The Western Bulldogs’ oldest past player, a former club president, has celebrated his second birthday in a row locked down.
Jim Miller, who was born in West Footscray and now lives in Altona North, turned 102 during Victoria’s fourth COVID-19 lockdown.
Born a year after World War I ended and the Spanish flu pandemic started, Mr Miller has also lived through the Great Depression and World War II.
Mr Miller was part of the first Footscray team to play in a VFL final in 1938, his first season at the highest level.
After playing more than 130 games over 11 years, Mr Miller became vice-president of the Footscray Football Club from 1957-63 and president from 1963-66.
Speaking to Star Weekly by phone from TLC Aged Care – Marina, Mr Miller said he was “like a cricketer”.
“I’m 102 not out but the next ball might get you,” he said.
“We were very fortunate where I am – they’ve been very, very good about it and not one person here has had it [COVID-19].
“No one’s allowed in and we’re not allowed out. You feel quite safe here.
“You know, I’ve a lot of time to think sitting here in this room and the difference to when I was young and today are unbelievable.
“Melbourne here, when I went to the Footscray Technical School in 1931, ’32 and ’33, one of those years a teacher taught us that there were 750,000 people in the whole of Melbourne, which took in Dandenong to Sunshine and all the suburbs, and now there’s six million.”
Most of his childhood was spent growing up in Footscray’s Pilgrim Street and by age seven he was often at the football ground of a weekend selling Football Records and watching games.
After leaving school, he moved to First Street in West Footscray, where he met his future wife, Jean, who lived across the road.
They were married just before Christmas in 1940 and moved to Suffolk Street, West Footscray, where they lived for the next 77 years.
During WWII, Mr Miller enlisted in the army and air force and was stationed at Perth before returning to Benalla in country Victoria, becoming a flying instructor.
He later became self-employed as a transport operator of chemicals, bullets and dynamite around Australia.
Mr Miller said he watched every Western Bulldogs game, and other games, in his room at Altona North.
He said the secret to a long life included “good women and good food”.
“I’ve had broken bones and things during my life, like most people get, but by and large I’ve been very fortunate health-wise,” Mr Miller said.
“I can’t recall ever having a cold.”