Hundreds of friends and family along with some of the biggest names in sport and politics have filled part of Perth Stadium to capacity for the state funeral of Australian football legend Graham “Polly” Farmer.
Farmer died in Perth last week at the age of 84 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade.
Today’s funeral began with the procession of Farmer’s hearse and a police escort, as it left Highgate and travelled along the Graham Farmer Freeway — a road named in his honour.
With the 1,500-strong capacity of Perth Stadium’s River View Room exhausted for the service, members of the public who could not fit sat in the stands and watched proceedings on the stadium’s big screens.
The funeral was also displayed on large screens in Perth’s city centre, including Yagan Square, while people around the country tuned in on radio and online as the service was broadcast live.
Noongar elder Richard Walley opened the funeral with a Welcome to Country before master of ceremonies and ABC Perth Breakfast host Russell Woolf began recounting Farmer’s life.
WA Premier Mark McGowan later paid tribute to the Indigenous trailblazer, who played 356 games from 1953 to 1971 across the WAFL and VFL leagues for East Perth, Geelong and West Perth.
“Graham Vivian ‘Polly’ Farmer was quite simply a legend, a giant of Australian rules football, revered in Western Australia and Victoria as a champion player and person,” he said.
Also present to pay respects were WA Governor Kim Beazley, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and chairman Richard Goyder, Fremantle Dockers chairman Dale Alcock and actor Ernie Dingo.
Farmer is regarded as one of the greatest players to play Australian rules football and is credited with revolutionising the role of the ruckman, particularly with his trademark use of the handball.
He won three Sandover medals as the WAFL’s top player and took out his club’s best and fairest award 10 times.