Celebrating Birthdays with the Hawks Museum

Birthdays are for celebrating. When the celebration is for a Hawk, the Hawks Museum can be a fine port of call for a birthday visit. There have been quite a few who have come to the museum to share a brown & gold moment on their big day. There are also those very special occasions when the Hawks Museum will come to them.

Ken Feltscheer sits at the head of a dining table. His audience gives rapt attention to every morsel of information he provides. He speaks in soft, measured tones. His memory remains sharp, his handshake remains firm but a loss of hearing signals his advanced years. Ken Feltscheer turned 102 on June 9 and the Hawks Museum joined the celebration at Lynbrook Park Retirement Home. Ken is the second oldest living League player next to Carlton’s Max Wilson. He is the oldest and, perhaps last survivor of the 1935, 1936 and 1937 seasons and he is our oldest Hawk.

One of nine children, Ken was brought up on the family farm near Moe. Playing as a forward for Neerim South, his speed and fine goal kicking form soon earned him a spot with Moe. Melbourne recruited him in 1934 and he played four games over two seasons in 1935-36.

Unfortunately, he suffered a dislocated ankle in a 2nd 18 game and Melbourne moved him on. ‘I wasn’t a star’, claims Ken. This misfortune soon became Hawthorn’s good fortune as Ken became a Maybloom in 1937. He played a total of 43 games and kicked 15 goals from 1937-40, playing his final game in 1943.

A speedy wingman, Feltscheer played in a team that boasted such players as Andy Angwin, Stan Spinks, Bert Mills and Ted Pool, whom Ken considered, ‘a very fine player.’ When asked about opposition players, her said, ‘Jack Dyer was a perfect gentleman on the field - he only hit the big blokes and left we smaller players alone!’

Glenferrie Oval was considered, ‘a friendly sort of place’, he says, with visiting sides sharing a drink and a chat in the Hawthorn rooms after a game. His memories of playing Collingwood at Victoria Park were not as fond. ‘The showers in the visitors’ rooms only had cold water. You came in covered in mud and you had to wash it off, even in cold, or your civilian clothes would be ruined.’

Of his coaches, Ken says, ‘we even had “Up There [Roy] Cazaly” for a while.’ Dr Jacob Jona was Club President. Feltscheer winces as he recalls the day he saw Dr Jona for medical treatment. ‘He lanced a cyst I had … no anaesthetic!’.

Ken Feltscheer with James Frawley

The Depression hit the Feltscheer family hard; the farm unable to support Ken. He joined the Victorian Railways as a clerk, eventually becoming an Inspector in the Railway’s Catering Department. He was responsible for the tea rooms at country stations such as Kerang and Echuca. Ken amazed his audience by listing each, and every station under his purview – it was a long list!

The advent of World War 2 saw his position with the railways deemed an essential service. As he worked on rural lines, wartime restrictions meant that a football career with Hawthorn became too difficult. He played his final game in the Round 5, 1943 clash with South Melbourne. It was his only game of that season. Ken started his Hawthorn career a Maybloom, but would finish as a Hawk. Hawthorn had changed its moniker just three weeks earlier, before its Round 2 encounter with Essendon!

Ken Feltscheer says that he was very happy as a Hawthorn player despite the lack of team success. He has followed the Club avidly ever since, finding great joy in the 13 Premiership victories since 1961. He knows his football, winning Lynbrook Park’s tipping contest in 2015. Unfortunately, this season, he isn’t enjoying as much success – he always tips the Hawks! Ken doesn’t single out a favourite player, but is content, ‘as long as they run out in the brown & gold!’

While we happily journeyed to Lynbrook Park to celebrate a birthday, we also enjoy people coming to the Hawks Museum to celebrate. Gil Riseley and Aimee Greene arranged to spend part of Basement Sale Saturday in the museum. They wished to celebrate Gil’s 40th birthday with his beloved Hawks and we were more than happy to help. They enjoyed seeing the Premiership Cabinets and paused to take photos with the Cyril Rioli and Jarryd Roughead cut-outs. As a birthday treat, Aimee bought the birthday boy a Friends of the Hawks Museum membership. Happy Birthday, Gil.

Author: Rachel Bradshaw

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