OAM gives club stalwart 100 reasons to smile

Neil Donaldson OAM with his woollen UWA Football Club jumper bearing the number 100. Picture: Marcus Whisson d414263
Neil Donaldson OAM with his woollen UWA Football Club jumper bearing the number 100. Picture: Marcus Whisson d414263

The Shenton Park resident wanted a special number and knew he was safe with 100.

The 78-year-old was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) last weekend for his service to Australian Rules football in WA.

Reluctant to receive the accolade, Mr Donaldson said he played, coached and became involved with football administration because he enjoyed the sport.

‘My wife and I couldn’t have children so they became my kids,’ he said.

‘The people kept me there.

‘You rarely maintain close friendships from school, but the sporting club friends become your pals.’

Mr Donaldson joined the UWA’s first under-age team in 1954 and played until 1968, winning premierships in 1957, ’61 and ’62. He then became a coach, winning flags in 1969, ’70, ’71, ’74 and ’76 and led the club as president in 1957-58 and 1963-65.

UWA made Mr Donaldson a life member in 1967 and he was patron in 1985, a position he held until 2012.

In 2008, he published The Green Machine, a history of the club that took three years to compile.

Mr Donaldson has been a member of the WA Amateur Football League (WAAFL) since 1955 and became a life member in 1972. In 2012, he became a life member of the WA Football Commission.

He remains on the WAAFL tribunal and the Hall of Champions Committee.