FORMER East Fremantle footballer, administrator and town clerk Merv Cowan died last Sunday, shortly after his 91st birthday.
Mr Cowan was a premiership player with the Sharks, though his grand-daughter Lani Kenworthy says he’d originally set his heart on playing with South Fremantle.
He’d played junior football with the Bulldogs, but after serving in the navy during World War II, returned to find that because he’d lived in East Fremantle he had to play over on Moss Street.
He wore number 12 for the Sharks and was often referred to as Podge.
Mr Cowan spent most of his playing career in the back pocket, and rose through the ranks to be captain, but he had to wait until his last season, 1957, to win a premiership.
After his retirement, Mr Cowan turned to administration, joining the East Fremantle committee where he spent 13 years as president. He was one of the first to see the potential for WA to join an expanded VFL, though he warned it would be disastrous for the local league.
Following the entry of the Eagles into the now-national competition, he worked behind the scenes to help create a second team, sitting on the board of directors for the Fremantle Dockers in 1996.
Mr Cowan was also a commissioner of the WA Football Commission from 1991 to 1996 and a state selector for five years.
He’s been honoured with a gate at Subiaco Oval and a stand at East Fremantle Oval, and is a life member of both the Sharks and the WAFL.
In 2004 he was inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame.
As town clerk, Mr Cowan was remembered for his passion for supporting sporting clubs.
His grandson Blair says the footballer was a charmer.
“Pop was a people person and always had time for a chat with everyone.
“As a kid, going to the football with Pop was like being famous. He knew everyone.
“I remember walking with him at the football and every person that we passed would say ‘G’Day Merv’.”
Sharks CEO Todd Shimmon says Mr Cowan was a “massive stalwart” of the club.
“He was everything from president to secretary to premiership player to league delegate,” Mr Shimmon told the Herald.
Mr Shimmon says all three grades would wear black armbands as a mark of respect this weekend, and there’s a tribute at the president’s lunch.
Hundreds of mourners attended Mr Cowan’s funeral at Fremantle Cemetery on Wednesday.