Spent life giving back

June 22, 2017

Ray Henderson was an easy player to pick out on the field, sporting a face guard after breaking his nose countless times.

Ray Henderson celebrates Shepparton East's 1985 premiership while president of the club.

East Shepparton lawn bowler Ray Henderson (left) won two Goulburn Valley state 60 and over pairs titles alongside his brother in-law Allan Hueston.

Ray Henderson’s motto was to always give back to anything that gave him enjoyment.

A Shepparton East Football Club life member and well respected across the wider community, Henderson died on Friday aged 69.

A legend at East when it was the Bombers in the Tungamah Football League, Henderson began playing thirds in 1963.

He quickly progressed to the seniors and, aged 24 in 1972, he already had four club best-and-fairests, a league medal and a premiership to his name.

The 1972 premiership came in a drought-breaking year for the Bombers, who had not played finals for the decade prior.

An extremely fair footballer, Henderson never visited the tribunal during his 318 senior games, playing mainly as a ruckman as well as drifting down back in the twilight of his career.

What made him noticeable on the field was his face mask, wearing the protective gear having broken his nose more than 10 times.

The Shepparton East team of the century member was highly regarded among opposition sides.

Even Tungamah players formed a guard of honour for Henderson when he ran out for his 300th game.

Henderson won two Lawless Medals as the league’s best-and-fairest in 1969 and 1972, alongside five club awards in 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1976.

After winning another premiership in 1980, Henderson’s football career ended on the ultimate high holding up the premiership trophy in 1982, having defeated Congupna in the decider.

Shepparton East was always a family club for the Hendersons.

Ray’s wife Lorraine was playing coach of the senior netballers and their three children — Michelle, Stewart and Andrew — all took to the football field or the netball court for the Bombers.

With a love for football and a want to be involved at an administration level, Henderson became president of Shepparton East and then the Tungamah Football League.

In 1995, Henderson’s long commitment to country football was recognised with the VCFL Service Medal.

All this was done while Henderson worked on what was described as one of the best farms in the Goulburn Valley, focusing on sheep and wheat, before also cultivating sunflowers, canola and corn.

During the football off-season, Henderson’s sporting fix came from playing cricket for Karramomus, captaining a C-grade premiership in 1973-74 among his three grand final wins with the club.

His sporting prowess transferred across to the bowling greens more recently.

Taking up bowls, naturally at Shepparton East, Henderson was again quick to give back to a new sport he was passionate about.

He played in the Allan Matheson Shield, reaching a preliminary final last season.

Henderson partnered his brother-in-law Alan Hueston — they married twin sisters — to win the 60 and over state pairs championship in 2015-2016 and last season.

Bike riding was another past time for Henderson, cycling up to Dookie or across to Violet Town for a coffee with an eager group of riders.

Granddaughters Alex, Scarlett and Asher also occupied much of Henderson’s attention, always taking them out on the motorbike at the farm.

While always making sure to be home in time for football finals, Lorraine and Ray were frequent travellers.

Whether it was visiting son Stewart when he lived in Bali or a host of trips to Europe and the United States, the Hendersons also recently discovered cruising.

But after contracting an infection from a mosquito bite in Thailand, Henderson died at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Friday.

His funeral will be today at 1pm at the Church of Christ before the cortege departs for the Pine Lodge Cemetery.

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