Australian Football

AustralianFootball.com Celebrating the history of the great Australian game

 

Key Facts

Full name
Edward James Whitten Snr

Known as
Ted Whitten

Nickname
EJ / Mr. Football

Born
27 July 1933

Place of birth
Braybrook, VIC (3019)

Died
17 August 1995 (aged 62)

Place of death
Melbourne, VIC (3001)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 268d
Last game: 36y 279d

Height and weight
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 89 kg

Senior clubs
Footscray

Jumper numbers
Footscray: 3

State of origin
VIC

Family links
Don Whitten (Brother)Ted Whitten Jnr (Son)

Ted Whitten

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
FootscrayV/AFL1951-19703213601.1243%12.023.944.67112
Total1951-19703213601.1243%12.023.944.67112

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 6,083rd player to appear, 53rd most games played, 129th most goals kickedFootscray: 377th player to appear, 5th most games played, 7th most goals kicked

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WhittenKick

Right

Few footballers have given as much to the game as Edward James Whitten. First as a player, in 321 games for Footscray and 29 for his beloved 'Big V', but perhaps even more significantly in the quarter of a century which elapsed between his retirement as a player and his death in 1995, as one of Australian football's few genuine living icons. However, it was his achievements as a player which constituted the seed-bed out of which such legendary status grew. 

After being rejected by Collingwood (in whose zone he resided) in 1950, on the grounds that he lacked bulk, Whitten was free to turn out with his boyhood heroes at the Western Oval. His debut in 1951 has gone down in football folklore. Opposed by renowned hard man Don 'Mopsy' Fraser of Richmond the young Whitten politely offered his hand prior to the opening bounce only to receive a sharp kick in the ankles in return. Undeterred, Whitten goaled after marking early in the first term, an act of insolence which did not go down at all well with 'Mopsy', whose retaliation this time was even more pronounced - suffice to say that Whitten had much to reflect upon that night as he lay in his hospital bed!

E.J. Whitten was nothing if not a quick learner. He soon realised that the best way to achieve success in the sport he loved was to intimidate rather than be intimidated, and if 90% of this was bluster it nevertheless could not mask the fact that he was also a supremely gifted - and tough - exponent of the game.

Aside from participating in Footscray's famous 1954 premiership win, Whitten did not enjoy much success at club level during his career. This included a disastrous 1975 season spent coaching first division VFA club Williamstown. The Seagulls managed just four wins from 14 home-and-away matches, which consigned them to last place and relegation to second division. His volatile personality and fondness for back-chatting meant that he seldom fared well with the umpires when it came to Brownlow votes: equal third, half a dozen votes off the pace, in 1959 was his best effort. This perhaps in part explains his excessive partiality for interstate football - a predilection all the more remarkable when you bear in mind that many Victorians at the time regarded the interstate arena as redundant given the VFL's unarguable supremacy. 

Whitten, however, liked nothing better than to remind the other states of that supremacy, a feat he achieved in 27 of the 29 interstate matches he played. So fanatical was Whitten's devotion to interstate football, both during and after his playing career, that to many his name is synonymous with the big white V, an emblem tantamount to the Holy Grail to many South Australian, Western Australian and Tasmanian footballers of the 20th century.

An emblem which, sadly, was probably consigned to posterity at more or less the same time as the mortal remains of Edward James Whitten. Both the emblem and the man played significant roles in the history of the greatest sport on earth, however, and as such deserve to be feted and acclaimed as long as the sport is played.

Author - John Devaney

Sources

Full Points Footy Publications

Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.