Robert Edwin Davis, 1928-2011

He was a character, my dad. But you knew that.

You knew it if you were fortunate to see him on the football field in his heyday in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the blistering pace that earned him the nickname ‘The Geelong Flyer’ distancing him from the opposition.

Or you knew it if caught him on television in the ‘70s and ‘80s, striving to keep order as the straight man to the cheeky Lou Richards and the deadpan Jack Dyer on Seven’s late-night footy show League Teams.

Or you knew it if you bumped into him at a match or at training or simply on the street and shared a quick chat about the form of the current Cats line-up or his memories of his playing and coaching days.

On the field and off, Bob Davis was a character. And he was also a man with character – he had time for everyone and never a bad word to say about anyone.

It’s what I’ll remember about him most of all: his unfailing good nature and good cheer.

I was born after Dad’s football career was over, so my knowledge of his prowess as a player and a coach came to me second-hand.

But as I grew up, it became increasingly apparent to me that his football accomplishments were manifold.

He captained the Geelong Football Club. He was a member of the team which, until recently, had the longest unbroken winning streak in the club’s history. He played in two Premiership sides.

As a player, he represented Victoria and Australia. And when he switched to coaching, he guided Geelong to another Grand Final win.

And I’ll admit it, it was sometimes a little hard to reconcile that amazing list of achievements with the fella with an appreciation for James Bond movies, B.B. King songs and the odd dodgy ‘dad joke’.

If he ever did allude to his glorious career, it was usually with his tongue in his cheek – he was proud of what he’d done but he didn’t see any reason to big-note himself.

There was no need, really, because anyone I ever met who knew of Dad as a footballer, a coach or a media personality made their admiration of the man abundantly clear.

I can only hope that he knew the level of the love his family felt for him as a husband, father and grandfather. In fact, I know he did – it was immense, and it remains so even now.

And that love goes beyond his immediate family to his unofficial but just as devoted family – fans of the Geelong Football Club, followers of Australian Rules football in general.

While we are united in our sadness, I also believe we are united just as much in our love and respect of a man who so wholly earned and deserved them.

Rest in peace, Dad. I love you.

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