YALLOURN Football Club’s last ever Grand Final coach died recently.

Don Palmer took the Blues to the 1969 Gippsland League decider.

Yallourn were no match for Traralgon on the day, giving the Maroons a second successive premiership.

While the final scoreboard of 13.15 (93) to 11.7 (73) may have indicated a close game, reports from the time stated the Maroons could have easily won by much more.

“Traralgon should have won Sunday’s Latrobe Valley Football League grand final by at least 10 goals,” wrote John Hehir in the Latrobe Valley Express (September 17, 1969).

“The Maroons outplayed Yallourn for 90 per cent of the match and when the Blues got within a point Traralgon were only coasting.”

Despite the result, Palmer had a solid game, with his statistics reading 16 kicks, five handballs and six marks.

Traralgon legend Terry Hunter, whom the oval at Traralgon Recreation Reserve is named after, was best-on-ground.

Hunter recorded an astonishing 30 kicks, five handballs, 15 marks and one goal.

A great photo of Hunter being embraced by his mother after the game ran on the front page of the Express’ Sports Report.

It was to be the last time Yallourn of any kind reached a Grand Final in the major league.

The Blues merged with Yallourn North in 1976 and continued in the Gippsland League as Yallourn Yallourn North Bombers until 1985, before moving to the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League.

More recently, YYN left Mid Gippsland for North Gippsland in 2020, changing their nickname from Bombers to Jets (to avoid a clash with Traralgon Tyers United).

As part of centenary celebrations in 2019, YYN chose four teams of the ‘era’ taking in their history: Brown Coal Mine (1919-1947), Yallourn North (1948-1975), Yallourn (1954-1976) and YYN.

Palmer was chosen as coach of the Yallourn team.

Palmer played 50 games for North Melbourne in an injury-riddled career between 1959 and 1964.

He died in September aged 84.

Old Blue: The late Don Palmer, coach of Yallourn’s Team of the Century. Photograph supplied

One last effort: Don Palmer addresses Yallourn players during three quarter time of the 1969 Gippsland League Grand Final. Photograph: Express archives