1953 was a season of great sorrow in the history of Yallourn Football Club. The tragic death of Simon Shaw was long-felt by the club and the people of the town and district.

Simon (born at Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 2nd September 1923) died in the Yallourn Hospital on the 1st February 1953. He died as the result of an injury sustained while swimming in the Latrobe River on Monday 26th January. ‘The Morwell Advertiser’ carried the full story and it told of Simon’s brave fight for survival in hospital for six days following the accident.

As the grim news spread quickly but quietly around Yallourn, the homes, shops and worksites were laid to silence. Young and old were visibly shaken and the people spoke in hushed tones when discussing the news. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some people may have been in a state of shock on hearing of the death of Simon.

Simon was much admired, not only for his prowess as a footballer, but as …
“…a gentleman on and off the ground.”

Simon’s death received wide publicity in the Gippsland press of those times and ‘The Argus’ (a metropolitan daily) also reported the news.

The funeral, which was held at the Yallourn Presbyterian Church, was one of the largest ever seen in the town and more than 100 cars formed the cavalcade that took part in the funeral procession. The players of the Yallourn Football Club formed a guard of honour as the cortege moved from Banksia Crescent into Monash Square and then on towards the Yallourn Cemetery.
{Note: Geoff Shaw (Jimmy’s son) has newspaper articles which vividly describe the magnitude of the funeral procession that day}.

Having enlisted and served during World War: II, Simon’s burial also included the traditional ritual of the placement of poppies on the coffin by Simon’s former comrades. For the benefit of the reader, Simon had registered at Hernes Oak on the 8th of January 1942 for duty in the Australian Army. Prior to leaving for basic training, the people of Hernes Oak had given Simon and another young volunteer (named Vic Melbourne) a special community farewell, which featured ‘lively entertainment’, for all to enjoy. It was quite common in country towns, during wartime, to ‘send-off’ the troops with concerts and social gatherings. The highlight of the farewell gathering was the presentation of gifts (wallets) to Simon and Vic.

Simon rose to the rank of Gunner (GNR:RAA) during his short time in the Army. For reasons unexplained, Simon then enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 12th November 1942. His war service record shows that he was an Able Seaman. At the date of his discharge in September 1945, his posting was listed as ‘HMAS Lonsdale.’ Simon’s service record can been seen on the World War II Nominal Roll… www.ww2roll.gov.au.

During the build-up to the 1953 football season, the CGFL and the YFC went to considerable lengths to ensure that Simon’s contribution to local football was duly noted and publicly acknowledged.

On March 7th, the delegates to the Annual General Meeting of the CGFL at Trafalgar observed two minutes of silence in honour of Simon. It was also unanimously agreed that all clubs affiliated with the CGFL would mark the death of Simon with a minute of silence prior to the first bounce of the ball for the 1953 season.

As the season unfolded, the Yallourn FC played a central role in conducting an appeal to raise funds to support Simon’s family. Among the many messages of condolence and words of comfort, the tribute paid by Morwell’s venerable coach, Denis Quinn, summed up the feelings of so many footballers in Gippsland…
“…to that grand little sportsman…who would be missed throughout the league.”

From reading about Simon, it is apparent that he had been a shining example of all the things that are good about football. He had played sport as he had lived his life ...with kindness and generosity of spirit.
Simon’s record at Yallourn included:-
1. Played with YFC in 1946 until 1952.
2. 126 senior games.
3. Premiership team member ~1948.
4. Best Utility Player ~1948.
5. Special YFC Trophy ~1951.
6. Best Backman Award ~1952.

On September 3rd of that year (1953), it was announced that the trophy for the Best & Fairest player in the Third XVIII competition would be named in honour of Simon. The first winner of ‘The Simon Shaw Trophy’ was Peter Allen of the Moe South Colts FC.

The opening of the 1953 football season had been the saddest the Blues had known. Those who have played team sport fully appreciate that people like Simon can never be replaced in the line-up of the team or in the hearts of the players, officials and supporters. However by the end of the 1953 season, Simon’s brother (Jimmy) had lifted the spirits of the club and the township by winning the 1953 Rodda Medal for the Best and Fairest in the CGFL.

1. Simon’s father (Simon Snr) and mother (Mary) lived in Scotland before migrating to Australia and eventually settling in Hernes Oak. There were six Shaw children…Simon, Jimmy, Bill, Archie, John and Katherine. Only Simon and Jimmy were born in Scotland.
2. Bill Shaw was a fine YFC footballer and was mentioned regularly in the match reports of those times. Simon, Jimmy and Bill were all members of the Yallourn FC premiership team of 1948. On that day, Yallourn 7.11.53 defeated Morwell 6.3. 39. Bill kicked 2 goals in that historic victory and both Jimmy and Bill were listed in the Blues’ best players. The 1948 flag was the last premiership ever to be won by Yallourn Football Club. (See the Virtual Yallourn story which will be posted in the near future).
3. In the match report of the 1948 Grand Final win, as published in ‘The Advertiser’ (September 23rd 1948), it is written that Simon copped a heavy blow early in the match and was forced to leave the field with concussion. The three brothers are all shown in the team photograph for that year.
4. Geoff Shaw (Jimmy’s son) has gathered a remarkable collection of press cuttings and memorabilia regarding his family’s involvement with the Yallourn FC and Newborough FC. Geoff has kindly donated many items to the YYNFC for the history room/museum at the George Bates Reserve for public display. Geoff has also kept in private storage the numerous medals and trophies won by Jimmy. The newspaper articles and other mementos of that era reinforce the meaningful and lasting contribution that the Shaw family made to Yallourn FC and Gippsland football.
5. Four of YFC’s greatest players in that era of LVFL football, Kevin Fanning, Bruce Knight, Stan Brown and Jimmy Shaw were key players in forming, building and strengthening the Newborough FC. The Fanning and Shaw children gained reputations as keen and capable players in Mid Gippsland football and netball competitions.
6. Other winners of the Simon Shaw Medal include Ted Hopkins (Moe/Carlton) and Bob Baldry (Warragul FC and later to play cricket for Victoria).
7. In 2000, the Shaw-Carter (named in honour of local football stalwart and identity Tom Carter) was presented to the Under: 16 Best & Fairest Player in the Gippsland Latrobe Football League. Tom Carter was granted Life Membership of the Latrobe Valley Junior Football League for his long and dedicated service to the development of junior football in the region.
8. Tom Carter is the father of Paul, whose assistance with the Virtual Yallourn YFC project was acknowledged last year. Like his father, Paul is a well known football historian and has a wealth of knowledge regarding district football filed for reference. Paul also played football with Yallourn FC. When he began playing junior football at the age of nine (at Newborough FC), Paul was coached by Yallourn legends Jim Shaw and Kevin Fanning.
9. Paul Carter has been a dedicated advocate of country football and is now in his 20th season as Promotions Officer for the LVFL/Gippsland FL.
10. Paul Carter crossed to Yallourn FC when he was about 14 years of age and played at Yallourn for the next nine seasons. Paul played 70 (approx) games of senior football with the Blues until a serious back injury forced him into early retirement.
11. Simon’s famous number :9 Yallourn FC guernsey was next worn by half back flanker Jim Watt. Jim Watt wore the jumper with great pride until his retirement from football in 1955. (Note: a story regarding Jim Watt has been written for the Virtual Yallourn website).
12. Bill Shaw passed away on 9th July 2003. Jimmy died on 8th October 2009.
13. The Virtual Yallourn website carries several stories regarding the Shaw brothers. Jimmy’s win of the 1953 Rodda Medal and gaining his Life Membership of the YFC feature as main articles.
14. Sincere thanks to Geoff Shaw and Paul Carter for their kind assistance and validation of the above research regarding the Shaw family for the YFC project.

Written for Virtual Yallourn by Roger Spaull ~ January 2013

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Reference Photo