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TOPIC: Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter

Mercury Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #1

A Personal Reflection

Let me be clear; many people knew Pollyanna better than I did, and I am envious of that. Value this post with that in mind.

It’s been fifteen-twenty years now and I struggle to remember how I met Pollyanna. I think it was when I caught up with the late Ooslumbird at the TAB Bar near the entrance of Subi Oval - one of the coldest and least hospitable bars in the world - and Oos introduced me to Polly. But it might have been via a shared friendship with the great Guy Smiley. In any case, I’ve known Polly for years and years.

Back then, he was an Associate Professor at UWA but the casual acquaintance would never have picked up on his love of teaching or enormous intellect. In fact, many assumed he was a music roadie or a bikie. Though, as you spoke with Polly, the more his wisdom and love for life shone through and the more privileged you felt.

I remember Polly taking the fight up to The Steves when our Club started to loosen its personal connection to the members. This disassociation was evident with the jumper change (not a bad decision but one which they claimed was via membership approval, which was just a fib), the promotion of selected ex-players to the member-elected positions on the Board and a number of other “corporate” decisions that marginalised the supporters.

Polly actually got a meeting with Steve Rosich and came away with just one phrase - “seat renters”. We, as members of the Fremantle Football Club, were viewed as seat renters. For legal purposes let me add here that this is what I remember Polly telling me. If the truth is different, I am happy to be corrected. Soon after we had the panoramic photo taken at Subiaco Oval and we were all encouraged to be present for this game so this super high definition 360° photo could be taken. Polly was there in the third tier of the three-tier stand. With a sign. “Fuck the Steves”, said the sign. Not surprisingly, he and the sign were edited out of the published photo.

In those early years I remember Polly speaking about the up and coming indigenous players - mostly via his beloved Black Ducks. I vividly recollect him telling me of this “Michael Walters” and not only did this kid have fantastic skills but also possessed a great character. I hate to say it, but he had a similar opinion of the over-promoted Nicholas Naitanui. As time passed, Polly had his heart broken when a number indigenous footy players didn’t make the grade, but should have. Polly was of the first nations but not an Australian, he was Canadian. If I remember this correctly, he came out to Australia via the UWA job offer early in the new millennium.

In the *DuFFle, Polly picked his team for fun. His Hooley Dooleys signed on players he would want in his real life side. Too bad if they weren’t the best player available but as long as they had a great character they would find a home in Polly’s tub-thumpers. Consequently, his team usually missed finals but frequently, and consecutively, won the Richmond Cup. (The Richmond Cup was the best performing non-finals team.)
*Geez, you are missing out on something if you don’t have a look at this online fantasy football competition.

One day I asked him about his moniker, “Pollyanna”. Why would he choose that? Peter/Polly described how he loved reflecting on the online reader thinking he was a female and, especially, with the moniker’s association with a fictional Anglo-Saxon goody-two-shoes.

But of all my memories of Polly, what stands out is his love for you. You, his family member, friend or student. We were having DuFFLe drinks one night at the Brass Monkey and, seriously if you haven’t looked at the DuFFle you are missing out, one of his ex-UWA students spotted him. The student approached Polly, gave him a huge hug and joined us all for a drink before heading off to the night’s entertainment. You want a nutshell summary? That’s it. Pollyanna/Bernt/Peter was one you would come across, hug, catch up on stories and move on. In everyone’s life he was a positive.

On a very personal note, some years ago now when my 25 year marriage fell apart, I was heartbroken. Polly was there for me. Not only then, but on random occasions I’d get a phone call to see if I was travelling well. Polly cared. Polly loved you.

We loved you too, Pol. Farewell my friend. You have made our lives better and we miss you.

Polly holding the Richmond Cup
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Noddy Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #2

Thanks Mercury. I never met Polly but he sounds like a great character of a man and he’ll clearly be missed by many, and Dockerland won’t quite be the same without his cutting to the chase, wit and Canadian ice hockey insights and stories.

RIP Polly.
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Corporal Agarn Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #3

Corporal Agarn
Thanks Merc. Sometimes a you beaut is not enough.
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Davo Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #4

Very sorry to hear the news. A good bloke and Freo tragic like the rest of us. As reliable as Roger Hayden kicking out from goal. We'll miss you mate.
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zorro Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #5

Will very much miss our impromptu conversations in the car park between the Civic and Cole’s Inglewood. We didn’t say much, but a lot was said.
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Gumnut Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #6

Thanks for that Merc, terribly sad to hear the news. I'll miss Polly's humour and good natured banter, Especially his promotion of our indigenous player group. RIP Polly
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Morgan Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #7

Polly liked to make fun of my long posts, so I won’t go on too long, and I think Merc has captured Polly / Peter really well.

The first time I met Polly was around the time of the club changed jumpers. I didn’t go to that meeting with the Steves (it was that long ago I think I had uni classes to go to or something) but a few people had caught up at a pub to discuss it. Polly was someone who would bring people together easily. He was someone who was genuinely interested in other people. He also seemed to have an uncanny ability to spot people he knew in a crowded place; you couldn’t be in the same pub, train, stadium without him spotting you. We sat near each other at the city end of Subi so we would always bump into each other and have a chat, and we’d bump into each other at WAFL games a bit. He loved my old wool Freo jumper, and would berate me if I wore something a bit new. I honestly often used to think about him when I was deciding what to wear to the game. Like, ‘I’m wearing a chevron jumper to the game today, I hope Polly doesn’t see me.’

A few years ago I cracked the sulks and took a spell from Dockerland. It had been a while since Polly and I had caught up at a game or for a beer because of COVID, and we moved to different spots in the new stadium, so I didn’t see him at games there. I had also changed emails; but Polly hunted me down because he wanted to check if I was ok. He also persuaded me to come back to Dockerland. In his view, we’d spent too much time over the decades on this site arguing about nonsense to give up before we had a chance to celebrate Freo winning a flag together. He really cared about this place, and it honestly won’t be the same without him.

Once or twice a year for the last few years we’d make noises about catching up for a beer. Between work and a young family I always struggled to find the time. You always think you’ll get another chance. That’s life I guess, but I should have tried harder, and it sucks.

Condolences to his friends and family who knew him best. Thanks for everything Polly. Wherever you are, I hope your tranny is still working when Freo wins its first Grand Final. There will be a fair few people thinking of you.
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Bizkit Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #8

When the Steve's took over the club, they set about destroying who we were as a club, from the coach to the jumper, to the song to where we call home. When RL was handed the reigns, I handed in the membership I'd held for 16 years, since I was 5yrs old, and paid for with pocket money or whatever odd jobs a young kid could get. I was pretty vocal on this site about my displeasure with what was happening at our club and took a step back in 2012.

I'd only known Polly as a poster on Dockerland, his incredible wit and banter shining through in every post he made. He was hilarious but always made a good point which shone through. When I pulled away from the club and this site due to the Steve's, Polly reached out to me and invited me to a game with him. I had an absolute ball, listening to his stories and enjoying a few beers as we watched the footy. I said it earlier but he was exactly as funny, caring and carefree as you'd imagine from his posts. Despite his dislike of what was happening to the club, he never lost his faith in what the club could be and what it is slowly reverting back to now. His positivity and good nature was infectious and I endeavoured to look on the bright side of the club in the future.

Through Polly I met a couple of other Dockerlanders at that game and thereafter we began holding regular DuFFLe catch ups, often at the Brass Monkey and more recently at the Camfield with Polly always asking to shout a round and keep things going late into the night. Each catch up was a fantastic occasion and something I looked forward to throughout the DuFFLe season, putting more faces to names.

Polly had a profound impact on me and my outlook on not just footy but life. He may no longer be here but his impact has been huge throughout Dockerland and will live on. Thank you for all you gave Polly, you'll be remembered for a long, long time.

RIP Pollyanna.
Nathan: When did you get balls?
Simon: I've always had balls you've just never seen them.
Nathan: That's the gayest thing I've ever heard.
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DS Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #9

A collection of Polly’s posts on Dockerland would be an excellent read.

I hope his passing was peaceful and relatively painless.
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Mercury Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #10

What a great idea!
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Blue1red1 Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #11

Thoughts are with his Family and friends very sorry to hear of their loss. So sad to think we are not going to have him around for when we win our first flag. Going to miss the humour, the great debates, carpark interviews, ice hockey and abstract sports insights. Appreciated his integrity and honesty that he shared with all. The Lithuanians will be having a day of mourning, I'm hoping there will be a kegga in his honour in the back of a ute doing circle work.

Hoping he has front room seats at the big dance no where near an eagle supporter.
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themagoos Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #12

A few years ago a mate and I were lucky enough to interview Peter/Polly for our book on derby rivalry (Derby, Freo Press, 2016) in his office at UWA. We'd met him through a footy almanac (which we all wrote for) catch-up. I've cut and pasted the unedited version below:

Among followers of the Fremantle fan site Dockerland, the handle of ‘Pollyanna’ is one of the most recognised and respected. As we sit in Peter/Pollyanna’s studio office at UWA we remind him of some of the pithy observations of life and the fortunes of the Dockers that the wiry and wily expat Canadian has made on the fan site. In particular, his optimism when it comes to the Dockers is unsurpassed. Also an unabashed fan of Aboriginal players, he is quite possibly the most staunch of all the Dockers fans. So how did Peter become Polly? ‘Well, there’s always a bit of a question as to whether I’m a man or a woman on Dockerland. It used to be Sussie’s handle [Peter’s wife] but she got busted by Shane Richmond [Dockerland web master] and kicked off, so I just took it over from there’.
So what was a Canadian doing all the way out in Australia and how did he come to Australian Football? ‘I was in Tasmania for a while teaching at the Art school there. I came down in 1983 until 1985 and did my Masters. I really got into football and used to go and watch North Hobart. North Hobart oval was the closest oval to where I was living. With studying and renting a house by myself and my daughter ,as a single parent and being on the other side of the world, what do you do? But winter in Tassie was pretty tough even just to sit there and watch. But on television you can’t see the full field and how the play opens up. That is how I came to love footy – by going to the local Tassie games.’
A few years in Darwin helped Peter thaw out, before he headed down to live in Perth. It was here that he took the next step and adopted a football club. ‘I’ve spoken with a lot of people about their heritage and tradition in following political parties, or teams, and in a lot of situations that is something that’s predetermined. But I was in a situation in Australia where I didn’t have that history, so I could just pick and choose. But even then I didn’t become a paid up member of the Dockers until the 2000’s. What clinched the deal for me was Jeff Farmer. My favourite player though was Dion Woods. Dion was a master. But with Jeff anything could happen. It was like the best part of football that I had seen in the eighties put together as a whole unit, and that unit was Freo.’
Asked why he wasn’t tempted to follow the more successful Eagles instead of the struggling Dockers, given that he had a free choice, Peter is frank about the reasons.
‘I think that the separation between West Coast and Freo is very similar to the way I feel about Americans and Canadians. For me, Americans, collectively, are a bunch of knobbers. Individually they are probably lovely people. Americans exude the kind of privilege that West Coast have always projected and seem to constantly maintain. It was a kind of a class thing I picked up on, and I always knew that we would get on top of the bastards.’
Which means that for Peter the biannual Derby fixtures are key to demonstrating the differences between the two clubs. ‘No way is the Derby just another game. I hate it when the coaches say that! It’s like a cannon shot that goes off. The whole town is divided. It’s much more than entertainment. Ask the guys that play and see what they say. Ask some of the Derby heroes like Haselby if it is just another game. Ask Jeff or Des Headland or bloody Kicketty!’
Peter repositions himself on the chair and looks at us squarely. ‘I’ll give you an example. In 2007, we didn’t have a good year and in the Derby we were supposed to get beaten to a pulp. I went into Freo to get Suzzy’s nieces a couple of presents, and Heath Black was in there with his kids. I said ‘gday’ and I wished him good luck on the weekend. I didn’t think we had a hope in hell. Black looked at me, his eyes were wide and he said ‘we’re going to take them, without a doubt.’ I got on Dockerland and everyone went Polly you idiot, of course that’s what he’s going to say. But we won that day when no-one gave us a chance. Josh Carr got the medal.’
Peter didn’t have a ticket to this, one of his most memorable Derbies, and instead listened to the game on the radio, hanging on every kick. ‘I could hear it was changing at the end of the third quarter, and knew that we were going to do it. So I had my ute already to go. I had my huge Freo flag, I had those magnetic stickers on my car door, the ones that said Jeff is Lord. I dressed out this old falcon with all sorts of crap. I drove up to Subi as the final siren sounded and I drove around in that ute all night until there was no more traffic.’ The memory makes Peter laugh, especially in the context of his following of the club through some difficult years. ‘In the dark old days where we would get pumped, a good day out at the Derby was if Grover dacked someone. The pain would be less if you had a good dacking, and it kind of made the game worthwhile. It’s the theatre when you lose that’s sustaining and the more absurd the better.’
With a Derby looming on the weekend, as a fan with an appreciation for the absurd, Peter’s preparation for the game and the rituals he maintains during the game are vitally important. ‘I don’t drink on Derby day. It’s the only game where I don’t touch a drop, because otherwise your nerves can get on top of you. I try not to think too much during the week until the day of the game. Then I go on Dockerland and seriously start thinking about football. I start thinking about our injuries, our form and the stats. I have a pair of undies that I only wear on Derby day. The elastic’s gone, and I’ve got to wear a belt to keep em up. I always wear the same tricolour jumper with number 33. Some other little things I do, but when things go wrong you’ve got to readjust your compass and do something impromptu. For example, one day after a few drinks at the Irish Club before a game I remember we were walking along Roberts Road, and we found ourselves in front of the Eagles shop. I said to the missus, I wonder if that shop is longer than human breath. She scrunched her face up, confused. I angled my head towards Subi and started to boo, trying to get from one side of the Eagles shop to the other. I’ve got a good boo and I’m used to booing. I was going hard, when out the door comes David Wirrpanda. He’s standing there looking at me like I’m the village idiot, but it’s always bugged me that we are renting our own games at Subi, and it’s seen as the home of the West Coast Eagles and their corporation. I did it out of irritation. Looks like I irritated Wirra.’
The thought of beating the Eagles in a Derby grand final gets Peter’s juices flowing. ‘I know a lot of people think wouldn’t be a good thing, but we wouldn’t lose to those bastards. Straight up, there is no way in the world we’d let that opportunity pass. Could you imagine how good the world would look after pounding those bastards? I mean just look at the 2015 grand final. Jack Darling did one of the best falcons I have seen, it was better than 5 dackings. Also it was a very rare chin falcon, almost as rare as the double falcon. It was more enjoyable than Rioli’s goal. I’d risk a heart attack for that absolutely. Just to see Mikey Walters kick the winning goal. He would not miss, the kid is that determined. And just to add the final nail to the Eagles’ coffin - Mikey would torp it.’
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Morgan Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #13

Is it too maudlin to suggest that we organise a Dockerland catch up and beer in his honour, maybe before a Freo home game or to watch the away Derby in round 6 in a pub?
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Mercury Vale Pollyanna/Polly/Bernt/Peter 3 months 2 weeks ago #14

Beer catchup - we should.

The Magoos: I laughed and cried in reading your post. Thank you.
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