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OPs’ A Grade champs of ’66 celebrate in style

At League level, 1966 is remembered as THE year of the Saint. At Amateur level it’s remembered as yet another year of the OP – one of six Old Paradian A Grade Grand Final victories achieved through that halcyon period.

Fifty years ago this month, the Old Paradians team achieved one of its finest victories in winning the ’66 pennant. Fittingly the celebration of this wonderful milestone was the focus of the Old Paradians’ Association’s September luncheon at the RACV club where ’66 players and a large gathering of members and guests came together to relive the excitement of those wonderful times.

Pictured here is coach John Booth with surviving members of the team and family representatives of those now deceased after being presented with commemorative premiership medallions. From left to right is Peter Gordon, Anita Jones (daughter of the late Geoff Jones), Brendan Danaher, Eddie Murphy, Steve Weyman (son of the late Brian Weyman), Len Foster, John Booth, Tony Pickett, Graham Mansfield, Bernie Hart (son of the late Cliff Hart), John Tudor, Bernie O’Brien, Peter Peyton and Spence Williams.

Past President and now committeeman Peter Gilmartin recalled in his presentation that while 1966 was one of six A Grade flags won by the club in the sixties, this was very special victory for a host of reasons.

“That year was John Booth’s first year as senior coach, Lou Arthur finished his 22-year reign as club President and after scraping into the final four the team won three finals by an aggregate winning margin of 20 points to secure a premiership, defeating flag favourites Melbourne High School Old Boys,” Peter said.

Peter congratulated the 1966 players and paid tribute to John Booth who went on to coach another three premierships at the club. Luncheon MC David Jones then called on John Booth to share a few memories of the ’66 year with the audience.

John highlighted the strong bond that existed amongst members of the 1966 team, which enabled them to find something extra in emerging victorious in those tight finals matches. In closing, he praised his players and thanked them for their wonderful support for him as their coach.

Peter then presented John, the players and family representatives of those now deceased with a special commemorative medal struck for the occasion. John Tudor then rounded out the memorable occasion, reciting to a hushed audience his now famous poem of the 1966 team and its famous Grand Final victory.

Former players then belted out a full-blooded version of the Yarrangabee War Cry.

Dennis Wheelahan, a long-serving past Secretary of the football club and regular OPA luncheon attendee, described the reunion as “a great day for the both the football club and the Old Paradians’ Association” and thanked the organisers for what was a truly memorable occasion.

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