Moves afoot to establish a VFA hall of fame
A distinguished football historian is leading the push to bring recognition to association football greats such as Fred Cook and ‘Frosty’ Miller — and the AFL has given him the green light to put together a proposal. Here’s how it would work.
Paul Amy, Leader
June 24, 2020 6:00am
Port Melbourne champion Fred Cook is one of several players who would be recognised in a VFA hall of fame.
Moves are underway to establish a hall of fame for champion players from the old Victorian Football Association (VFA).
Respected football historian Darren Arthur is putting together a proposal to the AFL that would bring recognition to association greats such as prolific goalkickers “Fabulous’’ Fred Cook and Jim “Frosty’’ Miller and Williamstown’s Gerry “Monster’’ Callahan.
Arthur said a hall of fame should have been established a long time ago for the VFA, which became the VFL in 1996.
He said it would be the stepping stone for players to be nominated for the Australian Football Hall of Fame, which has only two recognised VFA stars, Williamstown’s Ron Todd and Port Melbourne’s Frank Johnson.
Frank Johnson marks for Port Melbourne.
Both also played league football with distinction.
In the past few years Port Melbourne has nominated Cook, Willy have put forward Callahan for consideration and a group of former Dandenong players has promoted Dandy man Miller’s credentials, but the trio has been overlooked for the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Arthur, a former Yarraville VFA player, is the Western Bulldogs’ club historian and heritage co-ordinator, and helped create its hall of fame.
He said every state and every major state footballing body had hall-of-fame sections and the VFA was “the missing link’’.
“SA and WA have both around 28 inductees each. You can’t tell me there should be such a big disparity,’’ Arthur said.
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He said the VFA was a “lost archive’’ with a “rich and colourful history’’.
“The deeds of its many players and servants, its place in Victoria’s cultural and football history have yet to be officially endorsed through a proper system of recognition, such as a hall of fame,’’ Arthur said.
“The establishment of a properly recognised hall of fame will then provide a clear pathway for nominations to the Australian Football Hall of Fame.’’
Jim “Frosty’’ Miller.
Arthur said the VFA had a complex history but it was easily researched and he had compiled a list of possible nominations.
He approached the AFL about the proposal and it has asked him to submit something by February.
Arthur believes it should be broken into two categories: the “VFA Era’’ from 1877 to 1995 and the “VFL Era’’ from 1996.
Both would take in a combination of players, coaches, administrators, umpires and media inductees.
A selection committee would be established and administered through the hall of fame co-ordinator, who would report to AFL Victoria and the Australian football hall of fame.
A Legends category — capped at no more than 10 per cent of all inductees — would be the pinnacle position.
“It is expected the initial induction will see around 140 inductees for the VFA period and four-five from the VFL period,’’ Arthur said.
“Further inductions are to take place yearly with about six to eight inductees.’’
VFA great Alan Wickes.
Former VFA president Alan Wickes welcomed Arthur’s move to set up the hall of fame.
Wickes has been campaigning for it for some years, telling Inside Football in 2015 that it was a blight on VFA administrators that it hadn’t been done.
“I think it’s imperative that the originator of Australian rules football be formally placed where it should be,’’ he said.
“The reality is that in 1877 the first association was formed, and it was the Victorian Football Association. It hasn’t been an insignificant body over 143 years.’’
Wickes would also like to see a museum of VFA/VFL memorabilia.
Former VFA/VFL general manager Martin Stillman also backed the proposal.
“It’s the oldest football code in the country, and it’s deserving of a hall of fame, no doubt about that,’’ he said.
“There’s so much history and tradition with the VFA, and so many great footballers.’’
He said it made sense that a VFA/VFL hall of fame could serve as a feeder to the Australian football hall of fame.
“It’s astonishing to me that we only have two in there. There could be far more worthy recipients from the VFA,’’ Stillman said.
Stillman also confirmed the existence of two vaults of VFA memorabilia in a storage facility in West Melbourne.
“I’ve got no doubt AFL Victoria has all those items under lock and key,’’ he said.