TED WHITTEN was recruited from Braybrook / Collingwood Amateurs by the Footscray Bulldogs (now known as the Western Buuldogs) in 1951 after trialling with the Collingwood Magpies, but was turned away due to lack of body strength. Whitten went on to play 321 Games and kicked 360 Goals for the Bulldogs in a lengthy career from 1951 to 1970. He was commonly known as “Mr. Football” and acknowledged as being one of the Greatest Australian Football Players of all time. Whitten’s Hall Of Fame Trading Card and most Footscray / Western Bulldogs Players Cards are available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Ted Whitten was outstanding as either a Centre Half Forward or at Centre Half Back, and Football Judges regarded him as the most naturally gifted Player of his era. Whitten had exemplary all- round skills which were epitomised by his prodigious kicking skills with both feet, vice-like grip on the football in marking contests with either a dry or wet slippery ball, and speed and agility which , when combined with his aggressive and fearless attack on the ball made him the Complete Footballer.
Whitten’s dominance is quite remarkable when it is considered that the Bulldogs were not a highly competitive team through most of his career, but they were certainly hard to defeat at their Western Oval home ground. Ted Whitten was inducted into the Australian Football League Hall Of Fame in 1996 as an inaugural Legend of the game and his Career Highlights also include:- Footscray Bulldogs Club Captain from 1957 to 1970, Club Best and Fairest Player Awards in 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1961, Senior Club Coach for 13 years between 1957 and 1971, represented Victoria on 29 occasions, and was appointed Captain of the Australian Football League Team Of The Century.
Ted Whitten was a key player in Footscray’s Grand Final victory in 1954, which remains the only Premiership Success in the Bulldogs VFL / AFL History. Perhaps the Year that best highlights Whitten’s Contribution to the Bulldogs was year 1961 when he was the Captain- Coach, won the Clubs Best and Fairest Player Award and was the Clubs Leading Goalkicker. Unfortunately the Bulldogs were beaten by Hawthorn in the 1961 Grand Final. The heavy demands of Club Coaching and the enforcer- style of his on- field performances were taking a severe toll on Whitten’s aging body, so he retired as a Player after Round 4 in 1970, upon breaking Dick Reynolds ( Essendon) long-standing Games Played Record of 320 Games.
Whitten was always a popular guest on Sports Shows of the day, and upon retiring as a player, he was a committed no-holds-barred Australian Football Commentator on Television during the 1970’s. During his retirement he was vocal and passionate about State of Origin Representative Football and was Chaiman of the Victorian Selection Panel for many years.
Ted Whitten died in August 1995 from Prostate Cancer at the age of 62, and one of the most emotional scenes in Australian Football History remains of his stirring Lap of Honour prior to a Victorian State Of Origin Game on Saturday 17 June 1995, after his illness became public knowledge. Whitten’s son Ted Whitten Junior instituted an Annual E J Whitten Legends Charity Game in memory of his father to raise money for prostate cancer research.
Ted Whitten was honoured with a Nationally Televised State Funeral, has the E J Whitten Bridge named after him on Melbourne’s Western Ring Road, and has a Statue erected outside the Whitten Oval (formerly the Western Oval). The wonderful on-field performances were matched by tireless life-long devotion to the game of Australian Rules Football and Ted Whitten meretoriously deserves the accolade of LEGEND.
( Image courtesy of woof.net.au ).