George Doig was born in Howard Street Fremantle on the 25 May 1913, the youngest child of Charles and Isabella Doig.
It was often said that the Doigs did not live further away from Fremantle than the sound of the Town Hall bell. In many respects George observed that objective because in his youth he lived in Fremantle and spent time at the family holiday home in Bicton. In his adult life he moved to Bicton but worked in Fremantle.
Despite the sporting accolades he received in his sporting career, he always said that the highlight of his life was his marriage to Margaret Mossman at Scots Church near Fremantle Oval on the 21st August 1937. He and his brother Charlie (his Best Man) actually played a football match at Fremantle Oval that day and they only had to cross the road to get to the church on time.
George and Margaret were inseparable during their life together and they were in their 70th year of marriage. The Scots Church also had some family connection because it was built by George’s grandfather in 1890. The foundation stone for the building was laid by John Forrest.
George retired from the Harbour and Light Department in Fremantle in 1973 after a long career in the Public Service.
Margaret and George had many enjoyable holidays together cruising to Asia and Japan on the “Bakke” ships. These trips satisfied George’s love of the sea and Margaret’s love of shopping. George had a lifelong passion for fishing and would have kept the statisticians busy if his records were kept. Many years ago he went to Kalbarri before there were any sealed roads. While he caught plenty of fish, he had to borrow money to get home because a goat ate his wallet.
He had an uncanny ability to tell what sort of fish he had on his line as soon as he hooked it. Even after his eyesight started to fail, his sons took him fishing off Cottesloe. Though he usually used a hand line, he was persuaded to use a boat rod. This experiment did not last long because he soon managed to hook one of the crew through the ear. Luckily a good pair of pliers was available and the hook was removed without major damage to the ear.
In 1967, when George was aged 54, his sons persuaded him to join the Royal Fremantle Golf Club. He had not played golf much before then. Before he owned his first set of clubs, he got a hole in one with a borrowed club at the then 215 yard par 3 tenth hole at Royal Fremantle — a feat only achieved by two other players. It is no longer a par 3 hole so he will remain part of a unique group.
George was a devoted family man. He liked nothing better than to get together with the whole of his family. Family get-togethers have been a regular feature of his life. In the last few years this has involved four generations. His seven great grandchildren adored their “old poppy”.
George had two sons, Don and Malcolm. They married Helen and Beverley respectively and between them gave George his five grandchildren — Anthony, Geoffrey, Steven, Catherine and Jennifer. He was delighted as his grandchildren married and Shelley, Belinda, Alain and Simon joined his farnily. In turn they produced seven great grandchildren, Lachlan, Genevieve, Alexander, Louise, Luc, Jazmine and Mitchell. George was immensely proud of his family and loved the regular contact he had with all of them. Christmas Day, Easter time and family fish and chip nights were always special times enjoyed by the whole family.
George was one of seventeen members of the Doig family covering three generations who played football for either East Fremantle or South Fremantle Football Clubs. Their collective contribution to football in Fremantle has been recognised by the naming of the Fremantle Dockers club champion award as the Doig medal, the naming of the Doig Room at Subiaco Oval and the Doig Terrace in front of the Dockers club rooms at Fremantle Oval.
George’s football career started in 1933 with East Fremantle. In 202 games he kicked 1111 goals. In 1934 he set Australian records of 152 goals in a season and 19 goals in a match. He kicked more than 100 goals in nine consecutive seasons at an average of 120 goals per year.
As the family reflected on George’s life it became clear that everything he did in life was a personal contest. He never liked to dwell on this but he once said that he never considered his opponents to be his enemy. He only ever went out to play better than he had before — setting personal objectives to strive for.
Maybe this is why he is so respected by all those who understood the spirit in which he played the game. This spirit was evident in everything he did, from golf to bowls, fishing to card games or from scrabble to quiz shows.
In 1988, at the age of 75 years, he had open heart surgery. Ten days after his operation, at George’s insistence, the family had to arrange his discharge from hospital and dress him up in a dinner suit to attend a function for him to be inducted into the Western Australian Institute of Sport’s Hall of Chainpions. It was a memorable occasion and he received a great reception. When he attended the Institute’s Annual Dinner a few weeks ago, Wally Foreman announced that George was then the oldest living member of the Hall of Champions. George was particularly saddened by Wally’s sudden death the following week and tragically both of them are no longer with us.
In 1995 George was inducted as an inaugural member of the Fremantle Football Clubs Hall of Legends. He was a passionate supporter of the Dockers and attended games at Subiaco Oval. In 1997 he was selected in the East Fremantle Football Club’s Team of the Century and the following year was an Inaugural Inductee of the City of Fremantle’s Sporting Wall of Fame.
One of his ultimate accolades occurred in 2002 when he was inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame.
This was followed in 2004 when he was inducted as an inaugural member and legend of the Western Australian Football’s Hall of Fame. Next week he was due to receive life membership of the Western Australian Football Commission. He was looking forward to receiving this award.
Regrettably most of these awards came late in his life and at a time when he suffered from loss of sight. Nevertheless he appreciated the recognition he received.
While the family mourns his loss they also celebrate his life which produced much love and enjoyment. He and his faniily indeed had a fortunate life.