Mark of the Century statue
Public Art : Mark of the Century statue ( also known
as the John Gerovich statue)
Sculptor : © Robert Hitchcock
Date Unveiled : The John Gerovich statue was unveiled
by Premier Alan Carpenter and Fremantle Mayor Peter Tagliaferri on the 5th of June, 2006.
Description of the Mark of the Century
statue: A bronze statue of John Gerovich in what was described as the "greatest mark in Western
Australian football history". The sculpture was inspired by the famous 1956 photo taken of the mark,
which saw South Fremantle player Gerovich ride high onto the shoulders (step ladder) of East Fremantle
player, Ray French, to take possession during the 1956 Western Australian Football League's preliminary Grand
Location : Roundabout at the intersection of Parry
and William Streets, outside the Fremantle Football Oval, Fremantle, Western Australia.
|This statue was unveiled by
Hon Alan Carpenter MLA
Premier of Western Australia
on the 5th June 2006
Background of John Gerovich : John Gerovich played
221 games for the South Fremantle Football club during the 1950's and 60's. He started his career in football at
the ripe old age of 16 playing for South Fremantle.
History and Controversy of the John Gerovich statue :
In 1997 the Fremantle Council released plans for the redevelopment of the Fremantle Football Oval and the
surrounding area. One of the proposals was to erect a statue outside the grounds. The redevelopment plans were
eventually shelved but there was still a great deal of interest in having a statue . In 2002 talks again resumed
about the funding of a statue but again the proposal lapsed. In 2003 the West Australian newspaper announced that
the Subiaco Oval was also planning to place a statue of John Gerovich taking the "Mark of the Century" outside
their oval. It was suggested that Fremantle purchase a copy of it. Talk about a footy scrum, no one was
particularly interested in having a copy, least of all Freo, who wanted their own statue. So Fremantle Council
proposed to have another statue commissioned (of the same photograph, mind you). Debate raged over having two
statues depicting the same event and the potential for the devaluing of the great event and the statues
themselves. Eventually the Government announced it would donate $70,000 to the Fremantle project, recognising
it as a significant event in both Fremantle and Western Australian Football history. The famous photo of John
Gerovich's mark was taken by press photographer Maurie Hammond (for the West Australian newspaper) during the 1956
WAFL Preliminary Grand Final between South Fremantle and East Fremantle. The statue was unveiled on the 5th of June
2006, prior to the Foundation Day Derby at Fremantle Oval, marking the 50th anniversary. A function was held prior
to the unveiling at the Griff John Function Centre, where John Gerovich and his family were in attendence. Also
present were members of Ray French's family, Maurie Hammond's family and players of both the Fremantle and East
Fremantle teams of 1956. John Gerovich opened his speech by saying he felt like a corpse providing the eulogy at
his own funeral.
On a sad Note: Ray French, who was also a waterside
worker, died in an industrial accident in Fremantle a few years after the famous photograph was
Well I Never ! : In the 1960's the Gerovich -
French mark came to international attention after Encyclopaedia Britannica included it in their book as
being the "greatest mark of all time".
After the famous event everyone in Fremantle went crazy over the photo and it was plastered on the
walls of cafes, baber shops and children's bedrooms. Even a service station on South Terrace couldn't resist
having a mural of the event drawn on the wall.
John Gerovich was eighteen years of age when he took the mark.
The mark was actually taken at Subiaco Football Oval, not the Fremantle Oval.
Barry White was the player who kicked the ball Gerovich marked.
So what was the final score in the 1956 Preliminary Grand Final between South Fremantle and East
Fremantle ? South Fremantle 12.10 (82) beat East Fremantle 8.16 (64). But it was East Perth who eventually won the
WAFL Grand Final, beating South Fremantle 10.17 (77) to 9.10 (64).
In 1994 Gary Ablett's leap, was labelled 'Mark of the Century'.