Footy fans will have another reason to cheer this AFL Grand Final week as four brand new signs are unveiled along the newly upgraded M80 Ring Road commemorating the career and legacy of EJ Whitten.
Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan joined the Whitten family in Keilor East today to unveil the new signage on the approach to the EJ Whitten Bridge in Keilor East.
The red, white and blue pylons are four metres high and weigh up to 700kg each, emblazoned with the iconic image of EJ Whitten kicking for goal along with his signature and his nickname, “Mr Football”.
Three pylons have been installed on the Altona-bound approach to the EJ Whitten Bridge while one large sign marks the Greensborough-bound approach.
The new signs were designed, engineered and manufactured in Shepparton, craned into place and then secured onto foundations following the completion of major construction work on the M80 Ring Road Upgrade.
The new pylons replace the original sign which needed to be removed to build the new bridge.
The old signage was given to the EJ Whitten Foundation which has worked closely with the Major Road Projects Authority in the design process of the new pylons, reflecting the lasting impact EJ Whitten left on Melbourne, the western suburbs and Victoria.
Adored by AFL fans and regarded as one of the game’s all-time greats, EJ Whitten’s career spanned 321 senior games as a player, 228 games as coach and Footscray’s first premiership in 1954. He was a hero to locals in Melbourne’s west, a popular commentator and media personality.
In an era where men rarely spoke about health issues, EJ Whitten bravely opened up about his battle with prostate cancer and sparked the push for greater awareness of the disease and men’s health more generally.
His legacy lives on today through the EJ Whitten Foundation, founded by his son to promote awareness of prostate cancer and men’s health issues, as well as raise funds for research.
The EJ Whitten Bridge was named following the football legend’s death in 1995 and is the second highest road bridge in Victoria; standing at 50 metres high and 520 metres long.
Quote attributable to Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan
“The iconic image of EJ Whitten kicking for goal is etched in the memory of many Victorians and now we’ll all see it every time we drive over the upgraded EJ Whitten Bridge reminding us of the great contribution the family has made to the community.”
Quote attributable to EJ Whitten Foundation Executive Director Ted Whitten Jr
“This magnificent new signage captures my father’s image in full flight as a former champion footballer and personality who not only represented his beloved Western Bulldogs and the people of the western suburbs for two decades but also symbolises his passion for his state of Victoria.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020