Vale Max Donelly

Liam Durkin

MOE Football-Netball Club legend Max Donelly died recently.

Donelly played 285 matches for the Lions between 1955 and 1967, with 211 games in the seniors, including the 1956 senior premiership.

He was named vice captain in the clubs team of the century, taking the position of first rover.

Donelly also coached Moe, taking on the senior job in three two year stints in 1971-72, 1976-77 and 1981-82.

Before the seniors he coached the reserves from 1963 to 1965 and again in 1967 – leading the team to the premiership as playing coach in the latter.

Good friend Gus Eaton, who was senior captain under Donelly’s coaching in 1972, remembers him as a strong lead up forward.

“He was playing full forward when I came here and he was only 5’9 and won the goal kicking (for the league) twice,” Eaton said.

“He was hard at it, very hard at it, could take good marks and was quick off the mark.

“In those days if you were a good footballer you’d get belted, they’d try and knock you out of the game, so Max copped a lot of that.

“He ended up playing more ruck rover later on, because the forwards started getting taller at the start of the 60s.”

As a coach, Eaton said Donelly possessed a calm demeanour that usually got a good response.

“He knew how to talk to players if you wanted to get them up…he had a knack for it,” he said.

“He’d never talk down to you.”

Post their playing and coaching days Eaton and Donelly ran from Bairnsdale to Moe in 1983, raising more than $15,000 in today’s money for the club.

Escorting them on the run was radio announcer Graeme McGowan of 3UL and the Ted Summerton – whom the Moe home ground is named after.

The pair completed their run in three days, and fittingly ran into Ted Summerton Reserve at half-time of a Moe senior game.

Outside of Moe, Donelly coached the Gippsland League interleague side for three seasons from 1977 to 1979 and also represented the then Latrobe Valley Football League on seven occasions.

He also served on the LVFL tribunal for 10 years.

Moe footballers and netballers wore black armbands last weekend as a mark of respect, while the clubs flag was flown at half-mast. Eaton led a testimonial at half-time of the senior game, before a sizeable crowed gathered in the club rooms on Saturday night to reflect on Donelly’s career.

Donelly is survived by wife Nancy and children Lance and Helen.