RETIRED Sale police officer George Entwistle took part in a lap of honour at the MCG last Friday night in front of more than 60,000 spectators, as Hawthorn and Collingwood clashed in the inaugural Emergency Services Match.
In partnership with emergency services, including Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and Life Saving Victoria, the AFL match was used to shine a light on the ordinary men and women who do extraordinary things every day protecting and supporting local communities.
As one of an elite group of people to have received the Victoria Police Valour Award, Mr Entwistle was invited to participate in the lap of honour in recognition for his outstanding work during his time as a police officer around Victoria.
"I got an email from the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner's office, asking if I would be interested [in taking part]," Mr Entwistle said.
"I said 'it would be an honour' to be part of it."
The Valour Award is given to police for an act which displays exceptional bravery in extremely perilous circumstances.
Mr Entwistle received his award in 1988, after he managed to pull a loaded shotgun from a young male assailant and hold him at bay for close to an hour.
"It's quite prestigious and something you don't get bestowed upon lightly, I was recommended for it by a supreme court judge," he said.
"We call ourselves the 'one per cent club' because there's only ever one per cent of the police force who get the Valour Award.
"It's the police force equivalent of the George Cross or thereabouts."
In describing the act of heroism, Mr Entwistle said while the fear factor was real, he was able to pin the gunman down until backup arrived.
"He was a lot younger so he could have overpowered me but I got hold of the shotgun and got rid of the two live rounds that were in it," he said.
"We then wrestled a bit and I got him out to the car, restrained him and called for help."
Having moved to Australia from Scotland at the age of 19, wife of more than five decades Christine said she
had "every reason to be proud" of her husband's achievements.
It was an incident that almost claimed the former policeman's life that Mrs Entwistle said demonstrated his standing in the community.
"George was in a helicopter crash and the public response was outstanding, it was just unbelievable," she said.
"I was taking calls at the police station and I got this weird call from a person who wouldn't leave their name to pass on their wishes.
"They said 'George will know us, he's put most of our family in jail', so there was a family who still wanted to send their best wishes and to this day I still have no idea who they were.
"Even though George had put most of them in jail the family were still concerned enough and showed enough compassion to ring and ask how he was."
As well as the Valour Award, Mr Entwistle also has a Police Star Medal, in what was a distinguished career that saw him serve in areas such as Bendigo, Moyhu and various suburbs around Melbourne.
In semi-retirement the 71-year-old worked as a guard at RAAF Base East Sale before winding down.
Mr Entwistle said it was somewhat fitting the lap of honour took place in a match involving Collingwood, as it was 50 years since he won a bet with Magpies legend Lou Richards.
"As a youngster I worked for Lou Richards at the Phoenix Hotel in Flinders St," he said.
"I was a barman and there was a match coming up between Collingwood and Richmond and Lou Richards said 'Collingwood will beat the pants off Richmond'.
"To stir him up I just said Richmond would win, and this went on for a while, so I said 'Lou, put your money where your mouth is', so he put 50 bucks on it and lost.
"From that day on he called his tips the kiss of death because every time he said a team would win they'd lose."
Mr Entwistle paraded around the hallowed MCG turf, walking alongside a number of old mates and colleagues who were given an appropriate reception from those in attendance.
Those wishing to donate to support the state's emergency services staff and volunteers can visit www.esf.com.au or text "THANKS2U" to 0473 000 111.