The oldest living footballer

t14574KenFeltscheer1937Hawthorn FootballClubKen Feltscheer has waited a long time for his turn in the spotlight, and earlier this month he turned 100 years old to be declared the oldest living former Australian Football League player, and maybe even the oldest former professional footballer in the world.

His sporting prowess and longevity should be no surprise, because his uncle Alex Mawhinney played in the AFL (then VFL) at Melbourne and lived to 85 years old, and cousin Harold Peacock, who lived to 90 years old, had two stints at St Kilda, the first under a false name and the second as himself. Even the variable names should be no surprise in this family, since uncle Tom Mawhinney changed his identity in the midst of a colourful career as a bookmaker.

Ken still has his wonderful wit and humour, just like he did in this 1937 photograph in Hawthorn colours. When I spoke with Ken not so long ago, he expressed his gratitude for the Hawthorn club, as well as a touch of disappointment with his previous side.

“I got an invitation to Melbourne, and I spent three and a half wasted years there, and then went to Hawthorn,” Ken said, but why was his time wasted where he had been so patient? “I spent most of the time there playing in the reserves, I played in three grand finals and won two of them. Then halfway through the fourth year I dislocated an ankle, the club didn’t care, and I got an invitation to Hawthorn where I was very happy to go.”

Ken played his first game in 1935 with Norm Smith who went on to be named coach of the AFL’s Team of the Century. His last game was in 1943 coached by Roy Cazaly whose name today is synonymous with the sport.

Now the waiting is over and it’s Ken’s turn in the spotlight. He fully deserves the acclaim because he is such a delightful man. And I should know, he’s family!

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