Sixty years ago, after he had forged his own handsome reputation as a Carlton footballer, the late Bert Deacon saw fit to take on the comparatively less frenetic sport of golf.
It happened in or around 1952, at a time when the club’s dual premiership player and inaugural Brownlow Medallist turned his hand to coaching at Preston, the VFA outfit from which he was originally recruited.
Bert’s son Bob can’t be crystal, but he knows the idea came in the summer when the Deacons holidayed at Rosebud.
“I know that Dad and a couple of others got the golf game going when they were down the beach. Together with Bob Foley and Kevin Chard who both played under him at Preston, they decided to take part in a golf game at Portsea and invite their partners down for lunch.
“The next year they did it again, a few more got involved and it’s been a ‘who’s who’ ever since. In fact, it’s become a bit of a tradition - everyone wants to play and four generations have played it.”
From humble beginnings, the fully-fledged tournament, which has been held at a variety of courses from Balnarring to Flinders, has traditionally been open to footballers of any allegiance – from the great John Nicholls through to Collingwood’s Neil Mann (a regular for 30 years), the Richardson brothers Wayne and Max, and Graeme “Jerker” Jenkin, a two-time tournament winner.
Fittingly, Fred Stafford junior recently got the chocolates “courtesy a generous handicap” when the tournament was held at Flinders over the 2012 Christmas/New Year period.
Fred’s father, who famously snapped the winning goal with seconds remaining in the ’47 Grand Final, said he was honoured to earn the trophy cast in Deacon’s name.
“I’ve been hacking away for the past five or six years, and this year I finally got home by one shot,” Stafford said.
“It’s an honour for me to win this because Dad was a teammate of Bert’s. I don’t recall ever meeting Bert Deacon, but I can remember being with Dad when he shared a beer with Ron Clegg at the Fenwick Inn after Bert’s funeral.”
Bert Deacon was only 51 when he died suddenly on Balnarring Beach just a few days after participating in the ’73 golf day. On his passing, old friends saw fit to cast a tournament trophy in his honour.
Son Bob has seen the tournament go from strength to strength, and he’s thrilled that his father’s name is perpetuated in this way.
“Up to 100 played when the old man was alive and in his day they’d get on at six in the morning and take over the joint,” Bob recalled. “Dad was a Brownlow Medallist, everyone wanted to be around him and he got away with murder really . . . and it’s always been a good fun day.
The Bert Deacon Trophy now remains with Fred Stafford junior for the next 12 months and hopefully for 12 months more if he can successfully defend the precious trinket.