Mort’s '61 Premiership Guernsey

The generosity of our members who support the Hawks Museum never ceases to amaze us. Prior to the recent Inter Club Practice Match, John Trouchet from Western Australia donated the guernsey that Ian Mort wore in Club’s first Premiership in 1961.

John Trochet’s generosity means that Club Collection now has nine guernseys worn from the 1961 premiership. The other guernseys were worn by Graham Arthur (captain), John Peck (vice-captain), Brendan Edwards (best on ground) and fellow team members, John S. Fisher, Les Kaine, John Winneke, Garry Young and Colin Youren.

John had a very interesting story to tell in how he received Ian Mort’s Guernsey. In 1969 he was working for the Western Australian Railways, stationed at a country town called Cunderdin. He had followed the Hawks from an early age. John was boarding at the home of Don and Florence Head and whilst there, Mrs. Head informed him that her sister was going to fly over from Melbourne for a visit. Florence’s sister was Bonnie Mort, the mother of the 1961 Premiership star, Ian Mort. As with many supporters then, John’s favourite player was Peter Hudson and a message was sent to Bonnie Mort could she purchase a number 26 guernsey from the Club.

When Mrs. Bonnie Mort arrived form Melbourne, she had John spellbound with her Hawthorn stories, not only about her son Ian, but many from her husband Harry, Ian’s father. Harry had played back in 1928-29 for Hawthorn when they were known as the Mayblooms. In later years he was employed as a Groundsman at Glenferrie Oval. Unfortunately, Mrs. Bonnie Mort was unable to obtain a number 26 guernsey for John but to his great surprise, had brought instead one worn by her son, Ian. It was the guernsey he wore in 1961. Ian’s number 14 guernsey was treasured by John for 45 years. Now at the age of 70, he decided that he would like to share it with all the Hawthorn fans who visit the Hawks Museum.

Ian Mort the Player

Born April 4, 1937
Died January 23, 1996
Recruited from Kew Amateurs
Debut Order 509
Guernsey 40 (1960), 14 (1961-1964)
Debut game Round 9, 1960
Final game Round 14, 1964
Games 73
Goals 56
Premiership 1961

Ian Mort is the first son of a former Hawthorn player to represent the Club in a Premiership; his father Harry played 7 games on the backline between 1928 and 1929.

Graham Arthur best summed up Mort: ‘He played on the half forward flank and was built like a tank. His run-through tactics inspired his teammates. He attacked both the ball and his opponents with equal ferocity. This was best illustrated in a match against St Kilda. Eric Guy, his opponent was built along similar lines to Mort and also played it tough, he had knocked out Mort earlier in the year. Before the return match, Mort told me that he had a score to settle. Mort managed to run through Guy several times and really hurt him. In between these clashes, Mort played a magnificent game as if to rub it in. Late in the game, a St Kilda player sent Guy one of those high punts you have to stand under, wide open. Guy stood under the ball and you could see his hands shaking, Mort had unsettled him. You could sense that Guy had that horrible feeling when he knew what was going to happen. It did. Mort crashed through him again. Needless to say, we won the game and Mort felt vindicated.’

Mort began his football at Xavier College before joining the Kew Amateur Football Club and excelled as a robust half forward and ruck man. He had an outstanding career with his three years at Kew. He won Best First Year player followed by two Best & Fairest Awards and also came runner-up in the ‘B’ Grade Amateur’s Best & Fairest award in 1959.

It took three years of persistent effort for the Hawks to finally persuade Mort to sign up. At the relatively late age of 23, Mort’s first senior VFL game was against St Kilda at the Junction Oval. He was named 20th man and came on in the last quarter replacing Cam McPherson who injured his leg. The Sporting Globe named the game, ‘a battle-of-the-points’ with the Hawks winning kicking 8.19.67 to 7.13.53. Mort’s efforts were rewarded by being named at centre half forward for the next game against South Melbourne, which the Hawks won by 11 points. Later in the season, South Melbourne reversed the results defeating Hawthorn in the 1960 night premiership. Mort was listed amongst the Best Players and kicked a goal but the Hawks went down by 13 points.

Although Mort managed 7 games in his first season, he was eligible to gain valuable finals experience with the Reserves Team. In a hint to what was to unfold in 1961, the Hawk Reserves team defeated Footscray in the Preliminary Final with Mort starring up forward, kicking 2 goals. Although Hawthorn went into the 1960 Grand Final as favourites to win their third Reserves Flag in a row, it was Geelong by 5 points in a low scoring and hard-hitting encounter. An interesting feature from the game is that Frank Schwab, the father of future premiership player and coach, Peter Schwab, umpired this match. Schwab Snr would later go on to umpire the Hawks’ triumph in 1961.

By 1961 Mort had established himself as a very competitive forward and his left foot style confused many an opponent. His endeavors were rewarded when in his second year, and having played just 19 senior games, he was chosen to represent Victoria in the National Football Championship Council held in Brisbane during July. Mort was thrilled to be chosen to play against Western Australia and Tasmania. As was the custom then, the VFL competition continued without a break and the Hawks recorded their second win over Melbourne for the season. A significant victory as Hawthorn won the remaining 4 rounds to finish on top for the first time in the Club’s history. Mort after playing only 25 senior games was about to play VFL finals football.

In a rugged encounter, the Hawks defeated Melbourne in the Second Semi, Mort played his part with his strength in the packs creating space for his fellow forwards.

Reviewing the Grand Final in the Herald, John Craven wrote about Ian Mort, ‘He’ll be playing for his Dad. Mort’s father also played for Hawthorn, always dreamt that one day the Hawks would play in a Grand Final and he hoped that he would live to see it. Now his son was part of that dream. In the 37 years that Harry Mort had followed the Hawks, they had won the wooden spoon 9 times and came second last on 11 occasions.

In the Grand Final, Mort Jnr was on a mission. With quiet determination he ran hard; he bumped hard and he kicked a miraculous goal of the ground in the third quarter that set up the victory. After the final siren, Mort and his father rejoiced together that the seemingly impossible dream had been achieved, the Hawks first premiership.’

The Sporting Globe, the leading football publication during that era, named a ‘Team of the Year’ chosen by their football reporters. Four Hawks were named, Ian Law rover, Ian Mort half forward, Brendan Edwards 19th man with John Peck named as an emergency.

1962 was a difficult year for all at Hawthorn with the team slipping to ninth on the ladder. Ian Mort personally had a successful was to be picked for a second time in The Sporting Globe’s, ‘Team of the Year’. Come 1963, the Hawks regrouped to make their second grand final appearance, beaten by a very fast-finishing Geelong, having no counter for the brilliant ruck work of Cat’s star, Polly Farmer.

After playing 10 games in 1964, Ian Mort retired from VFL football at the age of 28. The Nunawading Gazette reported that Hawk ‘Iron Man’ Ian Mort had been appointed playing coach for Vermont in the Eastern Districts Football League for the 1965 season, with fellow teammate Sted Hay appointed playing coach of Blackburn. They were to meet again in the 1967 EDFL Grand Final, Hay’s team led all day only to go down by 1 point when Mort’s Vermont kicked the last goal of the day with only 20 seconds left on the clock.

The strong team bonds forged in 1961 saw the team meet yet again for a special evening on November 28, 1994 in the Past Players Rooms in the Dr Ferguson Stand at Glenferrie. The gathering was called to support two of their teammates, Col Youren and Ian Mort who had both recently suffered personal set backs in health. Graham Arthur and Garry Young hosted the evening as the stories of 1961 were re-lived with moving anecdotes from all present. As a parting gesture, the very ill Ian Mort presented the guernsey he wore in the 1963 Grand Final to the Club Collection to be hung in the recently opened Hawks Museum.

John Trouchet’s generosity has given the Hawks Museum the opportunity to display both guernseys that Ian Mort wore in his two Grand Final appearances for his beloved Hawks. We offer our sincere thanks to John.

Photo: John Trouchet presents his Ian Mort Guernsey to the Hawks Museum

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