Chris Morris and Robert Palmer are two of the most one-eyed true blue St Kilda fans you will ever meet, and their halos shone a little brighter after a surprise call from an emerging superstar last week.
When Emmerton Park worker Gaylene De Jonge, a fellow Saints fan, called the club to renew her membership, she got to chatting with the club representative about two prominent figures around the aged care facility, their love for the club and community spirit that drives them to donate their valuable time every week.
Bob, who has a quiet demeanour, is one of the nicest blokes you will ever meet. After suffering a stroke in 1982 at the age of 37, his movement was severely impaired and he now relies on a mobility scooter and leg crutch to help him get around.
This hasn’t kept him down though. Bob refuses to let his disability get the better of him, and has spent countless hours organising the footy tipping competition year in year out. For 13 years he has gotten as many residents as possible involved, printing off and delivering entry sheets. Then, after each round he collates the entries, handing out the ladder to all those involved.
Chris has also been involved in Emmerton Park in a volunteer capacity for a number of years. After retirement he joined CoastFm as a presenter and at the same time developed a request program at Emmerton Park for the residents.
The program is treasured by all who tune in, with many looking forward to it each week. He also likes to wind listeners up by sneaking in the Saints song from time to time, as well as plenty of John Farnham to torment CEO Ian Adams.
It’s Chris’ job to read out the winners of the tipping every week and he loves to do so. Later this year, Chris will broadcast his 500th show, an achievement which will be widely celebrated.
In 2017 Chris suffered a major blow after being diagnosed with cancer, but his spirit has been unwavering, continuing to travel an hour each way to host his show for residents and spread the spirit of football as far and wide as he can.
The club affiliate was impressed to hear about these efforts and told Gaylene that he’d like to organise something special to thank Bob and Chris for their continued support.
After some time he got back in touch with Gaylene and instructed her to organise Chris and Bob for a Zoom meeting for a special surprise call.
That call was from none other than Dan Butler.
The look of delight on the faces of Chris and Bob was priceless, and when Dan said hello Chris could hardly contain his excitement.
“I tell everyone you’re my boy,” Chris said.
The pair, with Chris’ wife Kathleen got to chatting, and despite being in the presence of their idol there was plenty of cheek to go around.
“You had so many opportunities to win the game against Brisbane it was unbelievable, we should have won by about four goals,” Chris said, of the Saints tight two point loss to Brisbane.
“I’ll let Ratts know we should have won on the weekend,” Dan said.
Chris’ wife Kathleen also had some grooming advice.
“Can you shave your beard off please? I’d like you much better without the beard,” she said.
Butler laughed off the feedback and said he would consider it, but clearly took it to heart, buzzing off the bristles before last weekend’s clash against the Demons.
Chris and Bob were very grateful for the experience, having enjoyed watching Butler run around in the red, white and black stripes all year long.
“I’m still shaking,” Bob said after the call.
The pair will be anxiously watching on this Sunday afternoon when the Saints take on Hawthorn at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, and will no doubt be keeping and extra close eye on their new, now beardless, friend.