Veteran greyhound trainer and legendary former Carlton footballer, Keith Warburton has passed away at age 89.
Warburton, of Tatura, is a sporting icon, and was recognised by the Shepparton Greyhound Racing Club in 2013 for his outstanding contribution to greyhound racing.
“Keith gave so much to greyhound racing and no one ever had a bad word to say about him,” said Shepparton GRV Manager, Carl McGrath. “He was a very good trainer and his greyhounds raced under the ‘Tat’ prefix, while he was also a highly respected ‘muscle man’. He was the kind of guy that if he checked over your dogs and knew you were short of money he wouldn’t charge you. He was the George Schofield of provincial greyhound racing.”
In footy circles Warburton was known as ‘The Acrobat’, with his short but spectacular career as a high-flying forward with Carlton ending at age 26 with 74 games and 91 goals to his name.
A hugely popular footballer, Warburton made front page news when doctors feared for his life following a match in 1952 in which he received an accidental elbow which led to a ruptured bowel and burst intestine. This led to countless people donating blood in a bid to help Warburton. Prince Henry’s Hospital, where he was admitted, received phone calls at a rate of eight per minute from concerned fans, while hundreds of Melbournians waited around the clock by their radios for updates on Warburton’s health.
He returned to the field for the beginning of the 1953 season, albeit wearing a big belt as a safeguard.
Keith represented Victoria in lawn bowls, and just last month was inducted into the Goulburn Valley Football League’s Hall of Fame.
A resident of the Moyola Gardens Retirement Village, Warburton died there on Wednesday morning after a short illness, surrounded by family members.
The Carlton Football Club website reports that Carlton’s senior players, Kade Simpson in game No.300 included, will wear black armbands into Saturday’s match with Port Adelaide as a mark of respect to Warburton, whose funeral will take place at the Tatura Bowls Club next Monday, July 2, commencing at 11.00am.
Keith’s beloved wife of 65 years, Rose, died 12 months ago. They are survived by daughter Lizzie, son Peter (himself a four-game Carlton senior player through 1971 and ’72), Susan, David and Tracey, together with 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
David Warburton, also from Tatura, followed his father into training greyhounds.
Speaking for his family, Peter offered a fascinating insight into Keith Warburton the man.
“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,” Peter told carltonfc.com.au.
To read the Carlton Football Club’s tribute to Warburton click here.