Aussie Rules Legend Graham 'Polly' Farmer Farewelled At State Funeral
Graham "Polly" Farmer, the greatest ruckman in Aussie Rules history, is being farewelled at a state funeral in his home town of Perth.
Farmer died in hospital on August 14 after a 20-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 84.
Speaking to reporters at Optus Stadium before the hearse was driven through the East Perth tunnel named after Farmer, AFL chairman Gillan McLachlan said the industry had gathered together to celebrate a giant of the game.
"He was a legend of our game, someone whose ability on the field is without question and someone who had such an influence off the field," Mr McLachlan said.
"He has been such an inspiration for so many players, particularly in our indigenous cohort."
Mr McLachlan said Farmer revolutionised the game with his sweeping handball.
"The expansiveness we see and the ability to do different things, to have flair - he was a leader in that regard."
In the program, Farmer's family thanked all who had brought the state funeral to fruition.
"To everyone for your attendance here today, it is a great comfort to know we are surrounded by the love and thoughts of everyone whose life our much-loved dad has touched," they wrote.
Farmer's daughter Kim will give the eulogy.
Born in Fremantle and orphaned before he turned two, Farmer was brought up in a Perth orphanage run by the protestant nun Sister Kate, where he received the name "Polly", supposedly because he talked a lot.
Farmer originally signed with Richmond in the VFL in 1955, but never played for the Tigers, making the move east in 1962 to play for Geelong and earn himself an exalted football reputation.
He played 101 games for Geelong, captaining the club from 1965-67, winning a premiership medal in 1963 and establishing himself as the finest ruckman to have played the game.
In 1968, Farmer returned to WA, joining West Perth, adding another 79 games to notch up a senior career total of 356. He also coached West Perth and returned to Victoria in 1973 to coach Geelong for three seasons.
In lieu of flowers, his many admirers were asked to make a donation to the Graham "Polly" Farmer Foundation, an educational program for Aboriginal youth that operates around Australia.