Legendary Australian broadcaster's sporting memorabilia collection up for auction
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 7th September, 2023
The name Gary Fenton (1946-2023) will live on in Australian broadcasting history as the driving force behind the worldwide coverage of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Head of sport in turn at Channels 7 and 9, his influence at both television stations was profound.
His efforts in securing Channel 9 the Australian rights to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and wresting coverage of the 2012 London summer games from the incumbent Channel 7 via an audacious joint bid with Foxtel are still talked about today.
Gary’s talents as a producer also were significant – winning four TV Logies for various Melbourne-based productions.
However, it was through his passion for collecting football and Olympic memorabilia, particularly in retirement, that many people knew him.
With the family not wishing to retain the collection, his widow Marie has asked Melbourne-based Abacus Auctions to auction the items as part of their forthcoming four-day sale from 11am Tuesday September 19 at 29 Hardner Road, Mount Waverley.
The Gary Fenton collection will feature as part of the Sporting Memorabilia section on Friday September 22.
Much of the collection is either rare or unique – with four premiership caps, hardly ever seen these days and as scarce as hens’ teeth, up for grabs to committed collectors.
Two are from South Melbourne – one with 1888 embroidered on the front (the first ever awarded – lot 3546), and the other featuring the date 1890 (lot 3547).
Each carry respective catalogue estimates of $10,000 and $8000.
An 1899 Fitzroy premiership cap (lot 3519) is an extremely early and rare Victorian Football League artefact with a $10,000 catalogue estimate.
In 1897, Fitzroy was one of eight clubs to break away from the Victorian Football Association (VFA) to form the Victorian Football League (VFL).
A powerhouse club, the Maroons as they were then known, won a VFA flag in 1895 followed by VFL success in 1898-1899, 1904-1905, 1913, 1916 and 1922.
A 1920 Richmond cap from their first premiership effort (lot 3541) carries a $15,000 catalogue estimate and originally belonged to back pocket player Reg Hede.
Gary’s collection contains eight premiership medals. The earliest is from South Melbourne’s 1909 win (lot 3548) and was presented to Bob Deas who played 111 games from 1909-1917.
Three of the premiership medals are from South Melbourne’s 1933 victory including those presented to Bob Pratt (lot 3550) and Laurie Nash (lot 3551).
With Hawthorn’s gun full-forward of the 1970s Peter Hudson, Pratt, who played 158 games from 1930-1939 and in 1946, still holds the league record for most goals (150) kicked in a single season (1934).
Nash, who played 99 games from 1933-1937 and in 1945, was considered one of the finest players of his generation. The third South Melbourne medal was awarded to Fred Backway.
The other premiership medals belonged to legendary ruckman Polly Farmer for Geelong’s 1963 victory (lot 3535), an unknown Richmond player for their 1969 win (lot 3543) and to 1911 Essendon VFA player D. Chapman (lot 3513).
Other rare medals include Teddy Lockwood’s leading goalkicker awards – one in 1900 (lot 3533) while playing for Geelong and the other in 1903 while part of the Collingwood side (lot 3503).
Olympic memorabilia also is an integral part of Gary’s collection with participation medals from the 1896 Athens Olympics (lot 3745) a major feature.
Other medals are from Olympic Games in 1900 Paris (lot 3747), 1908 London (lot 3748), and 1912 Stockholm (lot 3749).
These are followed by medals from the 1920 to 1936 games respectively in Antwerp, Paris, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Berlin (lots 3750-3753 and 3756).
The collection also features 10 Olympic torches from various summer and winter games including the 1992 Barcelona Olympics (lot 3783), the 2000 Sydney Olympics (lot 39793) and the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics (lot 3789).
A special item is the 1996 official Centennial Olympic Games celebration torch, presented to Gary Fenton in appreciation of his service to the Australian Olympic movement (lot 3785).
Another is Shane Warne’s Four X (XXXX) labelled travelling trunk or “coffin”, complete with his name for transporting his cricket gear during Test tours (lot 3371).
Warne played 145 Tests from 1992-2007 (taking 708 wickets) and during the 1993 Ashes tour bowled Englishmen Mike Gatting with his “Ball of the Century” – the first one he bowled in the series.