Farewell ‘Warby’: A True Local Legend

by Team BV

On the morning of Wednesday 27 June 2018, the great Keith Warburton passed away, surrounded by family at Moyola Lodge, Tatura, following a brief battle with illness. Keith Warburton (Photo credit: Shepparton News)

On the morning of Wednesday 27 June 2018, the great Keith Warburton passed away, surrounded by family at Moyola Lodge, Tatura, following a brief battle with illness. Only a few weeks earlier, Warburton had finally been inducted into the Goulburn Valley Football League (GVFL) Hall of Fame.
Known around the traps as ‘Warby’, the former Carlton footballer, award-winning greyhound trainer and Victorian Lawn Bowls champion certainly packed plenty into his 89 wonderful years.
From footy great…
Warburton kicked 317 goals in 90 games for Brighton and in 1948 helped the club win its only Victorian Football Association premiership, scoring three goals in the grand final.
In 1951 the outrageously talented Warburton joined Carlton Football Club, where he scored 91 goals in 74 appearances and quickly became a club legend. While a serious kidney injury ended his impressive Victorian Football League (VFL) career at the age of 26, Warburton proceeded to light up the GVFL as captain-coach of Tatura Football Club, winning admirers for his class both on and off the field.
…To bowls champion
In 1960 a knee injury forced Warburton to retire, but football’s loss was undoubtedly lawn bowls’ gain. Just as he had done around the footy fields of Victoria, Warby went on to dominate the state’s bowling greens for decades.
The lush Goulburn Valley region has been known to produce a few peaches, but in sporting circles Warburton was always the pick of the bunch. In bowls he was a Goulburn Valley Champion, a Victoria Champion of Champions, and an inspirational representative for his state.
Labelled ‘the acrobat in football boots’ by Carlton supporters back in the day, Warburton was able to seamlessly transfer his natural ability and flair to the game of lawn bowls.
Speaking to Lauren Bordin at Shepparton News following Warburton’s passing, Dennis ‘Dreamy’ Smith, a former teammate of Warburton in both football and bowls, said: “When he was bowling really well he used to swing his leg, he sort of danced on the green, he was brilliant. He used to swing it after the delivery because he was riding the shot, gee he was a good bowler.”
A man to be admired
Warburton also became a highly successful greyhound trainer following his football career, and those who knew him say the dogs responded to his calm demeanour. Indeed, his son Peter told carltonfc.com.au: “To the day he died, I never ever heard Dad swear, never saw him intoxicated, never saw him raise his hands to anybody within or outside the family, or raise his voice in anger.”
Warburton is survived by children Peter, Susan, David, Tracey and Lizzie, along with his and late wife Rose’s 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.