It is with sad news that Footscray Hockey Club life member Eric Thomas passed away on Boxing Day at age 96.

Eric was a member in the very early days when the club could only field one team! Eric played with ‘Buck’ Sigley and Benny Acton and spoke of them as people who kept the club going in those days.

Playing ‘A Grade’ and Victorian State hockey for years, Eric’s name was written up in The Age newspaper so frequently that a sports reporter called him ‘Mr Hockey’. Hockey was Eric’s life.

Eric’s junior hockey coaching career was truly amazing. He coached Footscray juniors to 8 Premierships and 2 Runner Up.  Five of those were from 1946 to 1950 with U/15 Boys and then 1995 to 1997 with U/15 and U/17 girls. His last grand final was with Footscray U/13 boys – Runners up in 2007. Eric enjoyed the facilities the club could offer with 2 pitches and a warm up area out the back.

Eric was an active member of the FHC board and committees serving as Treasurer 1943-47, VAHA Delegate 1943-47, Press Secretary 1945-47 and Social Treasurer 1948. He was Men’s Club Champion in 1945-1946.

Eric’s family have described one of the best days of Eric’s life was when he was awarded a Life Membership in 2004.

Eric moved to the eastern suburbs in the late 90’s and continued coaching at various clubs until 89 years old, albeit one season junior coaching come back in 2007. He finished his coaching career at KBH Brumbies Hockey Club. He thrived on taking a team from the bottom of the ladder to the top, almost always finishing up in the finals (he only missed a few times!). Every week, Eric would hand write out notes for the team to read, both for the group, and for the individuals – it was all about shoring up the team’s game approach, along with correcting mistakes from the previous match, and of course, an analysis of the opposition and potential weaknesses!

Overall, he recorded 65 Premierships and 8 Runner’s Up’s Premierships!

Eric always kept a hockey stick in his lounge room just in case a grandchild or great grandchild wanted to have a hit with him!

Eric wrote some memories of the club featured in this post:

Thank you Eric for your service and Vale Mr Hockey.