Frank Brew, who died of coronavirus aged 92, was a talented VFL player and cricketer.
Frank Brew, who died of coronavirus aged 92, was a talented VFL player and cricketer.

Swans, Blues mourn footy legend after COVID fight

The football community is mourning the loss of South Melbourne VFL stalwart Frank Brew to coronavirus as his family detailed the precious final moments with their adored dad and grandfather.

Brew, 92, died at the Austin Hospital on August 13 - about two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Sydney Swans remembered an outstanding wingman who played 87 games with the Bloods.

 

Frank Brew, who died of coronavirus aged 92.
Frank Brew, who died of coronavirus aged 92.

 

Brew played 87 games with South Melbourne in the VFL. Picture: Carlton Football Club
Brew played 87 games with South Melbourne in the VFL. Picture: Carlton Football Club

Players at Carlton, where Brew served as longtime curator, on Friday night wore black armbands as a mark of respect.

Brew's loss was also felt at Northcote Cricket Club where he played alongside Bill Lawry and was a mentor to Aussie cricketers Gary Cosier and Rodney Hogg.

Daughter Dianne Hughes told the Herald Sun she would treasure a final few seconds with her dad as he was transferred from his Plenty aged care home to hospital.

He twice tested negative to coronavirus before returning a positive result and had been in good health.

"I saw him for about 20 seconds. I met the ambulance going into the hospital,'' Ms Hughes said.

"Literally as they rolled him in I was able to grab his hand and that was it. He nodded."

 

 

Brew when playing footy. Interstate sides often swapped jumpers post-game.
Brew when playing footy. Interstate sides often swapped jumpers post-game.

Brew, who worked as a mechanic and later ran a milk bar, was one of 14 children who lived in a two-bedroom Brunswick East house with a huge army tent in the backyard.

He had two daughters including eldest Glenise who last spoke to her dad in a video call, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Brew's sporting achievements were especially impressive because one of his lungs didn't function due to a childhood accident.

 

Brew with one of his great granddaughters, Darcy.
Brew with one of his great granddaughters, Darcy.

 

"We knew he was pretty good but he was just dad to us,'' Ms Hughes said.

"He was just good fun - a big softie.

"It's just so sad that so many people were fond of him and we can't even have a celebration."

Brew played with South Melbourne from 1947-53, wearing the No. 3 guernsey and kicking 28 goals. He pulled on the Big V alongside Lou Richards.

He was Carlton Football Club's live-in curator at Princes Park for 30 years, retiring in 1995 and made a life member.

"He was a very good footballer,'' retired football journalist Jim Main, a Sydney Swans tragic, said.

"He was one of those light, very fast, nippy players.''

Brew starred at Northcote Cricket Club, where he was captain/coach and played 168 Premier 1st XI matches between 1943/44 and 1969/70 including the Dragons' famous 1965/66 premiership where Bill Lawry scored 282 against Essendon.

Lawry visited his old teammate, who once took 13 wickets in a single game, only recently.

 

Brew is shown third from the right in the bottom row of this Victorian team photo. Lou Richards is in the same row, third from left.
Brew is shown third from the right in the bottom row of this Victorian team photo. Lou Richards is in the same row, third from left.

 

Frank Brew (seated), with Bill Lawry, son-in-law Graeme and grandsons Neil (left) and Lee (right) at the 50-year celebration of the famous cricket final between Northcote and Essendon.
Frank Brew (seated), with Bill Lawry, son-in-law Graeme and grandsons Neil (left) and Lee (right) at the 50-year celebration of the famous cricket final between Northcote and Essendon.

Former Australian test cricketer Gary Cosier, who started his career at Northcote, said Brew was a terrific old-style spin bowler.

"He was just a really, really good district cricketer with a heap of knowledge and a heap of empathy to all those around him with a touch of larrikin about him as well which was probably from his footy years,'' Cosier said.

"I can't tell you how nice a man he was.

"He was a wonderful person to grow up playing cricket with.

"He was like a granddad, a father, a coach, a cricketer - he was everybody wrapped up into one.

"He stood out as a player and he stood out as a person. He was terrific."

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wes.hosking@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Swans, Blues mourn footy legend after COVID fight

He was curator at Carlton Football Club for 30 years. Picture: Carlton Football Club
He was curator at Carlton Football Club for 30 years. Picture: Carlton Football Club

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