Vale Neil Loughlin

18 May 2013

A long time supporter of the club

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 saw the passing of Neil Loughlin a long time supporter of the club.

 

Neil’s memory will be forever etched in St.Bernard’s O.C.F.C history due to his penning the words to the football club theme song while a matric student at St.Bernard’s College in 1961 and later as the architect behind the formation and establishment of the A grade premiership side of 2002.

Neil was a student of St.Bernard’s College completing his matric in 1961 and progressing to study law at Melbourne University. Neil lasted about two years at university where he honed his pool skills and continued his interest in studying form for both thoroughbreds and harness racing. Preferring employment based more in fact and figures, he had several clerical type jobs before ultimately succumbing to his love of the punt and starting his career as a bookmaker standing at the harness racing. These were great times for Neil as he travelled Victoria in his big blue Mercedes and perfecting the air of confidence and arrogance along with the Neil Loughlin swagger he carried with him for the remainder of his life. Neil, as with all bookies, believed he was smarter than most and was always ahead of the game, a personal trait that he was not prone to keeping a secret and was prepared to back at all times.

 

Neil’s personal sporting attributes never saw him play for the club but his interest in football and all other things sport was always very keen. Neil excelled in sports that required minimal physical activity and relied more on hand/eye co-ordination, more a power athlete with a keen eye he would say and he played high level cricket and squash while also being very competitive at lawn bowls, pool and other such sports. Neil’s exploits as a cricketer were widely regarded locally as was his ability to make suggestions to opponents regularly as to how they could improve themselves. He was a prolific sledger and basically hated to lose.

 

Neil and harness racing slowed down together and he was in search of a new career. Along with the love of Neil’s life, wife Sue, they began a career together in “The Bowls Shoppe” near Hall St. in Moonee Ponds before moving to Mt. Alexander Road, Essendon. This was a defining moment for the St.Bernard’s F.C. as this new career afforded Neil the time required to spend on the telephone. At the request of long time friend and then club President Mick Perrett, Neil began his involvement at St. Bernard’s and brought all his long learned attributes with him. Neil spent hours on the phone talking football to prospective players, coaches, TAC coaches and officials and pretty well anybody that was a remote possibility to benefit the pathway he was mapping out to form a successful A-grade team for St.Bernard’s footy club. The only thing that slowed down his phone calls was the odd ‘cuppa’ Sue would make for him on demand and the ever present sweet on his desk, peanut brittle being a particular favourite. Neil’s judgement could always be counted on and he was a great analyst of form and judge of ability with a mind that catalogued just about every player playing football and in his eyes they were all prospective recruits and deserving of a call from him espousing the greatness and potential of the St.Bernard’s F.C. Neil’s judgement was keen and unwaivering until it came to his son Ben who started playing footy at the club in 1996, and it was here that Neil was most proud although he had great trouble being objective. It was great that Ben was able to play a part in the realisation of Neil’s hard work and best laid plans with the victory of St.Bernard’s in the 2002 A-Grade Grand Final.

 

As Neil’s health began to deteriorate his ability to get to the club was greatly impaired and this saw many footy club meetings taking place around his bed in Hedderwick Street and more than a few coaching interviews. His interest and knowledge remained very keen all through his illness. As

previously mentioned, Neil always had great support from his wife Sue in everything he did but this was also reciprocated by the big fella and they spent most of their lives together in one form or another bound by a great understanding and love for each other. Those close to the Loughlin’s would suggest Sue was always more understanding and Sue’s efforts through Neil’s illness are worthy of the greatest admiration. Neil was not short on words and had few acquaintances with many friends. If you were a friend of Big Neil you were “set for life” and there was little that you would be denied by him if you asked. On the other side of the ledger, if you or something you did were not to Neil’s liking there was no place to hide and you would know about it.

Neil led a very full life and St. Bernard’s F.C. was the beneficiary of part of it. Neil never played a game or coached but was St. Bernard’s for a very special era culminating in the 2002 success. Neil is survived by wife Sue and children Dan, Sarah and Ben, son- in- law Peter and two week old grand daughter Bella May. Our deepest sympathies go out to the Loughlin family and our congratulations and gratitude to Neil on a life well lived.

Patrick Crabb