Historic football trophy donated to Boolarra

The 1936 Elder-Berwick Medal, which was stolen in March, has been found and donated to the Boolarra Football Club. photograph hayley mills
The 1936 Elder-Berwick Medal, which was stolen in March, has been found and donated to the Boolarra Football Club. photograph hayley mills

A Mid Gippsland Football League best and fairest trophy stolen by thieves from a rural property earlier this year has been recovered and donated to the Boolarra Football Club.

The Elder-Berwick Medal from 1936 was presented to Robert Thorburn and was one of several dozen items stolen from a property just outside of Boolarra in March.

The home ransacked in the burglary was owned by Eric Thorburn who died late last year.

Sister and estate executor Lois Smith described the theft of the historic trophy - which belonged to her late grandfather Robert Thorburn - as "heart breaking" but was "relieved" it had been recovered.

"The trophy was found by police and I was just so happy when we got it back," Ms Smith said.

"Since our brother died we discussed what we would do with the trophy and we wanted to donate it to the Boolarra Football Club."

Ms Smith had planned to donate the Elder-Berwick Medal before the theft and was on hand at Boolarra's home game on Saturday to handover the trophy to president Paul Dodds.

"We were actually going to give [the trophy] to the Boolarra Historical Museum but we thought the footy club would really like it," Ms Smith said.

"We're really happy to be donating it and ecstatic to be out [here] and that the whole family has agreed."

A number of Robert Thorburn's family members came from across the state to witness the trophy donation including great grandson Robert Smith and granddaughter Deidre Kebby.

Ms Smith said her grandfather, who died in the early 60's, was a "very good player" by all accounts.

"I actually never saw him play because I was only little but I remember my father playing and he was asked to try out for South Melbourne, so he obviously got the football genes from his father," she said.

A woodchopper by trade, a number of Mr Thorburn's axes were also stolen in the raid along with a clock which was gifted to Ms Smith's parents at their wedding.

Ms Smith said she had received "about half" of the stolen good back, including her brother's Land Rover Defender, after it was listed for sale on Gumtree.

"My daughter found it and I said 'I don't believe it'," she said.

Ms Smith admitted it was "hard to part with" the historic Elder-Berwick Medal but took comfort from knowing it was in good hands.

"Once I pass on I don't really know what would have happened to it anyway," she said.

"Some of my own children value it as well but I think now that pa and dad and Eric have gone it's a good idea to donate it."


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