved to the VFL he made a great effort to not react to abuse unlike some other Aboriginal players.”

Three generations in one photo. Kim Farmer and her son Cole Baxter with memorabilia of their father and grandfather. Photo: Supplied.

“He was a great achiever, not many people have a highway named after them, not many people receive the level of recognition that he did and many people see him as the greatest player of all time.”