Fallen Cats honoured

Wednesday, April 24
Geelong Advertiser

TWELVE former Geelong Football Club players who had their careers cut short when they died in war have been honoured in a new book launched this week.

Fallen: The Ultimate Heroes, pays tribute to league football players, including those who pulled on the blue and white guernsey, who sacrificed their football careers for the love of their country.

Among the Geelong heroes honoured are the club's 1941 best and fairest player Jim Knight, who died in 1943 at the age of 24.

Yesterday his brother, Alan, who was interviewed for the book, recalled how his brother, a pilot in the air force, always managed to score a flying job home on a Friday night so he could line up to play on Saturdays.

``It was a strange thing, wherever he may have been, there would always seem to be a VIP or someone who had to come to town and he would get a guernsey,'' Mr Knight said.

Knight, a rover for Geelong, played for Carlton when Geelong pulled out of the competition at the end of 1941 due to war-time travel restrictions.

The book describes Knight as a flying officer who died when his plane was taking off from Goodenough Island in the Pacific to launch an attack on Rabaul.

The plane hit a pot hole, flipped onto its nose and exploded.

``He was going full bore down the strip when the nose wheel blew out on him. The plane just dipped its nose and over it went,'' Mr Knight said.

The crash claimed Knight's life, but his crew survived.

``It was a terrible shock to our family. We were just an average very happy family, but you can't alter these things,'' Mr Knight said yesterday.

But Mr Knight said his whole family was touched by the Carlton Football Club's gesture in giving the Geelong Football Club the Jim Knight Memorial Trophy to be awarded to the best and fairest player.

``That sort of thing just wouldn't happen these days,'' Mr Knight said.

Also included in the book are World War I victims James Aitken, John Bell, Alan Cordner, Joseph Crowl, Les James, William Landy, William Arthur McKenzie and Joe Slater.

Clyde Helmer, Ralph Lancaster and Jack Lynch were the Geelong players who perished in World War II.