K rock Football

Cats lose long-serving stalwart

Long-serving Geelong volunteer Vic Fuller. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

BRIAN Cook says Geelong has lost “the soul of our club” following the sudden death of long-serving volunteer Vic Fuller.

The CEO has led the tributes to the 79-year-old, who suffered a stroke while assisting at training at GMHBA Stadium on Monday morning.

“We have lost one of the stalwarts of our football club; the soul of our club, one of our people,” Cook said.

“Vic’s been a volunteer at our club for around 50 years, and he was pretty much every training session looking after the players.”

“It’s been a really tough day at the footy club.”

Cook said Fuller collapsed near the club’s doctors, who did all they could to revive him.

“As soon as he collapsed, there was someone with him within 15 seconds to treat him,” Cook said.

“We had three ambulances arrive, and they all arrived in 6-8 minutes. We had a defibrillator on him as soon as we could possibly do it.

“Everything that could be done was done, but he never regained consciousness.”

Players and staff remained on the field while Fuller was treated before training was cancelled and players sent home.

“There’s so many people deeply affected by it,” Cook said. “We’re playing a role of trying to support everyone, particularly the family.

“We have three grief counsellors, as well as our two psychologists.

“It’s a process we have to go through over the next week or two.”

A life member of the club, Fuller served in various roles, from Little League coordinator to VFL men’s team manager and doorman for the AFL team.

“You had to pass Vic before you entered the changerooms as a visitor, and you were scrutinised to an extreme extent, and he loved that job,” Cook said.

“And he was so good at it because he’d been around so long he knew everyone, and he knew who to let in and who not to let in.”

Cook quickly became familiar with Fuller’s quick wit when he took the top job at GMHBA Stadium in 1999.

“In my first week, he said to me, “I’ve seen the back of five CEO’s in my time, and I’ll probably see your back as well,” Cook recalled.

“And I said to Vic, “not if I sack you”. We laughed, and every year we’d pass each other and he’d say “you’re still here”.

“We just had a banter. He was like that; he loved the banter. He was a very humorous guy, and he liked to joke with people.

“He was loved by so many.”

Former star defender Tim McGrath first crossed paths with Fuller at the VFL reserves tribunal in the late 1980s when he was still at North Melbourne and had been reported over an incident with Cat Simon Goosey.

McGrath says not many people have had a more significant influence on the club than Fuller.

“He was a great football person… a great club person,” McGrath said.

“He will be fondly remembered by a lot of people.”

One of McGrath’s most vivid memories of Fuller was following Geelong’s VFL premiership win in 2002.

“I was the oldest bloke, so you can sit and reflect a little bit after the game,” McGrath, who captained the Cats, said.

“Looking at the smile on the face of blokes like Vic and ‘Carree’ (Brian Carr) that had been through a lot of pain at the footy club, and just to have some little reward of success for them, made it all worthwhile.

“Then Vic went on to be involved with the seniors when they were winning premierships.

“That’s all the great things you remember about great people.”

Fuller was recognised by the VFL in 2015 for his service with the prestigious Alec Gillon award.

Cook says the Cats will speak with Fuller’s family about an appropriate tribute.

“We’ve already been in touch with the family to say we’ll support them in whatever way they wish to go,” he said.

Twitter: @tom_king79