Rochester Sports Museum wins $100,000 grant

By James Arbuthnott

Rochester Lions Club's decision to create the Rochester Sports Museum on the back of the amazing John Forbes collections of sporting memorabilia is gaining some serious traction.

The Lions has confirmed a $100,000 kick start through the Victorian Government’s ‘pick my project’ program.

The founding collection was amassed by Forbes across the 24 years he worked for sporting goods label Puma and contains more than 4000 pieces.

Since early this year the club has been patching and painting the walls and installing air conditioners, carpets, blinds and security systems at the old railway station to be ready for its October 26 opening.

Museum curator Laura Steadman said Forbes was “thrilled” to have his collection on permanent display.

Cricket memorabilia will be the main focus of the museum, which will hold former national captain and record-breaking wicket keep Adam Gilchrist’s Test match gloves.

Forbes remembers Gilly as “the greatest bloke Puma ever sponsored”.|

“He had everything. He was a gentleman and a man who thought of others first and was a great role model,” he said.

And when the World Series of 1977 was underway, Forbes scored autographs from the West Indies, Australians and World team.

Cricket Australia director Mark Taylor’s world-record 334 not out in Pakistan ended in the sporting legend presenting Forbes with an autographed photo from the day.

More to hang on the wall at the Rochester Sports Museum are Sir Donald Bradman’s autograph, Merv Hughes’ helmet, Dennis Lillee’s controversial aluminium bat and a stump from the 2011 John Forbes 20/20 tribute match held in his honour in Kangaroo Flat, where cricket greats came from around the world.

But it wasn’t just cricket which got John's attention.

The museum’s wealth of AFL memorabilia proves John’s passion for the sport with a framed picture of every Brownlow medallist he signed to Puma, including John Patten, Robert Harvey, Dipper, Michael Voss, Shane Woewodin, Ben Cousins, Adam Goodes, Paul Kelly, Tony Lockett, Shane Crawford and Chris Judd.

A particular fan was dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes, who signed a photo saying “You’re a legend, Forbsey”.

One of Rochester’s most talented footballers, John Williams will also be immortalised in the museum, with blazers from both Essendon and Collingwood as well as his Victorian and All Australian blazers on display.

Horse racing and netball will also feature in the museum, as well as Greg Norman’s famous Akubra, which he signed and gave to John.

The museum will open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Olympian and legendary middle-distance runner Herb Elliot on October 26 at the old railway station in Rochester.