FORMER Member for Lowan Bill McGrath has paid tribute to Murtoa sporting legend George Caris, who died on Thursday aged 86.
Both men played for South Melbourne in the former Victorian Football League, Mr Caris in the late 1940s and Mr McGrath in 1959.
Mr McGrath described Mr Caris as a great bloke.
“He was a genuine man and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say a word denigrating him,” he said.
From an early age, Mr Caris loved sport, joining South Melbourne Harriers athletics club and Albert Park Lake Sea Scouts.
He spent his early footballing years at South Melbourne, playing 19 games between 1948-50.
VFL highlights for the rugged and fearless ruck-rover included polling one vote in the Brownlow Medal while playing against Melbourne great Norm Smith in 1948.
His first season of VFL saw him win the Swans’ recruit of the year.
Mr Caris moved to Murtoa for their senior coaching position in 1954.
He spent three seasons as a playing coach between 1954-56 and another five as a player from 1957-62, with one year in between as coach of Jung in 1961.
He was also a multiple Wimmera Football League interleague representative including a match against the VFL at Horsham City Oval in 1955.
A desire to help some emerging Murtoa footballers was the catalyst for his return to the football field in 1968, six seasons after retiring.
As soon as he arrived in Murtoa, Mr Caris was slotted into the Magpies’ A Grade cricket team as a wicket keeper. His cricket career spanned 30 years and more than 1600 dismissals.
He became the first Murtoa Cricket Club life member in 1979 and during his later years, played alongside his three sons, Haydn, Rob and Phil.
Despite being predominantly a keeper, the unorthodox batsman made his first and only century as a 51-year-old, scoring 113 not out.
He also represented Dunmunkle Cricket Association at Melbourne Country Week.
Off the field, Mr Caris was heavily involved in the Murtoa community, including Murtoa High School council, Murtoa Progress Association, Murtoa Apex Club, Murtoa Lions Club and Lions district governor.
He owned a white goods business at Murtoa and was a refrigeration engineer by trade.
He was married to Ellinor for 57 years and had three sons and two daughters, Sharon and Katrina, and five grandchildren.
The funeral will leave St John’s Lutheran Church, Murtoa, for the Murtoa Cemetery after a service starting at 1.30pm.