THE Rochester community and sporting greats have come together to give John Forbes a big hurrah.
More than 350 people filled the Campaspe Valley Community Centre on Friday night, to celebrate Forbesy and raise funds for a sports museum that will feature his private collection.
The Rochester Sports Museum is being developed by the Rochester Lions Club as part of Lions International turning 100.
The museum will be in the Shire of Campaspe Hub where the current Opperman Sports Museum is located.
Last night’s launch and sportsman’s night, dubbed “Forbesy’s Last Big Hurrah”, included guests such as Phil Smyth (basketball), Sharelle McMahon (netball), Scott McGrory (cycling), Darren Berry (cricket), Sue Stanley (aerobics) and Russell Mark (shooting).
Forbes, a former executive at Puma, has accumulated a stunning collection of sporting memorabilia.
“John’s collection is one of the best going around,” project manager Sam Watkins said.
“John was an innovator in the sports marketing scene while at Puma and this is very special that we will be able to publicly display his collection here in Rochester.”
Forbes was a farmer born in a tiny mud brick cottage in a tiny Victorian town, who went on to be one of the most well-known and well respected people in world sport.
He was born in Mitiamo in 1941 and moved to Bendigo in 1979.
A love for all kinds of local sport resulted in him hosting athletics legend Herb Elliott in his Barkley Terrace home before a function.
Elliott liked what he saw in John, and few years later offered him a job as national promotions manager with Puma Australia.
From there, his association with national and international sporting legends began.
Forbes’ country-boy charm, people-before-profit attitude and ability to spot talent made him a success.
His willingness to stick with young sportspeople to help them reach their goals was something they treasured.
He has helped hundreds of sports men and women get a start, and they have never forgotten him for it: Linford Christie, Serena Williams, Boris Becker, Moses Kiptanui and the entire South African and Indian cricket teams.
The Australian list is 10-times as long: Merv Hughes, Herb Elliott, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Mark Taylor, Jason Dunstall, Tony Lockett, Sharelle McMahon, Mal Meninga, Cliff Young, Paul Trimboli, Larry Sengstock, Russell Marks, Neil Roberts, Shane Healy, Alan Jeans ……. the list goes on and on.
It’s hoped the Rochester Sports Museum, featuring the Forbes collection, will be open early next year.