Vale Ray Lawrence

Monday, February 1, 2021 - 3:19 PM

RAY LAWRENCE – FIGHTER TO THE END

Ray Lawrence, who was a crucial member of the half-back line in Perth’s champion triple premiership sides in the 1960s, was noted for his fighting qualities. And he was a fighter to the end.

He had been battling cancer for some time, but had told family and friends he was determined to mark his 80th birthday. He achieved that on January 30, before dying at his home in Shelley the next night.

Ray not only made an outstanding contribution to the Demons, both as a player and coach of the Colts team, but also as a great Club man. He was a regular attender at home games and functions, and was awarded Life Membership in 2011.

An outstanding schoolboy athlete, Ray served notice of what was to come as a prominent member of the Victoria Park Junior Football Club’s Under 16 and Under 18 sides. And he made a big impression in 1963 when he won the Prendergast Medal for best and fairest in the Reserves competition, as well as the Club award.

He really made his mark in the League premiership sides from 1966-68 where his understanding with centre half back Bob Shields - and Ian Rothnie on the other flank in 1967 and ’68 – was  legendary. The trio became firm friends, with Ray always claiming he had the role of “sweeper” – tidying up his colleagues’ fumbles!

Ray played 114 league games from 1963-68 (one goal!), and coached the Colts side in 1984 and again in 2001-2.

Triple premiership captain-coach, Mal Atwell, describing Ray’s style in the Club history “From Redlegs to Demons”, compared him with the West Coast Eagles defender, Guy McKenna. Referring to Ray, Mal said: “A great rebound player who was extremely reliable. Cool and backed himself.”

The Team of the Century judging panel described Ray as “a safe half back flanker who was an excellent reader of the play and a key member of the 1960s hat trick of premierships.”

The 1960s premiership players remained a tightly knit group and Ray was one of its most popular members.

Bob Shields, who is now the Club president, said after learning of Ray’s death: “I valued him most as a lifelong friend, and admired his tenacity in fighting right to the end.”

The Club extends its sincere sympathy to the Lawrence family on the death of one of our most highly respected members.

PETER KENNEDY