New Life Members - Mike Fitzpatrick

Monday, April 29, 2024 - 2:33 PM

Mike Fitzpatrick has been in a position of power as a former 10-year chairman of the AFL.

But it was his part in the 1973 premiership success of Subiaco which many Lions (or back then Maroons) fans hail as Fitzpatrick’s greatest on field achievement.

Sporting the number 17 SFC jumper, Fitzpatrick shared the ruck duties with the late Peter “Spider” Burton as Subi toppled West Perth for the first time all season after four losses in that year. 

“We had real trouble with West Perth. We could get close but couldn’t get over the line,” said Fitzpatrick from Melbourne.

“We tried something different in the Grand Final, playing two talls in the centre bounce, which destroyed their tactic of interfering with the opposition ruckman, allowing them easy access out of the middle,” Fitzpatrick added.

It worked with the Maroons coasting to a 32-point win to claim their first flag in 49 years.

Fitzy says his main contribution was a goal, kicking to the city end with a breeze at his back.

‘It caught my torpedo punt and carried it through halfway through the sticks”, he said.

Fitzpatrick loved coming back to WA last year to enjoy the 50-year anniversary of that 1973 success.

“A great occasion, with many old friendships renewed. As it turned out Austin (Robertson) and Basil (Fuller) have left us, so was a special night,” Fitzpatrick said.

Three premierships, including two as Blues skipper, Fitzy amassed a 150-game career. He would be late be named in Carlton’s team of the century, an honour also bestowed on him at Subiaco.

A Rhodes Scholar, Fitzpatrick successfully mixed footy with studies, including university time in England.

Life after footy, Fitzpatrick worked for the Victorian Government, before working overseas in international investment banking. He set up Hastings Funds Management, a superannuation funds company.

Other positions, the Subiaco great held, a director with Rio Tinto, Telstra, chairman of the Australian Sports Commission.

In 1996, 71-year -old Fitzpatrick turned his hand to the wine industry, buying a vineyard in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.

‘It’s an honour to receive life membership with such a great club”.

“Subiaco provided competitions, facilities and coaches when I was a kid, right through my football in WA. Fans do not understand how well organised underage competitions were compared to other states, and how talent was fed through to the top or to secondary competitions surviving on the joy of playing,” Fitzpatrick boasted.



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