Rams and Richmond were Chummy’s life

March 10, 2018

Chummy Bartlett in his younger years.

Chummy with his father, John, at a West Football Club function.

Former Deniliquin Rams premiership coach Greg Danckert presenting Chummy with a jumper signed by the Richmond players at his 90th birthday party in 2016.

James ‘Chummy’ Bartlett
Born: April 1, 1926
Died: Sunday, March 4, 2018

James ‘Chummy’ Bartlett will be remembered most for his love of footy, especially when talking about either of his beloved clubs — the Deniliquin Rams and Richmond Tigers.

Chummy passed away in Deniliquin Hospital at the age of 91 on Sunday, leaving behind a sporting legacy as a footballer, but even more so as a dedicated volunteer with the Deniliquin Rams, which his grieving family members said was his second home.

A more loyal servant and clubman would be hard to find, with the Rams life member having an association with the club since the mid-1940s. He played with the Deniliquin Football Club (which later became the Deni Rams) until he was diagnosed with rheumatic fever in 1946.

The disease continued to trouble him the following year, and the club medico, who was also his doctor, refused to clear him to play.

Not one to sit still, Chummy joined West Deniliquin in the local Edward River Football League, where he continued his playing days spending most of his career as a full back and winning several premierships.

Chummy once said that he had a reputation as one of the ‘‘dirtiest full backs in the league’’, acting as the onfield enforcer over his 14-year career.

After the ERFL folded in 1960 Chummy retired as a player and returned to the Deni footy club as a trainer, spending much time there along with his wife, Elsie (dec.), and their four children — Rhonda (dec.), Eunice, Lee and Lindsay.

In 1991, Chummy stepped up as the Deniliquin Rams president, but only served two terms in a role he wasn’t all that comfortable with; he much preferred to be working away in the background, like the many years he split and delivered firewood for the club as its major fundraiser.

Chummy received life membership in 1995 and a Victorian Country Football League Recognition of Service Award in 1998.

Long-time Rams match secretary and close friend Val Meadowcroft said Chummy was a passionate clubman.

‘‘I actually met Chummy when he worked with Permewan Wright’s as a delivery driver,’’ she said.

‘‘But obviously our biggest association with each other came at the Rams. He was a fantastic bloke and was a bit like an older brother to me.

‘‘He was very big on supporting the juniors (at the club) and was always the first to help out when you needed it.

‘‘He was always very passionate about his footy, too.

‘‘We used to make him stand next to the opposition coach’s box so that when he yelled at an umpire too much, we would get the free kick for it instead,’’ she said with a laugh.

‘‘He always said that he wasn’t going anywhere until Richmond won another flag (2017), and he made it. I, as well as plenty of others, will dearly miss having Chummy around.’’

Chummy was born on April 1, 1926 in Ganmain, before his family moved to Deniliquin, making their home in End St where the RSL Club stands today. Their next family home was in Cressy St near the Hardinge St corner.

Chummy left school when he was 12 years old, working with his dad, John, at Permewan Wright’s. He married Elsie Beatrice (Bub) Taylor at St Paul’s Anglican Church of England on Saturday, September 28, 1951 and the couple had four children.

Chummy worked as a delivery driver before taking up a position at the Rice Growers Deniliquin Mill as a leading hand from 1972-1991.

At the age of 65 he decided to retire, spending most of his spare time at the footy club.

His passion for footy was described well by good friend John Maher.

‘‘If a doctor diagnosed him they would’ve seen blindness in one eye with blue and gold and blindness in the other with yellow and black,’’ he said.

‘‘He also couldn’t hear the umpire’s whistle when they paid free kicks.

‘‘He was always a great bloke and a family man and was always a very honest person and he had a great memory.’’

During his retirement, Chummy spent countless hours timekeeping for school sporting events among other volunteer duties for the Rams.

In 2006, his years of volunteering and support of junior sports were honoured with the introduction of the Chummy Bartlett Shield sports day, which is contested between local primary schools in football, netball and ‘newcombeball’ every year. The naming of the shield in his honour was something Chummy took great pride in and it was a fitting tribute to a true Deniliquin Rams legend.

Chummy is also survived by seven grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild.

■ A graveside funeral for James Henry ‘Chummy’ Bartlett will be held at the Deniliquin Cemetery today at 11am where past and present members of the Deniliquin Rams Football and Netball Club are invited to form a guard of honour.

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