Tributes are being paid to the long-serving Carlton statistician Brian Bearman, who died recently at the age of 82.
Brian’s working relationship with Carlton took in the Barassi era and beyond, and spanned almost 40 years. His loyalty to the club was rewarded with Life Membership in the club’s Premiership year of 1987.
Five years previous, Brian’s brother Ken was awarded Life Membership for services as timekeeper. In 2000, Brian’s son Lewis was similar recognised for his contributions as a statistician – “three Life Members of the Carlton Football Club none of whom ever played a game,” as Lewis observed.
Born on November 12, 1933 in Manchester, Brian Bearman, together with his brothers and parents, boarded the first Australian-bound passenger ship from the UK after the Second World War. The Bearmans made the move as Brian’s grandmother was advised that a warmer climate was in the best interests of her health – and she pitched for Australia because she heard you couldn’t get a decent cup of tea in South Africa.
On disembarking the vessel in Brisbane in 1947, the Bearmans settled in the city, only to relocate to Melbourne five years later.
When Barassi accepted the role of Carlton Captain-coach on the cusp of the 1965 season, Ken Bearman was already keeping time for the club. According to Lewis: “Barassi wanted a statistician and Ken said to his brother ‘you love the club – you can do that’.
“And that’s exactly what happened. From ’65, Brian started keeping stats with people like Margaret and Grant Salomon and his good mate the late Ron Bromley. Then in 2000 when Wayne Brittain took over and replaced a lot of statisticians with a lot of computers, Brian stayed on for a couple of years with the Carlton Heritage Committee.”
James Koochew, Brian’s successor as Carlton’s head statistician in 1994, said that he was but a young man of 26 at the time “and Brian had been doing the job for longer than I’d been alive”.
“I remember that Geoff Walsh made the announcement that I was taking over and Brian was the first bloke to stand up to offer his congratulations,” James said.
“That was a measure of the man. He was a true gentleman.”
In more recent years, and though his friendship with Stephen Gough, Brian fulfilled duties as a guide at the National Sports Museum. But he remained an active Carlton supporter to the end.
“There’s a photograph of Dad running a victory lap with ‘Big Nick’ and the Carlton players after taking stats in the 1970 Grand Final,” Lewis said. “That moment was one of the joys of his life – to run the victory lap with them.”
Brian Bearman died peacefully in Cabrini Palliative Care. He is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years Ruth, son Lewis, daughter Tanya now living in the United Kingdom, and four grandchildren.