Big Red a lifer

Eileen Bond celebrates her life membership with the Bulldogs’ current crop of stars. Photo by Jane Grljusich

FAMED socialite Eileen Bond says coming back to Fremantle to be awarded life membership of the South Fremantle Football Club has been a highlight of her life.

Despite 50 years of globetrotting while mixing it with everyone from rich-listers to A-listers, Ms Bond says some of her fondest memories are coming to the club to watch the footy with her father Bill (Dooza) Hughes in the 1950s.

Hughes had played 47 games for the Bulldogs between 1925 and 1927 and was president on three occasions across three decades; the main bar is named after him, as is the club’s equivalent of the Brownlow medal.

“I remember going to the footy with him and he would tell me to get out of the grandstand and to go out into the sunshine – maybe he was responsible for all this skin cancer,” Ms Bond laughs.

But he could have been shielding her ears from the stand’s rough banter: “He always used to say ‘don’t you go around with those footballers, you’re too young’.”

Ms Bond said families were a huge part of club life, and inevitably a small crowd would turn up at the Hughes home on Quarry Street after match day.

There would also be a big footy presence at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, where her brother was a priest, when there was another family occasion to mark. “We were all hatched, matched and dispatched at St Pat’s,” she says.

It was there Ms Bond married her husband Alan, who rose to prominence as one of Australia’s richest entrepreneurs and the man who brought the America’s Cup to Fremantle before he was later embroiled in financial scandals and bankrupted.

Ms Bond’s accolade was partially a thank you from the club for her financial contribution which helped  bring the WAFL grand final to Fremantle Oval this year, a move that took on extra prominence when the club won its 14th premiership in its 120th season in front of 10,179 delirious fans.

“That was just amazing,” Ms Bond said.

“I had such a good year; I mean we all have watched them get better and better after last year’s disappointment, and they did and then to win the grand final in Fremantle was just incredible.”

At the Bulldogs’ AGM, Sandover medalist Hayden Schloithe, Paul McGovern and Brad McGuinness were also awarded life memberships; the latter a record unlikely to be repeated as it means four members from three generations of the same family have all received the honour.

By STEVE GRANT

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