Main content

Vale Ron Hovey

Ron Hovey on the 51/52 premierships Ron Hovey talks about the Cats back to back premierships
Vale Ron Hovey
Vale Ron Hovey

One of the greats of the Geelong Football Club, Ron Hovey, passed away on Tuesday. Hovey served the club for over 50 years as a player, committee member and president.

The tribute below was written by Michael Lovett as part of the Cats 150th celebrations and was published in “We are Geelong” – the story of the Geelong Football Club.
 
When Ron Hovey started playing as a 15 year old in Geelong’s under-19s in 1948, he could not have envisaged he was embarking on a journey that would span more than five decades.
 
Hovey gave Geelong unprecedented service as a player and committeeman, yet he was still able to find time to rear a family and run a successful transport business.

His connection with the Cats started in 1948 when he followed in the footsteps of his brothers Jim and Ced. The young Hovey had been living in Shepparton after his father Bert had shifted from Geelong in his job with Victorian Railways.

With the Cats rebuilding as both a club and a team after missing the 1942-43 seasons in World War II, Hovey made a seamless transition through the grades, from under-19s to the reserves then the seniors.

His senior debut in 1951 was a daunting assignment – Collingwood at Victoria Park in the third round of the season – and Hovey recalled playing in a losing side and chasing a bevy of Magpies stars.

“They had players like Bob Rose, Thorold Merrett, Lou and Ron Richards…it was a tough initiation,” He recalled in 2009.

But under coach Reg Hickey, the Cats were injecting serious talent into their line up and lost only another two games that season en route to the premiership.

Hovey, then 19, played in the Grand Final as a reserve as Geelong defeated Essendon by 11 points. He was also a reserve the following season as the Cats went back-to-back, accounting for Collingwood this time, by the sizable margin of 46 points.

“They were great times for the club then. We all looked up to Reg Hickey because we were fairly young and he was a terrific leader and a very popular man,” he said.

Hovey played through the best and worst of the 1950s, first as the club won premierships and was a regular finalist, and then in the latter part of the decade when it plummeted to the bottom.

“I started as a half-forward, but we had players like Bob Davis and Fred Flanagan starring on the forward line so they put me in the back pocket,” he said. “Jack Dyer called me a utility player – I think I was the first one.”

 

However, during the 1959 night series, Hovey severely injured his knee and it was hoped an operation, performed in Ballarat, would prolong his playing career. He was appointed captain in 1960 – Davis’ first year as coach – but lasted only five games, relinquishing the captaincy to Colin Rice.

“The knee was no good so that was the end of my playing days,” Hovey said.

But rather than slink off into retirement, Hovey went straight on to the committee and worked on various sub committees.

In 1988, he took over from Wayne Bannon as president, a position he held until the end of the 1998 season when he relinquished the role to Frank Costa.

Hovey was awarded life membership of the Geelong Football Club, the social club, the past players, the Pivots and the AFL.

Ron Hovey fact file

Ron Hovey

Born: 25 August 1932 (aged 82 at time of death)

Player 1951-1960

Games: 141

Goals: 25

Recruited from: St Brendan’s Shepparton

Joined under 19s in 1948

Senior debut: rd 3 1951 vs Collingwood @ Victoria Park (lost by 52)

Premierships: 1951-1952

Club captain: 1960

7th in 1959 Brownlow

GFC president 1988-1998

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs