John is charged with finding our guest speakers this year.  He wants to have one club member each month presenting a “Behind the Badge”.  Looking for volunteers, the first to pop into his mind was………… John Fallon.  Even those of us who've known John for decades learned something from this talk.
John was born in Warragul, and spent his childhood on a dairy farm in Iona.  His family also grew potatoes, and were contracted to supply the Sydney Easter Show with potatoes for chips each year.  This paid for a new car annually, which was needed on the unmade roads.   
 
John’s Uncle Jack was a top pilot, flying from Essendon to the farm and landing in a paddock quite frequently.  In those days when air travel was a rarity, his plane was a big local attraction.  Jack restored a WW2 spitfire, which he wasn’t able to land in a paddock, but  John recalls him roaring past the dairy and stampeding the cows on a regular basis.  The plane became quite famous, breaking the Melbourne to Sydney record. It came to a sad end, crashing in the Blue Mountains.
 
John’s dad, Bill, raced horses, and John took the horses swimming at Mentone beach and rode track work.  
 
Bill was a keen fisherman, and spent nearly every weekend at Swan Reach.  Eventually he decided it would be more sensible to move, and he sold the farm and opened LJ Hookers Real Estate in Bairnsdale.  John made him a nice sign to put in the window – “Real Estate Salesman wanted – must look honest”.
 
John boarded St Patricks in Sale.  He was an altar boy, and learned to drink wine but was never molested.
 
He took his studies seriously, but was rather more interested in sport.  The school had a great football team.  They won the Latrobe Valley premiership 8 years in a row, until they were evicted from that league and had to play against other Marist Brothers schools. Then he cam up against future VFL champions.  He had the honour of playing on Peter Cribbins, and chased him the entire length of the footy field, Peter bouncing the ball all the way and kicking a goal. John was drafted to Footscray under 18s and had a season there, but says he was never going to make the grade for seniors.
 
He became an insurance underwriter with Sun Alliance in the city, and worked with another famous footballer, Denis Pagan – a top bloke.
 
John became the youngest senior underwriter in the history of the company.  They covered huge corporations - Linfox, Myer, CUB, Wynn Wines, the  7 Network etc.  John became a Fellow of the Australian Insurance institute and developed new products. Product tampering and product recall insurance were just emerging as a necessity back in those days when our country was becoming more litigious.
 
As a young man just released from a boys’ boarding school, John recalls that to be a fantastic time to be young in Melbourne.  He met Denise on blind date.  He was dating one of triplets at the time  (still remembers the names and address!!!).  In fact he was dating all three without realising it, as they were absolutely identical.  However, on the night of the Melbourne Uni ball, all three were otherwise engaged, and pulled the plug on their evening with John.  He arranged a blind date with a mate’s friend, then spent 3 hours in the pub. By the time he reached the Teachers’ College Hostel, Denise had given up waiting and gone to bed!!
 
Happily for Fallon history, she turned into Cinderella, and they had a great night.  They married when the families objected to them doing a road trip to Queensland before marriage (good Catholics all).  The wedding, in 1972, was reminiscint of Muriel’s Wedding and Dimboola – a real country affair.  Collingwood (Denise’s team) was playing Hawthorn (John’s team) so most guests had transistors, and even the priest was keeping an eye on the score.  For those who care, Hawthorn won.
 
They had number one son Robbie, and were living at Montrose, with John working ridiculous hours and never seeing his family. They decided to make a lifestyle move at the expense of the career, and came to Bairnsdale.  John started Eastern Insurance Brokers and changed from insuring multinational companies to cars and boats.  EIB became the largest insurance brokerage firm in Eastern Victoria. 
 
In December 2000, Denise was diagnosed with cancer - non hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Elders bought the company out and John became Denise’s carer for 18 very difficult months. Happily, she made a full recovery.
 
Eventually John had to return to work.  He “told Craig Ingram he needed to employ me”. For 12 years, Craig was our independent MLA, and had a lot of influence.  John and Craig had access to all ministers and chiefs of staff.  They achieved a lot, including getting our train back to Bairnsdale.  They took a lot of pollies and staffers on rafting trips on the Snowy and Mitta Mitta rivers and saw the dodgy side of the odd minister, far from home and the press, and with their attractive young “assistants”.
 
ED:  I remember the night Craig lost his seat – we were at the first Cooper Trewin fundraising dinner/auction.  John lost his job that night too, and I think he’d had two offers of employment before he went home.  That’s the start of the next instalment of John’s story.
 
Ray thanked John for his entertaining talk.
 
 
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