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2005 Archived News from 2005

Old 01-08-2005, 06:30 AM
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Ford and Geelong Kick Goals over the Decades

1920s: Ford Australia was incorporated on March 31, 1925 following a lengthy visit by Ford of Canada executive Herbert French in 1924. French toured Australia and found that the State distributors and many of the dealers of Ford vehicles were not providing an adequate level of sales and service. He recommended that Ford set up a manufacturing and distribution operation in Australia and he chose Geelong as the main site.

For a man brought up on ice hockey, French became an avid fan of Australian Rules, particularly the sort played by Geelong Cats. He was one of the club's staunchest supporters and was even more so when Geelong won its first premiership in 1925. In 1927 the era of the famous Model T was nearing an end and production was to cease in Australia by early 1928 after Ford Australia had built more than 32,000 of the 15 million sold worldwide.

At around the time Geelong moved from the old Corio ground to Kardinia Park, Ford was gearing up for the new Model A, the car that was to become a sales success in the late 1920s.

1930s: For Ford this was the decade of the V8, the Geelong-designed coupe utility, an all-steel sedan body and the introduction of the small, economical British Fords. The Geelong plants were getting ready for the launch of the famous Ford V8 sedan, utilities and trucks when Geelong Football Club claimed its second premiership flag. A year later, George Maloney topped the VFL's goalkicking with 109!

Shortly afterwards, a young Geelong man called Lewis Bandt was designing a vehicle that would be imitated by car makers around the world - the coupe utility. As the Great Depression ended in the early 1930s, Ford imported the largest stamping press ever seen in Australia and, in 1937, launched the first cars in Australia with an all-steel roof stamped in one piece.

This was a high point for Ford Australia, matched by another high point for GFC - the 1937 premiership under the guidance of captain and coach, the great Reg Hickey. By the end of the decade the storm clouds of war were building over Europe and World War II had begun.

1940s: As thousands of young Australian men joined the armed forces many of them from Ford's workforce and GFC's player list; Ford turned its factories over to the war effort. To keep the production lines working full-time the company began to employ women to work the presses, the welders and the lathes and to also assemble the vehicles needed for the armies of Australia and its Allies.

Ford built thousands of cars, trucks and tractors plus ocean-going ships, landing barges, armoured machine gun carriers, sea mines, aircraft auxiliary petrol tanks, trailers and the famous Jeeps.

Not long after moving from Corio Oval to Kardinia Park in 1940, the Victorian Football League closed down for the duration of the war.

When peace was declared at the end of 1945, Ford switched back to building cars and trucks and tractors for civilian use. It bought back thousands of trucks, utes and tractors from Department of Defence, reconditioned them and got them into the waiting hands of farmers and tradespeople around the nation.

The GFC resumed competition in 1944 and began building up its new team for an exciting start to the 1950s.

In 1946 Prime Minister Ben Chifley visited Geelong and unveiled the first new post-war civilian vehicles to be assembled in Australia - the sleek Ford V8 sedan and its workhorse sibling, the Ford V8 utility.

1950s: One of the icons in Australian motoring history is the famous Customline V8 sedan and its tough brother, the Mainline utility. Ford's engineers were re-jigging the assembly lines and preparing the huge stamping presses in 1951 for the launch of the new car.

As they neared the completion of their work, GFC won its fourth grand final in 1951. The premiership completed a trifecta with brilliant back pocket player Bernie Smith winning the Brownlow media. In the same year George Goninon won the league goal kicking award. The Cats followed up with their fifth premiership win in 1952, the first year of Ford Customline sales. They set a record of 26 consecutive wins during those two years with the great combination of Reg Hickey as coach and Fred Flanagan as captain. This record has yet to be broken! It seemed there was no stopping Ford and the Geelong Cats.

By the end of the decade Ford had a big decision to make. To compete successfully, Ford needed to build its next new car completely in Australia and not rely on imported vehicles and components.

As the decade ended, Ford's assembly operations moved to a huge new plant in Melbourne and the Geelong plants were extensively remodelled and set up for wholly locally-built vehicles.

1960s: This was the era of the new Falcon, the first Ford car built entirely in Australia and the Geelong plants were buzzing with excitement as the new model was launched powered by Geelong-built engines and bodies made from panels stamped in Geelong.

Geelong Cats' player Alistair Lord won the 1962 Brownlow Medal. Then Geelong took the premiership flag for the sixth time in 1963 under the coaching of a former Ford employee and club legend, Bob Davis - the year that the XL Falcon made inroads towards the goal of achieving sales supremacy.

While premiership success eluded the Cats during the rest of the 1960s, fans were treated to the exploits of the famous Polly Farmer and Doug Wade's 127 goals won him the coveted goalkicking competition.

Ford meanwhile went from strength to strength. The XP Falcon astounded the nation by completing a gruelling 70,000 mile durability run in the full glare of the media. The XR Falcon followed - the first Falcon to be powered by a V8 engine. Next came the start of a legend, the XR Falcon GT and the first Australian-built luxury limousine, the fabulous Fairlane.

Who will ever forget the end of this decade when the incredible Falcon GTs won race after race and took the team prize in the world's most gruelling car rally, the London-Sydney Marathon.

1970s: If the 1960s were an exciting time for Ford, the next decade would build on the legend of the Falcon GT and see a new era in car design as Ford began to use tough but lightweight plastics to build cars.

Geelong's President, Jack Jennings, celebrated 26 years in the job and the 1976 goalkicking award went to Geelong's Larry Donohue with 105 for the season.

The early 70s saw the Falcon GTHOs sweep their rivals away in most of the major races and saw Moffat and Bond deliver one of the most crushing race victories at Bathurst with their famous 1-2 win in the beautiful Falcon Hardtops. It would see the Fairlane become Australia's favourite luxury car and, as the decade drew to a close, a new Falcon that was fitted with lightweight plastic parts including a world first in a volume passenger car, a plastic petrol tank.

1980s: Ford became Australia's top-selling make in 1982 and it was to hold that position through the 1980s. Each successive model of the Falcon brought greater sales success and the Fairlane and LTD models led the luxury market. Ford introduced the new Laser in 1981 and it immediately became the best-selling small car and was a major factor in helping Ford maintain sales leadership.

The 1980s also saw Ford revive the wind-in-the-hair days of the open roadster when it launched the new Capri. The sleek little sporty car won the hearts of thousands of Australians and, during its production run, became a major export to the USA - the first Australian-built car to achieve that honour.

In 1980 John Newman chalked up his 300th game with the Cats and, in 1983, this record was topped by Ian Nankervis' 325 matches! Paul Couch won the Brownlow in 1989, the same year that Malcolm Blight took over as coach.

1990s: This was a decade of challenge for both Ford and GFC as they faced increased competition from their rivals in the market place and on the football field. Both got very close to the top on several occasions but the ultimate victory was not to be for either team. It was a case of consolidating and building their teams for the real challenge - the new millennium.

The Cats established another record in 1992 that hasn't been broken since. Their score of 37 goals and 17 behinds for 239 points against Brisbane created club and VFL records. The all-time great Gary Ablett kicked over 100 goals in three successive years from 1993 and he won the John Coleman Medal in 1994 and 1995. In 1997 Geelong played its 500th match at Kardinia Park and also achieved the club's 1,000th win in premiership matches.

The opening of the new Ford Stand symbolized the strong relationship between Ford and GFC.

2000 & beyond: What does the future hold for Ford and GFC? Both have strong teams and are striving to lead their competitors.

Ford launched its latest BA Falcon range, with the Falcon nameplate achieving legendary status as the longest continuous automotive nameplate in Australia. Ford added a new locally-built model to its line-up, the award-winning Ford Territory, and brought in great vehicles from around the world - the Escape, Fiesta and Focus.

Geelong Cats have a keen young team with a good balance of older and wiser players to see it climb that magical ladder to another Grand Final.

In 2005, both celebrated major milestones with the club building the new eastern stand while Ford celebrated 80 years of operation in Australia.

Many thanks to the many Ford and GFC people today and throughout history who have contributed to this enduring association. In the decades ahead, there is great potential to further develop this unique relationship for the benefit both of sport and business in Australia.

 

 

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